Capitol Buzz for Thursday, 2/23
Five Stories To Think About Today
* The Senate takes up the budget today, and it's already shaping up to be a fight. Tampa Sen. Jim Norman has filed three amendments to the budget that would restore about $55 million to the cut proposed for the University of South Florida. USF supporters have loudly protested what they see as unfair treatment in light of Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander's push to make USF's Lakeland branch campus into the state's 12th university. That push is the subject of another bill slipped into the budget, one that would split USF Polytechnic off immediately, rather than allowing it to continue down a path for independence laid out by the Florida Board of Governors.
* The budget is among dozens of other bills on the Senate's session lineup, including one that reduces some license fees for concealed carry permit holders (HB 5061).
* A proposed committee bill by the House would offer reforms to assisted-living facilities. It will be considered in the Health and Human Services Committee.
* The House will go into session in the afternoon and debate House and Senate versions of claims bills for William Dillon, the man wrongfully imprisoned 27 years for a murder he did not commit. He was exonerated by DNA evidence. Passage is a priority of Senate President Mike Haridopolos.
* It's Florida Right to Life Day at the Capitol, so it's fitting a House committee will take up a wide-ranging abortion bill (HB 277) that lays out restrictions on third trimester abortions, requires owners of new clinics to be doctors and imposes a 24-hour waiting period, among other things. Its Senate counterpart (HB 290) passed its first committee Wednesday.
Three Issues You Missed Yesterday
* Senators passed a sweeping antiabortion measure for the first time on their side of the Capitol by a vote of 5-2, a day after Planned Parenthood advocates rallied against state and national efforts to limit access to the procedure and birth control.
Who To Watch Today/Quotable Quotes
* Senate Leadership. With this Thrasher-Negron-Latvala-Gardiner feud, how does the current group do damage control if and when the Negron/Latvala camps decide to hit back after claims of strongarming and subsequent denials from the other side?