Posts Tagged ‘Influence’

Bills allowing overnight stays in ambulatory surgery centers, direct primary care agreements ready for House floor

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
The House Health and Human Services Committee sent bills that would allow direct primary care agreements and overnight stays in ambulatory surgery centers to the House floor Thursday
HB 161 would allow patients and their physicians to enter into direct primary care agreements, an alternative to traditional health care plans.
Under such agreements, patients pay a flat fee to have all their primary care needs taken care of by a primary care doctor.
The bill was filed by the Health Innovation Subcommittee, with Reps. Daniel Burgess and Mike Miller serving as sponsors.
The House Health and Human Services Committee cleared the bill during its Thursday

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Senate panel OKs beer bill — that beer companies hate

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
A bill that—as one beer-company insider put it—could allow theme parks to “extort” advertising dollars out of them cleared a Senate panel this week.
The legislation (SB 388), which allows beer companies to advertise in theme parks, was OK’d unanimously by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee with scant attention.
It chips away at the state’s “tied house evil” law by allowing ads, which could include a beer company sponsoring a concert or festival within a park. And ironically, the companies don’t want the law changed.
Moreover, a previous version of the bill theoretically could have allowed beer makers to stock the inside of any Florida bar or tavern with ads

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House committee OK’s proposal to keep BP oil funds in Northwest Florida

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
A House panel has approved legislation to make sure settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill stays in the Florida Panhandle.
The House Select Committee on Triumph Gulf Coast passed a proposed committee bill that, among other things, requires 75 percent of all payments that Florida receives from the settlement agreement between the five gulf states and BP be transferred from the general fund to the Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund.
Under the proposal, the Triumph Gulf Coast corporation can award funding for several things including:
— Public infrastructure projects to enhance economic recovery, diversification, and enhancement in the disproportionately affected

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Task Force wants money to fight encroachment on Florida military bases

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Florida would place its military installations at risk of commercial encroachment — and, possibly, closure — without adequate funding for land acquisition through the Florida Forever land acquisition program, a military support organization warned Thursday.
Some $3 million from U.S. Department of Defense funds will be lost at the end of 2018 unless the state provides matching funds, said Bruce Grant, Enterprise Florida vice president for military programs, told the Florida Defense Support Task Force during a meeting in Tallahassee.
The task force operates under Enterprise Florida’s purview.
“Most legislators may not connect (Florida Forever) with military land buffering,” Grant said. “But

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Tallahassee Democrat’s ‘capital idea,’ new Capital Team logo now reflects Tally

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In what can be described as a “step in the right direction,” the folks at Gannett unveil its new, improved “Capital Team” logo.
And this time, they get the geography right.
To recap, the USA TODAY network is assembling “seven journalists, one mission,” with a group of veteran reporters taken from the Tallahassee Democrat, Naples Daily News and Treasure Coast Newspapers – including Jeff Burlew, James Call, Bill Cotterell, Alexandra Glorioso, Isadora Rangel, Arek Sarkissian and Jeff Schweers – in a strategy to “flood” the Legislature’s annual 60-day Session with coverage.
While that side of the plan sounds solid, the chosen logo

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House panel votes to undo post-financial meltdown food stamps expansion

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
The House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to take food stamps away from 229,000 Floridians, including 157,000 children and 44,000 elderly and disabled people.
CS/SB 581, approved 18-9, would return eligibility standards for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, to pre-recession levels, Republican sponsor Frank White said.
No state money is at issue, he said — the program is financed entirely by the federal government, although the state goes halves on administration costs.
“I think every tax dollar is sacred. We should spend these tax dollars as if they were our own,” White said.
As of November, some 3.3 million Floridians drew food stamps,

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Senate passes fix to “stand your ground” law

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
The Florida Senate has passed a change to the state’s “stand your ground” law that would make it easier for criminal defendants to claim self-defense.
It was approved on a 23-15 vote during Wednesday’s floor session. Specifically, the bill would require prosecutors to prove “that a defendant is not immune from prosecution.”
The bill (SB 128), sponsored by Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley, is in reaction to a state Supreme Court decision that put the onus on the defendant to show self-defense under the law, passed in 2005.
The stand your ground law allows people who are attacked to counter deadly force with deadly

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Travis Hutson’s redistricting bill moves to Senate 3rd reading calendar

