Capitol Buzz for Wednesday, 2/29
It's Leap Day and FAMU day in the Capitol, so look out for orange and green. Today is also seersucker day, so expect to see some stylish and summery suits.
Five Stories To Think About Today
* The House will take up a proposal from Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, to outlaw Internet cafes, which often operate video slot machines. Attorney General Pam Bondi is backing the proposal, but opponents say it would lead to the loss of 13,000 jobs statewide.
* The lower chamber will also consider a bill that would allow parents to make sweeping changes at low-performing schools. In some cases, parents could even opt to have the school converted into a charter school. The bill, known as the Parent Empowerment Act, has the support of former Gov. Jeb Bush and nationally known school reformer Michelle Rhee. But it has met opposition from Florida parent groups, including the statewide Parent Teacher Association.
* Also on deck in the House on Wednesday: a wide-ranging abortion bill that lays out restrictions on third-trimester abortions, requires owners of new clinics to be doctors and imposes a 24-hour waiting period. The proposal comes from Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Brandon.
* Over in the Senate, lawmakers will cast a final vote on a bill that would allow ads on state greenways and trails. The revenue would support bicycle safety programs and efforts to beautify the trails. The bill has found support from Democrats and Republicans, though some lawmakers oppose cluttering the great outdoors with signs. The sponsors have promised any signs would be discreet.
* Early childhood education advocates will hold a press conference to oppose a pair of House bills that they say could "dismantle much of Florida’s early learning system." The groups are, however, supporting SB 1974 by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, which they consider the best of the early childhood education overhaul bills.
Three Issues You Missed Yesterday
* After what appeared to have been a productive weekend of discussions, the lines of communication went "very quiet,” according to Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, who leads the budget talks for the House. But now Senate budget chair JD Alexander says they made up some ground Tuesday and will be working hard through the weekend.
* Usually a reliable critic of the president's job performance, Gov. Rick Scott offered Barack Obama a compliment during his visit to the White House with other governors Sunday. The reason? Obama's announcement last week that he will seek to lower the corporate tax rate.
* A subcommittee adjourned Tuesday without taking up SB 2074, the assisted living facilities reform bill, which increases state oversight of these facilities. A second Senate proposal is also stuck in committee, and no more meetings are scheduled after Tuesday. That means unless procedural actions are taken on the Senate floor to revive either proposal, changes won’t happen this year.
Who To Watch Today/Quotable Quotes
* "Rep. Goodson, before I recognize you to answer that, it is 5 o'clock somewhere -- including right here -- and we have 18 bills left, so let's focus on the questions and then we'll try and wrap it up. Rep. Goodson, you're recognized." -Speaker Dean Cannon, during floor debate on the House wage protection bill sponsored by Rep. Goodson.