Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

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The big news next week will come out of Washington, where Florida and other states, along with the National Federation of Independent Business, are challenging the federal health care law. The U.S. Supreme Court has set aside an extraordinary three days for the oral arguments.

There’s another case worth watching in Miami – a massive case in which plaintiffs argue that the state Medicaid program is inadequate for children.

In Tallahassee, the focus will return to redistricting, with the House expected to vote on a new Senate map by midweek, ending the special session.

A preview via The News Service of Florida.

MONDAY

PEDIATRIC CLOSING ARGUMENTS START: U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan will start hearing closing arguments in a class-action lawsuit that challenges whether Florida’s Medicaid program adequately provides medical and dental services to children. The case has been ongoing since 2005, with testimony spread over the past two years. (Monday, 8:30 a.m., Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse, 400 N. Miami Avenue, Miami.)

SUPREME COURT TAKES UP FEDERAL HEALTH LAW: The U.S. Supreme Court will begin three days of landmark hearings in a Florida-led challenge to the 2010 federal health law. The first day will center on what is known as the “anti-injunction act,” which is designed to prevent legal challenges to taxes until they take effect. While this might sound like an obscure legal concept, justices need to determine whether it blocks them from ruling on the constitutionality of the “individual mandate” in the federal health law. People who do not comply with the mandate to have health coverage in 2014 would be hit with financial penalties, which could be considered taxes. If the anti-injunction act applies, that could prevent justices from ruling on the constitutionality of the mandate until after the penalties start taking effect. (Monday, 10 a.m., U.S. Supreme Court, Washington.)

MAPS BACK TO HOUSE COMMITTEE: The House Redistricting Committee takes up the Senate plan meant to correct a map tossed by the Supreme Court earlier this month. The Senate expects the House to pass the map as it is, though some Hispanic lawmakers are unhappy with the decision not to have a fourth strongly Hispanic district in Miami-Dade County. (Monday, 2 p.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

BONDI AVAIL IN DC: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will be available to the media to discuss the challenge to the federal health care law. (Monday, 2 p.m., Florida House, One Second St., N.E., Washington, D.C.)

TUESDAY

PEDIATRIC ARGUMENTS CONTINUE: U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan will continue hearing closing arguments in a long-running lawsuit about whether Florida’s Medicaid program adequately provides medical and dental services to children. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse, 400 N. Miami Avenue, Miami.)

PSC TO DECIDE PORT EVERGLADES PROJECT: The Florida Public Service Commission is expected to decide whether to give the go-ahead for a new Florida Power & Light plant at Port Everglades in Broward County. The PSC will consider whether to approve a “determination of need,” which is a key initial step in building power plants. Also during the meeting, the PSC will consider proposed changes in the Link-Up and Lifeline program, which helps low-income people afford telephone service. (Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

JUSTICES WADE INTO INDIVIDUAL MANDATE: U.S. Supreme Court justices will hear arguments about the most-controversial part of the 2010 federal health law — what has become commonly known as the “individual mandate.” The law requires almost all Americans to have health coverage in 2014 or face financial penalties. A Florida-led challenge to the law argues that the mandate violates the U.S. Constitution, but the Obama administration contends Congress has the authority to require coverage. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., U.S. Supreme Court, Washington.)

FULL HOUSE TAKES UP MAPS: The full House gets its first crack at the Senate map aimed at fixing a series of errors that led the Supreme Court to strike down the first plan approved by the Legislature. It’s not clear yet if House leaders will attempt to force a final vote on the plan on Tuesday or will wait until Wednesday. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., House Chamber, The Capitol.)

BONDI AVAILABLE AGAIN IN DC: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will be available to the media again on Tuesday to discuss the challenge to the federal health care law. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., Florida House, One Second St., N.E., Washington, D.C.)

WEDNESDAY

FINAL DAY OF REDISTRICTING SESSION: Wednesday marks the final day of the redistricting session, with House members set to vote on the plan if they don’t do so on Tuesday. Either way, the session has to wrap up by 11:59 p.m. under the proclamation issued by Gov. Rick Scott. (Wednesday, 10 a.m., House Chamber, The Capitol.)

