Blog: What to expect this week in Florida politics

Oct 17, 2011

The following article was posted to the SaintPetersBlog on October 17, 2011: 

Capitol Preview:  What to expect this week in Florida politics

By Peter Schorsch

The Legislature returns this week, with redistricting and budget meetings, as well as hearings on actual bills in a few committees. Few of the most controversial issues are ready to be discussed, and committees are still in the period where they’re hearing a lot of presentations from the agencies they oversee.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet, meanwhile, will be leaving town. They meet Tuesday at Cape Canaveral.

A round-up from the News Service of Florida.

MONDAY, OCT. 17, 2011

MEDICAID COSTS TALLIED: The Social Services Estimating Conference will revise estimates of Medicaid expenditures, a key issue in the state budget. (Monday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

PUTNAM GOES BACK TO SCHOOL: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will join students and teachers at Mill Creek Elementary School in St. Augustine on Monday to learn more about how they are improving the nutritional value of school lunches.  Putnam will meet with Elizabeth Binninger, Director of Food and Nutrition for the St. John’s County School District and eat lunch with Mill Creek students.  (Monday, 11 a.m., Mill Creek Elementary, 3750 International Golf Parkway, St. Augustine.)

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HOUSE REDISTRICTING: After two hearings summarizing public input from hearings held around the state this summer, committee members begin to consider how to draw the state’s House districts. (Monday, 1:15 p.m., 404 House Office Building)

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SENATE REDISTRICTING: After two hearings summarizing public input from hearings held around the state this summer, committee members begin to consider how to draw the state’s Senate districts. (Monday, 1:15 p.m., 17 House Office Building)

SENATE COMMERCE AND TOURISM: Senate Commerce and Tourism will hear presentations from Enterprise Florida President and CEO Gray Swoope and its new role under recently passed legislation and reorganization of the state’s economic development arm. Members will also be briefed on efforts to commercialize public research. (Monday, 1:30 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: The Senate Transportation Committee hears from state highway safety officials on red light camera enforcement, and a controversial law allowing tickets that has some drivers and lawmakers seeing red. The panel will take public testimony after reviewing technological aspects of the camera-ticketing operations. (Monday, 1:30 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

COMMITTEE TO VET “VET” BILL: The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will take a look at SB 228, a proposal by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to set rules for veterinary immunization clinics. The panel will then hear a presentation on Florida Lottery games and compulsive gambling rehab programs for college athletes and military veterans. (Monday, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

JOINT LEGISLATIVE AUDITING: The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee gets an update on entities it took action against this year for failing to file financial reports. The panel will also hear from the Governor’s Office of Inspector General, the Department of Financial Services and the Department of Economic Opportunity. The panel also discusses recommendations for Transparency Florida, the state portal for putting information online. (Monday, 3:45 p.m., 309 Capitol.)

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING: After two hearings summarizing public input from hearings held around the state this summer, committee members begin to consider how to draw the state’s Congressional districts. (Monday, 3:45  p.m., 404 House Office Building)

TUESDAY, OCT. 18, 2011

SPACE (COAST) A FINAL FRONTIER: The Senate Military Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee takes a look at bill to expand Community Redevelopment Act eligibility to former military bases. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Larcenia Bullard, has already been approved by the Senate Community Affairs Committee and is expected to be fast tracked. The panel will also hear interim reports, including a study looking at ways to steer student veterans to science, math and technology degrees. (Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

CABINET TO RENDEZ-VOUS ON SPACE COAST: The governor and Cabinet are on the road this week, meeting at Cape Canaveral to highlight the region’s economic potential following the era of the space shuttle. They’ll get a presentation on state efforts to fill the black hole brought on by the end of the shuttle program. The new Department of Economic Opportunity is slated to give a briefing on Kennedy Center redevelopment efforts while Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll briefs the Cabinet on Space Florida. The panel also considers approval of more than $29 million in housing bonds and gets a 2012 legislative preview by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Kennedy Space Center, Debus Center, State Road 405, Cape Canaveral.)

UTILITY REGULATION ALL THE BUZZ: The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee will take part in discussions about the regulation of investor-owned, municipal and rural electric utilities. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

HOUSE CRIM JUSTICE LOOKS AT DRUGS: The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee takes up  a handful of bills including a trio of measures relating to drug abuse and rehabilitation. One (HB 177), calls for the Department of Corrections to create a re-entry program for nonviolent offenders. Another bill (HB 183) would require pre-trial drug treatment assistance for some misdemeanor offenses. A third measure (HB 125) provides protections from prosecution for persons who assist to prevent drug overdoses or drug users who turn themselves in to emergency health care providers during an apparent overdose. Also before the committee is a bill (HB 189) filed this past week that requires people who pirate audio recordings to pay restitution to the original artists or owners of the master recording. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

