Capitol Preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

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The Legislature arrives in town this week, with several days of committee meetings scheduled. The House holds meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, while Senate committees meet Monday through Thursday.

House bills are also likely to be filed starting Monday.

Most of the committees are merely formally beginning their work, and will have some learning and organizational duties. A Gaming Committee meeting that had been scheduled in the Senate has already been cancelled.

The Select Committee that looks at the federal health care law will get started, however, and a number of agency heads will lay out issues they need lawmakers to address.

A preview via the News Service of Florida.

MONDAY

TOPPING THE DAY: SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON OBAMACARE: The Senate Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as it is officially known, or Obamacare as it is more commonly known, holds its first meeting. The committee, chaired by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, will mostly talk about just what it plans to do, and get an overview of the act. The new federal health care law will require an expansion of Medicaid, though most of the cost initially will be picked up by the feds. But it also requires the creation of an exchange to help people find insurance – something that at first will also be done by the feds, though Florida may eventually create its own. (Monday, 3 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

ALSO

VOLUNTARY PRE-K ESTIMATING CONFERENCE: The Early Learning Program estimating conference meets Monday to discuss the VPK program, and what projections for enrollment mean for cost projections. Voluntary Pre-K is available for free to 4-year-olds, paid for by state taxpayers. (Monday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

TUESDAY

LEGISLATURE

TOPPING THE DAY: SENATE ETHICS AND ELECTIONS: Secretary of State Ken Detzner will go before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee to brief the panel on what is known so far about what happened on Election Day. Also speaking to the panel: Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections General Counsel Ron Labasky. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

AND HOUSE ETHICS AND ELECTIONS: The House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee hears a presentation from officials at the Department of State on the laws governing the voting process and the state’s role in that process. Lawmakers have heard complaints from people who had to wait in long lines to vote on Election Day and leaders have vowed to correct whatever the problem was. The panel will also hear from the Florida State Supervisors of Elections on what the supervisors’ role is in administering voting. (Tuesday, 3 p.m., 212 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

ALSO IN THE LEGISLATURE

HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SUB: The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee holds a mostly introductory opening meeting on Tuesday with overviews of the agencies it deals with: the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Corrections, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Parole Commission. No legislation is before the panel. (Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE ENERGY AND UTILITIES: The House Energy and Utilities Sub hears presentations from the Public Service Commission, the Office of Public Counsel, and the Agriculture Department’s Office of Energy. No legislation is before the committee. (Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE VETERAN AND MILITARY AFFAIRS: The House Veteran and Military Affairs Subcommittee hears overviews of the agencies it deals with: the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs. (Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., 12 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE HEALTH QUALITY: The House Health Quality Subcommittee will hear an overview of the functions of the Department of Health on Tuesday from officials at the agency. (Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., 306 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE AG, NAT RESOURCES DISCUSSES POSSIBLE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES: Among the meetings where House members actually will do something substantive may be the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, which will hear about possible legislative issues seen by the Department of Agriculture and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The committee’s new chairman is Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres. (Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., 102 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE CHOICE AND INNOVATION: The subcommittee of the House Education Committee that will deal with school choice and electronic learning holds its first meeting on Tuesday. It will hear an overview of existing school choice options. (Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

NICHOLS AT GOV OPS: Department of Management Services Secretary Craig Nichols makes an introductory appearance Tuesday before the House Government Operations Subcommittee. DMS also will make a presentation on what it does. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., 212 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE HEALTHY FAMILIES: The Departments of Elder Affairs and Children and Families give overview presentations at the House Healthy Families Subcommittee. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., 12 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

COURTS OVERVIEW IN CIVIL JUSTICE: Members of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee will hear an overview presentation by the state courts. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

SENATE JUDICIARY: The Senate Judiciary Committee holds its first meeting under new Chairman Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. The meeting is mostly introductory, but Lee is expected to outline what he sees as the top priorities for one of the most closely-watched committees in the Legislature. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

BLUE RIBBON TF ON HIGHER ED REFORM: The House Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee listens to an overview of what the Florida Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform has found in its work. (Tuesday, 3 p.m., 102 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE INSURANCE TALKS CITIZENS DEPOP: The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee discusses proposals for reducing the number of Florida homes covered by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Lawmakers want to “depopulate” Citizens, which, charging below market rates, has quickly become the largest property insurer in the state. If it can’t pay claims, other policy holders are on the hook to bail it out, and possibly taxpayers too. (Tuesday, 3 p.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

ALSO MEETING TUESDAY (Mostly introductory meetings, and reviews of agency functions and base budget reviews)

SENATE

SENATE AGRICULTURE: 9 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building.
SENATE COMMERCE AND TOURISM: 9 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building.
SENATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE: 9 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building.
SENATE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: 2 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building.
SENATE COMM., ENERGY AND PUBLIC UTILITIES: 2 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.
SENATE EDUCATION: 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building.