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
SB 352, a Travis Hutson bill intended to streamline the handling of redistricting cases in state courts, moved from the special order calendar to third reading Wednesday.
The bill is intended to encourage judges to conduct redistricting actions in the sunshine, including public hearings involving potential district maps, keeping minutes of closed-door meetings on the plan, facilitating public comment on maps and plans, and complete records retention of all emails and documents.
The last decade has been fraught with challenges related to post-2010 reapportionment, including four years of litigation and eight separate opinions from the Florida Supreme Court.
Hutson noted that the bill “locks the

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Capitol Reax: AOB reform, workers compensation, medical marijuana, gun bills

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee approved an assignment of benefits reform bill Tuesday. The bill links fees to pre-litigation offers of judgment and requires policyholders receive notice if a contractor files suit.
“The Consumer Protection Coalition applauds Rep. Jamie Grant and House leadership for taking on the issue of Assignment of Benefits fraud and abuse that is driving up insurance premiums and threatening the affordability of home ownership for many Floridians. Rep. Grant’s bill, HB 1421, provides a solid starting point for addressing AOB abuses and the coalition is encouraged that it passed out of the House Insurance and

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House budget panel votes to get tougher on public contributions to pro teams

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
A bill that would ban professional sports teams from building or refurbishing stadiums on public land passed the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday on a 21-8 vote.
CS/HB 77, by Bryan Avila, says “a sports franchise may not construct, reconstruct, renovate, or improve a facility on public land leased from the state or a political subdivision thereof.”
The bill also says the sale of public land for sports stadiums must be at fair market value.
Furthermore, teams would have to assume public debt undertaken for their facilities if they move away.
Florida is home to 10 professional sports franchises, of which eight would be affected.
Teams with

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Senate committee passes bill allowing free state park access to foster families

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Legislation requiring the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to give free access to the state’s parks for foster families was passed by legislators Wednesday.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources unanimously passed bill, CS-SB 64, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, would waive, or offer discounted entry, into all state parks for specified and adoptive families.
The Division of Recreation and Parks within the DEP would come up with uniform documentation standards for such families to enjoy those benefits, according to the bill.
In addition, a continuing partnership between the DEP and the Department of Children and Families would

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Mosquito control boards seeking more money from state

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Members of local mosquito control districts are in Tallahassee Wednesday to ask lawmakers for $3.8 million in next year’s budget to fight the two-winged insects.
The Florida Mosquito Control Association held a press conference in the Capitol to drum up support, appearing with state Rep. Matt Caldwell, chairman of the House Government Accountability Committee.
The problem: The state’s relatively warm winter means it’s likely there will be more active mosquitoes and another outbreak of Zika virus infections.
“With the outbreak of Zika we saw in our state last year, it is imperative that we continue to remain vigilant,” Caldwell said. “Mosquitoes ignore county lines, so we

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Committee hearing delayed on Anitere Flores’ tax swap legislation

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
A committee test turned into an anticlimax Wednesday for a Senate bill that would trade a tax break for insurance companies for one to benefit phone, cable, and satellite communications customers.
The Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax adjourned abruptly after approving a bill making technical changes to align Florida’s corporate income tax to the federal tax code. The Legislature makes the adjustment every year.
Sen. Anitere Flores didn’t show up to present what was to have been the headliner bill — SB 378, repealing a $435 million salary tax credit for insurers to finance a nearly $231 million tax break

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American Surgeons warn House against latest salvo in Florida’s resurgent Eyeball Wars

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Tallahassee has once again found itself in the thick of a renewed Eyeball Wars between optometrists and ophthalmologists.
And no less than patient safety in Florida is on the line.
After a four-year truce, optometrists have gone back on their word, drafting legislation to allow them to perform surgery; it is a proposal that ophthalmologists, the American College of Surgeons and recent scientific research suggest would be devastating to the long-term health for thousands of Floridians.
A bill now making way through the Florida House seeks to expand optometry further into the practice of medicine and surgery, an effort fiercely opposed by ophthalmologists.