SUPREME COURT CONSIDERS MEDICAID EXPANSION: The U.S. Supreme Court will finish three days of hearings in the Florida-led challenge to the 2010 federal health overhaul. The third day will be broken into morning and afternoon sessions. The morning will focus on the legal concept of severability and whether the entire health law needs to be tossed out if the controversial “individual mandate” portion is found unconstitutional. The afternoon session will focus on part of the law that would lead to an expansion of Medicaid eligibility in 2014. Florida and other states argue the expansion amounts to unconstitutional “coercion” by the federal government. But the Obama administration says it will fill gaps in Medicaid and help meet the broader goal of making sure more people have health coverage. (Wednesday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., U.S. Supreme Court, Washington.)

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES DISCUSSED: The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting for managed-care plans and behavioral-health providers to discuss ways to improve services for Medicaid beneficiaries. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., WellCare Health Plans Inc., Renaissance Center, 8745 Henderson Road, Tampa. For people unable to attend, a listen-only conference call number is 1-888-808-6959. The pass code is 9762910.)

ELSEWHERE

SAVE THE FERRY TOWN HALL MEETING: A town hall meeting with officials from Nassau and Duval counties about the fate of the Mayport ferry. Attendees are expected to include Fernandina Beach Mayor Arlene Filkoff, Save the Ferry Chairwoman Elaine Brown, and Senate candidate Aaron Bean. (Wednesday, 10 a.m., City Hall, Fernandina Beach.)

THURSDAY

AMICA INSURANCE RATES PROBED: The Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a property-insurance rate hearing for Amica Mutual Insurance Co. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Larson Building, Room 116, 200 E. Gaines Street, Tallahassee.)

HEALTHY KIDS BOARD MEETS: The Florida Healthy Kids Corp. Board of Directors will meet to discuss issues related to the KidCare health-insurance program. (Thursday, 10 a.m., Hotel Duval, 415 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee.)

HEALTH CARE TRANSPARENCY EYED: The State Consumer Health Information and Policy Advisory Council will meet to discuss issues related to public reporting of health care data. (Thursday, 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee. A call-in number will be available. It is 1-888-808-6959, with a participant code of 8509223803.)

FRESH FROM FLA AT LEGOLAND: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and LEGOLAND Florida General Manager Adrian Jones will officially open the LEGOLAND Fresh From Florida Greenhouse. Putnam will plant a citrus tree to complete the project. The project is aimed at teaching visitors about Florida agricultural commodities. (Thursday, 10:30 a.m., LEGOLAND, 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven. Media: RSVP to jackie.wallace@legoland.com)

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

WATER QUALITY TALK AT BLUE SPRING: The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition will be at Blue Spring on Thursday and will be joined by Drew Bartlett, director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration and Deborah Shelley, manager of DEP’s Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve, who will discuss DEP’s efforts to improve Florida’s water quality. (Thursday, 11 a.m., Blue Spring State Park, 2100 W. French Ave., Orange City.)

DEADLINE FOR ACTION ON MEDICAID PAYMENTS-KIDCARE BILL: Gov. Rick Scott has until Thursday to decide whether to sign a bill (HB 5301) that would force counties to send tens of millions of dollars in disputed Medicaid payments to the state. Senate leaders contend counties have not fully paid required Medicaid amounts, but counties argue the billing system is riddled with problems. Counties want Scott to veto the bill. But the decision is complicated by other issues included in the legislation. For example, it includes a cost-saving move to limit the number of times Medicaid beneficiaries can visit emergency rooms each year. Also, it would allow children of low- and moderate-income state workers to enroll in the KidCare health-insurance program.

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012

ETHICS PANEL TAKES UP NORMAN, RADER CASES: The Florida Commission on Ethics will take up a series of cases, including complaints against Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, and former Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach. The Norman case involves allegations that he failed to disclose information about a vacation home in Arkansas, while the Rader case involves allegations that he did not disclose information about his interest in an insurance business. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., Florida Department of Transportation auditorium, 605 Suwannee Street, Tallahassee.)

BRODY BILL ACTION DEADLINE: Gov. Rick Scott has until Friday to act on a bill providing $10.75 million to compensate Eric Brody for brain injuries he suffered in a 1998 car crash with a Broward County sheriff’s deputy. The Legislature passed the claims bill (SB 4) during the final week of session after a years-long battle to win compensation for Brody.

CAMPAIGNS

END OF FIRST QUARTER: Friday marks the last business day in the quarter for fundraising purposes.

FUNDRAISER GOLF TOURNEY FOR SOUTHERLAND: A golf tournament fundraiser will be held for U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland. (Friday, Hombre Golf Club, 120 Coyote Pass, Panama City Beach.)

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.