Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

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Lawmakers take a break this week for the religious holidays, Passover at the beginning of the week and Good Friday at the end – with work scheduled at the Capitol only on Wednesday and Thursday. 

By the end of the week, the Senate, at least, will have a published general appropriations act, which is expected to be out by Friday, after the Appropriations Committee’s meeting on Thursday. The bill will be before the committee for a vote the following week. 

TUESDAY

SCHOOL OVERHAULS: Backers of a bill that would give parents more say in what happens to failing schools, including being able to require that they be taken over by a charter school company, hold a media availability to discuss the bill. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Ave., Tallahassee.)

COURT HEARS CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING ISSUE: The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in part of a case challenging the congressional redistricting plan approved by lawmakers last year. The two sides have battled about whether some legislative information about the redistricting process should be considered privileged. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.)

WEDNESDAY

SENATE IN SESSION: The Senate will be in session Wednesday afternoon for two hours. Among the bills on the third reading calendar are the measure banning funeral protests (SB 118) and the measure repealing the requirement that foreign drivers have an international driving permit (SB 1766). The Senate also has a special order calendar that includes a compromise bill on the scope of practice for optometrists (SB 278). (Wednesday, 4 p.m., Senate Chamber, The Capitol.)

ALSO IN THE SENATE

CRIMINAL AND CIVIL JUSTICE APPROPRIATIONS: The budget committee for criminal and civil justice issues takes up bills related to penalties for animal cruelty (SB 504) and enhanced penalties for trespassing in a school zone by gang members (SB 788), among other bills. The panel also continues work on the budget for the Department of Corrections, the Department of Legal Affairs, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the courts and other agencies. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

SENATE ED APPROPRIATIONS: An education bill (SB 1630) that requires that the technological capacity of schools and school districts be tested for adequacy, and that only after that is done can common core standardized tests be given, is before the Senate Education Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT LEGISLATION IN TRANS, ECON DEV APPROPS: The Senate committee that deals with transportation, economic development and highway safety takes up proposed draft legislation on what to do with money from a national settlement with mortgage companies. The panel also takes up agency bills for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (SB 1458) and the Department of Economic Opportunity (SB 1024). It also hears a bill  (SB 222), sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, that spells out certain types of misconduct that would disqualify workers from receiving unemployment, and creates some other additional circumstances under which those seeking unemployment could be disqualified. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

ED INCENTIVE REVIEW: Senate Finance and Tax continues its review of economic development tax incentives, which lawmakers have had in their sites this year, following reports of some deals that may not have been the best for the taxpayers. The committee also considers a bill (SB 560) that sets up a taxing structure for natural gas for vehicles, and exempts the fuel from tax for five years, among several other measures. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

SEN GEN GOVT APPROPS: The Senate General Government Appropriations Committee continues its review of agencies whose budgets it writes, including the Departments of Agriculture and Citrus, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Lottery, the Public Service Commission, the Department of Management Services and the Department of Revenue. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

HHS APPROPRIATIONS: The Senate HHS Appropriations Committee continues its review of agencies whose budgets it writes, including the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Health. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

LARCENIA BULLARD MEMORIAL: The Senate will hold a memorial service for the late Sen. Larcenia Bullard, who died earlier this month. (Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., Senate Chamber, The Capitol.)

HOUSE

House committees scheduled to meet Wednesday (Subject to change):

Criminal Justice, 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
Education Appropriations, 8 a.m.., 17 House Office Building.
Energy and Utilities, 8 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
Health Quality, 8 a.m., 306 House Office Building.
Veteran and Military Affairs, 8 a.m., 12 House Office Building.
Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations, 8 a.m., 102 House Office Building.
Agriculture Appropriations, 10:30 a.m., 102 House Office Building.
Civil Justice, 10:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
Gov Ops, 10:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
Health Families, 10:30 a.m., 12 House Office Building.
K-12, 10:30 a.m., 17 House Office Building.
Rulemaking and Oversight, 10: 30 a.m., 306 House Office Building.

THURSDAY

SENATE 

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS: The full Senate Appropriations Committee meets as it prepares to release its proposed budget bill later in the week. The committee doesn’t have its agenda published yet for the Thursday meeting, but the Senate’s budget bill is expected to be available on Friday for inspection. Lawmakers will have the weekend to peruse it and can offer amendments by an April 1 deadline. (Thursday, 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

SPECIAL ORDER CALENDAR: The Special Order Calendar Group meets to set the calendar for next week’s floor session. (Thursday 12:15 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE

Econ Dev and Tourism, 8 a.m., 12 House Office Building
Health Innovation, 8 a.m., 306 House Office Building
Higher Ed, 8 a.m., 102 House Office Building
Insurance & Banking, 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building
Justice Appropriations, 8 a.m., 17 House Office Building
Economic Affairs, 10:30 a.m., 102 House Office Building
Judiciary, 10:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building
State Affairs, 10:30 a.m., 17 House Office Building

ALSO 

BOARD OF GOVERNORS TO GET POLY UPDATE: The Florida Board of Governors will consider a series of issues, including a report on the progress of the new Florida Polytechnic University. The update will deal with meeting “benchmarks” about issues such as accreditation, academic programming, staffing, student enrollment and facilities. The Board of Governors also will receive a report from Chancellor Frank Brogan and reports from its various committees, which will meet Wednesday and Thursday. (Thursday, 10 a.m., Grand Ballroom, Student Union, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee.)

SUPREME COURT OPINIONS: The Florida Supreme Court releases opinions. (Thursday, 11 a.m.) 

FRIDAY

SENATE BUDGET BILL PUBLISHED: The Senate’s proposed budget bill (GAA) for the coming fiscal year will be available on Friday, according to Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron. Main amendments to the GAA or the implementing bill face an April 1 deadline at 1:30 p.m., with amendments available to be seen by the public at 8 a.m. on April 2. Amendments to the conforming bill also face an April 1 deadline.

UNEMPLOYMENT: February unemployment statistics are released Friday morning by the Department of Economic Opportunity. The jobless rate dipped a bit in January to 7.8 percent in January, putting it below the national rate of 7.9 percent. (Friday, 10 a.m.)

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.