An early start Thursday for the Florida Legislature

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Early starts for the Florida Legislature — and they will need the extra time, with several dozen bills on the agenda for consideration.

Among the issues facing House committees, include another look at gambling reform and expansion, setting alternative rental-car surcharge rate, protecting the Spiny Lobster, establishing the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame, limit liabilities on donations of perishable foods and set a Florida Poet Laureate.

Elsewhere, Orlando mega-attorney John Morgan continues his medical marijuana explanation tour in Volusia County, and the Department of Environmental Protection holds public hearings in Pensacola to discuss the state’s water quality issues.

8 a.m.:

The House Economic Affairs Committee meets in Reed Hall, Room 102 of the House Office Building, the Capitol to consider: CS/HB 343 – setting an alternative rental car surcharge rate; HB 345 – Transportation; HB 513 – to determine the State Poet Laureate; CS/HB 537 — Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board; HB 559 — Military Veterans; and HB 749 – to establish the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame.

The House Judiciary Committee meets in Room 404 of the House Office Building to consider: HB 23 – regulations on canned or perishable food that are distributed free of charge; CS/HB 405 – limits liabilities on Trusts; CS/CS/HB 425 – rules on condominiums; and CS/HB 635 – Guardianship; and HB 7039 — exempts persons engaging in certain activities from criminal prosecution for unlicensed practice of law.

9 a.m.:

The House State Affairs Committee meets in Morris Hall, Room 17 of the House Office Building to consider: CS/HB 21 – regulations on county employees; CS/HB 47 – protection of the Spiny Lobster by setting penalties for posession; CS/HM 81 – a memorial asking the U.S. Congress to set term limits; and HB 915 – for the removal of an  (unnamed) member of the Board of Trustees of Bay Medical Center, Bay County.

The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee meets in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meets in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee meets in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.

The Senate Transportation Committee meets in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

10:30 a.m.:

The House Select Committee on Gaming meets in Morris Hall, Room 17 of the House Office Building, the Capitol to take up HB 1383, the gaming reform bill, and PCB SCOG 14-01 to determine voter control of gambling expansion.

1 p.m.:

The Senate Appropriations Committee meets in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

2 p.m.:

The House Appropriations Committee Room 212 of the Knott Building to consider: HB 515 — Public Assistance Fraud; CS/HB 629 – Charities; HB 7041 — Trust Funds/Re-creation/Federal Grants Trust Fund/DBPR; HB 7043 — Trust Funds/Re-creation/Federal Grants Trust Fund/DFS; HB 7053 — Trust Funds/Re-creation/State Economic Enhancement & Development Trust Fund/DEO; HB 7059 — Trust Funds/Termination/Department of Economic Opportunity; HB 7067 — Trust Funds/Re-creation/Welfare Transition Trust Fund/DOE; and HB 7079 — Trust Funds/Termination & Administration/DOACS.

The House Finance & Tax Subcommittee meets in Morris Hall, Room 17 of the House Office Building to consider: HB 357 — Water and Wastewater Utility Systems; HB 377 — Educational Facilities Financing; HB 651 — Value Adjustment Board Proceedings; and HB 657 – revises provisions on the tax on insurance premiums.

Elsewhere in Florida:

The Florida Public Service Commission will take up a series of issues starting 9:30 a.m. at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, in Tallahassee. The agenda includes a dispute about the rate structure of Gainesville Regional Utilities Secretary of State Ken Detzner is expected to take part in a press event 10:30 a.m. at the Museum of Florida History for a new exhibit called “The Lure of Florida Fishing.” Museum of Florida History is at 500 South Bronough St. in Tallahassee.

The Florida Supreme Court will release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.

Orlando attorney John Morgan will speak at the Tiger Bay Club of Volusia County Thursday, 11:45 a.m., at the Club at Pelican Bay, 350 Pelican Bay Dr., in Daytona Beach. Morgan will discuss a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. He has led the effort to get the amendment on the November ballot.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection continues a series of meetings around the state to receive public comment on the department’s water quality assessment and restoration priorities over the next two years. The next meeting is in Pensacola at the DEP Northwest District Office, 160 W. Government St., from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. More information and notice of future meetings can be found here.


Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.