Budgets take top priority in both Florida chambers Thursday

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Budgets are on the minds of Florida legislators, as both the House and Senate are in session Thursday to approve each chamber’s spending plan before the final negotiations begin.

In addition, the House will vote on changes in state employee retirement plans, Medicaid rate calculations an omnibus economic bill that, among other things, sets up back-to-school, hurricane preparedness and the Energy Star & WaterSense product tax-free holidays.

The Senate will convene to also debate the budget, as well as vote to regulate commercial parasailing operations, restrict nursing home litigation and tighten penalties for child pornography.

8 a.m.:

The House Local & Federal Affairs Committee meets in Room 212 of the Knott Building to hear fifteen bills, including HM 1101, a house memorial urging Congress to extend Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 and HB 677, which provides discounts to military members and their families on public park fees.

8:30 a.m.:

The House Education Committee meets in Reed Hall of the House Office Building to consider CS/HB 497 — Involuntary Examinations of Minors; CS/HB 589 — Children and Youth Cabinet; CS/HB 993 – exempting from public records Animal Researchers at Public Research Facilities; HB 7033 — Middle Grades Education; and HB 7083 — School Choice.

The House Health & Human Services Committee meets in Morris Hall of the House Office Building to consider 13 various bills, including  HB 1225, which determines the distinction between notification and consent in performing HIV testing in both health care and non-health care settings.

The House Regulatory Affairs Committee meets in Room 404 of the House Office Building to consider eleven bills, including HB 783, which prevents coercive actions by a manufacturer to force dealers to sell a manufacturer’s finance company products.

9 a.m.:

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

The Senate Governmental Oversight & 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 Senate Office Building.

11 a.m.:

The House is expected to approve a roughly $75 billion budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year. This is a key step before negotiations with the Senate on a final spending plan.  The chamber will also consider HB 5005, which makes changes to the Florida state employee retirement system, as well as HB 5201 updating the data used for calculations in the Medicaid “disproportionate share program,” used to treat indigent medical patients. The House will also vote on HB 5601, an economic development bill that, in part, would establish the 2014 back-to-school, hurricane preparedness and the Energy Star & WaterSense product tax-free holidays.

The Senate will meet to take up its proposed 2014-15 budget, as well as a number of bills, including SB 320, to regulate commercial parasailing operations; SB 670, to restrict nursing home litigation; SB 182 to tighten penalties for child pornography.

Elsewhere in Florida:

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.

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 HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, 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 phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.