Capitol Buzz for Monday, 2/27
Five Stories To Think About Today
* The Senate will take up a bill that would allow unregulated surplus-lines insurers to take their policies out of Citizens Property Insurance. The proposal, which has already passed the House, is controversial because out-of-state insurers could raise their rates to any amount after taking over the Citizens’ policy. Sen. Mike Fasano, a vocal critic of Citizens, is planning to speak out against what he is calling the "vulture" bill.
* The Senate will also consider a proposal in session today to let the state sell the
naming rights to greenways and trails.
* Over on the House side, lawmakers in the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee are expected to hear a hotly debated bill on medical malpractice. House Bill 385 would allow the defendants in a medical malpractice action to interview a claimant's health care providers without the claimant being present. Opponents say the bill is anti-consumer -- and several victims of medical malpractice plan to testify against it.
* The House Education Committee will take up a controversial proposal on charter schools. In the bill's last committee stop, Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, tried to tack on an amendment that would require public school districts to share their construction and maintenance funds with independently run charter schools. The amendment failed in a dramatic 7-7 vote -- leading concerned school districts to breath a sigh of relief. But many observers expect the language, which remains in the Senate version of the bill, to resurface in the House.
* Additionally, the Florida Association of Children’s Hospitals and other groups will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. outside of the House Chambers to address budget proposals that would cut funding for children’s hospitals and pediatric programs.
Three Issues You Missed Over The Weekend
* A proposal to allow state agencies to conduct random tests of employees once every three months passed through a key House committee on Friday, part of the Legislature’s push to crack down on illegal drug use. Bill sponsor Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, said the proposal -- which is now headed to the floor for a vote -- would not include state Representatives and elected officials, as that would be a breach of lawmakers' First Amendment rights.
* Despite some last-minute changes to make the House’s version of no-fault auto insurance reform more palatable Friday, the measure was still criticized by Democrats, attorneys, consumer groups and chiropractors.
Who To Watch Today/Quotable Quotes
* The FBI. We want to know the dirt on what was in that "suspicious" letter sent to Sen. Macro Rubio's new office on Friday that closed down part of the area.