Sixty Days for 4.4.23 — A prime-time look at the 2023 Legislative Regular Session

Red Tally 4
What’s inside? All things Session.

Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2023 Legislative Regular Session:

The Last 24

The House passed a $113 billion spending plan with more funding for schools and health care providers, but also containing key differences with the alternative budget passed by the Senate. The legislation (HB 5001, SB 2500) passed unanimously, but Democrats noted specific areas they either opposed outright or had concerns about, including an overhaul of the main funding formula for K-12 schools. The budget includes $21 billion for K-12 schools, or $8,707 per student, about a $459 increase on the current year. But the House plan also allows school districts more flexibility in how they spend certain funds. There’s about $2 billion that would otherwise be dedicated to specific spending that would be included instead as part of the base funding for school districts. The new funding formula isn’t included in the Senate version of the budget. Here’s your nightly rundown.

Residency rules: A bill (SB 444) that would loosen residency requirements for School Board candidates aced its second Senate committee stop.

Ongoing fight: On the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, Sen. Shevrin Jones says the arrests of Democratic leaders show the fight for progress still demands constant attention.

Rubber stamp: With no discussion, the Senate Committee on Education PreK-12 advanced Esther Byrd’s confirmation to the Board of Education.

Skate on: Bills (HB 1129/SB 1458) shifting roller-skating rink liability to skaters rather than rink owners rolled through committees in the House and Senate.

A bit more time: The Judicial Nominating Commission extended the deadline for applicants to the Florida Supreme Court after only three people put their names in to fill the vacancy created by former Justice Ricky Polston’s exit.

Quote of the Day

“Our right to protest and speak freely without fear of legal intervention ought to be safe — but that’s unfortunately not the case in Ron DeSantis’ Florida.”

— Sen. Shevrin Jones, on the arrest of Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book and Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried.


Bill Day’s Latest


3 Questions

House Speaker Paul Renner answered reporters’ questions about several controversial bills Tuesday afternoon, primarily the six-week abortion ban that passed the Senate on Monday and is awaiting a vote in the House, possibly this week. Below is a transcript of Renner’s remarks. The questions have been edited for clarity.

Q: What does passing a six-week ban on abortions say as a message from Republicans in Florida to the rest of the country?

Renner: I think it means we stand for life when it comes to looking at when we should start protecting lives, when a child has a heartbeat that would be a good place to start. And I think you need to go ask in your next gaggle when would they draw the line, if ever? The answer is never. You know that because of what the federal government has done in terms of in terms of the congressional vote — abortion anytime for any reason and the taxpayers have to pay for it. Parents don’t even get consent, much less even notification, if their child their 12-year-old, 13-year-old has an abortion. That’s the bill the Democrats supported in Congress. So, I would direct your question back to the Democrats because what we’ve done is take a nuanced approach and had different criteria depending on what the circumstances are.

So, I mentioned a heartbeat as a place to start protecting life. We have an exception in the case of rape and incest, and of course the Senate has an additional exception for human trafficking, as well as an unlimited exception for those that have any kind of fetal abnormality where the child is not going to live outside the womb. That’s what democracy looks like. You can argue or agree or disagree whether it should be six weeks or eight weeks or 12 weeks or no weeks. We have people on our side of the aisle that would rather have a complete ban, right? But this is what democracy looks like.

Q: I think a lot of people in the state are looking at this Republican Legislature as being autocratic. Polling has shown that a majority, or at least a very large plurality, of Floridians do not support these kinds of changes to abortion rights.

Renner: I disagree with you. I think if you look at when a child has a heartbeat, I think that’s when people say, ‘wait a minute, this is something different.’ So, to be clear, this is not my position. I believe life begins at conception. But what we’re saying is for that first month and a half, for any reason whatsoever, based on a whim, you can go end the life of that boy or girl. So, that is a compromise, as well as rape, incest, and human trafficking. These are things that when we look at them, those are very, very different. That’s an awful circumstance that we have to recognize. And we have recognized, in the Senate bill that’s coming over, that that’s a different circumstance and people need to have the opportunity, hopefully, to turn that person in so we can prosecute them and put them in jail forever so they never do that to anyone else ever, ever again, as well as the fetal abnormality so that if a child can’t live outside the womb, that we recognize that that’s a very, very different circumstance than the norm.

