Tallahassee Update – Easter Break Edition

Here are a few highlights (and low lights) from last week’s legislative session in Tallahassee. It was the last week that committees in both chambers could meet (with the exception of Rules and Approps). i.e. if your bill is still in committee, it is likely dead this session.

  • Last week we challenged 10 state legislators to live on minimum wage for the week – $317 before taxes. We took them grocery shopping with media to highlight the struggle of living off of $45 in food for the week. See below for press hits.
  • SB 918 by Sen Flores would revise the circumstances under which a pregnancy in the third trimester may be terminated and change the definition of viability of a fetus. The bill passed its second Senate committee and has 1 more to go. House version passed on the floor last week 70-45 along party lines.
  • SB 1400 by Sen. Latvala would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet certain criteria. The bill passed its third Senate committee 8-5 and has one committee left and has already passed the full House.
  • SB 640 is Sen. Braynon’s PHT leasing bill which passed unanimously in its third committee. It has one more to go in the Senate and has already hit the floor in the Senate.
  • HB 491 by Rep. Pafford is the Infectious Disease Elimination Pilot program bill. It passed its fourth and final committee unanimously and heads to the floor for a full vote. The Senate version is also on the floor.
  • SB1114  by Sen. Simpson and HB 7173 by Rep. Boyd revise the Florida Retirement System by extending the vesting period from 8 years to 10 and creating a trigger for new hires that don’t select the defined benefit plan within an 11 month period to go into the defined investment plan. The bill only got assigned one committee in the House and is already on the floor. The Senate bill heads to appropriations next, then to the full Senate.
  • HB 7113 is the massive Trauma Centers package that would grant licenses to four central Florida trauma centers to operate. This bill was amended in its final committee to include lots of other healthcare pieces of legislation that did not make it through committee – such as ARNP expansion of scope and telemedicine.
    • Hours before the meeting, Rep. Wood (R-Winter Haven) filed an amendment that would take the power to execute contracts with unions at Jackson away from the County Commission and give it to the PHT. The County Commission/PHT lobbyist testified in opposition, along with Jackson, and SEIU. The Democrats on the committee were great in debate and the Democratic Ranking Member asked for a roll call on the amendment. The five Democrats voted no, the 12 Republicans voted yes. The bill now heads to the House floor for a full vote.
    • In the Senate, the Trauma Centers bill is sponsored by Sen. Grimsley and she has said she will not accept any amendments. We spoke with members of the Miami Delegation in the Senate, both Ds and Rs, and have made them aware to look out for any similar amendments on their side. So far all the Senators we spoke to are opposed. We will keep a close eye in the final two weeks for this amendment in the Senate. If the bill’s pass but are different, they bounce between chambers until they are identical.

Next week

  • This week legislators are back in district for Easter and they will return next week for the final two weeks where they will be on the floor only – no committees. We’ll keep a close eye on the PHT amendment and make sure it doesn’t go in the Senate. We have a meeting set with Sen. Latvala on Monday to discuss pensions. And we will see if the wage theft preemption bill gets resurrected after dying in its final committee in the House last week.
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