On the eve of tomorrow’s opening of a special four-day session of the Florida Legislature, it seems that most bill are more or less related to responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, which was the session’s “sole and exclusive” purpose. The only intended bill of the special session is to consider placing before the voters a Constitutional amendment banning oil drilling in Florida waters. It is generally expected that the bill will fail on the House floor in party line vote, since Legislative leaders have criticized the Governor for calling the session in the first place.
Miami Herald: How House Republicans plan to vote on oil drilling ban (Web page)
In addition, there are several bills that include a “whereas” that mention the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, but which otherwise might not be regarded as pertaining directly to the session’s stated purpose. For example, several immigration bills, a bill to eliminate the state’s corporate income tax, and a bill to eliminate the health insurance subsidy for FRS retirees have all been introduced as responses to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Bills using this maneuver may affect public schools in Florida directly, or may affect them indirectly due to major changes in the state revenue and budgeting structure.
In general, the session is unlikely to accomplish much, since those items the Governor most desires are the things the Legislature is least eager to pass, and those things the Legislature supports are those the Governor is most likely to veto. In a recent message, House Speaker Larry Cretul (R-Ocala) advised representatives that “you can expect your stay to be very short next week." If anything does actually happen this week, however, it may have some effect on these enduring policy issues.
No Senate bills have been introduced. Here’s a quick overview of the House bills:
HB 1C Immigration (Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa)
This bill would establish numerous methods of controlling illegal immigration, preventing employment of illegal immigrants, and providing for citizenship determination of people who are arrested.
HB 3C Eligibility for Public Benefits (Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa)
This bill would require all state agencies to verify the lawful presence in the United States of any natural person 18 years of age or older who has applied for state public benefits.
HB 5C Employment Policy of the State (Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa)
This bill would prevent public employment of any alien unlawfully present in the United States.
HJR 7C Prohibition of Oil and Natural Gas Exploration, Drilling, Extraction, and Production in Coastal Waters (Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg & Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota)
This bill would propose a constitutional amendment to prohibit oil and natural gas exploration, drilling, extraction, and production in the coastal waters of Florida.
HM 9C Supporting the Marketing of Florida Seafood (Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg)
This bill would urge the U.S. Congress to support marketing of Florida seafood.
HR 11C Governor Charlie Crist (Sandra Adams, R-Oviedo)
This bill would express censure of Governor for convening the Legislature for an “unnecessary and unwarranted” special session.
HB13C Corporate Income Tax (Tom Grady, R-Naples)
This bill would repeal Florida’s corporate income tax.
HB15C Health Insurance Subsidies (Tom Grady, R-Naples)
This bill would eliminated the health insurance subsidy for FRS retirees.
HB17C Liability for Pollution (Tom Grady, R-Naples)
This bill would eliminate liability limits for damages caused by environmental pollution.
HB 19C Tax on Sales, Use, and Other Transactions (Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee)
This bill would eliminate the sales tax exemption on bottled water.
HJR 21C Renewable and Clean Energy (Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee)
This resolution would “focus” Florida’s energy policies on establishing energy generation systems that do not rely on fossil fuels.
HB 23C Appropriations (Charles Chestnut, D-Gainesville)
This bill would provide state funding for providing health care services to indigent patients through Shands HealthCare System, and allow those state funds to be used as a match for additional federal funds. This bill would essentially reverse the Governor’s unexpected veto of an allocation passed during the regular session last spring.
HCR 25C State-owned Buildings (Dwight Bullard, D-Miami)
This resolution would direct OPPAGA to conduct a feasibility study of installing solar panels on all state-owned buildings.
HB 27C Energy Efficiency (Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee)
This bill would provide consumer rebates for specified solar energy systems.
HB 29C Energy Efficiency (Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee)
This bill would electric utilities to collect monthly systems charge from residential, commercial, & industrial customers. The charges would be placed into a trust fund to pay rebates to consumers who install solar energy systems.
HB 31C Sustainable and Renewable Energy Policy Trust Fund (Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee)
This bill would create the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Policy Trust Fund and a state office to administer solar energy rebates.
HB 33C Oil Spill Mitigation Clearing Trust Fund (Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach)
This bill would create a state Oil Spill Mitigation Clearing Trust Fund to facilitate administration of damages and claims related to oil spills.
HB 35C Oil Spills Affecting Florida Coastal Areas (Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach)
This bill would require that any costs incurred by the special session of the Legislature called because of an oil spill would be paid by the entity that caused the oil spill.
HJR 37C Oil Exploration, Drilling, Extraction, and Production Prohibited in State Waters (Juan Zapata, R-Miami)
This resolution would proposes a Constitutional amendment that would prohibit exploration, drilling, extraction, and production of oil in and beneath state waters.
Complete text of each bill is available at http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/