The Legislative Session is now ¾ complete. After today it may be harder to predict what will be on the agenda — committee notices are only due two hours before the meeting time, rather than 4:30pm two days before.
The House has one council meeting and a session scheduled today. None of the bills are that interesting, which is good given the last two days when the House debated and passed its property tax reform measures.
In the Senate, SB 2546 by Sen. Ronda Storms, will be heard in the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee. The bill would require abortion clinics to save DNA evidence and report to law enforcement any pregnancy of a girl younger than 16.
The Senate Education PreK-12 Committee will hear SJR 2428 by Sen. Stephen Wise, which proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution to allow larger school districts (more than 45,000 students) to break into smaller school districts (of at least 20,000 students). This is a great idea. I grew up in Monroe County, New York – Rochester and its suburbs – which has a population of about 733,000 (according to the U.S. Census Bureau). That is smaller than Hillsborough County, with a population of 1.1 million. There are 17 school districts within Monroe County, NY and 1 school district in Hillsborough County, FL. Centralization creates more bureaucracy than decentralization, and tax payers would realize a cost savings if this bill and the amendment passes.
The Senate Higher Education committee will debate SB 850 by Sen. Al Lawson, which would allow state universities to charge a $10 per credit hour technology fee if approved by a student-faculty committee, and SB 2480 by Sen. Bill Posey, which would repeal the sales tax exemption for luxury boxes at college football stadiums.
The Senate Finance and Tax Committee will debate a few gambling bills. SB 1192 by Sen. Mike Fasano would allow cardrooms at parimutuel facilities to operate electronic poker machines. SB 216 by Sen. Steven Geller would allow two high-stakes poker tournaments each year at parimutuel cardooms. SB 752, also by Sen. Geller, is similar to both, requiring that any tournament be played with chips and not electronically. SB 134 by Sen. Larcenia Bullard would allow cardooms to include gambling on dominoes. Finally, SB 2434, also by Sen. Geller, would allow the Florida Department of Lottery to permit video lottery games at lottery retailers.