Florida Legislature: Preview of Day 22

SenateFlorida House of Representatives

The House committees feature some interesting legislation.

The Committee on Post-Secondary Education will hear HB 215 by Rep. Marti Coley – the “Back to School Sales Tax Holiday” bill – and HB 905 by Rep. Charlie Dean, which would authorize universities to charge an “enhancement fee” to students (and is being pushed by UF).

The School and Learning Council will hear, among others,: HB 561 by Rep. Ed Homan which requires girls to be vaccinated for the human papillomavirus to prevent cervical cancer, HB 289 by Rep. Antiere Flores exempting school textbooks from sales tax, and HB 721 by Rep. Bill Proctor exempting leases for on-campus bookstores from sales tax.

SenateFlorida Senate

A full day of committee meetings has a few things to explore.

In the Transportation Committee, SB 1498 by Sen. Victor Crist would reorganize the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority Board of Directors so that locally-elected officials appoint a majority of the Board members. In the Commerce Committee, SB 1638 by Sen. Lee Constantine would prohibit gift certificates or gift cards sold in Florida from having an expiration date or any post-sale fees.

In the Judiciary Committee, SB 2196 by Sen. Alex Villalobos will require anyone who gives testimony to a legislative committee to do so under oath. During every session, lobbyists and other individuals appear before committees to give public testimony on legislation. There are times when these appearances play on hyperbole or overstating impacts of legislation in an effort to sway committee members. This was especially true during the medical malpractice debates in 2003.

When Sen. Villalobos chaired the Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue, he required all testimony under oral oath, and testimony in the committee refuted some of the public positions previously stated by malpractice insurance companies and the Florida Medical Association. It was clear that requiring the oath had an effect on the truthfulness of those appearing. SB 2196 is a good idea.

In 2004, Rep. Kevin Ambler sponsored a bill to essentially do some of the same provisions as included in SB 1638. That year, the Florida Retail Federation lobbied heavily against the bill, such that when it came up for a vote in one committee, only two members (Rep. Ambler then Rep. Gus Bilirakis) voted for it, despite then-Attorney General Charlie Crist speaking at the committee in favor of the bill.

The Retail Federation then turned it’s sights on Ambler during the election, spending significant time and money recruiting an funding an opponent in the primary election.Something has changed.

This year’s House and Senate versions have already passed one Committee in each chamber without a single vote against.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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