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The day that was in the Florida Capitol — March 23

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

This day in Florida Politics the Senate had the Capitol to itself while the House traveled back to Tallahassee. While Senate committees considered three separate tax-cut proposals, Gov. Rick Scott kicked off a “Cut My Taxes Week” by setting up a booth in the state Capitol where an average Florida family can calculate its savings from different proposals.

The Commerce and Tourism Committee approved state Sen. Dorothy Hukill’s measure to keep alive a sales and use tax exemption for industrial machinery after she agreed to meet and talk to state Sen. Aaron Bean.

The original tax cut was passed three years ago and included cement mixer drums. Hukill’s proposal to keep the exemption in place left out the mixer drums.

“Florida is built largely on concrete . . . Why were mixer drums left off and would you consider at the next stop, if the bill was considered favorably today, including mixer trucks?”

After Hukill said, “we’ll talk,” the committee gave unanimous approval to the bill.

Senate committees also moved a tax cut on college textbooks and approved a small business tax holiday to kick off the Christmas shopping season.

One thing became clear Monday: traditional taxi and limousine companies don’t like the disruptive ridesharing services like Uber. A Senate committee approved an insurance requirement that will likely increase costs to get a ride.

State Sen. David Simmons, who sponsored the measure, said it is an attempt to line up policy with technology. You can read more here.

The Senate Health Policy Committee meanwhile went in another direction, in favor of consumers. Monday it voted to prohibit manufacturers from setting the price retailers charge consumers. The debate attracted lobbyists from Las Vegas, Utah, and Washington, prompting state Sen. Don Gaetz to joke that state Sen. Tom Lee deserved a “Visit Florida Award.” The story is here.

State Sen. Greg Evers’ guns in school bill cleared his Criminal Justice Committee. The measure allows school superintendents to designate people to carry guns on campus provided that they pass a background check, complete a safety course and have a concealed weapons license.

State Sen. Jeff Clemens voted against the bill.

“If we’re going to do this, we should do this the right way and that’s to hire, and the state should pay for, school police officers to be in school full-time doing this job,” said Clemens.

The story is here.

Expect a packed room Tuesday when state Sen. Rob Bradley gavels the Regulated Industries Committee meeting to order. Bradley released the language for a proposed glitch bill for the Charlotte’s Web law approved last year but blocked from implementation by a dispute between growers and the Department of Health over rules for growing marijuana and processing oil from the plant.

The story on the proposal is here. Check the archives while at the Politics of Pot site for the background; it’s been on the story from the beginning.

Judging by the animated conversation that erupted outside the Senate documents room when the bill became available the situation is no clearer today than it was Friday.

The measure increases the number of licenses available, allows nurseries to set up a shell corporation to protect assets from the federal government and maintains the 0.8 percent THC – 10 percent CBD ratio of the original bill but also introduces a potential zoning problem into the equation.

“I think this is just a shell bill that’s going nowhere,” one veteran lobbyist was heard to quip during the discussion.

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