ADVANCES: WEEK OF MARCH 15, 2015

newservicefloridaTHE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, MARCH 13, 2015…..Florida lawmakers will dig into a series of big issues when they return to the Capitol for the third week of the legislative session. House appropriations panels will get a look at initial budget proposals. The full House is expected to take up a bill that would revamp the state’s school-testing system. Meanwhile, senators likely will continue moving forward with a proposal to extend health-care coverage to an estimated 800,000 low-income Floridians.

MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2015

Legislature:

UNEMPLOYMENT WEBSITE DISCUSSED: The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee will hear a presentation about an audit of the Department of Economic Opportunity’s “Connect” unemployment-compensation website. (Monday, 11:30 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

GROWLERS ON TAP: The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee will consider a bill (SB 186), filed by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, that would change laws dealing with brewers, including ending the state’s prohibition on being able to fill 64-ounce beer containers known as “growlers.” (Monday, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

PANEL TO TAKE TESTIMONY ABOUT PRISONS: The Senate Criminal Justice Committee is expected to continue taking testimony from Department of Corrections employees and other people about safety and security in the state’s prison system. (Monday, 2 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES TAX AT ISSUE: The Senate Finance and Tax Committee will consider a proposal (SB 110), filed by Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, that would reduce the state’s communications-services tax by 3.6 percentage points. Gov. Rick Scott has made the issue a priority, arguing that it would provide savings to consumers as they pay cell-phone and cable-television bills. (Monday, 2 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

GUNS ON CAMPUS BILL CONSIDERED: The Senate Higher Education Committee will take up a bill (SB 176), filed by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on the campuses of state colleges and universities. (Monday, 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

LAWMAKERS TAKE AIM AT DRONES: The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will take up numerous issues, including a bill (HB 649), filed by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, that seeks to prevent the use of aerial drones to conduct surveillance of people or private property. (Monday, 4 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

HOUSE BUDGET PLANS MOVE FORWARD: The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee will receive initial budget proposals for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The initial proposals are expected to be offered by Education Appropriations Chairman Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Chairman Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola. (Monday, 4 p.m., Education Appropriations, Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol. Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations, Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

HOUSE CONSIDERS PSC CHANGES: The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee will take up a proposal (PCB EUS 15-01) that would make a series of changes involving the Florida Public Service Commission, including barring future commissioners from serving more than three consecutive terms. (Monday, 4 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

SCHOOL START DATES DEBATED: The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a bill (SB 688), filed by Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, that would allow public schools to open one week earlier than currently allowed. The bill would allow districts to start classes 21 days before Labor Day each year. (Monday, 4 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

OTHER LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS:
— House Health Quality Subcommittee (Monday, 4 p.m., 306 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee (Monday, 4 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee (Monday, 4 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

Also:

BULLARD, WILSON TO CALL FOR TESTING CHANGES: State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., will hold a news conference to call for changes in Florida’s public-school testing system. (Monday, 10:30 a.m., fourth-floor rotunda, the Capitol.)

TANT TO SPEAK TO NORTH FLORIDA DEMS: Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant is expected to speak to the Democratic Club of North Florida. (Monday, 11:30 a.m., Amtrak meeting room, 918 Railroad Ave., Tallahassee.)

TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2015

Legislature:

WRITE-IN RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT TARGETED: The House Government Operations Subcommittee will take up a series of bills, including a proposal (HB 4043), filed by Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, that would eliminate a residency requirement for write-in candidates. State law currently says write-in candidates must live at the time of qualification in the districts they seek to represent. The residency requirement touched off a court battle last year in House District 64 in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. (Tuesday, 8 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

OBSTETRICAL SERVICES AT ISSUE: The Senate Health Policy Committee will take up a bill (SB 634), filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, that would require hospitals to notify doctors at least 120 days before closing obstetrical departments or halting obstetrical services. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

INITIAL HOUSE BUDGET PLANS DISCUSSED: The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, the House Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss initial budget proposals by their chairmen. (Tuesday, Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations, 9 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol. Also, Government Operations Appropriations, 12:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol. Also, Health Care Appropriations, 12:30 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

SENATORS LOOK AT CLAIM BILLS: The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a series of “claim” bills, including a bill (SB 38), filed by Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, that would compensate the family of Florida State University football player Devaughn Darling, who collapsed and died during a training session in 2001. (Tuesday, 11 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