CRIM JUSTICE HEARS BILL TO LET DJJ PAY FOR FUNERALS WHEN DETAINEES DIE: The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee also holds the first hearing on a bill (HB 173) that would definitively give the Department of Juvenile Justice the authority to pay funeral expenses in some cases if a child dies in the agency’s custody. The bill follows the death this past summer of Eric Perez in a juvenile lock-up in Palm Beach County, and the initial refusal of the state’s chief financial officer, Jeff Atwater, to pay for his funeral expenses. The Miami Herald reported in July on an email to DJJ from the CFO’s chief of auditing, Mark Merry, that said DJJ didn’t have statutory authority to make such payments, even though the agency had a policy in the past of doing so. Perez, 18, died July 10 at a West Palm Beach detention center. His burial expenses were $7,600. Eventually, the state paid Perez’ family $5,000 toward the funeral expenses, DJJ spokesman C.J. Drake said Friday. But the bill, sponsored by Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota and Rep. John Patrick Julien, D-North Miami Beach, would make it clear that the agency’s policy is legal, Drake said. Payment of such expenses would only be allowed under the bill when the youth’s parents or guardians are indigent and when there’s no other source of funding available. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

ERA ADVOCATED: Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, and Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, will hold a press availability Tuesday on their legislation (HCR 8003, SCR 286) that would make Florida ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Later Tuesday, there will be a rally on the Old Capitol steps. (Availability: Tuesday, 9 a.m., 228 Senate Office Building, The Capitol. Rally: 5 p.m., Old Capitol.)

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION CONSIDERS VPK STANDARDS: The State Board of Education will consider whether to adopt new, rigorous standards for voluntary pre-kindergarten programs. The board will also hear a proposal to change competency requirements for teacher certification exams and weigh approval of new bachelor’s degree at state colleges. Commissioner Gerard Robinson will also update the board on the schools on “intervene” status. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Miami Edison Senior High School, 6161 NW 5th Court, Miami, Florida.)

PSC WADES INTO WATER AND WASTEWATER: The Florida Public Service Commission will consider several issues, including two water and wastewater cases from Polk County. (Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

CRISIS STABILIZATION BEDS, PSYCHOTROPIC DRUG UPDATE: The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will hear updates on the Department of Children and Families’ use of psychotropic drugs. The panel also hears interim reports on crisis stabilization units and the state’s forensic mental health system. (Tuesday, 10:45 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

JUSTICE REFORM: Florida Tax Watch will brief the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on cost savings that can be attained through criminal and juvenile justice reform efforts. The panel will also review state law on drug free zone enforcement and vocational training programs for youthful offenders. (Tuesday 10:45 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

ELECTRONIC FILING AND THE COURTS: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear presentations on issues related to electronic filing of court documents, which has required since 2009. It will consider a Senate memorial (SM 240) by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Bakers, calling on the federal government to limit its power. (Tuesday, 10:45 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE CIVIL JUSTICE: The House Civil Justice Committee takes up HB 103 dealing with transfer of tax liability, HB 4047 related to judicial census commissions and HB 4049 related to veteran’s guardianship. (Tuesday, 1:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

LOTTERY ADVERTISING DISCUSSED: The Lottery’s strategy to advertise and promote lottery games and its current marketing strategies will be discussed by the House Government Operations Subcommittee. (Tuesday, 1:30 p.m., 306 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

WHERE’S THE MAP?: The Senate Reapportionment Committee will consider statewide maps submitted by senators, civil rights groups and the public as it prepares to draw its own maps for new political boundaries. The committee will also look at scenarios for new boundaries in Northeast and central congressional and state Legislative districts. (Tuesday 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 19, 2011

HOUSE PANEL LOOKS AT CBCS: The House Health & Human Services Access Subcommittee will hear a presentation about community-based care in the child-welfare system. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

TRESPASSING, GROWTH AND SPECIAL DISTRICTS: The Senate Community Affairs Committee takes up bills including SB 156 by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, which provides tax assessment limitations on values increased because of improvements to wind resistance and renewable energy improvements. Another measure, SB 192 by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, sets out rules for the merger, dissolution and creation of special districts. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

LEAGUE TO ANNOUNCE 2012 VOTING DRIVE: The League of Women Voters of Florida will unveil its strategy for boosting voter participation in the 2012 elections at an Orlando event. The league says it is teaming up with Microsoft and supervisors of elections from various Florida counties to make voting as accessible and convenient as possible. (Wednesday 11:30 a.m., Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, 119 W. Kaley Ave, Orlando.)

