Capitol Watch: April 14, 2021

Capitol Watch: April 14, 2021
(Source: News Service of Florida)

TALLAHASSEE (News Service of Florida) - Here’s what’s on tap in the Capitol today.

GAMBLING ISSUES ON TABLE: The House Commerce Committee will take up two bills (PCB COM 21-03 and PCB COM 21-05) that would create a state “Gaming Control Commission” and do away with a requirement that many pari-mutuel facilities conduct live horse racing or jai alai games to offer more-lucrative cardrooms. (9 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

TELEHEALTH AT ISSUE: The House Health & Human Services Committee will consider a proposal (HB 247), filed by Rep. Tom Fabricio, R-Miramar, and Rep. Mike Giallombardo, R-Cape Coral, that would expand the authority of doctors to prescribe drugs through telehealth. (9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

FLOODING TAX BREAK PROPOSED: The Senate Finance & Tax Committee will consider a proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 1182), filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would provide a property-tax break to homeowners who make improvements to try to protect their properties from flooding. Under the proposal, the improvements would not be considered in determining the assessed values of properties. (9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

ELECTIONS BILL DEBATED: The Senate Rules Committee is slated to take up a controversial measure (SB 90), sponsored by Ethics and Elections Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, that would add a series of restrictions to voting by mail. (9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

POLL RELEASED ON BIG TECH: Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, is expected to take part in a media conference call about a Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies poll on voter sentiments related to social-media platforms and technology companies. (11 a.m. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87974992375?pwd=NE5kMWpuYkhRK1VxbFV0NHpQbkt5Zz09. Meeting ID: 87974992375. Passcode: 207462)

HOUSE TO VOTE ON TRANSGENDER ATHLETE BAN: The House will hold a floor session and is expected to vote on a bill (HB 1475), sponsored by Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Lake Placid, that would ban transgender females from taking part in girls’ or women’s high-school and college sports. Dubbed the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act,” the proposal would make participation in athletics contingent on determining a student’s “biological sex,” a disputed term that refers to the sex assigned at birth. Tuck has said “inherent, biological differences between men and women” give males an edge in sporting events. But opponents have argued there is no need for the bill and that it could endanger teenagers and young adults who are already vulnerable to bullying and abuse. (2 p.m., House chamber, the Capitol.)

TRANS ATHLETE BILL OPPOSED: Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, is expected to take part in a news conference held by Equality Florida to oppose a House bill that would ban transgender females from participating in girls’ or women’s high-school and college athletics. (11 a.m., outside House Office Building, the Capitol.)

SENATE DEMOCRATS MEET: The Senate Democratic caucus will meet before a Senate floor session. (2 p.m., 228 Senate Office Building, the Capitol. Public access at https://flsenate.zoom.us/j/9165394846?pwd=STZscXo3UVBaeVE5ZUJ2MXpBWTBwdz09#success. Meeting ID: 9165394846. Passcode: 410275)

SENATE TAKES UP PROTEST BILL: The Senate will hold a floor session and consider numerous issues, including a fiercely debated bill (HB 1) that Republicans argue is needed to crack down on violent protests. The bill would create a host of new crimes and enhance riot-related penalties. Gov. Ron DeSantis began floating the idea for the legislation last year after protests throughout the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. The Republican-controlled House passed the bill March 26 in a party-line vote, with Black lawmakers arguing the measure poses a threat to civil disobedience and that it wouldn’t be applied equally to Black and white protesters. (3 p.m., Senate chamber, the Capitol.)

Also:

RACIAL DISPARITIES ADDRESSED: Leaders of the Florida Council of Churches will hold a news conference to discuss reducing racial disparities. (9:30 a.m. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvdeqorjsqHtB-yz5uLScdjolDxlQIRjra)

UNEMPLOYMENT CASES WEIGHED: The state Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission will meet. (9:30 a.m. Call-in number: 850-988-5144. Conference ID: 756701156)

FRIED APPEARS IN SOUTH FLORIDA: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will make a series of appearances, including holding a roundtable discussion with Hispanic businesswomen, a news conference on COVID-19 vaccines and a discussion about Everglades restoration. (Roundtable at 10:30 a.m., Bonaventure Town Center Club, 16690 Saddle Club Road, Weston. Also, news conference at 12:45 p.m., Hialeah City Hall, 501 Palm Ave., Hialeah. Also, Everglades discussion, 3 p.m., Deering Estate, 16701 S.W. 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay.)

ELECTIONS, PROTEST BILLS OPPOSED: The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other groups will hold an online news conference to oppose a bill (SB 90) that would place restrictions on voting by mail and a bill (HB 1) that would crack down on protests. (11 a.m. Register at https://aclu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcufuqgrTgpHN07rHo9fVeWdA99w9NLkSHP)

OCOEE RIOT REMEMBERED: The Ocoee Election Day Riots Historical Review and Dedication Committee will hold an online meeting to discuss state park naming options to recognize the victims of a racially motivated 1920 riot in the Central Florida community. (1 p.m. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1732576751764239373)

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