LAND MANAGEMENT DISCUSSED: The Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss money needed for land management by the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Land management could be an important issue as lawmakers carry out a voter-approved constitutional amendment that requires spending on land and water conservation. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

HEALTH COVERAGE EXPANSION EYED: The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a plan (SB 7044) that would expand health coverage to an estimated 800,000 low-income Floridians. The plan would use billions of dollars in federal money to provide private health insurance to people who do not qualify for Medicaid. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

HOUSE TO TAKE UP TESTING REVAMP: The House will take up a number of bills during a floor session, including a proposal (HB 7069) that seeks to curb the number of tests administered to public-school students. As an example, the bill would eliminate an 11th-grade language arts test that Gov. Rick Scott has suspended. Also, the bill would allow school districts to start classes as early as Aug. 10 each year. Under current law, school is allowed to start 14 days before Labor Day, which would be Aug. 24 during the upcoming 2015-16 academic year. (Tuesday, 3 p.m., House chamber, the Capitol.)

OTHER LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS:
— House Civil Justice Subcommittee (Tuesday, 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Banking and Insurance Committee (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Community Affairs Committee (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee (Tuesday, 12:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Business & Professions Subcommittee (Tuesday, 12:30 p.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Transportation & Ports Subcommittee (Tuesday, 1:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

Also:

CITIZENS COMMITTEES TO MEET: Committees of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will hold a series of meetings. Among the topics will be “depopulation” efforts to move policies into the private insurance market. (Tuesday, meetings start at 9 a.m., Sheraton Orlando North, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr., Maitland.)

MONTHLY REVENUES TALLIED: The Revenue Estimating Conference will consider monthly revenue estimates. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

RUBIO STAFF HOLDS OFFICE HOURS: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s staff will hold “mobile office hours” in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 N.W. First St., Miami. Also, 10 a.m., Acreage Branch Library, 15801 Orange Blvd., Loxahatchee.)

JOBS NUMBERS TO BE RELEASED: The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is expected to release January unemployment figures. (Tuesday, 10 a.m.)

THRASHER TO SPEAK AT FSU DAY EVENT: Florida State University President John Thrasher is expected to speak during “FSU Day” festivities at the Capitol. (Tuesday, 11:30 a.m., Capitol plaza.)

CEREMONY TO MARK FIREFIGHTER MEMORIAL: State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Florida’s fallen-firefighter memorial. (Tuesday, 3:30 p.m., Capitol courtyard.)

THRASHER INAUGURATED AS FSU PRESIDENT: An investiture ceremony will be held for Florida State University President John Thrasher, who began the job in November. Expected participants in the ceremony include Gov. Rick Scott, FSU Board of Trustees Chairman Allan Bense and state university system Chancellor Marshall Criser. (Tuesday, 4 p.m., Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, 222 South Copeland St., Tallahassee.)

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 2015

Legislature:

SENATE TO TAKE UP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, GUN BILL: The Senate will hold a floor session and a take up a bill that would push back the date of Florida’s presidential primary elections. The proposal (SB 7036), filed by Ethics and Elections Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, would lead to presidential primaries being held on the third Tuesday in March, which would be March 15 next year. Without the change, the primaries would be held March 1 in 2016. Also, the Senate is expected to take up a bill (SB 290), filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would allow legal gun owners to carry guns without concealed-weapons licenses during the first 48 hours after emergency evacuation orders are given. A similar measure died last year in the Senate, but changes have been made to alleviate concerns raised by the Florida Sheriffs Association and some senators. (Wednesday, 10 a.m., Senate chamber, the Capitol.)

