Capitol Buzz for Thursday, 3/8
Five Stories To Think About Today
* The Senate will take up SB 1368, which would authorize state agencies to allow for random drug testing of employees. The bill would also permit the agencies to fire any employee who receives a first-time positive drug test result. The House already passed the measure.
* A controversial education proposal, known as "parent trigger," is scheduled for the Senate floor. SB 1718 would enable parents at low-performing schools to demand sweeping changes, including transforming the school into a charter school. The House passed the companion bill.
* The Senate will take up SB 2074, which would increase training requirements for workers at assisted living facilities and impose fines on homes with violations. A similar bill has already passed the House.
* SB 2044, known as the "Barahona bill," is scheduled for the Senate floor. The bill would change procedures for the abuse hotline, allow the Department of Children and Families to close an investigation it deems false, and require DCF to maintain an electronic child welfare case file for each child. A similar bill passed in the House.
* A bill critics say targets Islam is up in the Senate. SB 1360 would ban foreign law in Florida courts. So, for example, a judge could not consider foreign law when settling marriage or custody disputes. The House companion passed.
Three Issues You Missed Yesterday
* The Senate passed its version of PIP reform with a near unanimous vote and no debate, a big contrast to the contentious PIP discussions on Tuesday. Now, the legislation goes back to the House, which has already approved a much different plan to alter the no-fault auto insurance system. Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said House members will first focus on understanding exactly what senators approved before deciding what they do and don’t support.
* Democrats slammed the proposed budget on Wednesday, saying the spending plan shortchanges Florida's students. Among the issues to be had: no construction and maintenance money for traditional public schools, while charter schools are set to receive $55 million.
* An imam, a rabbi and a pastor walked into Senate President Mike Haridopolos's office Wednesday with two demands: Withdraw the Foreign Law bill they say targets Muslims. And investigate who is behind the anti-Muslim booklets and flyers that circulate the Senate.
Who To Watch Today/Quotable Quotes
* The Florida Senate. Yesterday was the 58th day of Session, and as of our count around noon, 87 bills have gone to the Governor's desk while 1,331 have died. And the House, which, despite passing nearly four times as many as the Senate, planned to adjourn early. It's graveyard time for a good number of bills.