Hello and welcome to Friday ...
A session unlike any other will kick off next week.
Florida lawmakers will return to a state Capitol building that will be devoid of the large crowds --- and lobbyists --- who usually walk the halls and fill committee rooms.
But a key question remains: How will lawmakers really conduct business during the 60-day session in a COVID-19 world?
The answer is not entirely clear yet.
In the run-up to the session, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, issued protocols for the chamber to follow as a way to prevent the spread of COVID in the Capitol. The protocols included time restrictions for lawmakers to file amendments to bills. The time restrictions also applied to members of the committee.
The time restriction on amendments filed by committee members included in the protocols was outside of regular House Rules, and caused fireworks earlier this month during a House Judiciary Committee debate on a proposal (HB 7) to protect businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits.
Democratic members of the committee said a 6 p.m. deadline was being used to curtail discussion of the changes they would like to see made to the bill. Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, even asked that the issue be reviewed by House Rules Chairman Paul Renner, R- Palm Coast, in consultation with the Rules Committee’s ranking minority member, Rep. Joseph Geller, D-Aventura.
Sprowls acknowledged in a media availalbility last week that the protocol was “inconvenient” but said the deadline wouldn't be “practical” during the regular session, when lawmakers meet nearly every day of the week.
He said there was no intention to keep in place the deadline, which requires legislators to file amendments to bills by 6 p.m. the night before a scheduled vote on the measure. He also said he did not plan to amend the House Rules to include the deadline.
A review of the meeting notice for Monday's House Judiciary Committee indicates the deadline still is in effect. The committee is scheduled to take up a proposal HB 9) that would prohibit people from making false claims about vaccines and personal protective equipment.
"The Chair requests that all amendments should be filed by 6 p.m. on Friday, February 26, 2021, including amendments filed by Members of the Committee/Subcommittee," the meeting notice said.
Friday afternoon, however, Sprowls' office released updated protocols for the 2021 legislative session. Under the rules say that, during the first 45 days of a regular session and when the Legislature is not in session, "an amendment by a member who is not a member of the committee or subcommittee considering the bill shall be filed by 6 p.m. of the day (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and official state holidays)before the committee or subcommittee meeting."
The Agency for Health Care Administration proposes updating Rule 59G-6.005 related to how the state reimburses medical school faculty for health care services. More here.
The Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel proposes updating Rule 64B3-5.0011 related to licensure qualifications. More here.
The Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel proposes updating Rules 64B3-5.002, 64B3-5.003 and 64B3-5.007 to update the language regarding supervisor, technologist, and director for clinical laboratory personnel. More here.
The Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel proposes updating Rule 64B3-6.002 regarding licensure documents. More here.
The Board of Medicine proposes updating Rule 64B8-41.001 regarding fees for dieticians and nutritionists. More here.
The Board of Podiatric Medicine is changing its proposed amendments to 64B18-24.001 regarding the certification of podiatric X-ray technicians. More here.
The Board of Nursing Home Administrators announces the development of amendments to Rule 64B10-16.001 regarding monitors. More here.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
Sprowls appointed Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, to the Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council. The Drug Policy Advisory Council coordinates drug control efforts for the state of Florida by educating the public on substance abuse and available resources.
State health care regulators say there is need for four new hospice programs in the state. AHCA announced this week that it accepted 34 letters of intent from providers that have an interest in operating new hospice programs. More here.
WEEK IN REVIEW
–About time ... Marking a significant change in Florida’s vaccination strategy, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said teachers and law enforcement officers ages 50 and older will have access to COVID-19 vaccine doses in the coming days as four federally supported vaccination sites open in the state. More here.
–Class review ... Year 1 of Florida’s coronavirus outbreak: 8 key DeSantis decisions. More here.
–’A canary in the coal mine’ ... U.K. variant of COVID is overtaking Florida. Can vaccine stymie it or is surge coming? More here.
–Keeping track ... USF researchers keeping a close eye on COVID-19 variants in Tampa Bay. More here.
–Cleaning up ... Florida lawmakers face huge COVID-19 fallout as session convenes on Tuesday. More here.
–Fact check time ... DeSantis advances questionable link between lockdowns and despair. More here.
–The lack of a plan is a plan ... Florida better off without a detailed vaccination plan, DeSantis says. More here.
–Speaking of the governor ... DeSantis says he’ll take Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine when it’s his turn. More here.
–More questions ... Sarasota County community with million-dollar homes got special vaccine access. More here.
–Keeping track ... Florida vaccines flow to seniors - who happen to trend Republican. More here.
–Fallout ... Manatee sheriff investigating commissioner behind VIP vaccine event. More here.
–Not happy ... Some faculty remain concerned with UF’s COVID-19 testing policy. More here.
–Your diet is everything ... Food deserts in South Florida linked to cardiovascular disease. More here.
1:30 p.m. The Senate Select Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Response meets and will hear from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Place: 412 Knott Building, the Capitol. Agenda here.
2 p.m. The House Judiciary Committee meets and will discuss bills to protect the public from pandemic-related fraud. Place: 17 House Office Building, the Capitol. Agenda here.
4 p.m. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meets and will consider affirming appointments the governor made to the Boards of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing Home Administrators, among others. Place: 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol. Agenda here.
Start of the 60-day regular legislative session.
9:30 a.m. Senate session. Place: Senate Chambers, the Capitol.
10 a.m. House session. Place: House Chambers, the Capitol.
11 a.m. Joint session. Place: House Chambers, the Capitol.
1:30 p.m. The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee meets and will take up civil liability protections, SB 72.Place: 110 Senate Offie Building, the Capitol. Agenda here.
4 p.m. The Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee meets and will take up bills regarding substance abuse and mental health disorders. Place: 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol. Agenda here
10 a.m. The Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long Term Care meets to discuss staffing standards for gold-seal program requirements. Call (888) 585-9008; participant code: 998518088. A copy of the agenda can be obtained by emailing: LTCStaff@ahca.myflorida.com
12 p.m. The Senate Health Policy Committee meets. Place: 412 Knott Office Building, the Capitol.
2:30 p.m. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health Human Services meets. Place: 412 Knott Office Building, the Capitol.
11:30 a.m. The Senate Appropriations Committee meets. Place: 412 Knott Office Building, the Capitol.
1 p.m. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meets. Place: 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.
3:30 p.m. House session. Place: House Chambers, the Capitol.
10 a.m. House session. Place: House Chambers, the Capitol.