HOUSE

HOUSE EDUCATION APPROPS SUBCOMMITTEE: 8:30 a.m., 17 House Office Building.
HOUSE TED APPROPS SUBCOMMITTEE: 8:30 a.m., 102 House Office Building.
HOUSE BIZ AND PROF REG SUBCOMMITTEE: 10:30 a.m., 12 House Office Building.
HOUSE TRANS AND HIGHWAY SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE: 10:30 a.m., 306 House Office Building.
HOUSE GOV OPS APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE: 10:30 a.m., 17 House Office Building.
HOUSE HEALTH CARE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE: 10:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
HOUSE AG AND NAT RESOURCES APPROPS SUBCOMMITTEE: 1 p.m., 102 House Office Building.
HOUSE K-12 SUBCOMMITTEE: 1 p.m., 17 House Office Building.
HOUSE RULEMAKING OVERSIGHT AND REPEAL: 1 p.m., 306 House Office Building.
HOUSE ECON DEVELOPMENT & TOURISM SUBCOMMITTEE: 3 p.m., 12 House Office Building.
HOUSE HEALTH INNOVATION: 3 p.m., 306 House Office Building.
HOUSE JUSTICE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE: 3 p.m., 17 House Office Building.

ALSO

GOLD SEALS DISCUSSED: The Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care will consider applications for Gold Seal award designations for nursing homes. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Crowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown, 304 West Colonial Dr., Orlando.)

JAWBONING ABOUT LIP: The Low Income Pool (LIP) Council will discuss the program that funnels about $1 billion a year to hospitals and other health providers that serve large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

PUTNAM ADDRESSES BRADENTON KIWANIS CLUB: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam addresses the Bradenton Kiwanis Club. (Tuesday, 12:15 p.m., Kiwanis Hall, 1401 21st Avenue West, Bradenton. )

JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORMS DISCUSSED: The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the agency’s efforts to reform juvenile justice. (Tuesday, 6 p.m., University Area Community Development Center, Room 139, 14013 North 22nd Street, Tampa.)

SCOFLA: INSURANCE: The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the Florida Supreme Court whether Florida law allows an insurer to require a policy holder to show up to be questioned under oath about a claim in order to receive benefits due under a personal injury protection auto policy. The question arose in a class-action lawsuit that against Geico in state court. Geico transferred the case to federal trial court, where it was dismissed, but on appeal the question arose and was sent to the Florida Supreme Court. The court hears arguments on Tuesday. (Tuesday, About 10:30 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 S. Duval St., Tallahassee.)

WEDNESDAY

LEGISLATURE

HOUSE ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Among the agenda items for the House Economic Affairs Committee is a presentation by the Department of Transportation on its Freight and Trade Mobility Plan. (Wednesday, 8:30 a.m., 102 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS: The Senate Appropriations Committee holds its first meeting on Wednesday, and while it will be largely introductory, members will get an update on Florida’s economic outlook from Amy Baker, coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research. The panel will also discuss Senate President Don Gaetz plan to have members intensively review the entire budget. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

DEPT OF AG PRESENTATION IN HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS: Officials from The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discuss possible legislative issues in the House State Affairs Committee. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 17 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

HOUSE HHS GETS UPDATE ON MEDICAID REFORM: The House Health and Human Services Committee hears a presentation from the Agency for Health Care Administration, including a status update on the effort to shift Medicaid patients statewide into managed care. (Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., 17 House Office Building, The Capitol.)

MCCARTY BEFORE SENATE B&I: Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty goes before the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Wednesday, the first meeting of the new members of the panel. The meeting is primarily introductory. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.)

DUDEK, ARMSTRONG GO BEFORE SENATE HEALTH POLICY: Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek and State Surgeon General John Armstrong go before the Senate Health Policy Committee on Wednesday. Both lead agencies under scrutiny in recent weeks. AHCA has been under fire from federal officials over the placement of disabled children in nursing homes. The Department of Justice issued a scathing report and threatened legal action in September over the issue. Meanwhile, Armstrong has been under fire for the Department of Health’s handling of a tuberculosis outbreak. Lawmakers in the Jacksonville area, where the outbreak occurred, said they found out about a spike in TB cases from newspaper reports. The meeting is supposed to be primarily introductory – neither of the controversies are specifically on the agenda for discussion. But “priority initiatives” of their agencies, and presumably, the committee, will be. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

ALSO IN THE LEGISLATURE

HOUSE JUDICIARY (Introductory): 9 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
HOUSE LOCAL AFFAIRS (Introductory): 10:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
HOUSE EDUCATION (Introductory): 10:30 a.m., 102 House Office Building.
HOUSE REGULATORY AFFAIRS (Introductory): 10:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS (Introductory): 1 p.m., 212 Knott Building.
HOUSE FINANCE AND TAX (Introductory): 1 p.m., 102 House Office Building.
SENATE COMMUNITY AFFAIRS (Introductory): 2 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.
SENATE MILITARY AFFAIRS (Introductory): 2 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building.

