Capitol Watch for Thursday, March 11

Capitol Watch for Thursday, March 11
Florida lawmakers began a 60-day session March 2. (Source: News Service of Florida)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WWSB) - Florida Senate and House committees will be taking up the following bills on Thursday, March 11:

LIABILITY PROTECTIONS AT ISSUE: The Senate Rules Committee will consider two bills (SB 72 and SB 74), filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would help shield businesses and health-care providers from lawsuits related to COVID-19. (8:15 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

TAXES ON INTERNET SALES EYED: The House Ways & Means Committee will take up a bill (HB 15), filed by Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, and Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, that would expand the collection of sales taxes on goods sold online. The bill would require many out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales taxes on goods sold to Florida customers. House and Senate leaders have announced a plan to use the additional money to shore up the state’s unemployment compensation system. (9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

TAX HOLIDAY ON TABLE: The Senate Finance and Tax Committee will take up a bill (SB 598), filed by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, that seeks to hold a back-to-school sales tax “holiday” from July 30 through Aug. 8. During the period, shoppers would be able to buy clothes, school supplies and personal computers without paying sales taxes. (9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

SOLAR AT SCHOOLS BACKED: Sen. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, and Rep. Omari Hardy, D-West Palm Beach, will hold an online news conference to discuss legislation aimed at making it easier for schools to install solar-energy systems. (11 a.m. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_qImEWfDYQE2om247lj-t4A)

VACATION RENTALS TEED UP: The Senate Appropriations Committee will take up a bill (SB 522), filed by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, that would largely give the state control of regulation of vacation rental properties, preventing local restrictions. (11:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

SPECIAL ORDER SET: The House Rules Committee will set a special-order calendar, which will list bills that will be heard during a March 18 floor session. (11:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

BISCAYNE BAY AT ISSUE: The House Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 1177), filed by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs, that would take steps to improve water quality in Biscayne Bay. (12:45 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE TARGETED: The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 777), filed by Rep. Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, that would increase criminal penalties for tampering with evidence in cases involving crimes such as murder, sexual battery, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse. (12:45 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

FARMING, DISTILLERY ISSUES ON SENATE FLOOR: The Senate will hold a floor session and take up a series of bills, including a bill (SB 88), filed by Sen. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, that could help shield farmers from lawsuits and a bill (SB 46), filed by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, that would revamp regulations for craft distilleries. (2:30 p.m., Senate chamber, the Capitol.)

SEA LEVEL RISE GETS FOCUS: The Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a wide-ranging proposal (HB 7019), sponsored by Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, R-Coral Gables, that would address the effects of rising sea levels because of climate change. Among other things, the bill would create a program to provide grants to local governments for efforts to prepare for potential flooding and sea level rise. (2:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

ACHIEVEMENT GAP AT ISSUE: The House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee will take up a bill (PCB ELE 21-02) that would create the Task Force on Closing the Achievement Gap for Boys within the state Department of Education. (2:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION ON TABLE: The House Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 571), filed by Rep. David Smith, R-Winter Springs, that would expand a tax exemption for certain non-profit homes for the aged. (2:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

‘DISABILITY’ ABORTIONS DEBATED: The House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 1221), filed by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, that would ban abortions that women seek because of tests showing that fetuses will have disabilities. The bill targets what are described as “disability abortions,” which would involve situations in which physicians know pregnant women are seeking abortions because fetuses will have disabilities. Such disabilities would include such things as physical disabilities, intellectual or mental disabilities or Down syndrome. (2:30 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

CHILD ARRESTS TARGETED: The House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee is expected to take up a proposal (HB 303), filed by Rep. Patricia Williams, D-Lauderdale Lakes, that would prevent children under age 7 from being arrested. The proposal is dubbed the “Kaia Rolle Act,” after a child who was arrested at age 6 in Orlando. (4:15 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH EXEMPTION SOUGHT: The House Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 997), filed by Rep. Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, that would create a public-records exemption for information about people applying to become presidents of state universities and colleges. (4:15 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

CRAFT DISTILLERIES ON TAP: The House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 737), filed by Rep. Nick DiCeglie, R-Indian Rocks Beach, that would revamp regulations for craft distilleries. (4:15 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

SPACE VEHICLE PARTS EYED: The House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 221), sponsored by Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, that addresses the recovery of space vehicles, such as space capsules, launch vehicles and parachutes. As an example, it would require people who find space vehicles to report them to law enforcement. (4:15 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

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