As pomp of session opening ends, “sausage-making” of law begins

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Now that the ceremony of opening the 2014 legislative session has passed, the “sausage-making” of Florida law begins.

Some issues on the agenda for Monday include examining the education budget, supervision of sex offenders, clarifying gambling laws for arcades and considering which school employees can carry guns.

Also up for discussion: the back-to-school sales tax holiday, online voter registration and absentee ballots, medical residency programs and school construction.

In addition, civil-rights activist and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton will be in Tallahassee to lead a rally taking aim at Stand Your Ground self-defense laws.

9 a.m.:

The Revenue Estimating Conference meets in Room 117 Knott Building to analyze the Public Education Capital Outlay, or PECO, program, which helps pay for school construction projects.

1:30 p.m.:

The Social Services Estimating Conference meets in Room 117 if the Knott Building to assess Medicaid long-term expenditures.

The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets in Morris Hall of the House Office Building to hold a workshop to review spreadsheets dealing with the “base” education budget.

2 p.m.:

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meets in Room 404 of the House office Building to take up bill HB 1105, filed by Rep. Janet Adkins, to make changes in laws dealing with the supervision of sexual predators and sexual offenders. The bill would also create a “strike force” within the Attorney General’s Office to find and arrest predators and offenders who have absconded from state care or custody.

2:30 p.m.:

The Senate Gaming Committee meets in Room 110 Senate Office Building to assess SB 668, filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, to clear up questions about a law approved last year that put Internet cafes out of business. Amusement arcades have been concerned that the law could inadvertently affect the games they offer.

4 p.m.:

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee meets in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building to take up a proposal (SB 792), filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, to reinstate the popular back-to-school tax holiday in August. The proposal would allow shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes, school supplies and other items from Aug. 1 through Aug. 3.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee meets in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building to take up a bill filed by Sen. Alan Hays (SB 968) that would allow school principals or superintendents to appoint trained employees who could carry guns on school campuses or in district administrative buildings.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meets in Room 412 of the Knott Building to consider proposal SPB 7068 to make a series of changes in elections laws, including directing the creation of an online voter-registration system. Also, the bill will clear up the controversy about where to drop off absentee ballots during early voting.

The House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation meets in Morris Hall of the House Office Building to take up bill PCB SCHCWI 14-02 that would lead to gathering more information from medical schools and hospitals about physician residency programs. Residency supporters say expanding such programs could help keep new physicians in Florida, where there is a shortage of primary-care physicians.

Elsewhere in Florida:

Civil-rights activist Al Sharpton is expected to lead a march and rally to protest Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. The march begins 9:30 a.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee, and ends at the Capitol.

Republican Richard DeNapoli, who is seeking to replace term-limited Rep. Doug Holder in House District 74, will hold a meet-and-greet campaign event at 5:30 p.m., 511 South Casey Key Road, Nokomis.

Political candidates and committees also face a Monday deadline for February filing campaign-finance reports.

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.