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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Capitol Buzz returns! 5 things to watch today in Tallahassee



Like the Swallows of San Juan Capistrano, lawmakers are returning to Tallahassee this week to start the annual 60-day legislative session. That also means the return of the Capitol Buzz -- a quick take of what's on deck today in Tallahassee.

Here are five things to watch on the day before Day 1:

  • The Senate and House will weigh the pros and cons of Medicaid expansion, together and separately. Both select committees studying how the federal Affordable Care Act will be carried out in Florida will discuss whether to support Gov. Rick Scott's proposed three-year expansion of Medicaid to the insured, or to consider alternatives.
  • The annual mad dash for campaign money will take place. Dozens of lawmakers will hold private receptions to receive money from lobbyists and their clients -- the same people who will be seeking those lawmakers' votes beginning Tuesday. State law prohibits fund-raising during the 60-day session that opens Tuesday morning.
  • Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, will offer proposed solutions to the problems with early and absentee voting last fall that delayed vote tallies and brought nationwide scorn on Florida.
  • The Panhandle's political problems will be exposed anew as the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee commands testimony from Okaloosa County officials whose use of tourist bed tax money was harshly criticized in a report by the state auditor general. Okaloosa is also the home county of Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.
  • The 76-member House Republican caucus will formalize a decision they didn't expect to make: They will designate Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, as their leader -- and probable next speaker of the House -- for the 2014-2016 term. Crisafulli, a broker and agribusinessman, rose overnight in the House GOP leadership after Rep. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary, who was the designated leader for the next term, lost his re-election.

Wanna talk more? Join us for a live chat From 11 a.m. to noon today, Times politics editors Amy Hollyfield and Aaron Sharockman will host a Twitter chat on the 2013 session. Tweet @amy_hollyfield and @asharock questions with #Timeschat.

[Last modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 4:18pm]


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