Capitol Watch for Thursday, April 1

Capitol Watch for Thursday, April 1
(Source: News Service of Florida)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (News Service of Florida) - The following events/topics are scheduled today in Tallahassee and elsewhere:

RESIDENT TUITION AT ISSUE: The House Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 747), filed by Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, and Rep. Joe Harding, R-Williston, that would ensure in-state tuition status for residents working outside of Florida for the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Defense or while teaching at a U.S. Department of Defense dependent school. (12:30 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

SENATE CONSIDERS PROPERTY INSURANCE CHANGES: The Senate will hold a floor session and is slated to consider potentially far-reaching changes to the state’s property insurance system, including allowing insurers to limit amounts paid for homeowners’ roof damage. Supporters of the bill (SB 76), sponsored by Banking and Insurance Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, say it is needed to address financial problems in the property-insurance industry, as many customers face large rate increases and others turn to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. for coverage. In addition to making changes dealing with roof-damage claims, the bill also would place new limits on attorney fees in lawsuits filed by property owners against insurers. Opponents of the bill contend it would lead to higher out-of-pocket costs for homeowners who sustain roof damage and could make it harder for them to find legal representation. Among other bills slated for Thursday’s floor session is a measure (SB 148), sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, that would allow restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages as part of take-home meals. (1:30 p.m., Senate chamber, the Capitol.)

EMERGENCY FUND EYED: The Senate Appropriations Committee will take up a bill (SB 1892), filed by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, that would create an “emergency preparedness and response fund” within the governor’s office. The fund would receive money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and could be used to prepare or respond to emergencies. (9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

CONCEALED WEAPONS LICENSES AT ISSUE: The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 1343), filed by Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, that would require the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to continually maintain an online application process for issuing concealed-weapons licenses. (9 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

SCHOOL BOARD PAY TARGETED: The House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee will consider a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 1461), filed by Rep. Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, that would bar compensation of county school board members. (9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

HOUSE CONSIDERS PORT PREEMPTION: The House Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 267), filed by Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, and Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, that seeks to prevent local governments from regulating commerce in seaports. The proposal comes after Key West voters approved restrictions on cruise ships. (9 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

EMERGENCY WORKERS AIDED: The House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 949), sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, and Rep. Anika Omphroy, D-Lauderdale Lakes, that could help law-enforcement officers, firefighters and other public-safety workers get increased benefits if they are infected with COVID-19. The measure would create a legal “presumption” that would apply to law-enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and correctional officers. If those workers get COVID-19 or other infectious diseases and submit written declarations, they would receive a presumption they got the diseases on the job. That could help them receive increased workers’ compensation or retirement benefits. (9 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

SCHOOL ZONE CAMERAS EYED: The House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 357), filed by Rep. Nicholas Duran, D-Miami, and Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, R-Miami, that would authorize local governments to contract with vendors to install traffic cameras in school zones. The proposal aims to penalize drivers who are photographed traveling more than 10 mph over school zones’ speed limits. (12:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

UNION DUES TARGETED: The House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 835), filed by Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, that would prevent school districts from deducting union dues from teachers’ paychecks. Teachers would pay dues directly to unions. (12:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

STADIUM FUNDING IN HOT SEAT: The House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee will take up a proposal (HB 6011), sponsored by Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Lithia, that would repeal a program that could lead to spending state dollars on building and renovating professional sports stadiums. (12:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

SENATE DEMOCRATS MEET: The Senate Democratic Caucus will meet online before a floor session. (12:30 p.m.

PARENTAL RIGHTS TEED UP: The House will hold a floor session and is expected to vote on a bill (HB 241), filed by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, that would spell out a series of parental rights on issues such as education and health care. The House also is expected to vote on civics-education proposals (HB 5 and SB 146), sponsored by Rep. Ardian Zika, R-Land O’ Lakes, and Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, respectively. (3:30 p.m., House chamber, the Capitol.)

SPECIAL ORDER SET: The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will meet to set a special-order calendar, which will list bills to be heard on the Senate floor. (15 minutes after the Senate floor session.)

HOUSE RULES MEETS: The House Rules Committee will set a special-order calendar, which will list bills that will be heard during an April 7 floor session. (15 minutes after the House floor session, 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)


FSU TRUSTEES MEET: The Florida State University Board of Trustees will meet after holding a series of committee meetings. (Committees start at 9 a.m., with full board at 1:30 p.m., Augustus B. Turnbull Florida State Conference Center, 555 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee. Online at

FPL FUEL COSTS ON AGENDA: The state Public Service Commission will consider a proposal that would lead to increased bills for Florida Power & Light customers because of higher-than-expected natural gas costs. FPL is seeking to collect an additional $302.5  million related to costs of fuel for its power plants. Each fall, the Public Service Commission approves estimated utility fuel costs, which are then passed on to customers. But utilities can return to the commission for increases if fuel costs are substantially higher than projected. (9:30 a.m. Online at and on The Florida Channel.)

FRANKEL, WALTZ TALK WITH AFGHAN NEGOTIATORS: U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., will hold an online discussion with four Afghan women who are taking part in Afghanistan peace negotiations. (10 a.m. Reporters may contact ( for the Zoom link.)

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

FRIED GETS VACCINATED: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will get vaccinated against COVID-19 and hold a media availability. (1 p.m., Florida A&M University, Al Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center, 1800 Wahnish Way, Tallahassee,)

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