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Abortion, religion, redistricting on today's agenda in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — As legislators launch into their last three weeks of session, they will spend next week on several controversial bills ranging from Medicaid reform to abortion and even the touchy question of how far to extend the relationship between church and state.

On Monday, the House Select Policy Council on Strategic and Economic Planning will focus on its long-awaited Medicaid bill, which attempts to slow growing costs by drawing Medicaid recipients into managed care networks. A bill passed last week by the Senate would expand the state's managed-care Medicaid pilot to 19 new counties, including Miami-Dade, Orange, Hillsborough and Pinellas.

Two public corruption bills will get their first hearing of the session Monday at the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. The proposals, SB 1076, SB 734, by Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, aim to crack down on government officials who use their public office for private gain.

The Senate Reapportionment Committee will continue its discussion of the impact of two proposed constitutional amendments that would change the standards that must be considered when redrawing district boundaries, an effort designed to set the stage for a potential lawsuit against the measures.

On Tuesday, the Senate Health Regulation Committee will take up two abortion-related bills. One would clarify issues relating to the state's parental notice of abortion law to address questions that have arisen since it went into effect. A similar bill comes before the House Criminal Justice Committee. A second bill would increase the penalties for people who, in committing a crime against a pregnant woman, injure the fetus.

The House Criminal Justice Committee takes up a proposed constitutional amendment to clarify that state money can go to religious institutions, a measure promoted by school voucher advocates who want to expand that program and overturn district court and Florida Supreme Court rulings.

And the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee hears that chamber's massive insurance deregulation bill, despite warnings from Gov. Charlie Crist that he will veto it.

On Thursday, the Senate is expected to vote on a Seminole gambling compact and start discussion on a companion measure (SB 640), which emerged late last week, designed to provide more assistance to the ailing parimutuel industry.

Other issues that will move through committees this week include: texting while driving, recycling standards, and renewable energy.

Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@miamiherald.com

Abortion, religion, redistricting on today's agenda in Tallahassee 04/12/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 12, 2010 6:00am]
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