Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2023 Legislative Regular Session:
The Last 24
Justice Ricky Polston is stepping down from the Florida Supreme Court, effective March 31. The conservative jurist, who has served on the state’s high court for 14 years, submitted a resignation letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis. Polston didn’t give a reason for his resignation Monday. At 67, Polston had at least eight more years on the bench before facing retirement, which is mandated by the state constitution for justices once they reach the age of 75. The Judicial Nominating Commission, once DeSantis convenes it, will review applicants and select three to six names for DeSantis to choose. Here’s your nightly rundown.
No-go: Democrats in the Legislature don’t want to lower the age for purchasing long guns. And secretly, they don’t think Republicans do either.
DeCentralize: The Governor is calling on the Legislature to ban the use of centralized bank digital currencies (CBDC).
Radioactive roads: Florida lawmakers are considering legislation (SB 1258) to study whether radioactive phosphogypsum can be recycled and used in the state’s road construction projects.
No they/them: A bill (SB 1320) that would change the rules around the use of preferred pronouns at Florida’s public schools advanced through the Senate Committee on Pre-K-12.
Safety first: A Senate committee is moving forward bills to protect children from car accidents (SB 1374) and parents from nefarious violence (SB 1286).
KOA CYA: A bill (HB 1323) giving campground owners immunity from civil liability if a camper or their pet is injured or killed on a campground was approved by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Baby box: Legislation (SB 870) to authorize “baby boxes” for infant surrenders is advancing in the Senate.
Quote of the Day
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair I just, I can’t speak to that.”
— Gov. Ron DeSantis, on Donald Trump’s payment to a porn star.
Bill Day’s Latest
House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell and Rep. Kelly Skidmore held a news conference Monday morning to discuss their priority issues and answer questions on legislation moving through the process as well as the former President’s potential indictment.
Q: I was wondering what the Caucus thinks about former President Trump’s possible indictment and call for protest.
Driskell: This is a story — I am quite confident — that has not only captured the nation, but possibly the world, because Donald Trump’s presidency was so unlike anything that we had ever seen. It is not a shock to me that Donald Trump would be facing possible indictment just based on what we have seen during his presidency and beyond. His call for protest — I think — is something that we should all be very concerned about as we think about our Democracy. As we think about ways that the President, that former President in particular, tried to weaken some of the guardrails, and certainly the attack at the Capitol — the nation’s Capitol — that he encouraged, and supported and yearned and motivated his supporters to go and do on Jan. 6. So, we should be very concerned about these calls for protest. I hope that the authorities are taking this seriously and we should all be very vigilant and mindful and be as safe as we possibly can. And if you see something, report it to the authorities because from what we saw on Jan. 6 his supporters don’t mess around.
Q: Are you surprised there has been no pushback from banking and business leaders on the ESG legislation? Do you sense (the banks) think they can effectively avoid confrontation with Gov. DeSantis and that accusations or violations will be applied selectively?
Driskell: Yeah, let’s talk about that a little bit. Remember that Florida is one of several states that has introduced and is trying to pass anti-ESG legislation, so none of this is happening in a vacuum. And my suspicion is that the very large banks in the country, the very large lenders, probably would take strategies to make sure they preserve their financial soundness. For example, after Texas passed its anti-ESG law, a lot of the nation’s large underwriters exited the municipal bond market. That would include JP Morgan, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and Fidelity. In these states what we’re going to see — I think — is that these lenders are going to do what they need to do to protect themselves. It’s going to lead to decreased competition in the market. We know that that’s a very bad thing. My Caucus and I have serious concerns that this is going to lead to Florida losing money that we could have had otherwise through these investments.
Q: While the immigration legislation is very sweeping, so far it doesn’t include a provision that would bar or ban undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition. But the Governor wants that prohibition and Speaker Paul Renner said he was open to the idea, saying it would be a further disincentive for migrants coming to Florida. Do you expect to see that ban added in the coming weeks?
