House won't budge on jobs to deregulate
If the Senate had its way, commercial interior designers, athletes' agents and telemarketers would continue to need state licenses to practice. But the House isn't willing to cave on those parts of HB 5005, its professional deregulation bill. At least not now. The differences surfaced during conference committee negotiations on the bill this week. Rep. Dorothy Hukill and Sen. Alan Hays could not agree on which industries to deregulate, bumping the issue to budget chiefs Sen. J.D. Alexander and Rep. Denise Grimsley. "None of these issues have been vetted in the Senate at all, and they're very important issues," said Hays, R-Umatilla. "Without proper committee vetting here, I just think it's unwise to go any further than we went." Here are the professions they could agree to deregulate: hair braiding, body wrapping, rooming houses and outdoor theaters. The Senate does not want to deregulate talent agencies, auctioneers, athlete agents, interior designers, motor vehicle repair shops, yacht and ship brokers, health studios, dance studios, telemarketers, household movers, water vending machine operators and travel agents. Also, the House was swayed on the Senate's proposal to keep oversight of charitable organizations. The interior designer debate has evoked tears and impassioned pleas from both sides.
Senate passes SBA bill
The Senate followed the House's lead and voted to renew a law that keeps out of the public eye certain State Board of Administration records involving the growing number of private investments. The 34-2 vote came Friday after no discussion. Sens. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, opposed the measure. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who has opposed the measure at committee stops, told the Times he was out of the chamber during the vote but voted against it after. Gov. Rick Scott now will decide. The SBA manages $156 billion in pension funds and other state money.
Cannon: 'Bills are dying'
On the House floor Friday evening, Speaker Dean Cannon repeated the phrase of the day: "Bills are dying." House leaders were pushing members to limit their questions on a slew of pending proposals slated to be taken up by the end of the night — or risk not making it through this legislative session, which ends next Friday. "This is the last day they have a chance to live," Cannon said earlier. "Bills are dying, that's right." Replied Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, who was asking a series of questions: "Both my bills are dead, so..." (Cue laughter.) Cannon, sounding like a very smooth auctioneer, has been cutting off lawmakers reading their bills, to more chuckles from the chamber.
Supreme Court plan in peril
Strong resistance from Senate Republicans to House Speaker Cannon's Supreme Court plan has the fate of Cannon's pet proposal in danger. Sens. Dockery and Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, both say they have more than enough votes to keep HJR 7111 from passing in the chamber. The only thing that could save it is an amendment from Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, that removes the split-court provision of the bill. Cannon wants to expand the court from seven to 10 justices and create two five-justice divisions, one for criminal and one for civil cases. The bill was scheduled for a vote Friday but was yanked from the calendar.
'Sexting' bill passes in House
The House voted unanimously to decriminalize sexting, the practice of sending sexually explicit text messages. HB 75 sailed through on a 117-0 vote. It has a companion, SB 888, pending to be taken up on the Senate floor. The version of the measure that the House approved added language saying that if a minor receives an unsolicited "sext," does not send it to anybody and takes reasonable steps to report it — say, by telling a teacher about it — then he or she could not be accused of possessing pornography.
Times/Herald staff writers Patricia Mazzei, Jodie Tillman, Katie Sanders and Janet Zink contributed to this report.
Correction: Arthenia Joyner is a Democratic state senator representing Tampa. An earlier version of this story was incorrect.