Today’s News From Florida’s Capitol – 1.21.20
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Today’s News From Florida’s Capitol – 1.21.20

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Legislature:

HOUSE TAKES AIM AT SUNSCREEN BANS: The House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Committee will consider a proposal (HB 113), filed by Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, that would block local governments from regulating over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics. The issue centers on a decision by Key West to ban certain types of sunscreen because of concerns that they could damage coral reefs. (9 a.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

LAWMAKERS LOOK TO CURB VIOLENT THREATS: Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, and Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Lithia, will take part in a news conference to discuss legislation (SB 1416 and HB 951) that seeks to curb violent threats against transit workers. (9:30 a.m., fourth floor, the Capitol.)

ANIMAL CREMATION AT ISSUE: The Senate Agriculture Committee will take up a bill (SB 1282), filed by Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, that would place regulations on animal-cremation services. (10 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

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HUNTING AND FISHING TAX ‘HOLIDAY’ PROPOSED: The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee will consider a proposal (SB 1310), filed by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, that would allow shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on hunting and fishing gear on Sept. 5. Shoppers would not have to pay sales taxes on purchases of rifles, shotguns, spearguns, crossbows, bows, ammunition, camping tents, fishing rods, reels, bait and tackle. (10 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

ANIMAL CRUELTY TARGETED: The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will take up a bill (SB 1044), filed by Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, that would place requirements on veterinarians about reporting cases of suspected animal cruelty to law-enforcement or animal-control officials. The bill would apply to cases involving cruelty to cats and dogs. (10 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

‘TOBACCO 21’ MEASURE CONSIDERED: The Senate Health Policy Committee will consider a proposal (SB 810), filed by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, that is known as the “Tobacco 21” bill. It would revamp regulations for tobacco and electronic-cigarette products, including increasing the minimum age to purchase products from 18 to 21. (10 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

INDECENT EXPOSURE AT ISSUE: The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 675), filed by Rep. Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, that would increase criminal penalties for indecent exposure. (10 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

BROADBAND EXPANSION BACKED: The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 969), filed by Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, that would create the Florida Office of Broadband to help with the expansion of broadband service in the state. (10 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

PATIENT RECORDS ON AGENDA: The House Health Quality Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 1147), filed by Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, that would make a series of changes to laws dealing with patients’ access to medical records. (10 a.m., 306 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

ATTORNEY FEES ON TABLE: The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will take up a bill (SB 914), filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would prevent judges from using what is known as a “contingency risk multiplier” to increase attorney fees in property-insurance lawsuits. (Noon, 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

DCF CHANGES PROPOSED: The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will consider a proposal (SB 1326), filed by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, that would make a series of changes at the Department of Children and Families. Those changes would address issues such as child protective investigations and creation of an Office of Quality Assurance and Improvement. (Noon, 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY LIMITS EYED: The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up a bill (SB 1302), filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, that would increase the potential liability of government agencies in lawsuits. The state’s sovereign immunity laws limit the amounts government agencies can be forced to pay, and the bill would increase the limits. (Noon, 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

PHARMACY DISPENSING MACHINES DISCUSSED: Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, and Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, will hold a news conference about bills (SB 708 and HB 59) that would allow pharmacies to use automated machines to dispense medication. (Noon, Suite 1003, the Capitol.)

PREGNANT INMATES ADDRESSED: Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, and Rep. Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, will take part in a news conference to discuss bills (SB 852 and HB 1259) about the treatment of pregnant prisoners. (Noon, fourth floor, the Capitol.)

RESILIENCY, SEA LEVEL RISE DISCUSSED: The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 1073), filed by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, R-Saint Johns, that would create a Statewide Office of Resiliency in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office as part of efforts to address the impacts of climate change. The proposal also calls for creating a Statewide Sea-Level Rise Task Force that would “recommend consensus projections of the anticipated sea-level rise and flooding impacts along this state’s coastline.” The task force would face a January 2021, deadline to submit the projections to the state Environmental Regulation Commission for consideration. (12:30 p.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

PROFESSIONAL REGULATIONS TARGETED: The House Business & Professions Subcommittee and the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee will take up bills (HB 1193 and SB 474), filed by Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, and Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, that would reduce or eliminate regulations on a series of professions, including hair braiders, hair wrappers and interior designers. (House subcommittee at 12:30 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol. Senate committee at 2:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

PHYSICIAN TITLES ON AGENDA: The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 309), filed by Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, that would lead to penalties for non-physicians who use titles that could indicate they are doctors. The issue stems from a decision by the Florida Board of Nursing to allow an advanced practice registered nurse to identify himself as a “nurse anesthesiologist” without facing repercussions. (12:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

LICENSE PLATE PROPOSALS CONSIDERED: The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 1135), filed by Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, that would make a series of changes related to license plates, including creating new specialty plates. That includes creating Auburn University and University of Georgia specialty plates. (12:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