STATE ENVIRONMENTAL PERMIT UPDATE: The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will hear and update from the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a statewide environmental resource permit, a move backers say will help cut red tape and delays in economic development endeavors. The panel will also consider a series of proposed bills including SB 7006, which provides some liability protections for landowners who open their tracts to hunting and other recreational uses. (Wednesday, 12:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

JUVENILE JUSTICE EDUCATION: The Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee hears an interim project on education programs delivery in the Department of Juvenile Justice. The panel also will hear presentations on education programs by Vicki Lopez Lukis, an authority on girls in the juvenile justice system and prisoner reentry in Florida and Michael Thompson, director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. (Wednesday, 12:30 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

HEALTH BUDGET SCALPEL SHARPENED: The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will hear ideas about budget cuts at the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families. (Wednesday, 1:30 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

UNEMPLOYMENT COMP: The House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee gets a presentation on unemployment compensation, and another from Enterprise Florida on International Trade. It also considers a contracting bill (HB 4033) and a measure (HB 4045) dealing with the beverage law. (Wednesday, 1:30 p.m., 102 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE TRANSPORTATION AND HIGHWAY SAFETY: The committee hears several bills, including HB 33 dealing with the length of time between changes on red lights, and a number of mostly technical measures. (Wednesday, 1:35 p.m., 306 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

SWEARING IN CEREMONY FOR SEN. GIBSON: The Senate will welcome its newest member at a ceremony in the Senate chamber. The body will welcome Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, who replaces fellow Democrat Tony Hill and will represent voters in Senate District 1. Gibson won a special election after Hill resigned his position to take a new job with the Mayor of Jacksonville. (Wednesday, 3 p.m., Senate Chamber, The Capitol.)

SCOTT’S AGENDA PRESENTED: The House Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday hears from the Scott administration on the governor’s job creation and economic growth agenda. (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., 102 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY TASK FORCE: The advisory panel takes up a series of issues including business regulation and licensing requirements. The panel will hear from staff on one-stop registration efforts and a report from Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of Foundation for Government Accountability, a Naples-based group that describes itself as a free market think tank. (Wednesday, 6:15 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

THURSDAY, OCT. 20, 2011

WATER PROPOSALS: The House Select Committee on Water Policy will meet to discuss a potential slate of recommendations to send to lawmakers in preparation for the 2012 session. Created in December by House Speaker Dean Cannon, the committee is considering recommendations on consumptive use permits and how to divvy out the increasingly precious resource. (Thursday, 8:45 a.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE FINANCE AND TAX COMMITTEE: The committee will get a preview of the governor’s jobs package that was unveiled this week in Orlando and elsewhere across the state. Scott’s plan calls for a mixture of tax breaks and other incentives, while boosting requirements for unemployment compensation recipients. Committee members will also get a briefing by the Department of Revenue on new property tax oversight and other tax administration for 2012. (Thursday, 10:30 a.m., 17 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

SUPREME COURT OPINIONS: The Florida Supreme Court releases its regular opinions. (11 a.m.)

MEASURING THE IMPACTS: The Revenue Estimating Conference will hold a so-called Impact Conference to discuss the costs of legislation. (Thursday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

FINANCE AND TAX: The Senate F&T Committee gets briefed on interim projects including a review of the capital tax investment credit program, excise tax on other tobacco products and an update on property tax issues. (Thursday, 10:45 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

SENATE BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEES MEET: A host of Senate budget subcommittees will convene to hear presentations. No substantive bills are scheduled to be heard but the panels will get updates on funding priorities for agencies and policy areas. Here’s what’s up in the subcommittees:

– HIGHER EDUCATION: The budget panel will hear presentations on the college accreditation process, the 2 + 2 baccalaureate program and adult education block tuition proposals. (Thursday, 8:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol)

-TRANSPORTATION, TOURISM AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The committee will hear budget requests from the Department of State and the Department of Military Affairs while being briefed by state highway safety officials on the merger of the office of Motor Carrier Compliance. (Thursday, 8:30 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

-CRIMINAL AND CIVIL JUSTICE: The committee will go through budget cutting exercises with a number of state public safety agencies including the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Legal Affairs. (Thursday, 10:45 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

-EDUCATION PRE-K-12: The committee takes up charter school accountability, traditional school flexibility and gets an update on school enrollment from the latest estimating conference. (Thursday, 10:45 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

– GENERAL GOVERNMENT: The General Government Budget Subcommittee will review cost savings proposals from a number of state agencies including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture, the Office of Insurance Regulation, the Public Service Commission and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (Thursday, 10:45 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

FULL BUDGET COMMITTEE: The Senate Budget Committee officially gets the bad news that previous economic estimates were too rosy and revenue collections for next 20 months will be off by about $1.5 million. Meanwhile, critical program costs continue to rise, which means the state will again face a budget gap. A House estimate made earlier in October suggests that budget writers may be about $2 billion short of funding critical programs and maintaining a reserve. One of those costs, health care, will be a separate topic of discussion as the panel is updated on options for health care across the state. (Thursday, 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

FRIDAY, OCT. 21, 2011

ETHICS COMMISSION DELVES INTO DEPUY: The Florida Commission on Ethics will take up a series of cases, including a long-running controversy about former Leon County Commissioner Ed DePuy. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., Florida Department of Transportation auditorium, 605 Suwannee St., Tallahassee.)

FUTURE OF  PUBLIC HOSPITALS PROBED: The Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts will continue discussing whether changes should be made in Florida’s public hospitals. (Friday, 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Drive, Building 3, Tallahassee.)

SEPTEMBER UNEMPLOYMENT: The Agency for Workforce Innovation releases data on unemployment for September in Florida. In August, the state’s unemployment rate was 10.7 percent. (Friday, 10 a.m.)

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