Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

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While Labor Day starts the week, the doldrums of summer are coming to an end. Legislative committees start in earnest in just a couple of weeks, but the pace of agency and commission meetings picks up this week.

The highlight may be in the courts, when on Friday U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz Balart, R-Miami and Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, go to a federal court in Miami to challenge the legality of the new redistricting standards put into place by voters in November.

Lawmakers are in town one day this week, with an LBC meeting on Wednesday.

A round-up from the News Service of Florida.

MONDAY, SEPT. 5, 2011
LABOR DAY
No public events scheduled.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 6, 2011

HOSPITAL DISTRICT TALKS CONTINUE: The Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts will continue discussing whether changes should be made in Florida’s public hospitals. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Drive, Building 3, Tallahassee.)

ELECTIONS COMMISSION DELVES INTO LEGISLATIVE ISSUES: The Florida Elections Commission will hold a conference call to discuss a proposed legislative packet. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Dial-in number: 1-888-808-6959; Conference code: 3321010629)

SUPREME COURT JNC MEETING: The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will hold its annual meeting for the purpose of electing new officers, a chair and vice-chair on Tuesday. The current members of the Supreme Court JNC are: Chair Martin Garcia, Tampa; Katherine W. Ezell, Miami; Kathleen Shanahan, Tampa; Cynthia G. Angelos, Port St. Lucie; Robert A. Butterworth, Jr., Fort Lauderdale; Alexander Murphee Clem, Orlando; Rutledge R. Liles, Jacksonville; Jeanne T. Tate, Tampa; and Jason Unger, Tallahassee. (Tuesday, 5:30 p.m.)

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 7, 2011

FWC REGULAR MEETING: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet Sept. 7-9 in Naples to discuss a wide range of fish-and-wildlife issues. The full agenda is at http://myfwc.com/about/commission/commission-meetings/2011/september/07/september/ (Wednesday-Friday, 8:30 a.m., Naples Grande, 475 Seagate Drive, Naples.)

PSC LOOKS DOWN LINE AT UTILITY PLANS: The Public Service Commission will hold a workshop to discuss long-range plans by electric utilities to make additions or changes to their systems. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

PSC TO QUIZ DIRECTOR CANDIDATES: The Public Service Commission will interview the three finalists to become the agency’s executive director. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

CITRUS COMMISSION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SEARCH: The Citrus Commission is in the middle of a search for a new executive director and the search committee meets Wednesday. The previous director, Ken Keck, left this summer. Orange juice sales have declined by more than 30 percent, despite an increase in the tax that growers pay to pay for marketing. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., Florida Department of Citrus, 605 East Main Street, Bartow. To listen by phone: 1-888-808-6959, when prompted enter code 4992373#.)

LBC CONSIDERS RACE TO THE TOP, WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT BUDGETS: Approval of $700 million in cuts to the water management budgets and $3.4 million in a home visiting grant that is crucial to Florida’s application for Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge will be considered by the Legislative Budget Commission. The commission had earlier rejected a similar federal grant because it was seen as tied to the federal health care reform law. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol..)

DANA YOUNG FUNDRAISER: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, House Speaker Dean Cannon and several others are scheduled to attend a fundraiser for Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa. (Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., 4121 N. 50 St., Tampa.)

EPA MEETING ON SAPP BATTERY SUPERFUND SITE: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency holds a public meeting about the proposed plan for groundwater cleanup of the Sapp Battery Superfund Site in Cottondale, in the Panhandle. The EPA is proposing changes to the cleanup because the site conditions have changed since the EPA selected the original cleanup strategy in 1986. Natural Attenuation is underway and has resulted in significant improvements since the source of contamination was removed in earlier cleanups. The Sapp Battery Superfund Site operated from the early 1970s until 1980. The 45-acre Site is located about five miles south of Cottondale. The public comment period for the proposed plan began August 25, 2011 and will extend until midnight September 25, 2011. (Wednesday, 6 p.m., Cottondale Community Center, 2666 Front Street, Cottondale.)

THURSDAY, SEPT. 8, 2011

OIR DIGS INTO PROPERTY RATES: The Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a hearing to consider rate-increase proposals by Fidelity Fire & Casualty Co. and First Protective Insurance Co. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Larson Building, 200 E. Gaines St., Tallahassee.)