BROADBAND STUDY SOUGHT: The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 9221), filed by Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, that seeks $500,000 for a study of broadband service and infrastructure. (1:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

SCHOOL SAFETY ON AGENDA: The Senate Education Committee will take up a bill (SPB 7040) that would address concerns of a grand jury that found “systemic” school-safety failures in Florida. The bill would make several changes to training requirements in the controversial school “guardian” program, increase oversight for districts’ school security plans and make changes to the state’s emergency drill policies. For example, it would require sheriff’s offices to “review and approve” psychological evaluations, drug-test results and background checks of school employees before they can be trained to carry guns in schools as part of the guardian program. In a December report, the grand jury found some school employees completed the state-funded guardian training only to later be told they could not participate in the program “due to defects in their background, psychological evaluations, or due to the failure in some other aspect of the vetting” process. (2:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

UNIVERSITY FACILITY NAMING CONSIDERED: The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee will consider a proposal (SB 7042) that would require the state university system’s Board of Governors to adopt regulations about the naming or renaming of facilities. The bill also would remove the name of former Florida Supreme Court Justice B.K. Roberts from a Florida State University College of Law building. That proposal stems from a controversy about pro-segregation opinions that Roberts wrote in the 1950s. (2:30 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS AT ISSUE: The House Health Market Reform Subcommittee will take up a bill (PCB HMR 20-02) that would place new requirements on pharmacy benefit managers as part of an effort to hold down prescription-drug costs. (3 p.m., 306 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

DFS CHANGES CONSIDERED: The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 1077), filed by Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, that would make a series of changes related to the Department of Financial Services. (3 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

PRISON HEALTH CARE DISCUSSED: The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will receive a presentation on a study about health care in the prison system. (3 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS PROPOSED: The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee will take up a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 157), filed by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, and Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, that seeks eight-year term limits for members of county school boards. (3 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

VACATION RENTAL REGULATION DEBATED: The House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 1011), filed by Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, that would take away power from cities and counties to regulate vacation rental properties. The bill would “preempt” regulation of vacation rentals to the state. Supporters of such preemption point, at least in part, to the property rights of people who decide to use platforms such as Airbnb to rent out homes or parts of homes. But critics contend that such rentals, in many cases, have turned into commercial operations in residential areas. (3 p.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

SOCIAL MEDIA AT ISSUE: Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, will hold a news conference about legislation (SB 1266) dubbed the “Stop Social Media Censorship Act.” (3 p.m., fourth floor, the Capitol.)

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION LAW EYED: The Senate Community Affairs Committee will consider a proposal (SB 514), filed by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, that would revamp laws dealing with people who seek homestead tax exemptions while also owning property in other states. (4:30 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

BOTTLED WATER FEES SOUGHT: The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will take up a bill (SB 1098), filed by Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, that would require bottled water companies to pay fees on water drawn from Florida sources. (4:30 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING OPPOSED: The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee will consider a proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 1110), filed by Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, that seeks to repeal the public campaign-financing system available to statewide political candidates. (4:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

‘PIP’ REPEAL PROPOSED: The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee will take up a bill (SB 378), filed by Chairman Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, that seeks to repeal the state’s longstanding no-fault auto insurance system. The system requires motorists to buy personal-injury protection, or PIP, coverage. (4:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS EYED: The House Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions will receive an overview of “foreign corruption of U.S. research institutions.” Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, formed the select committee after the resignation of officials at Moffitt Cancer Center because of issues involving work in China. (5:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

Also:

TEACHER EDUCATION AGREEMENT ANNOUNCED: Tallahassee Community College and Flagler College-Tallahassee will announce a partnership that will create a path for students to receive bachelor’s degrees in elementary education. (9 a.m., Tallahassee Community College, Fine and Performing Arts Center, 444 Appleyard Dr., Tallahassee.)

CALOOSAHATCHEE PROJECT DISCUSSED: The South Florida Water Management District will hold a meeting to take public input about additional water-quality improvements for the Caloosahatchee Reservoir Project. (2 p.m., Hendry County Extension Office, 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle.)

MOODY TAKES AIM AT HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Attorney General Ashley Moody will hold a news conference about efforts to prevent human trafficking as Orlando hosts the NFL Pro Bowl game on Sunday. (2:30 p.m., Orlando Police Department, 1250 West South St., Orlando.)

TURNPIKE WIDENING AT ISSUE: The Florida Department of Transportation and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise will hold a meeting about a study on the widening of the turnpike from U.S. 1, south of Palm Drive, to Campbell Drive in Miami-Dade County. (5:30 p.m., Phichol Williams Community Center, 951 S.W. Fourth St., Homestead.

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News Service of Florida