Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

By on August 6, 2012

Early voting in most of Florida starts Saturday with just 10 days to go from then to the primary election on Aug. 14.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll heads back to the islands for a trade mission, leaving Saturday for Trinidad and Tobago, the land of her birth.

What would be the big news this week isn’t expected to be a huge surprise. Normally when the general revenue estimate comes out, all of official Tallahassee is on the edge of its seat, but economists have said the estimate due out Thursday likely won’t include any major surprises. Because of the early legislative session, there was no March estimate this year – the last full GR estimate was issued in January, but officials say the economic situation has been less volatile and major revisions aren’t expected.

MONDAY

NCSL MEETS IN CHICAGO: The National Conference of State Legislatures holds its major annual Legislative Summit Monday through Thursday in Chicago.

FED GOVERNMENT SITTING ON EMPTY ASSETS: The Congressional panel with oversight of the General Services Administration and the management of federally owned buildings will hold a field hearing in an empty federal building in downtown Miami on Monday. U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica of Florida, and Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham  of California, both Republicans, will lead the Subcommittee hearing.  Using the empty building is a way of drawing attention to wasted space, and, in the words of a release sent out by Mica, to “get the federal government to stop sitting on its assets.” The meeting is at Miami’s Dyer Courthouse, which was vacated after a new building was opened in 2007 across the street. U.S. Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court Judge Frank Hull is a witness, along with federal officials from the Government Accountability Office and the General Services Administration.  (Monday, 10 a.m., David W. Dyer Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 300 NE 1st Ave., Miami.)

COLLEGE ENROLLMENT COUNTED: The state Education Enrollment Conference will meet to discuss Florida colleges. (Monday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

RACE TO THE TOP: The Race to the Top Teacher and Leader Preparation Implementation Committee of the state Department of Education holds a conference call to discuss upcoming recommendations on the uniform core curriculum for all state-approved teacher preparation programs.  (Monday, 3 p.m., (866) 372-5781; Conference ID: 84326139.)

TUESDAY

FPL CUSTOMERS CAN COMMENT ON RATE HIKES: The state Public Service Commission will hold two public hearings on a proposal by Florida Power & Light Co. to raise base electric rates. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 West Flagler St., Miami; and 4 p.m., Florida Memorial University, Lou Rawls Auditorium, 15800 NW 42nd Ave., Miami Gardens.)

CABINET MEETS: Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet convene in what is expected to be a relatively light meeting. The panel is expected to approve a series of bond sales including a $115 million issue for college and university construction and a $301 million issue to refinance former PECO issues, a move that will save the state $85 million in interest fees over the life of the bond. (Tuesday, 9 a.m. Cabinet room, The Capitol.)

CASTLE KEY RATE HEARING: The Office of Insurance Regulation will  hear from Castle Key Insurance Co. and Castle Key Indemnity Co. officials who want the agency to approve  a pair of rate hikes of up to 25.9 percent for homeowners policies put in place or renewed after Jan. 1. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

ACLU HOLDS RNC PROTEST PRIMER: The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida  hosts a public forum on the rights of citizens, protesters and the media related to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.  Speakers include local law enforcement, human rights advocates and a  constitutional scholar. (Tuesday, 6 p.m., Reeves Theatre at Vaughn Center, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd, Tampa.)

WEDNESDAY

FPL RATE HEARINGS CONTINUE: The state Public Service Commission will continue holding public hearings on a proposal by Florida Power & Light Co. to raise base electric rates. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Plantation City Council Chambers, 400 NW 73rd Ave., Plantation; and 4 p.m., South Regional/Broward College Library, 7300 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines.)

PRISON HEALTH CASE GETS HEARD AGAIN: Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll will hold a hearing in a long-running dispute about state plans to privatize prison health services. Carroll last month declined to rule on a key issue in the dispute, but the Florida Nurses Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — which are fighting privatization — asked him to reopen the case. (Wednesday, 11 a.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.)

JUDGE TO HEAR ARGUMENTS IN SUPREME COURT BALLOT CASE: Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis will consider a motion by Florida Supreme Court Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince to dismiss a lawsuit challenging their placement on the 2012 ballot. The justices are up for merit-retention votes this year, but a conservative legal group argues they did not properly qualify. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.)

THURSDAY

NEW GR ESTIMATES: State economists will meet to analyze estimates of general-revenue tax collections. Such estimates are closely watched because general revenue makes up a critical part of the state budget, providing large chunks of funding for schools, health care and criminal justice. (Thursday, 9 a.m., 301 Capitol, the Capitol).

FRIDAY

ECONOMISTS LOOK AT PROPERTY TAXES: The state Revenue Estimating Conference will discuss ad-valorem tax collections, which play an important role in determining how much money public schools receive. (Friday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

DOAH TAKES ON ELECTIONS LAWS: An administrative law judge hears a challenge to the Department of State’s decision to enforce a change in elections laws in 62 counties not covered by the Voting Rights Act while the laws aren’t taking effect in five counties that are covered. Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, has joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the National Council of La Raza in challenging the enforcement of the laws limiting the ability of voters to change their addresses at the polling place and cutting back on the number of early voting days. (Friday, 1 p.m., DeSoto Building, 1230 Apalachee Pkwy., Tallahassee.)

ABSENTEE BALLOTS ALL OUT: Friday is the last day for county supervisors of elections to mail absentee ballots out for the primary election.

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