ADDING UP LOTTERY NUMBERS: The Revenue Estimating Conference will meet to discuss the Florida Lottery. (Thursday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

PSC DIALS UP TELECOM, WATER ISSUES: The Public Service Commission will hold a regular meeting and consider four telecommunications issues and water cases from Manatee, Lake and Seminole counties. (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

PSC GETS READY FOR LEGISLATIVE SESSION: The Public Service Commission will hold an internal affairs meeting and discuss its legislative budget request for 2012-13. (Thursday, after regular PSC meeting, Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

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

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA BOARD OF TRUSTEES ANNUAL RETREAT: At its annual retreat, the University of Florida board of trustees will hear from Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, and Rep. Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine, as well as receive updates on its graduate and distance education and fundraising campaign. (Thursday, 11:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. and Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., Flagler College, 74 King Street, St. Augustine.)

CITIZENS PROPERTY BAD FAITH LAWSUIT: The state Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Citizens Property Insurance v. San Perdido Association, Inc. The San Perdido Association in Escambia County sued Citizens alleging it acted in bad faith over an insurance claim. Citizens argues that it has immunity from such suits. The trial court denied that motion, and the First District Court of Appeal held that it could not review Citizens’ challenge to the denial until after final judgment was entered. The 1st DCA certified conflict with a ruling by the Fifth District Court of Appeal in a separate case and asked the Supreme Court to resolve the issue as one of great public importance. (Thursday, about 11:40 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 S. Duval St., Tallahassee.)

FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING: Florida State University has a full plate for its September board of trustees meeting, touching on everything from a draft plan for possible 10 percent budget cuts for its legislative budget proposal, to higher education reforms and the status of construction projects. (Thursday, 1 – 5 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Augustus B. Turnbull Florida State Conference Center, 555 West Pensacola Street, Tallahassee.)

COUNCIL ON COLLEGE PRESIDENTS MEETING: Florida College System presidents gather in Pensacola for a meeting that will cover legislative priorities, PECO funding, and will hear from Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. (Thursday, 1:00-8:30 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. – adjournment, Pensacola Beach Hilton on Thursday at 12 Via de Lune Drive, Pensacola, Florida, and Pensacola State College on Friday at 1000 College Boulevard, Pensacola.)

TANF, KIDCARE IN THE CROSSHAIRS: The Social Services Estimating Conference will examine caseloads in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and KidCare programs. (Thursday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

FRIDAY, SEPT. 9, 2011

ETHICS COMMISSION MEETS: The Florida Commission on Ethics will consider several issues, including a complaint that former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner failed to properly file a financial report. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., Room 37S, Senate Office Building,  The Capitol.)

BROWN, DIAZ-BALART CHALLENGE TO FAIR DISTRICTS AMENDMENTS: U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro holds a hearing in the lawsuit brought by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, a Democrat, and Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, against the new standards by which state lawmakers must redraw districts. Those standards were put in place by the Fair Districts Amendments that were passed by voters in November, and spell out that lawmakers can’t draw districts to benefit a party or incumbent. (Friday, 10 a.m., Federal Court, 400 North Miami Avenue, Miami.)

TAKING THE PULSE OF FLORIDA ECONOMY: The Economic Estimating Conference will discuss the Florida economy and interest rates in the appropriations process. (Friday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

ATWATER V. KORTUM: The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a challenge filed by Frederick Kortum to the constitutionality of a 2008 state law that dictates how and when public insurance adjusters may contact property owners in the aftermath of a disaster. The trial court upheld the law, but the First District Court of Appeal overturned that ruling and held that the law was unconstitutional because it violated free speech rights. Chief Financial; Officer Jeff Atwater appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, which takes it up Friday. (Friday, about 11:20 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 S. Duval St., Tallahassee.)

HOTEL-RESTAURANT GROUP TALKS ONLINE BOOKING: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is holding its fall board meeting this week (Weds-Sat.) and on Friday it will host a panel discussion relating to online travel companies like Orbitz and Expedia, and the taxes that are, or aren’t collected on the transactions those companies make when they book rooms. Panelists include Sen. Thad Altman, R-Altman, Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie, FRLA Chairman-Elect and Legendary Inc. Chief Operating Officer Bruce Craul, and Amelia Island Plantation President Jack Healan.  Immediately following the panel discussion, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson will address the board. (Friday, 1 p.m., Orange County Convention Center, West Concourse, Hall B, Room 224EF, 9800 International Dr., Orlando.)

MEDICAID UPS AND DOWNS: The Social Services Estimating Conference will put Medicaid caseloads under the microscope. (Friday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

SATURDAY, SEPT. 10, 2011

STEARNS TOWN HALLS: U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns of Ocala holds four town hall meetings with constituents in the district on Saturday.
Schedule:
9 a.m., Bradford County School District Building, 501 W. Washington St., Starke.
10:45 a.m., Cecil Commerce Center, 13561 Lake Newman Street, Jacksonville.
12:45 p.m., City Hall, 321 Walnut St., Green Cove Springs.

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.