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Capitol Reax: Uber, Lyft, PCI, and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions sound off on the day’s news

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee approved a bill to regulate transportation network companies, like Uber and Lyft. The bill establishes minimum insurance requirements, requires background screenings and includes consumer protection provisions.
Stephanie Smith, senior manager, public policy for Uber Technologies: “The bipartisan vote in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee is another step toward ensuring Florida doesn’t fall behind the transportation innovation curve. Thank you to Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) for his constant support and advocacy for ridesharing in the state.
Uber’s goal is to empower people through mobility, with the safety of our riders and drivers at the

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AOB reform passes House subcommittee, but it wasn’t pretty

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The Legislature has been arguing over assignment of benefits reform for years, to no avail. Tuesday, Tampa Republican James Grant found out why — the hard way.
The lesson was delivered by the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, which defeated by a single vote Grant’s bid to resolve the issue by boosting consumer protections and requiring the collection of data to allow policymakers to get a firmer hand on the problem.
The committee opted instead for an earlier draft of HB 1421, sponsored by Grant and Rene Plasencia, a Republican from Orlando. It passed, 14-1.
“You have a challenge of landing an

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‘Religious expression in public schools’ ready for full Senate vote

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
Legislation that could extend the concept of religious expression in public schools cleared its second and final Senate committee, and now awaits a floor vote.
The “Florida Student and School Personnel and Religious Liberties Act”  [SB 436], carried in the Senate by Sen. Dennis Baxley, was passed along party lines by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
The bill, should it become law, would ban school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression,” with the Florida Department of Education offering policy guidance for the state’s districts.
The bill would allow for “religious expressions,” such as prayer, at school-sponsored

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Rick Scott rallies allies for VISIT FLORIDA

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
With VISIT FLORIDA chief Ken Lawson acting as hype man, Gov. Rick Scott held a Tuesday rally inside the Florida Capitol to “save” the embattled tourism organization.
Scott, not normally a high-energy performer, worked up the crowd of hundreds in the building’s rotunda with the help of CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. In the background, Lawson hollered, “That’s right!” and “Yessir!”
“We need to remain the tourist capital of the world,” Scott said to cheers and whistling.
Meantime, dozens of hotel and restaurant employees and others in tourism-related businesses packed the Plaza level, many holding signs of support, such as “Tourism

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House committee rejects attorney-fee amendment, OKs workers’ comp bill

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee voted Tuesday narrowly against requiring workers to pay their own attorney fees in disputes over benefits.
The tally went 8-7 against an amendment by Republican Jay Fant to scrap most of a proposed committee bill addressing escalating workers’ compensation premiums.
The panel proceeded to approve the underlying bill, 14-1. Fant was the “no” vote.
Even members who voted for the amendment said they would support the bill in hopes of making improvements later.
Fant’s language would have focused on the attorney fee angle, chiefly by requiring workers and carriers to pay their own litigation costs.
That’s “the elephant in the

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House committee OK’s bill requiring septic tank inspection during home sales

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
A bill that would require septic tanks to be inspected when a home sells advanced through its first House committee Tuesday.
HB 285, sponsored by Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine, originally applied to all home sales, but was amended during the House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee to apply only to regions listed as impaired watershed areas by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Fine contends that 10 percent, or 200,000 to 300,000 homes, are leaking septic wasted into Florida’s waterways. Fine’s view is shared by parties opposed to the Lake Okeechobee land buy being pushed by Senate President Joe Negron.
The

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Bill allowing overnight ambulatory surgery stay clears Senate committee

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
A bill allowing patients to stay overnight in ambulatory surgery centers cleared its first Senate committee Tuesday with a 4-1 vote.
SB 222 by Sarasota Republican Rep. Greg Steube would allow patients to stay up to 24 hours at ASCs, a type of medical facility dedicated to less complicated, generally elective surgeries.
ASCs don’t provide primary care or diagnostics and generally require patients to be referred in by a physician once they have decided that surgery is part of their treatment plan.
Current law explicitly forbids patients staying overnight in ASCs.
The bill also contained provisions that would allow “recovery care centers,” a

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House ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ bill clears another panel — barely

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The House “whiskey & Wheaties” bill has limped out of another committee with a one-vote margin.
And that was after its sponsor fixed a problem that could have cost the Department of Business and Professional Regulation more than $250,000 in lost liquor license revenue.
The legislation (HB 81) cleared the Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday by a 7-6 vote. It previously stumbled out of the Careers and Competition Subcommittee on an 8-7 vote.
The proposal, which aims to let retailers sell hard liquor in their main stores, has fractured the Republican and Democrat caucuses alike. Now, state law requires retailers to sell distilled spirits in

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Senate committee recommends Glenn Sutphin for Veteran Affairs director

