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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Capitol Buzz: 5 things to watch today in Tallahassee



The full House meets to consider a litany of legislation -- on abortions, alimony, guns, drones, Sharia law, you name it -- while the Senate weighs competing plans to expand access to health care to uninsured Floridians.

  • So what's it going to be -- BeanCare, NegronCare or both? The Senate's health care appropriations committee will hear two proposals to cover more uninsured Floridians without expanding Medicaid. The proposal by the Senate's chief budget writer, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart,  (SB 1816) would use $51 billion in federal assistance so 1 million or more residents could purchase private health insurance. The plan pushed by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, (SB 1844) rejects federal dollars and would offer coverage to a small segment of the uninsured population through a subsidy program. It's more closely aligned with the House plan pushed by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity. The panel may vote to advance one plan or both through the committee process.
  • The House hits the chamber floor to discuss dozens of bills, some of which are going to stir up controversy. No votes are scheduled. The House will hear a trio of bills relating to unborn babies: one requiring medical care for infants that survive abortion procedures (HB 1129), one banning abortions based on gender or racial preferences (HB 845) and another that makes killing an unborn child at any stage of gestation a criminal offense (HB 759). Then there are a couple of gun measures, including one that urges Congress and the president to protect the right to bear arms (HB 545) and another (HB 1355) aiming to prevent people admitted for treatment under the Baker Act from buying guns. A bill curtailing the use of drones by law enforcement (HB 119) and an anti-Sharia law bill (HB 351) are also on tap.
  • Another issue up for consideration in the House is the hot-button proposal (HB 1279) that would revamp the Florida High School Athletic Association, which oversees some 800 schools and 32 different sports. The FHSAA is concerned about a provision that would make it easier for student athletes to transfer schools and believes the bill would open the door to recruiting at the high-school level.
  • Floridians would have more specialty license plates from which to choose if several bills cruise along through their committee hearings. The Senate panel in charge of the transportation budget will hear SB 632, which calls for license plate designs with Florida Salutes Veterans and wildflowers, and SB 274, which would create another plate celebrating freemasonry. The Senate Rules Committee will talk about adding a license plate to honor fallen law enforcement officers (SB 712).
  • The state's annual sales tax holiday is up for consideration in the Senate Finance and Tax Committee. This year's bill (SB 916) includes tax-free purchases of personal computers worth up to $750.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 5:41pm]


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