Skidmore: I think that we are all expecting the worst we can possibly expect from this Legislature and this Governor. It is such a terrible and such a personal affront, especially to our Hispanic communities. The people who are in this building, who are working in this building — whether that is members of the Legislature, aides or other staff —are personally fearful of this legislation. I don’t think that I know for sure if Speaker Renner would include that ban. But it certainly doesn’t sound like it would be out of the realm of possibility when you look at HB 1, HB 999 and just all of the freedoms being eroded for citizens, Floridians, for everyone. I have started to refer to the Capitol as the fear factory. The Republicans are just afraid of everything; they are afraid of books, they are afraid of professors, they are afraid of women, they are afraid of trans people. They are just afraid of everything. And their reaction is to try to control all of it. So, would I be surprised if there were a ban? No. Do I expect it? I am not privy to any conversation with Speaker Renner or anyone else who has suggested that this is going to be put into legislation.
It’s election season in Jacksonville and tomorrow is the big day.
A field of eight candidates will compete to succeed exiting Mayor Lenny Curry in City Hall, but the winner is unlikely to be decided on Tuesday.
Polls show Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican Daniel Davis leading the pack according to most polls, but neither is near the 50%-plus-one threshold required to win the race outright, which means the candidates are likely headed to a May 16 runoff.
No matter who ends up in the Mayor’s office, they’ll be relying on a large team of lobbyists to make sure the city gets the funding and support it needs from the state Legislature.
The city proper is represented by Brian Ballard, Brad Burleson, Jordan Elsbury and Mathew Forrest of Ballard Partners, as well as Brian Hughes, Leeann Krieg, Charles Moreland, Ryan Murphy and Rachel Zimmer.
Though at times it seems like Jax is the only city in Duval, there are a handful more and each have a lobbying team — Jacksonville Beach is represented by Erin Daly Ballas, Jack Cory and Keyna Cory of Public Affairs Consultants; and Atlantic Beach has a contract with Marty Fiorentino, Davis Bean, Shannan Dunaway Boxold, Joe Mobley and Mark Pinto of The Fiorentino Group.
The Fiorentino Group is a top regional firm in Northeast Florida and they represent several interests that will be impacted by the next mayoral administration. They also represent Duval County Public Schools and the Jacksonville Port Authority, the latter of which is also represented by the team at Ballard Partners.
There are multiple City Council seats on Tuesday’s ballot as well, and the winners will play a major role in whether the University of Florida’s proposed Jax campus moves forward.
UF, of course, has a large lobbying team, including Oscar Anderson, David Browning, Nelson Diaz, Christopher Dudley and Sydney Ridley of The Southern Group; Stuart Brown of SKB Consulting Group; Matt Bryan, Teye Carmichael, David Daniel, Jeff Hartley and Lisa Hurley of Smith Bryan & Myers; David Childs, Kyle Langan and Eileen Stuart of The Vogel Group; and Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Megan Fay, Nicole Kelly, Scott Ross and Christopher Schoonover of Capital City Consulting.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow. Stay tuned to Florida Politics to get the results as they roll in.
The Next 24
8 a.m. — Seaports Day at the Capitol, Capitol Complex. Port Directors from Florida’s 16 seaports, along with seaport and maritime professionals, will participate. Jonathan Daniels, Chair of the Florida Ports Council and Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director, will lead the delegation of port executives in meeting with members of the Legislature.
8:30 a.m. —The Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services will discuss the 2023-24 budget for the Agency for Health Care Administration, Agency for Persons with Disabilities Department of Children and Families, Department of Elderly Affairs, Department of Health and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Room 412, Knott Building, The Capitol.
8:30 a.m. — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development will discuss the 2023-24 budget for the Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Department of Military Affairs, Department of State, Department of Transportation and Division of Emergency Management. The committee will also take up a bill (SB 588) that would authorize local governments to set up camera-enforced “speed detection systems” within school zones. Room 110, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
8:30 a.m. — The Senate Finance and Tax Committee will consider a bill (SB 322) that would extend the existing tax exemption on natural gas fuels for two years. Room 37, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
9 a.m. — The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 1135) adding nitazene compounds to the list of Schedule I drugs. Room 17, House Office Building, the Capitol.
