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Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

By on August 13, 2012

The highlight of the coming week in politics is Tuesday’s primary election, while much of the machinery of state government remains on summer slow pace.

ROMNEY BACK

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be in Florida again this week, with stops expected Monday in St. Augustine, and Miami.

PUT UP YOUR DUKE’S CEO

Duke Energy Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers will appear Monday before the Florida Public Service Commission as it discusses the recently completed merger of Duke and Progress Energy, Florida’s second-largest electricity provider. The PSC will also be updated on Progress Energy Florida’s Crystal River nuclear plant, which has been shut down since 2009.

Also, the state releases July unemployment data on Friday. If it’s lower, it’s good for Florida job seekers and for Gov. Rick Scott. That’s also bad for Mitt Romney, though.

MONDAY

ROMNEY AT FLAGLER COLLEGE: Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney makes a campaign bus tour stop at Flagler College in St. Augustine. (Monday, 8 a.m., Flagler College, 74 King St., St. Augustine.)

SBA AUDIT COMMITTEE: The State Board of Administration’s Audit Committee meets to mull over financial audits of RAMCO MS Inland and the SBA’s wholly owned entities along with a quarterly report by the chief audit executive. (Monday 9 a.m., Room 116, The Hermitage Centre, 1801 Hermitage Boulevard, Tallahassee.)

CONGRESSIONAL FIELD HEARING ON ORLANDO VA MEDICAL CENTER: The meeting of the House Veterans Affairs Committee is titled “The New Orlando VA Medical Center: Broken Ground, Broken Promises.” Witnesses include VA officials. (Monday, 9 a.m., University of Central Florida, College of Medicine Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona, Lake Nona Boulevard, Room COM 102 6850, Orlando.)

PSC TO REVIEW UTILITY FUTURE PLANS: The Florida Public Service Commission will review utilities’ 10-year site plans, which map out upgrades and changes needed to maintain the reliability of the state’s electric system. (Monday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

FWC ANNOUNCES LIONFISH CHANGES: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission holds a news conference to announce changes in lionfish management that will allow for increased harvesting. They’re a non-native species, and increased harvesting of them would be a good thing, the FWC says. (Monday, 10 a.m., Matheson Hammock Park and Beach, 9610 Old Cutler Rd., Miami.)

PROGRESS MERGER, NUKE PLANT DISCUSSED: The state Public Service Commission will hold a discussion about the recently completed merger of Progress Energy and Duke Energy and also will receive an update about Progress Energy Florida’s Crystal River nuclear plant, which has been shut down since 2009. The nuclear-plant update is expected to start about 30 minutes after the merger discussion. Duke Energy Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers will appear before the panel. (Monday, 1 p.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

BIENVENIDO A MIAMI: Republican presidential candidates all make the required pilgrimage to Miami’s Cuban community. Mitt Romney is no exception, and his bus tour will stop Monday afternoon at El Palacios de los Jugos restaurant. (Monday, 4 p.m., 7085 Coral Way, Miami.)

TUESDAY

PRIMARY ELECTION

CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARIES: Republican incumbents John Mica and Sandy Adams vie for a congressional seat in east central Florida District 7. Adams, of Orlando, is seen as the tea party favorite, while Mica, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee and a longtime member of Congress is seen as the GOP establishment candidate. In southwest Florida, a four-way battle for District 19 pits strongly backed and well financed candidates against each other in the Republican primary for the seat vacated by Rep. Connie Mack. Other watched congressional races include the Democratic primary in District 2, where several candidates vie for the right to take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland. There’s also a huge Republican primary in the new Sixth Congressional district in St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia and Putnam counties. In the 22nd Congressional District in South Florida, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs square off in the Democratic primary, and in South Florida’s District 26, Joe Garcia and Gloria Romero Roses are among a handful of Democrats hoping to take on Republican U.S. Rep. David Rivera of Miami.

SENATE PRIMARIES: The redistricting year and a couple of empty seats bring up a large number of heavily contested state Senate primaries on Tuesday. Some of the most closely watched are in the Jacksonville area, where Aaron Bean and Mike Weinstein are locked in a GOP battle, and in the Tampa Bay area, where two Republican races are drawing lots of attention. In one of those, two House members, Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe, are battling in a race seen as a proxy fight for the future Senate leadership. In another, former Senate President Tom Lee faces social conservative Rep. Rachel Burgin in a race that has gotten personal and nasty. A Democratic primary in central Florida pits Rep. Geraldine Thompson against Victoria Siplin, the wife of Sen. Gary Siplin. Another hotly contested Democratic primary pits Rep. Mack Bernard against Rep. Jeff Clements for Senate District 27 in South Florida. And in Senate District 39, Reps. Dwight Bullard and Ron Saunders are among several Democrats in a crowded primary for a seat in southern Miami-Dade County and the Keys.

HOUSE PRIMARIES: A couple of incumbents face tough primary challenges in the House. Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, has a GOP challenger in Cord Byrd. Rep. Ron Renuart, R-Jacksonville, faces two Republicans in his bid for House District 17. The winners of some primaries will take the seat because the other party didn’t put up a candidate. That’s the case for example in House District 87, which will go Tuesday to either Democrat Dave Kerner or Democrat Mike Rios. Also in District 88, the winner of a four-way Democratic primary will take the seat in Palm Beach County, and in District 113 (Miami Beach) the winner of Tuesday’s primary will take the seat.

