Legislature budget approval process starts this week

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Apart from hundreds of proposals for new legislation, starting this week both chambers in Tallahassee will work on what many see as the Legislature’s most essential responsibility — approving budgets for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Once each chamber approves their own budget, the second half of the legislative session begins in earnest — negotiations for the state’s final spending plan.

Before that occurs, Monday will be filled with House committee meetings to consider such issues as regulating boxing matches, drug abuse recovery residences, what to include (or exclude) in public records, as well as environmental and natural springs protections.

In addition, the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee will also consider an online voter registration system.

11 a.m.:

The House Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee meets in Morris Hall, Room 17 of the House Office Building to hear three bills, including HB773, which revises rules on state regulation of boxing, kickboxing, or mixed martial arts matches.

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee (meets in Webster Hall, Room 212 of the Knott Building, a consider four bills, including HB 479, which instructs the DCF to create voluntary certification programs for drug abuse recovery residences and HB 799, to regulate licensure of transition living facilities.

1:30 p.m.:

The House Government Operations Subcommittee meets in Webster Hall, Room 212 of the Knott Building to take a number of proposals, many of them regarding access to public records, including one (HB 1151) filed by Rep. Dave Hood, which would help make it easier to get access to public records. It would also make clear that records requests do not have to be in writing unless there is a specific reason in state law requiring a written request. In addition, it would limit fees that agencies can charge for staff time needed to comply with records requests.

4 p.m.:

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee meets in Reed Hall of the House Office Building to consider a bill (HB 703), filed by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, that would change numerous laws dealing with environmental and growth-related regulations.

The Senate Agriculture Committee meet in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building to hear a proposal (SB 1576), filed by Sen. Charlie Dean and other senators, to bolster protections for Florida’s natural springs.

The Senate Ethics & Elections Committee meets in Room 412 of the Knott Building to consider a bill (SB 784), filed by Sen. Jeff Clemens, that would require the state Division of Elections to develop an online voter-registration system.

The Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee meets in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee meets in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

Elsewhere in Florida:

Drew Breakspear, commissioner of the state Office of Financial Regulation, will deliver the opening remarks at 8:20 a.m. for the annual Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Compliance and Legal Society Seminar. The summit is at Grande Lakes Orlando, 4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando.

Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford will join Gov. Rick Scott at 9:30 a.m. Central Time as he signs the legislation (HB 7015) known as the “Florida GI Bill.” The legislation, in part, will increase educational opportunities for veterans while also seeking to help draw more military families to the state. The bill signing is at the National Guard armory, 3121 Lisenby Ave. in Panama City.

University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus will speak at the Capital Tiger Bay Club at 11:30 a.m. in the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.

The National Commission on Voting Rights, organized by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will hold a hearing on elections and voting issues at 3 p.m. in the University of Miami School of Business Administration, Storer Auditorium, 5520 University Dr. in Coral Gables.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch will hold a town-hall meeting at 7 p.m. in Broward County at the Coconut Creek Community Center, 1100 Lyons Road.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.