Last Call for 1.29.24 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Legislation that would crack down on third-party litigation financiers appeared to be on the fast track, but it hit a snag Monday during its second committee stop.

The bill (HB 1179) is backed by the Florida Justice Reform Institute and other insurance and business lobbyists, who early last Session celebrated a major victory when lawmakers approved a sweeping torts bill aimed at curbing the volume of litigation in Florida’s court system. The Florida Justice Association, which represents the state’s trial attorneys, is the chief opponent of the new legislation.

The bill cleared its first committee last week and was quickly placed on the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee’s Monday agenda. However, committee members didn’t rubber stamp it — they instead deferred a vote without explanation.

Meanwhile, Senators on the chamber’s Banking and Insurance Committee advanced a bill that would allow surplus lines carriers to takeover some homeowner’s insurance policies from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Co., which has seen its policy count skyrocket past the million mark amid the ongoing property insurance crisis.

The bill (SB 1716) is sponsored by Sen. Jim Boyd, who has taken the lead on past legislative efforts to stabilize the market. The 2024 bill would apply to second homes covered by Citizens, not primary residences. But surplus lines companies aren’t regulated by the state the way other admitted carriers are. They typically cover pricier homes in riskier coastal areas, their rates aren’t approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) and customers can’t sue them in Florida if a dispute over a claim arises.

There was also action in the House Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee on Monday.

The panel took up legislation that would add more regulations for Florida’s hemp industry, banning certain compounds from being present in over-the-counter products. The chemicals, often called “alternative cannabinoids,” are native to the plant itself and hemp companies are criticizing the plan as “discriminatory” and a “witch hunt.” It comes after lawmakers OK’d a bill in the 2023 Session mostly related to packaging and banning products that could be construed as being marketed to children.

Bill Day’s Latest

Evening Reads

—“To stop a shooter” via Jamie Thompson of The Atlantic

—”Stuck in Florida, Ron DeSantis still dreams of commanding an army” via Michael Daly of the Daily Beast

—”Florida lawmakers may force cities and counties to ban public camping” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

—“Democrats call out DeSantis for fighting State Attorney’s reinstatement” via Sue Carlton and Chris Urso of the Tampa Bay Times

—”Judge criticizes DeSantis, appointee for ‘running their mouths’ in effort to shut down pro-Palestinian college groups” via Claire Grunwald of Fresh Take Florida

—“Bears aren’t the only ones who should be worried when the Legislature’s in Session” via Diane Roberts of the Florida Phoenix

—”Gummy before you fly? Miami airport looking for an edibles retailer in a CBD store” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald

—“Psychedelics are outperforming trauma researchers’ expectations. But why?” via Sigal Samuel of Vox

Quote of the Day

I look forward to supporting this good bill, not butts about it.”

— Rep. Michelle Salzman, on a bill (HB 1561) correcting a loophole in the 2023 Brazilian butt lifts law.

Put It on the Tab

Look to your left, then look to your right. If you see one of these people at your happy hour haunt, flag down the bartender and put one of these on your tab. Recipes included, just in case the Cocktail Codex fell into the well.

With a new report from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research showing wages are at a 20-year high in the Sunshine State, it’s the perfect time to order yourself a Money Maker.

Having to fork over cash for vital preventive screenings is as painful as an Elbow in the Boobs, which is apparently a drink name. Snag one for Sen. Lori Berman for getting a ban on out-of-pocket charges for breast exams through its first committee.

What’s the over/under on how many lawmakers will vote to block under-21-year-olds from betting on fantasy sports? Order bill sponsor Sen. Travis Hutson an Over/Under while we try to figure it out.

Lawmakers may require people who sleep in public to get a permit. At the very least it should be amended to give every future licenseholder a Sleepy Head.

Breakthrough Insights

Tune In

The sports schedule featuring Florida teams is thin today, but it offers an opportunity for Florida A&M to get some attention.

In September, the two schools faced one another in the Orange Blossom Classic on the football field. Tonight, the Rattlers host Jackson State on the basketball court (8 p.m. ET,

The Rattlers (3-15) need a win to get the season turned around. After playing a loaded non-conference schedule against teams such as Florida, Nebraska, Iowa State, Iowa, and South Carolina, FAMU has yet to hit its stride during conference play. Florida A&M has won just once in the SWAC, an 11-point win over Mississippi Valley State last Monday.

This is the first of two meetings between FAMU and Jackson State this season. The return matchup comes in Mississippi on Feb. 17.

Scoring has been a challenge for the Rattlers this season, but the availability of point guard Jalen Speer has helped. Since making his FAMU debut on Dec. 30, Speer has averaged over 19 points per game. He has scored in double figures in all seven of the games in which he has played. He and Keith Lamar are the only FAMU players averaging more than 10 points per game this season. Big man Shannon Grant has also come on during conference play. The 6-foot-10, 300-pounder averages 11.7 points per contest in SWAC competition. 

Also tonight:

7:30 p.m. — Phoenix Suns @ Miami Heat

8:30 p.m. — Orlando Magic @ Dallas Mavericks


Last Call is published by Peter Schorsch, assembled and edited by Phil Ammann and Drew Wilson, with contributions from the staff of Florida Politics.

Staff Reports

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