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The Senate Committee on Military and Veteran’s Affairs, Space and Domestic Security recommended Glenn W. Sutphin, Jr. as the executive director of Florida’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs Tuesday.
Sutphin, a retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. and an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott and a retired, was voted to his post unanimously by the committee.
He joined the military June 6, 1969, serving 30 years in the U.S. Army. His family has history of military service. Having served under Gov. Jeb Bush, he helped to foster an environment in Florida for veterans to be welcome, he said at the committee hearing.
“One of

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Religious expression legislation slated for Tuesday committees in House, Senate

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
Legislation that could extend the concept of religious expression in public schools will have committee hearings in the Florida House and Senate on Tuesday.
The “Florida Student and School Personnel and Religious Liberties Act” [HB 303 / SB 436] is being carried on the House side by Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels and on the Senate side by Sen. Dennis Baxley.
The bill, should it become law, would ban school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression,” with the Department of Education offering policy guidance for the state’s districts.
The bill would allow for “religious expressions,” such as prayer,

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Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

Monday, March 13th, 2017
With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round.
On and off: Tyler Teresa is no longer district secretary for Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters. GeeDee Kerr has replaced Teresa.
On: Jeremy Stein is the new district secretary for Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Mel Ponder.
Off: Nicole Pontello Is no longer district secretary for Palm Coast Republican Rep. Paul Renner.
On and off: Elizabeth Casimir is no longer district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams. Robert Moore is Williams’ new district secretary.
The post Latest on the legislative

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Is House splitting the difference over the whiskey & Wheaties bill?

Monday, March 13th, 2017
After the “whiskey and Wheaties” bill nearly whiffed in the House, a new twist was filed Monday evening.
A proposed amendment on the bill (HB 81) would create dual “liquor package store licenses,” with “Type A” licenses going to stores keeping a wall of separation between booze and other retail items, and “Type B” licenses going to those who sell liquor in the same general space as other goods.
Those getting a Type B license also must pay “an additional amount” on top of the annual license fee according to a sliding scale based on population.
The bill—sponsored by Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican—is

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Committee recommends Jeffrey Bragg for Secretary of Elder Affairs

Monday, March 13th, 2017

After a lengthy question and answer session, a Senate panel unanimously recommended to confirm Jeffrey Bragg as Florida’s Secretary of Elder Affairs Monday, an office that oversees a quarter of Florida’s 20 million residents.
The recommendation by the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs will next go to the full chamber for a confirmation vote.
Last year Bragg was rejected as the state’s insurance commissioner. He was peppered with questions by the committee, but overall, the committee supported his appointment by Gov. Rick Scott.
From Palm Harbor in Pinellas County, the 67-year-old Bragg ran the nation’s terrorism risk insurance program from

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Mother of Facebook Live suicide teen may have taunted her while watching

Monday, March 13th, 2017
In a twist to a horrible tragedy in Miami in January, a foster child who committed suicide live on social media may have been watched by her mother, according to a Florida Department of Children (DCF) and Families report released to the media Monday.
Naika Venant, 14, hung herself Jan. 22 with a scarf in the bathroom of her foster home while broadcasting the heartbreaking event for three hours in the run-up to taking her life on the Facebook Live video feature “while hundreds of viewers were watching,” a CIRRT (Critical Incident Rapid Response Team) report stated, issued by DCF

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Kionne McGhee elected leader-designate of Florida House Democrats

Monday, March 13th, 2017
House Democrats elected Kionne McGhee, a former prosecutor whose challenges as child included poverty, the murder of two family members, and a diagnosis of mental retardation, as their leader-designate Monday.
He won 23 votes against 17 for Bobby Dubose. McGhee now stands to lead his caucus effective at the beginning of the organizational session that will follow the 2018 elections.
“I want to say, together, he and I are going to move this caucus forward,” McGhee, of Miami, said of his colleague from Fort Lauderdale.
The vote came on the 13th anniversary of McGhee’s marriage to his wife, Stacy McGhee.
“Don’t you ever,

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Florida Competes says anti-discrimination bill would boost state economy by $5B

Monday, March 13th, 2017
Bills to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would boost Florida’s economic output by more than $5 billion over the next 10 years according to a study touted by Florida Competes.
The anti-discrimination advocacy group pointed to the study as part of their push for bills banning discrimination against LGBT individuals.
According to the Thinkspot study, such legislation could boost the state’s standing among skilled workers, which could create about 36,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.
The jump in employment would increase state GDP by $3.46 billion over the decade, while Florida’s total economic output would jump by

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