ALSO

LOCAL WATER SYSTEMS: The Study Committee on Investor-Owned Water & Wastewater Utility Systems will hold public meetings in New Port Richey and Eustis on Wednesday. Established by the Legislature this year, the committee is addressing issues of concern to investor-owned water and wastewater utility systems, particularly small systems and their customers, and researching possible solutions.  The Committee is gathering information for a report required to be submitted to the governor and lawmakers in February. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., West Pasco Government Center, Commission Board Room, 8731 Citizens Dr., New Port Richey; 6 p.m., Eustis Community Center, 601 Northshore Dr., Eustis.)

NCSL FALL FORUM: The National Conference of State Legislatures’ Fall Forum starts Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The group’s standing committees will examine issues including human trafficking, budget deficits, health care coverage, education and other issues. Actress Mira Sorvina addresses the group on human trafficking on Thursday.  On Friday, former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi address the group on bipartisanship. The full agenda is here: http://www.ncsl.org/meetings.aspx?tabs=2638,122,1057#1057 (Wednesday-Friday, Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.)

THURSDAY

LEGISLATURE

JONES, PRASAD IN SENATE TRANSPORTATION: Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Director Julie Jones and Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad go before the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday morning to discuss the agencies’ top priorities. (Thursday, 8:30 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

BONDI SPEAKS TO JUSTICE APPROPS: Attorney General Pam Bondi will speak Thursday to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, discussing her priority initiatives for the coming year. The panel will also hear from the clerks and comptrollers, prosecutors and public defenders, the Parole Commission, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Corrections, the Capital Collateral Regional Counsels, the Office of Guardians ad Litem, and others whose budgets are written by the committee. (Thursday, 11 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

BROGAN, STEWART, JURADO AT SENATE ED APPROPS: State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan spells out the system’s priorities in the initial meeting of the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The panel, chaired by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, also hears from Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, and Office of Early Learning Director Mel Jurado. The early learning budget – and a new formula that has led to some local early learning organizations losing money – has been controversial and a number of lawmakers have said changing the funding formula is a priority. (Thursday, 11 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

AGENCY HEADS LAY OUT NEEDS AT TRANS BUDGET SUB: Heads of several state agencies that are funded through the Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development budget are before that committee in the Senate on Thursday. The heads of the National Guard, the Division of Emergency Management, The Department of State, the highway safety agency, the Department of Transportation and the state’s economic development agency all will go before the panel. (Thursday, 11 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

DUDEK, ARMSTRONG REPEAT IN HHS APPROPS: Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek and State Surgeon General John Armstrong go before the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, repeating presentations they’ll give Wednesday in Senate Health Quality. (Thursday, 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

ALSO

SENATE ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION: (Introductory) 8:30 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
SENATE GOV OVERSIGHT: (Introductory) 8:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building.
SENATE REG INDUSTRIES: (Introductory) 8:30 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building.
SENATE FINANCE AND TAX: (Introductory) 2 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building.
SENATE GENERAL GOV APPROPS: (Introductory) 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.

ALSO

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

PECO ESTIMATE: The Revenue Estimating Conference meets Thursday to discuss the Public Education Capital Outlay program. Forecasters back in August reduced the amount of money expected to be available for education construction projects in the coming year, based on how much the state is expected to earn from utility taxes. Economists had earlier estimated that the state will not have any funding for bonded projects until the 2014-2015 fiscal year, when some large projects that are bankrolled by bonds are paid off. (Thursday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

FRIDAY

TRANSPORTATION ESTIMATING CONFERENCE: The Revenue Estimating Conference meets Friday to look at expected transportation revenue for possible revisions in the forecast. (Friday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

OIL SPILL PREPARATIONS DISCUSSED: The Florida Commission on Oil Spill Response Coordination, formed after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, discusses protecting the state from potential future disasters. It’s the group’s final meeting before a Jan. 1 due date for a report. (Friday, 9 a.m., CST, Walton County South Annex Branch Office,31 Coastal Centre Blvd., Santa Rosa 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.