So, it’s not autocratic. California is going to have a different view. Many of these states have said, we’re going to allow abortion up until — we’re going to take the China and North Korea position — we’re going to say that you can dismember a child until week 40 for any reason whatsoever. Is that autocratic, because I can tell you that’s not where most of most Californians are or any Americans are. A very, very small handful of them are but those legislatures are moving in a direction that I think you would concede is probably to the other side of where Floridians are. And the bell curve is somewhere in between. Somewhere between where we are and a later period of time, with exceptions, is where most Americans are on this issue depending on what state, what city, what person you’re asking, but there’s nothing autocratic about democracy.

Q: What are your thoughts on the arrest of Nikki Fried and Sen. Lauren Book?

Look, they have a right to protest. As I said in the last gaggle, that’s part of America. I love it. If you want to make all the noise you want out in between the Old Capitol or outside in the rotunda, that’s your God-given right — your American right — to do so. I don’t know what the circumstances of that were, I don’t know if they wanted to get arrested for reasons that they may see as advantageous. But you know, that’s a moment where you’ve got to … obviously, we want everybody to use good judgment. We want the protesters to use good judgment. We want the cops to use good judgment. I don’t know anything about the circumstances about whether they should have or should not have and why they did.

Lobby Up

The Florida League of Cities is holding its annual Legislative Action Days today and tomorrow at the Capitol.

Founded more than 100 years ago, FLC represents the collective interests of the state’s more than 400 municipalities, from small villages to burgeoning metros.

FLC is typically one of the most vocal supporters of home rule and one of the loudest critics of legislation that would curb municipal authority — which often happens in Tallahassee.

One of the League’s top issues this year is stopping legislation that would place new strictures on the way public utilities operate.

The bills filed by Sen. Jonathan Martin and Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera (SB 1380, HB 1331) would subject municipal utilities that provide service to customers outside of city limits to regulation by the Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulatory body. The bills would also set limits on how much money utilities could transfer to the general funds of the city government that own them as well as specifying how those funds may be spent.

The Senate bill was temporarily postponed in its first committee hearing, but the House has moved forward with the proposal, which is awaiting a hearing in its second and final committee.

FLC is tracking several other issues, ranging from short-term rental regulations and watershed management to workforce housing and transportation funding.

The League has a sizable in-house lobbying team looking out for its interests in the Capitol. The roster includes Jeffrey Branch, Kraig Conn, Thomas Cook, David Cruz, Clifford Dudley, Rebecca O’Hara, Allison Payne and Tara Taggart.

FLC is also represented by Dean Cannon, Angela Drzewiecki, Jessica Love, Ryan Matthews, Kirk Pepper, Joseph Salzverg and Robert Stuart of GrayRobinson as well as Charles Chapman of C4 Strategies.

Breakthrough Insights


The Next 24

8:30 a.m. — The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will consider a bill (SB 46) that would require PBMs to apply any amount paid by an insured or by another person on behalf of the insured toward the insured’s total contribution to any cost-sharing requirement. Room 412, Knott Building.

8:30 a.m. — The Senate Community Affairs Committee meets will take up legislation (SB 224) that would reduce the retirement ages for different classes of Florida Retirement System members. Room 401, Senate Office Building.

8:30 a.m. — The Senate Education Postsecondary Committee will consider several gubernatorial appointments to state university boards, including the recent additions at New College of Florida. Room 110, Senate Office Building.

8:30 a.m. — The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee will consider a bill (SB 620) that would close an ethics loophole allowing members of special taxing districts to do business with entities contracted with the district. Room 37, Senate Office Building.

9 a.m. — Suits for Session. 2nd Floor Rotunda.

11 a.m. — The Senate Rules Committee will take up a bill (SB 1002) that would curb auto glass assignment of benefits lawsuits and prohibit auto shops from offering incentives for claims, such as rebates and gift cards. Room 412, Knott Building.

11:30 a.m. — GIFFORDS Florida Senior Adviser and former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will hold a news conference in Orlando alongside Orange County Sheriff John Mina to condemn the signing of permitless carry into law.

Also, the following committees will meet:

1:15 p.m. — The Senate Special Order Calendar Group meets. Room 401, Senate Office Building.

Full committee agendas, including bills to be considered, are available on the House and Senate websites.

Staff Reports


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