AMENDMENT 1 MONEY AT ISSUE: The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to take up a series of bills (SB 576, SB 578, SB 580, SB 582, SB 584, and SB 586) involved in carrying out a constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 1, that will require the state to set aside money for land and water conservation. Also, the committee is slated to consider a bill (SB 7020) that would take steps to increase oversight of the Department of Corrections. (Wednesday, 1:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

SCHOOL ‘PARENTAL CHOICE’ EYED: The Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee will consider a bill (SB 1552), filed by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, that would require school districts to allow parents to enroll their children in any public schools that have not reached capacity. Also, it would require school districts to have a process in which parents could request that their children be transferred to other teachers. (Wednesday, 4 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

SENATE PANEL TO LOOK AT HOUSE WATER BILL: The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will hold a workshop to discuss a wide-ranging water policy bill (HB 7003) approved by the House. (Wednesday, 4 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

LIQUOR STORE RESTRICTION TARGETED: The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will take up a proposal (SB 468), filed by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, that would repeal a longstanding law that requires liquor stores to be stand-alone facilities. If approved, the bill would allow businesses such as supermarkets to sell liquor in the same stores where they sell food and other products. (Wednesday, 4 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

HOUSE TO HOLD FLOOR SESSION: The House will meet in a floor session. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., House chamber, the Capitol.)

OTHER SCHEDULED LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS:
— House Local Government Affairs Subcommittee (Wednesday, 8 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
— House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee (Wednesday, 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Health Innovation Subcommittee (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 306 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Higher Education & Workforce Subcommittee (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Economic Development & Tourism Subcommittee (Wednesday, 10 a.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Joint Subcommittee on Auditor General Selection (Wednesday, 12:15 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

Also:

CITIZENS BOARD TO MEET: The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will meet. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Sheraton Orlando North, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr., Maitland.)

HIGHER ED ISSUES DISCUSSED: Committees of the state university system’s Board of Governors will hold a series of meetings in advance of a full board meeting Thursday. (Wednesday, meetings start at 9 a.m., Florida A&M University, Student Union, 1628 South Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd., Tallahassee.)

CABINET AIDES TO MEET: Aides to Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater will meet in preparation for a March 24 Cabinet meeting. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.)

GRAHAM, BARNETT DISCUSS CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and former American Bar Association President Martha Barnett will discuss civic engagement during an event at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. (Wednesday, 6 p.m., the University of Florida, Pugh Hall Ocora, Gainesville.)

THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2015

Legislature:

SCHEDULED LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS:
— House Education Committee (Thursday, 8 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Regulatory Affairs Committee (Thursday, 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Health & Human Services Committee (Thursday, 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Local & Federal Affairs Committee (Thursday, 9 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Sente Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Economic Affairs Committee (Thursday, 12:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Judiciary Committee (Thursday, 12:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House State Affairs Committee (Thursday, 12:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee (Thursday, 1 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Fiscal Policy Committee (Thursday, 1 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Rules Committee (Thursday, 1 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— Senate Transportation Committee (Thursday, 1 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
— House Appropriations Committee (Thursday, 3 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
— House Finance & Tax Committee (Thursday, 3 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

Also:

GREENWAYS AND TRAILS PROJECTS AT ISSUE: The Florida Greenways and Trails Council will meet and discuss issues such as a designation proposal for Hillsborough River State Park. (Thursday, 10 a.m., 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee.)

SUPREME COURT RELEASES OPINIONS: The Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its weekly opinions. (Thursday, 11 a.m.)

SCOTT HIGHER-ED PRIORITIES DISCUSSED: The state university system’s Board of Governors will take up a number of issues, including receiving an overview of Gov. Rick Scott’s legislative priorities for higher education. The board meeting will follow a series of committee meetings. (Thursday, Board of Governors meets at 11:15 or upon adjournment of committee meetings, Florida A&M University, Student Union, 1628 South Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd., Tallahassee.)

RUBIO STAFF HOLDS OFFICE HOURS: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s staff will hold “mobile office hours” in Miami-Dade and Union counties. (Thursday, noon, Miami-Dade County Library, West Flagler Branch, 5050 West Flagler St., Miami. Also, 3:30 p.m., Union County Courthouse, 55 West Main St., Lake Butler.)

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2015

HEALTH DATA REPORTING DISCUSSED: The State Consumer Health Information and Policy Advisory Council will hold a webinar and teleconference to discuss issues involving public reporting of health-care data. (Friday, 10 a.m. Teleconference call-in number: 1-888-670-3525. Participant code: 9009 672 762.)

SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 2015

CLYBURN TO SPEAK TO BROWARD DEMS: U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., is scheduled to appear at the Broward Democratic Party 2015 Unity Dinner. (Saturday, 7 p.m., Marriott Coral Springs Hotel Golf Club and Convention Center, 11775 Heron Bay Blvd., Coral Springs.)

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