10 a.m. — The FSU pep band, cheerleaders and Flying High Circus members will be performing at an outdoor pep rally in the plaza between the historic Old Capitol and the current Capitol as part of FSU Day at the Capitol. FSU President Richard McCullough and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Brooke Wyckoff are also scheduled to address the crowd.
11 a.m. — Crime survivors and families of crime victims will gather at the state capitol for Survivors Speak Florida. During the event, speakers including Alliance for Safety and Justice State Director Subhash Kateel, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice National Director Aswad Thomas and elected officials will call on the Legislature to pass policies that address trauma, support victims, and tackle the root causes of crime. 4th Floor Rotunda, The Capitol.
11 a.m. — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government will discuss the 2022-23 budget for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Citrus, Department of Environmental Protection, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Department of Financial Services, Office of Financial Regulation, Office of Insurance Regulation, Florida Gaming Control Commission, Department of Lottery, Department of Management Services, Division of Administrative Hearings, Florida Commission on Human Relations, Public Employees Relations Commission, Public Service Commission and Department of Revenue. Room 110, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
11: a.m. — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice will discuss the 2023-24 budget for the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Legal Affairs/Attorney General, Florida Commission on Offender Review State Courts, Public Defenders, State Attorneys, Regional Conflict Counsels, Statewide Guardian ad Litem, Capital Collateral Regional Counsels and Justice Administrative Commission. Room 37, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
11 a.m. — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Education will consider a bill (SB 290) to require public school progression plans for students with disabilities. Room 412, Knott Building, The Capitol
11:30 a.m. — The House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee considers legislation (HB 49) that would create a Historic Cemeteries Program within the Division of Historical Resources. Room 314, House Office Building, The Capitol.
11:30 a.m. — The Economic Club of Florida meets. Topic: Agriculture’s Surprising Role in the Economy,” with Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson. FSU Alumni Center, 1030 W Tennessee St, Tallahassee. There is a luncheon fee of $40. Register for on-site luncheon. Register for virtual webinar.
2 p.m. — The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 1297) that would pave the way for executing adults who raped children with a supermajority jury verdict. Room 404, House Office Building, The Capitol.
2 p.m. — The House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a proposed committee bill (SAT 23-01) that would expand the Capitol Police’s jurisdiction eastward to Calhoun Street and westward to S. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Room 212, Knott Office Building, The Capitol.
2:30 p.m. — The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee will consider a bill (SB 1110) that would set eight-year term limits on school board members and county commissioners, starting with anyone elected after 2022. Room 110, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
2:30 p.m. — The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up a bill (SB 1220) that would lower the standard for libel, an attempt to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964. Room 412, Knott Building, The Capitol.
3 p.m. — The Joint Revenue Estimating Conference meets to discuss the Tax Collection Enforcement Diversion Program. Room 117, Knott Building, The Capitol.
3:15 p.m. — The Joint Revenue Estimating Conference meets to discuss monthly revenue estimates. Room 117, Knott Building, The Capitol.
6 p.m. — Red Dog Blue Dog charity fundraiser. Township, 619 S. Woodward Ave., Tallahassee.
Also, the following committees will meet:
9 a.m. — The House Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee meets. Room 404, House Office building, The Capitol.
9 a.m. — The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee meets. Room 102, House Office Building, The Capitol.
9 a.m. — The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets. Room 314, House Office Building, The Capitol.
11:30 a.m. — The House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee meets. Room 102, House Office Building, The Capitol.
11:30 a.m. —The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee meets. Room 17, House Office Building, The Capitol.
2 p.m. — The House Energy, Communications & Cybersecurity Subcommittee meets. Room 102, House Office Building, The Capitol.
2 p.m. — The House Postsecondary Education & Workforce Subcommittee meets. Room 17, House Office Building, The Capitol.
2:30 p.m. — The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee meets. Room 301, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
2:30 p.m. — The Senate Regulated Industries Committee meets. Room 401, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
Full committee agendas, including bills to be considered, are available on the House and Senate websites.