Last Call for 2.5.24 — 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

The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee once again deferred a vote on a torts bill backed by business groups.

HB 1179 aims at third-party litigation financing, a $13.5 billion industry, requiring the names and agreements of financiers to be disclosed to the court and opposing counsel, among others.

They would also ban litigation financing companies from receiving a larger share of the proceeds than the plaintiffs after paying attorney fees and costs. Additionally, litigation financiers could not, under the proposal, make any decision concerning legal strategy.

Jacksonville Republican Rep. Wayne Duggan was absent, and Republican committee members Reps. Mike Beltran and Mike Redondo did not support the measure. That meant had the Democrats on the committee voted in a bloc, the bill would have died by an 8-7 vote. The bill cleared its first committee by a 10-7 vote.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis came out in support of legislation (HB 1365/SB 1630) that would curb the rights of the unhoused population by disallowing them from sleeping in public. The Governor said he believed that “most” local governments favor the legislation, which would require localities to set up homeless camps.

He teased state funding for “sheltering” and “things to address some of the mental health problems we’ve seen from people on the street” and the “substance abuse.” While he was vague on that point, he has previously suggested institutionalization should be brought back.

And on the budget front, the House and Senate are poised to pass their preferred spending plans (HB 5001, SB 2500) this week. While the packages are only separated by $392 million out of more than $115 billion, the chambers significantly differ in how they approach health care programs, prison funding and education. 

Florida Politics has a full breakdown of the differences between the $115-plus billion spending plans.

Bill Day’s Latest



Evening Reads

—“‘I’ll permanently f*ck up your biorhythms’: The inside story of the Ron DeSantis super PAC’s failure.” via Marc Caputo of the Bulwark

—”DeSantis supports push to move homeless people off streets and into monitored camps” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times

—”Lawmakers rebuff DeSantis’ push to bring casino to famed Miami Beach hotel” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida

—”The stakes are high: Florida Supreme Court to hear arguments this week on whether residents will vote on abortion” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

—”Rallies planned at Florida Supreme Court; justices ready to vet pivotal abortion-rights ballot language” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix

—”Abortion rights groups don’t want to ‘restore Roe’ — but they won’t fight Biden on it” via Rachel M. Cohen of Vox

—”‘Delay and obfuscate’: Disney fights DeSantis for public records, joining others” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel

—”GoFundMe is a health care utility now” via Elisabeth Rosenthal of The Atlantic

Quote of the Day

We’re kind of like a little noodle bar in Tokyo between Godzilla and King Kong fighting it out, between the insurance companies and the Florida Justice Association.”

Bill Helmich, on an asbestos claims bill (SB 720) sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson.

4 Questions

Four questions for Madonna Finney, Legislative Chair of the Florida Adoption Council. Finney is a Board-Certified Adoption Lawyer with over 25 years of practice in private adoptions who has helped place hundreds of children into loving homes

How do private adoptions work in Florida compared to government/DCF adoptions?

In the broadest terms, private adoptions are facilitated by adoption attorneys or agencies, many of which are not-for-profit and public adoptions are facilitated by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and their subcontractors. Private adoptions allow birth mothers to have more input into the process and selection of the adoptive family, and they are faster. The lawyers and agencies who handle these private cases often spend endless hours working with both the birth mothers and the adoptive parents. Many birth mothers are in crisis and receive assistance with needed living expenses and medical care related to the pregnancy. DCF adoptions, on the other hand, involve children in the foster care system who are unable to reunite with their biological parents. The government-run process is much slower and less efficient, and the foster care system is overcrowded. Both routes ultimately share the goal of providing a safe, stable and loving home for children, but they each deal with different circumstances and needs.

What does SB 1486 do?

SB 1486 contains a provision that restricts costs and fees for a private adoption to levels below those needed to assist expectant mothers and ensure safe and legal adoptions. This includes costs such as transportation, food, clothing, shelter, and counseling. It also restricts other expenses needed to conduct a lawful, safe, and secure adoption. In doing so, the legislation will force many of those who specialize in adoption (both agencies and attorneys who assist in this area) to cease performing adoption services in Florida. This is because the cap being proposed is below the typical costs to conduct an adoption and well below what anyone would consider to be reasonable attorney and agency fees and costs. Currently, attorney fees and support for birth mothers are overseen by the courts to protect consumers against unreasonable fees, and agency fees are overseen by DCF. This bill will limit options for women and push them to rely on government bureaucracies or, worse yet, illegal facilitators and out-of-state entities that are not regulated by Florida’s oversight agencies.

What is the status of this legislation in the House?

Thanks to the steadfast leadership of Rep. Dana Trabulsy and her willingness to fully understand the complexities of handling private adoption cases, the House has removed the dangerous language from her proposed bill. We are grateful to her for working cooperatively with the adoption community — both the agencies and those attorneys who assist in the process — over the last few weeks and for being so dedicated to protecting the well-being of birth mothers, adoptive families, and adoptive children in our state. We hope the Senate will follow suit.

Over the last few years, restrictions on abortions have increased in Florida — how does that factor impact this issue?

It is especially important that we preserve adoption as a viable choice for pregnant women in the wake of abortion restrictions. For some, placing their baby for adoption is the correct moral decision, and it is a choice that should be supported with all the resources and professional guidance necessary. This legislation will mean that many birth mothers have no choice but to turn to local government bureaucracy for adoption services or, sadly, out-of-state illegal and unregulated enterprises. The government system is slow, often taking many months or years longer than private adoptions — time that neither the children nor the families can afford.

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.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has a message for college rowdies who may be coming to Florida to party: If they get out of line, be prepared for force from the state. In that case, maybe students should stick to coffee … FAFO makes a nice dark roast.

Order a round of South of the Border Fizzes for the Florida State Guard; just act fast — they’re already shipping out to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Unhoused Floridians might be heading to camp soon, so instead of covering their tab, print them a copy of this list guide of killer camping cocktails.

Breakthrough Insights

Tune In

The Miami Hurricanes have a tall task as they go on the road to face one of the hottest teams in the ACC, the Virginia Cavaliers (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Virginia (17-5; 8-3 in ACC) has won six straight games to surge into second place in the conference. The Cavaliers have beaten Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Clemson in the winning streak and have not lost a game at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

While Virginia is a low-scoring team, a staple under head coach Tony Bennett, they have been efficient. The Cavaliers average 15.6 assists per game and are tied for third in the nation in fewest turnovers committed (8.2 per game).

Miami (15-7; 6-5) wants to speed up the game’s tempo. The Hurricanes average over 80 points per game and are among the top 30 teams in the country in three-point shooting. This game will depend on which team can dictate the game’s pace. Virginia is one of the toughest teams in America to speed up, but Miami’s quartet of double-digit scorers have the potential to do just that. If Miami’s athletic wings can force turnovers and convert them into fast break points, the Canes could come away with one of their biggest wins of the year.

If the Cavaliers have it their way, the game will finish in the 60s, a tough way for Miami to win.

Also tonight:

6:30 p.m. — NCAAW: Florida A&M Rattlers @ Alabama State Hornets

6:30 p.m. — NCAAW: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats @ Alabama A&M Bulldogs

8:30 p.m. — NCAAM: Florida A&M Rattlers @ Alabama State Hornets

9 p.m. — NCAAM: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats @ Alabama A&M Bulldogs


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

One comment

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