On Tap in the Capital: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
ON TAP IN THE CAPITAL: TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2017
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

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Legislature:

LOCAL PROJECTS REVIEWED: The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will take up numerous bills dealing with local projects. (Health Care, 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol. Also, Justice, 2 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES AT ISSUE: Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is scheduled to take part in a MADD news conference about bills (SB 918 and HB 949) that would expand the mandatory use of ignition interlock devices. (9:15 a.m., fourth floor, the Capitol.)

RIDESHARING REGULATION DEBATED: The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will take up a bill (SB 340), filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would create statewide rules for "transportation network companies" such as Uber and Lyft. The industry has supported such a system, which would prevent a variety of local regulations. (10 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

RECOVERY CARE CENTERS CONSIDERED: The Senate Health Policy Committee will consider a series of issues, including a bill (SB 222), filed by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, that would allow patients to stay up to 24 hours at ambulatory surgical centers. Current law bars overnight stays. Also, the bill calls for allowing recovery care centers, a new type of entity where patients could stay 72 hours after surgery. (10 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

'LIQUOR WALL' BILL TEED UP: The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a proposal (HB 81), filed by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, that would repeal a Depression-era law requiring liquor stores and bars to be separated from groceries and other retail goods, an issue commonly referred to as the "liquor wall." (10 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

DRYWALL TAX BREAK PROPOSED: The Senate Community Affairs Committee will take up a bill (SB 948), filed by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, that would lead to lower tax assessments for homes affected by drywall that needs remediation. The bill comes after highly publicized problems with Chinese drywall. (10:30 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

SENATORS CONSIDER VETERANS' CHIEF: The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Glenn Sutphin, who was appointed last year as executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs. (10:30 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

PAY EQUITY SOUGHT: House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, are expected to take part in a news conference about bills (SB 410 and HB 319) aimed at pay equity for women (Noon, fourth-floor rotunda, the Capitol.)

RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION AT ISSUE: The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee will take up bills (SB 436 and HB 303), filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, and Rep. Patricia Williams, D-Lauderdale Lakes, that deal with religious expression in public schools. Dubbed the "Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act," the bills, in part, would require the state Department of Education to develop a model policy that each school district would be required to adopt. (Senate Judiciary, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol. Also, House PreK-12 Quality, 2 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

PASSENGER RAIL REQUIREMENTS EYED: The Senate Transportation Committee will consider a proposal (SB 386), filed by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, that would place requirements on rail operators that want to provide high-speed passenger service. The bill, in part, would require high-speed operators to pay for safety upgrades and would give the Florida Department of Transportation regulatory authority over high-speed rail where not preempted by federal regulations. (2 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

WORKERS' COMPENSATION ON THE TABLE: The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee will take up a bill (PCB IBS 17-01) that would make changes in the workers' compensation insurance system. The bill comes after the Florida Supreme Court last year ruled that parts of the workers' compensation system were unconstitutional, including a limit on attorney fees. The rulings helped lead to a 14.5 percent insurance rate increase for businesses. (2 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

PANEL LOOKS AT EXCESS CREDITS: The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a proposal (HB 153), filed by Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, that would give a financial break to students who take too many classes before they finish their bachelor degrees but graduate on time. The bill would let baccalaureate students accumulate excess credit hours but exempt them from surcharges if they graduate in four years. (2 p.m. 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

DRUG OVERDOSE TREATMENT AT ISSUE: The House Health Innovation Subcommittee will consider several bills, including a measure (HB 61), filed by Rep. Larry Lee, D-Port St. Lucie, and Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, that would place new requirements on hospitals that treat patients for drug overdoses. (2 p.m., Mashburn Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)

NATURAL GAS INVESTMENTS DEBATED: The Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee will take up a bill (SB 1238), filed by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, that would allow electric utilities to invest in natural-gas reserves and recoup the money from customers. The bill was filed after the Florida Supreme Court last year rejected a move by Florida Power & Light to invest ratepayer money in a controversial Oklahoma natural-gas project. The committee also will hold a confirmation hearing for Public Service Commission member Donald Polmann. (2:30 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

WATER DISTRICT MEMBERS REVIEWED: The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will hold confirmation hearings for a total of six appointees to the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District and the South Florida Water Management District. (37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

OTHER LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS:
--- House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee (9 a.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
--- House Careers & Competition Subcommittee (9:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
--- House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee (9:30 a.m., Mashburn Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
--- House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee (9:30 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
--- House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee (2 p.m., 12 House Office Building, the Capitol.)

Also:

FLORIDA GULF COAST TRUSTEES MEET: The Florida Gulf Coast University Board of Trustees will meet and is expected to discuss an employment agreement with Michael Martin, who has been selected to become the university's next president. (8:30 a.m., Florida Gulf Coast University, Cohen Center, 10501 FGCU Blvd. South, Fort Myers.)

UNF TRUSTEES DISCUSS PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH: The University of North Florida Board of Trustees will meet and discuss a presidential-search process. Longtime President John Delaney recently announced he will step down in 2018. (8:30 a.m., University of North Florida, Student Union, Jacksonville.)

CABINET MEETS: Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet will meet and take up a series of proposed deals to protect rural land from development. (9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.)

ST. JOHNS WATER BOARD MEETS: The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board will meet after holding committee meetings. (Committee meetings start at 9 a.m., followed by full board, district headquarters, 4049 Reid St., Palatka.)

SUWANNEE WATER BOARD MEETS: The Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board will meet. (9 a.m., district headquarters, 9225 County Road 49, Live Oak.)

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION DOLLARS ANALYZED: The Revenue Estimating Conference will discuss the Public Education Capital Outlay, or PECO, program. (9:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

MEDICAID CUTS OPPOSED: The Florida Hospital Association and caregivers will hold a media availability to oppose potential cuts in the Medicaid program. (10 a.m., second-floor rotunda, the Capitol.)

FLORIDA ATLANTIC TRUSTEES MEET: The Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees will meet. (10 a.m., Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Campus, Administration Building, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton.)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ DISCUSSES TRUMP BUDGET: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., will hold a news conference to discuss potential budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump. (10:30 a.m., Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, media staging area between terminals 1 and 2, 100 Terminal Dr., Fort Lauderdale.)

SENIOR SCAMS TARGETED: The Florida Department of Financial Services will hold one in a series of "Be Scam Smart" workshops to help seniors avoid financial scams. (11 a.m., Capital City Christian Church Fellowship Hall, 6115 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

SCOTT SEEKS VISIT FLORIDA FUNDING: Gov. Rick Scott will hold a rally to call for funding for the Visit Florida tourism-marketing program. Scott has battled for weeks with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, about funding for Visit Florida and other programs. (2:30 p.m., Capitol rotunda, the Capitol.)

I-75 MASTER PLAN DISCUSSED: The Florida Department of Transportation will hold an open house about a northern Interstate 75 master plan. The plan involves improvements to I-75 and the ability of other north-south highways, such as U.S. 41, U.S. 301 and U.S. 441, to provide traffic relief. (5:30 p.m., Hilton Ocala, 3600 S.W. 36th Ave., Ocala.)

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3/14/2017

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