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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Capitol Buzz for Thursday, 3/1

1

March

Five Stories To Think About Today

 * The controversial charter school bill, HB 903, will be heard on the floor today. As it stands, the bill allows charter schools to more easily access federal education funds -- and requires charter schools to post information about their management companies online. But Rep. Janet Adkins, the bill's sponsor, has twice tried to add in language that would require traditional school districts to share their construction money with charter schools. She plans to try again on the floor, she told reporters this week.

* Two other important PreK-12 education bills will come before the House: a bill that would expand the tax credit cap (in effect, expanding voucher programs for low-income students) and a bill that makes changes to the Florida High School Athletic Association. Coaches have slammed the latter of the two bills, saying it gives private-school athletes an unfair advantage.

* Universities are also on the agenda. The House will debate a bill that would allow the University of Florida and Florida State University to have more flexibility in setting tuition.

* It isn't all about education. The House is also taking up a measure to reform personal injury protection, or PIP. Reforming the program is a key part of Gov. Rick Scott's 2012 agenda. We're also watching to see if the Senate votes on a bill that would allow unregulated surplus-lines insurers to take polices out of Citizens Property Insurance. Sen. Mike Fasano peppered that bill's sponsor with questions about it on Wednesday.

* Over in the Senate, the so-called funeral buffer bill, SB 632, comes to the floor. The bill, by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, would make it illegal to picket or protest near a funeral, burial or memorial service for a veteran, emergency response worker, elected official or child.

 

Three Issues You Missed Yesterday

 * After hours of debate stretching over two days, the Senate's Budget Committee approved reforms to the no-fault car insurance system. Massage therapists and acupuncturists are still left out of the personal injury protection, or PIP, program as senators rejected several amendments related to these two professions.

* Early learning advocates came to Tallahassee on Wednesday to oppose several bills moving through the Florida House. Their chief concern: HB 7119, which would revise the School Readiness Act. They say the proposal would water down the state's high standards for school readiness providers -- and prescribe a one-size-fits-all model to Early Learning Coalitions across Florida.

* Faced with writing a precedent-setting ruling that could shape the state’s political lines for decades, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday aggressively grilled lawyers representing Democrats and Republicans, asking them how to interpret the state’s new redistricting rules.

 

Who To Watch Today/Quotable Quotes

 * The Florida House of Representatives. In addition to education issues, PIP and other insurance, abortion and foreign law (among others) are poised for a hearing and vote on the floor today.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 1:37am]

    

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