Despite the fact that it is a redistricting year and there’s a budget short fall, the debate over gambling, and destination resorts with casinos has already begun to dominate the early stages of the legislative year.
This coming week, gambling will be in the mix, starting with a forum on Tuesday at which several proponents and one opponent will discuss the issue on an early morning Chamber of Commerce panel Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale.
Then on Friday, state economists as part of the revenue estimating process, will take a look at gaming revenue in an impact conference.
The other major legislative news of the week is likely to come on Monday, when lawmakers and others finally get their first glimpse of the Senate’s intentions for redistricting. The Reapportionment Committee’s staff will release its first Senate and congressional district draft.
This week also marks the end of the 2011 hurricane season, probably best remembered outside Florida, because of Hurricane Irene, which tracked up the Atlantic seaboard and menaced the northeast.
A round-up from the News Service of Florida.
MONDAY, NOV. 28, 2011
SENATE COMMITTEE SET TO PUBLISH REDISTRICTING DRAFT: The staff of the Senate Reapportionment Committee is set to publish a rough draft of its redistricting plan for state Senate and congressional districts, the first time an official legislative proposal for the once-a-decade process will be revealed. The committee is scheduled to decide the following week whether to file the measure as a committee bill. (Monday)
NEW EVERGLADES CAUCUS: A new bipartisan Everglades Legislative Caucus in the Florida Legislature will hold a news conference to announce its formation discuss its priorities. The leaders of the group include a House Democrat, Rep. Steven Perman, D-Boca Raton, and a Senate Republican, Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera. Expected participants also include representatives from the Everglades Coalition, Everglades Foundation, Arthur R. Marshall Foundation, Friends of the Marshall Refuge, and others who support restoration of the Everglades ecosystem. (Monday, 1 p.m., Bedner’s Farm, 12033 U.S. Hwy 441, Boynton Beach.)
IMPACT CONFERENCE: The revenue estimating conference meets to look at financial impacts of a number of bills. Included in the review are the fiscal impact of changes to tax assessments on distressed property (HB 251, SB 928); property tax exemptions for spouses of deceased emergency responders (HJR 93); business tax repealers (HB 4025, SB 760) and oil and gas severance taxes on mature oil fields (HB 87)(Monday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)
TUESDAY, NOV. 29, 2011
GAMBLING FORUM: Several local chambers of commerce are co-hosting a debate-style forum on the proposal to expand casino gambling in Florida, with Orlando attorney John Stemberger, the President of the Florida Family Policy Council as the anti-gambling voice on the five person panel and four people in favor of the proposal. The advocates for more gambling who will participate are Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, the sponsor of the casino bill; Dan Adkins, president of the Marti Gras Casino; Bob Wyre, general manager of Isle Casino and Racing; and Nick Iarossi, lobbyist for Los Vegas Sands. The main sponsor of the debate is the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, and it will be moderated by Antonio Fins, editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Questions from the audience will be part of the forum. (Tuesday, 7:30 a.m., Westin Cypress Creek Hotel, 400 Corporate Dr., Fort Lauderdale.)
AQUA HEARING STARTS TO FLOW: The Florida Public Service Commission will start a multi-day hearing about Aqua Utilities Florida’s request for a $4.1 million rate increase for water and wastewater services. (Tuesday, 9: 30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)
MORE TALK ABOUT LIP: The Low Income Pool Council will discuss the $1 billion program that funnels money to hospitals and other health providers that serve low-income and uninsured patients. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee.)
DRAFT BEAR MANAGEMENT PLAN DISCUSSED: State wildlife officials are seeking input on a proposed new management plans for Florida’s Black Bears. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has scheduled several public hearings on the draft plan, including Tuesday evening’s meeting in Naples. The draft plan can be found at