ELECTIONS COMMISSION CONSIDERS SIPLIN SETTLEMENT: The Florida Elections Commission will consider a settlement that calls for state Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, to pay a $3,000 fine because of missing information on campaign-finance reports and excessive contributions from a phosphate industry group. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, Tallahassee.)

PSC LOOKS AT PROGRESS PLANT CONVERSION: The state Public Service Commission will consider a proposal by Progress Energy Florida to pass along costs to customers for a conversion project that will lead to two generating units at the Anclote power plant burning only natural gas. The units currently burn natural gas and oil, and the project is aimed at helping Progress comply with environmental regulations and reduce fuel costs. (Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

AHCA WEIGHS ACCEPTED MEDICAL PRACTICES: The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a workshop to take input about determining generally accepted medical practices. This has been an issue, at least in part, because of a lawsuit about a treatment known as “applied behavior analysis” for Medicaid beneficiaries with autism. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., 8333 N.W. 53rd Street, Suite 200, Doral.)

ECONOMISTS TO DECIPHER HEALTH LAW COSTS: State economists will meet to revise estimates of how the federal Affordable Care Act would affect Florida’s budget, including costs related to a potential expansion of Medicaid eligibility. Gov. Rick Scott has already said the state will not move forward with the optional expansion, which he argues would be too expensive. The economists also will look at issues such as part of the law that calls for increasing the pay of primary-care physicians who treat Medicaid patients. The pay hikes are separate from the Medicaid eligibility expansion. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 301 Capitol, the Capitol.)

WEDNESDAY

FAMU BOARD OF TRUSTEES: The Florida A&M Board of Trustees has scheduled a board meeting to discuss confirmation of an interim president, the presidential search process and budget, and finance issues. The board also will talk about its ongoing effort to put in place an anti-hazing plan. President James Ammons stepped down earlier this summer. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Grand Ballroom, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee. Call-in: 800-309-9169, conference ID: 16459668.)

PSC GETS READY FOR NUKE HEARING: The state Public Service Commission will hold a prehearing to narrow issues involved in nuclear-cost recovery proposals by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy Florida. The PSC will start a full-blown hearing Sept. 5 to determine how much money the utilities should be able to collect in 2013 for nuclear projects. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

VIVA FLORIDA APPLICATIONS; The Bureau of Historic Preservation and Florida Historical Commission will hold a meeting for public input on the 2014 Viva Florida Small Matching Historic Preservation Grant applications. (Wednesday, 9 a.m. Rm 307,  R. A. Gray Building, Room 307, 500 South Bronough St.)

FLORIDA CITRUS EXPO: The annual Florida Citrus Expo starts Wednesday in North Fort Myers.  The trade show is for citrus growers and industry professionals and includes seminars on issues important to growers and others in the industry. (Wednesday and Thursday, Lee Civic Center, North Fort Myers.)

THURSDAY

DOT FREIGHT MOBILITY: The Florida Department of Transportation gets public input on freight movement needs for consideration in future infrastructure development. (Thursday, Time TBA, JAXPORT Cruise Terminal, 9810 August Dr, Jacksonville.)

FAMU BOARD OF TRUSTEES DAY 2: The Florida A&M Board of Trustees continues its meeting to discuss the presidential search process, budget, and finance issues and its anti-hazing plan. (Thursday, 8:30 a.m., Grand Ballroom, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee. Call-in: 800-309-9169, conference ID: 16463216.)

FAC HOST GULF SPILL MEETING: The Florida Association of Counties will host a meeting with Florida’s 23 Gulf Coast counties to discuss the impacts of the RESTORE Act the federal government’s response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.   Counties will discuss possible formation of a consortium that will provide those counties impacted from the spill  to assist in long term economic and environmental recovery. (Thursday 10 a.m., Wyndham Bay Pointe Resort, 4114 Jan Cooley Dr. Panama City Beach.)

HUMAN TRAFFICKING QTRLY UPDATE: The Statewide Human Trafficking Working Group will conduct its quarterly conference call to discuss ongoing issues, trends, trainings and policy regarding human trafficking around the state. (Thursday, 10 a.m., Conference call number: 1-888-670-3525, code 3082681153).

SBA COMPENSATION CONSULTANT DISCUSSION: The SBA’s Investment Advisory Council will meet to select a compensation consultant during a special meeting. The council will review applicants and vote. (Thursday 2 p.m., 1801 Hermitage Blvd, Tallahassee,)

FRIDAY

DOT FREIGHT MOBILITY: The Florida Department of Transportation gets public input on freight movement needs for consideration in future infrastructure development. (Friday, Time TBA, Bay County Library, 898 W. 11th Street, Panama City.)

PANEL LOOKS AT LAND CONSERVATION: The state’s Acquisition and Restoration Council will review a series of Florida Forever projects and land-management plans. (Friday, 9 a.m., Department of Environmental Protection Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Building, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee.)

JULY UNEMPLOYMENT: The state Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday releases data on unemployment in Florida in July. In June, the state jobless rate was 8.6 percent, unchanged from May. (Friday, 10 a.m.)

ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS EYED: The Health Information Exchange Coordinating Committee will discuss issues such as increasing the adoption of electronic health records in Florida. (Friday, 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

ELDER AFFAIRS MISSION DISCUSSION: The Department of Elder Affairs holds a conference call to discuss what initiatives its advisory council and the agency itself should focus on going forward. (Friday 11:30 a.m., Conference Call: 1-888-670-3525, Code: 9620760613)

KIDCARE ISSUES DISCUSSED: The Florida KidCare Coordinating Council will discuss issues related to the subsidized health-insurance program for children. (Friday, 1 p.m., 4025 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

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