Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

in Uncategorized by

There likely will be heavy discussion this week of the Stand Your Ground law again with a state commission on the issue beginning its look at the law early in the week. A shadow commission, started by state Sen. Chris Smith, who didn’t get put on the state panel, also may release a report this week.

Another major statewide issue to be discussed this week is how to pay for construction and maintenance at the state’s universities. The university system’s Board of Governors has a task force on the issue that meets in Orlando.

On Monday, Florida will learn if its crime rate has continued to drop. The state has been at or near 40-year lows for several years in most major types of crime.


PUBLIC-PRIVATE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS SUMMIT: State disaster preparedness officials are joined by private sector officials for a summit on preparing for emergencies and catastrophes. Remarks on Monday morning will be given by Anne Miller, the president of the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon. Officials from FEMA also will participate, and Chris Canoles, the senior director of loss prevention for Home Depot will talk about the company’s response to last year’s Joplin, Mo., tornado. In addition to several breakout sessions on various topics, the summit will include a keynote address by Marshall Criser, president of AT&T Florida. Other speakers or panelists include State Meteorologist Amy Godsea, and disaster response and recovery officials from Verizon Wireless, Wells Fargo, the American Red Cross, Volunteer Florida, and other companies and government agencies. (Monday, 8:30 a.m., Continuing through Wednesday, Daytona Beach Hilton Oceanfront, 100 North Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach.)

BAR STARTS PUBLIC EDUCATION PROGRAM ON MERIT RETENTION: The Florida Bar is launching a voter education program to let people know about the merit retention process. At a news conference launching the effort will be Bar President Scott Hawkins and former Gov. Reubin Askew, among others. (Monday, 10:00 a.m., Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Ave., Tallahassee.)

CHRIS SMITH NEWSER: Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, holds a news conference to announce results of a look at the “Stand Your Ground” law by an independent group he formed. The panel is separate form a state group appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. (Monday, 1 p.m., Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Ave., Tallahassee.)

UNIVERSITY CONSTRUCTION FUNDING TASK FORCE: The Florida Board of Governors’ Task Force on Facilities Funding holds its first meeting, looking at the way university buildings are paid for and maintained. University system officials say the economy and recent legislative budgets make major investment in capital projects difficult under the current system. The universities currently rely on the Public Education Capital Outlay bond program for construction and maintenance, and PECO funding is at a historic low, with incoming taxes on electric and telecomm utilities having shrunk. The Legislature has looked at alternatives to PECO, but so far hasn’t made any changes, and earlier this year Board of Governors Facilities Committee Chairman Dick Beard said the construction issue was now a crisis. The task force has a Nov. 7 deadline to report findings and recommendations for the Legislature. “We will continue the drumbeat on this issue, because it is a three-part challenge that is coming to a head: future construction projects face real uncertainty, universities cannot keep up with the maintenance and renovations of existing taxpayer investment, and the state is issuing fewer bondable projects for the 11 institutions due to continued declining revenues,” University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said. The task force is chaired by University of West Florida President Judy Bense. (Monday 2 p.m., and continuing Tuesday, Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, 9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard, Orlando.)

FDLE TO RELEASE CRIME STATS: Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey will announce the 2011 annual Uniform Crime Report – a count of the number of various serious crimes reported by Florida police agencies in that year. The data, which come from 411 of Florida’s 414 law enforcement agencies, are the generally accepted data used to calculate the state’s crime rate. (Monday, 2 p.m., FDLE Headquarters, Third Floor, 2331 Phillips Rd., Tallahassee.)

VIVA FLORIDA 500: Officials with the Department of State hold a meeting to discuss plans for the state’s 500 year anniversary of the landing of European explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. (Monday, 2 p.m., Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, 300 Water St., Jacksonville.)

SHELLFISH SAFETY: The Department of Agriculture’s Division of Aquaculture holds a meeting to discuss the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plans of shellfish processors. The HACCP plans are food safety plans required of producers to avoid contamination. (Monday, 6 p.m., George G. Kirkpatrick Marine Lab, 11350 S.W. 153rd Court, Cedar Key.)


COASTAL CITIES SUMMIT: Officials from coastal cities around the world will be in St. Petersburg May 1-3 for the Coastal Cities Summit, hosted by the University of South Florida, the International Ocean Institute-USA and the City of St. Petersburg. Participants will discuss research and strategies for dealing with coastal risks, growth and other issues unique to cities on the shore. Stuart Rogel, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership, is the keynote speaker on Tuesday morning. The full program is at (Tuesday-Thursday, Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, 333 1st St S., St. Petersburg.)

PREPAID COLLEGE BOARD CONTRACT: The Florida Prepaid College Board holds a public meeting to discuss and evaluate responses from an invitation to negotiate (ITN #12-02) for securities lending services for the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program and Florida College Investment Plan. A copy of the agenda may be obtained by contacting the Prepaid College Board at 850-488-8514. (Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m., Hermitage Centre, 1801 Hermitage Blvd., Everglades Conference Room, Tallahassee.)

STAND YOUR GROUND TASK FORCE : Typically, task forces don’t get much attention, but this one will. Possibly the most high profile study group formed in the last few years in Tallahassee is the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, formed to take a new look at the state’s self defense law, including its 2005 “stand your ground” provision allowing people to meet force with force out in public without a duty to retreat. The task force was created by Gov. Rick Scott in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford after the shooter in the case was initially not charged by police, who accepted his claim of self defense. The shooter, George Zimmerman, has since been charged with second degree murder. The task force is chaired by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. Its first meeting on Tuesday is being billed as an “administrative meeting,” meaning it likely won’t delve too deeply into its work yet. The panel is eventually expected to make recommendations to the Legislature. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Florida Department of Transportation, 605 Suwannee St., Tallahassee.)


REGULAR FWC MEETING: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet May 2-3 at The Plantation Inn, Crystal River, to discuss several fish-and-wildlife conservation issues, including red snapper and roundscale spearfish management, anchoring and mooring, wild hog management and manatee zones. (Wednesday and Thursday, Plantation Golf Resort, Ft. Island Trail, Crystal River.


PSC PICKS UP PHONE DISPUTE: The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a hearing in a dispute between AT&T Florida and Express Phone Service, Inc., about an interconnection agreement. (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

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

FLORIDA FAMILY POLICY COUNCIL AWARDS DINNER: Florida House Speaker-Designate Will Weatherford speaks at the Florida Family Policy Council’s annual dinner. Weatherford, assuming Republicans keep control of the House in the November election, as is widely expected, becomes speaker then. The keynote speaker at the dinner is David Barton, author and the founder and president of WallBuilders. (Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.)


ETHICS PANEL TO CONSIDER HILLSBOROUGH, ORANGE CASES: The Florida Commission on Ethics will take up allegations against former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White and former Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal. The allegations against White, who was convicted last year in an unrelated bribery case, stem from a sexual-harassment complaint. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)


DEADLINE FOR STREAMLINED ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITTING BILL: Gov. Rick Scott has until Sat. May 5 to sign legislation (HB 503) that bars state and local permitting agencies from refusing to grant a permit until other permits are issued. Scott could sign the bill into law before then, however. The measure also puts a time limit on some permit applications, removes agency approval requirements for small stormwater projects and extends deadlines for certain environmental resource permits.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.