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Capital Preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

By on October 1, 2012

Much of the action this week will be at the state Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on a number of newsworthy cases. The biggest, from a state government perspective, probably is the case over whether the Legislature or the Board of Governors has the right to set tuition. That case, Graham v. Haridopolos, is before the justices on Thursday.

Also on Thursday the court hears arguments over whether utilities can get advance payment from their customers for future nuclear plants.

There are also two high profile cases before the justices on Tuesday. One involves a custody battle between a same-sex former couple and the other is over whether a person brought illegally to the country as a child can practice law.

MONDAY

U.S. SUPREME COURT HEARS FLA. MARITIME CASE: The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on Monday that may affect U.S. maritime law as it relates to permanently moored vessels. The case, Fane Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, involves whether such structures are considered private residences or vessels, which are governed by federal maritime law.  The case has implications over a host of issues including property taxes, homestead exemptions and others issues. (Monday, 10 a.m., U.S. Supreme Court Chambers, Washington, D.C. )

CLERGY OPPOSE AMENDMENT 3

A group of clergy, unions and others hold a march and news conference to announce their opposition to a property tax cutting proposal on the November ballot, Amendment 3. They say it will force local communities to cut vital services to children, the poor and the elderly. The group will march from Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to the Capitol for a news conference. (March: Monday, 10 a.m., Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, 224 N. Martin Luther King, Tallahassee. Presser: 10:30 a.m., the Capitol.)

VIVA 500: Secretary of State Ken Detzner, former Ambassador Andrew Young, and others attend a summit on the upcoming 500-year anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine. (Monday, 10 a.m., Flagler College Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St., St. Augustine.)

FOP, FIREFIGHTERS BASH ATTACKS ON SUPREMES: The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police and Florida Professional Fire Fighters are set to blast “partisan political attacks on the Florida Supreme Court” in a conference call. Conservative groups and, most recently, the Republican Party of Florida have said they will work against Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince in merit retention elections scheduled for this fall. Contact the Fraternal Order of Police for call-in information. (Monday, 12 p.m.)

TUESDAY

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT WHO WANTS TO PRACTICE LAW: The Florida Board of Bar Examiners is asking the Supreme Court whether undocumented immigrants are eligible for admission to the Bar in the case of Jose Godinez-Samperio. The court hears oral arguments Monday in the case. Godinez-Samperio was brought to the United States at age nine by his parents, graduated from law school, and passed the bar exam. The case has been closely watched by immigrant advocates nationwide. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 S. Duval St., Tallahassee.)

COURT HEARS LESBIAN CHILD CUSTODY CASE: The Florida Supreme Court’s second oral argument on Tuesday morning involves a custody dispute over a child that followed the ending of a lesbian relationship. One of the women, identified only as DMT, gave birth to the child, but using an egg from the other woman, TMH. A Florida law says donors of eggs, sperm or pre-embryos relinquish parental rights, leading a lower court to rule in favor of DMT. But the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled that the statute was unconstitutional. (Tuesday, About 9:30 a.m., 500 S. Duval St., Tallahassee.)

PSC TAKES UP POWER, TELECOM, WATER ISSUES: The Florida Public Service Commission will take up a series of issues dealing with utilities such as Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power Co. and Progress Energy Florida. (Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

EX-FELON DISENFRANCHISEMENT: The national president of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, will be in Tallahassee on Tuesday and will be joined by several others at a news conference launching a national campaign to advocate for restoration of voting rights for former felons. Celebrity activists Judge Greg Mathis and actor Charles Dutton will also participate in the news conference. The NAACP says Florida, Virginia, Iowa and Kentucky are the only states where former felons don’t automatically get their rights back after serving their sentences. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., The Capitol.)

WEDNESDAY

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FAMU: On Oct. 3, 1887, the State Normal College for Colored Students, which would become Florida A&M University, began classes with two instructors and 15 students.

OIL SPILL COMMISSION TO MEET: The Florida Commission on Oil Spill Response Coordination, which was formed after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, will meet. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., CDT, Walton County South Annex Branch Office, 31 Coastal Centre Blvd., Santa Rosa Beach.)

MENTAL HEALTH AND ALFS DISCUSSED: The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting to discuss issues related to community mental-health centers and assisted living facilities. (Wednesday, 9 a.m.,  Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

USF PROFESSOR SPEAKS ON VOTE SUPPRESSION: University of South Florida-St. Petersburg political science professor Dr. Seth McKee speaks on efforts to suppress the vote in an address titled “Democracy Under Siege? An Assessment of Contemporary Voter Suppression.” It’s free and open to the public. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., USFSP Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, 140 USFSP Harborwalk Avenue South, St. Petersburg.)

CAMPAIGNS

FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE – DOMESTIC POLICY: Jim Lehrer of PBS moderates the first debate between President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney. The debate will focus on domestic policy and be divided into six 15-minute segments decided by Lehrer. The candidates will have two minutes to respond to each question with the remaining time allotted for discussion. The debate is sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. (Wednesday, 9 p.m., University of Denver in Denver, Colorado)

THURSDAY

SCOFLA HEARS TUITION CASE: Former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and others filed a lawsuit challenging the power of the Legislature to set university tuition rates after a constitutional change that created the Board of Governors to oversee the universities. A trial court ruled that the 2002 constitutional amendment didn’t transfer the power to set tuition from lawmakers to the Board of Governors and the First District Court of Appeal agreed. Now the question is before the state Supreme Court. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 S. Duval St. Tallahassee.)

SCOFLA HEARS NUKE POWER PLANT CASES: The Supreme Court also hears oral arguments in a case involving a 2006 law that let Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy pass on to consumers the costs for future nuclear power plants. The suit was filed by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and challenges both the law’s constitutionality and a regulatory order issued under that law that allowed the two companies to pass on the costs. (Thursday, About 9:40 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 S. Duval St. Tallahassee.)

SUPREME COURT: The Florida Supreme Court issues opinions. (Thursday, 11 a.m.)

WORKERS COMP RATE HIKE EYED: The Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a hearing about a proposal by the National Council on Compensation Insurance to raise Florida’s workers-compensation rates by an average of 6.1 percent in 2013. (Thursday, 1 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)

PLANNING FOR GREENWAYS AND TRAILS: The state Office of Greenways and Trails will hold an open house as part of an effort to develop a new plan for the greenways and trails system. (Thursday, 4 p.m., Boca Raton Community Center, 201 West Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton.)

FRIDAY

ALF OVERSIGHT AT ISSUE: The state’s Assisted Living Workgroup will meet to continue discussing oversight and regulation of assisted living facilities. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

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