Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

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With the election over, new lawmakers can start hiring staff, moving into offices, filing bills and … deciding who to vote for in the effort to pick the next speaker.

In the next two sessions, Rep. Will Weatherford will lead the House but in the wake of last week’s election, the speakership in 2014 is now up in the air. Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, was in line to become speaker, but he looked almost certain this week to have lost his bid for re-election to his central Florida House seat.

The week begins with a holiday – Monday is Veterans’ Day, and state government offices are closed.

The Stand Your Ground task force meets on Tuesday and the Department of Transportation holds a distracted driving summit in Tampa that will bring U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to town.


The next release of statewide unemployment data is on Friday.


CENSUS RELEASES PUBLIC PENSIONS REPORT: The U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday will release its annual survey of public pensions. (

STAND YOUR GROUND PANEL MEETS IN PCOLA: Officially called the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, Gov. Rick Scott’s panel looking into the state’s Stand Your Ground law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case meets Tuesday in Pensacola. Public comment will be taken. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., CST, WSRE Amos Performance Studio, Pensacola State College, 1000 College Blvd., Pensacola.)

ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION LOOKS AT WATER STANDARDS: The state Environmental Regulation Commission will take up what are known as “numeric nutrient” water-quality standards for parts of Perdido Bay, Pensacola Bay (including Lower Escambia Bay), Choctawhatchee Bay, St. Andrew Bay, St. Joseph Bay, and Apalachicola Bay in northwest Florida. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Marjory Stoneman Douglas Building, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee.)

VITICULTURE ADVISORY COUNCIL: The Viticulture Advisory Council meets Tuesday in Groveland to discuss, among other things, its 2012-2013 budget request and spending authority request. Collections by the Viticulture Trust Fund and annual reports on the status of the industry also are on the agenda. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Cherry Lake Tree Farm, Groveland.)

STEWART VISITS SCHOOLS: Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart will visit two public schools in Miami-Dade County on Tuesday. At Norwood Elementary, the Commissioner will be joined by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to attend a school-wide assembly celebrating the school’s record of academic excellence. At Virginia A. Boone/Highland Oaks Elementary, Commissioner Stewart will tour the school, visit classrooms, and have lunch with the PTA president and parents. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Norwood Elementary School, 19810 N.W. 14th Court, Miami; 11 a.m., Virginia A. Boone/Highland Oaks Elementary School, 20500 N.E. 24 Ave., Miami.)

SBA AUDIT COMMITTEE: The Audit Committee of the State Board of Administration, which oversees the pension fund and other state investments, gets a presentation on audits of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, the Retirement System Trust Fund and other audits. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Room 116 Hermitage Centre, 1801 Hermitage Blvd., Tallahassee.)

LAHOOD AT DISTRACTED DRIVING SUMMIT: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is one of several officials who will speak at a summit on how to reduce distracted driving, including texting while driving. More than 3,000 people are killed annually in such crashes. The Florida Department of Transportation is one of the sponsors. (Friday, LaHood speaks at 10 a.m., with press avail at 10:45 a.m., Tampa Convention Center, Room 23., 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa.)

DIGITAL TEXTBOOKS: The Digital Instructional Materials Work Group will hold their next meeting via webinar on Tuesday. The work group was established this year by lawmakers to ensure that Florida’s school districts are ready for digital instructional material requirements that begin in 2015. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., (888) 670-3525 Toll Free or (720) 389-1212; Access Code: 686 559 9751. Agenda and Webinar info is at:

GEORGIA-PACIFIC PERMIT AT ISSUE IN PALATKA: The Department of Environmental Protection will take public comments about a draft wastewater permit for a Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Putnam County. (Tuesday, 5 p.m., Price Martin Community Center, 220 North 11th St., Palatka.)


PUTNAM SPEAKS TO PB CO CHAMBER GROUP: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the breakfast speaker Wednesday at the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, “Business Before Hours,” event. (Wednesday, 8 a.m., Doubletree Palm Beach Gardens, 4431 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.)

ELECTIONS COMMISSION LOOKS FOR DIRECTOR: The Florida Elections Commission will take up a series of issues, including conducting interviews of candidates for its executive director’s job. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

TALKING ABOUT LIP: The state’s Low Income Pool Council will discuss the so-called “LIP” program that funnels money to hospitals and other health-care providers that serve large numbers of low income and uninsured people. (Wednesday, 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

ALF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH DISCUSSED: The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting to discuss improving the way behavioral-health services are provided to Medicaid managed-care recipients who live in assisted-living facilities. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 8333 NW 53rd, Street, Suite 200, Miami.)


HOSPITAL PAYMENTS AT ISSUE: The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting to discuss the state’s shift to a new system of paying hospitals for treating Medicaid patients. The change will involve moving to what is known as a “Diagnosis Related Group,” or DRG, system. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

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


MEDICAID, KIDCARE NUMBERS WEIGHED: The Social Services Estimating Conference will discuss issues such as expenditures in the KidCare program and Medicaid caseloads. (Friday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

OCTOBER UNEMPLOYMENT: The Department of Economic Opportunity releases the state’s unemployment data for October. Unemployment was 8.7 percent in September in Florida. (Friday, 10 a.m.)

ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS ALL THE BUZZ: The Health Information Exchange Coordinating Committee will hold a conference call about issues related to electronic health records and the exchange of health information. (Friday, 10 a.m., call-in number 1-888-670-3525, pass code 499-853-5691#.)

SBA INVESTMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: The Investment Advisory Council of the State Board of Administration holds a public hearing to discuss a compensation study the council is planning. (Friday, 1 p.m., Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, 6677 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando.)

ANALYSTS LOOK AT STATE ECONOMY: The Economic Estimating Conference will discuss the Florida economy. (Friday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

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.