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Politics

What's Going on the Week of July 28

July 29, 2019 - 9:30am

It’s time for Florida’s blue-light special.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday and lasting until 11:59 p.m. Aug. 6, shoppers will be able to buy clothes, shoes, school supplies and computer equipment without paying sales taxes --- otherwise known as a sales-tax “holiday.”

The holiday is billed as a back-to-school event. But it’s not only popular with parents looking for bargains as kids get ready for school. Retailers like the holiday as a marketing opportunity. And legislators love touting tax breaks for ordinary families.

There are limits, however. This year’s holiday will allow shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes and shoes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less and personal computers and accessories costing $1,000 or less.

But then again, blue-light specials were never really about the expensive stuff. And if you have to ask what a blue-light special is, you probably never set foot in a Kmart store back in the day.

MONDAY, JULY 29, 2019

MEDICAID EXPANSION WEIGHED: State analysts will hold a workshop to consider the financial impacts of a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand Medicaid coverage. The proposal would offer Medicaid coverage to low-income adults who currently are not eligible. Florida lawmakers have repeatedly rejected such an expansion, which is optional for states as part of the federal Affordable Care Act. The proposed constitutional amendment would expand eligibility to people whose incomes are up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, an amount that varies depending on the number of people in a family. Under state law, analysts, meeting as the Financial Impact Estimating Conference, are required to look at how such initiatives would affect revenues and costs for state and local governments. A newly passed state law (HB 5) also will require the analysts to evaluate impacts to the economy and the state budget. Backers of the proposed constitutional amendment hope to put it on the 2020 ballot but acknowledge it might get pushed back to 2022. (Monday, 8:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

CRIST TOUTS ELECTRIC VEHICLES: U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., will appear at an event in Pinellas County to discuss the evolution of electric vehicles in Florida and their role in fighting climate change. (Monday, 10 a.m., The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. North, St. Petersburg.)

DEMOCRATS CRITICIZE TRUMP ON TRADE: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., will hold a media call to criticize President Donald Trump’s trade policies. (Monday, 10:30 a.m. Reporters may contact the Florida Democratic Party for call-in information.)

RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Broward and Brevard counties. (Monday, 10:30 a.m., Weston Branch Library, 4205 Bonaventure Blvd., Weston. Also, 11:30 a.m., Sunflower House Senior Center, 777 East Merritt Island Causeway, Merritt Island. Also, 1 p.m., Davie/Cooper City Branch Library, 4600 S.W. 82nd Ave., Davie.)

‘SELF-DRIVING’ CARS DISCUSSED: The Economic Club of Florida will host a discussion titled, “A Conversation About Self-driving Cars and the Future Economic Impact of Autonomy.” Speakers are expected to include Chris Emmanuel, director of infrastructure and governance policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Grayson Brulte, co-founder and president of Brulte & Company. (Monday, 11:15 a.m., FSU Alumni Center, 1030 West Tennessee St., Tallahassee.)

HEARING HELD ON BALLOT SIGNATURES: Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker will hold a telephonic hearing in a lawsuit about how Florida elections officials handle mismatched ballot signatures. Former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida and national Democrats filed the lawsuit last year against the state, in anticipation of a recount in Nelson’s re-election campaign against former Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who eventually won the Senate race. Both sides agree that a law passed this year has fixed the disputed ballot-signature issues. But they disagree about what should happen next in the case. State officials want Walker to dismiss the case “with prejudice,” a legal term meaning that the case would be permanently dismissed and plaintiffs would be barred from filing future lawsuits about the constitutionality of the mismatched-signatures law. But Democrats have argued against the state’s effort to put a permanent end to the legal skirmish over ballot signatures. (Monday, 1:30 p.m. Call-in number: 1-888-684-8852. Access code: 3853136#. Security code: 4565#.)

UNF TRUSTEES DISCUSS BUDGET: The University of North Florida Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting that will include discussion of a 2020-2021 legislative budget request. (Monday, 3 p.m., University of North Florida, J.J. Daniel Hall, Jacksonville.)

VOTING RIGHTS AT ISSUE: Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, and House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, will be among the speakers during a town hall event about restoring voting rights. The event will focus on a November constitutional amendment that was designed to restore the rights of felons who have completed terms of their sentences. (Monday, 6:30 p.m., Second Baptist Church, 11111 Pinkston Dr., Miami.)

GRUTERS SPEAKS IN PALM BEACH COUNTY: Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters, a state senator from Sarasota, will speak during a Trump Club event in Palm Beach County. (Monday, 7 p.m., Palm Beach Kennel Club, 1111 North Congress Ave., West Palm Beach.)

TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2019

UNCLAIMED PROPERTY ON TABLE: The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze issues related to unclaimed property. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN AT ISSUE: The Financial Impact Estimating Conference will hold a workshop on potential financial impacts of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban possession of assault-style weapons in Florida. The political committee Ban Assault Weapons Now is trying to get the issue on the November 2020 ballot. The assault-weapons issue has long been controversial, but Florida lawmakers have repeatedly rejected calls from gun-control activists to impose a ban. The ballot proposal would define assault weapons as “semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.” (Tuesday, 10 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Broward County. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Tyrone Bryant Branch Library, 2230 N.W. 21st Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Also, 10 a.m., Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Also, 1 p.m., Dania Beach Paul DeMaio Branch Library, 1 Park Ave. East, Dania Beach.)

KEYS COLLEGE TRUSTEES MEET: The Board of Trustees of The College of the Florida Keys will hold an organizational meeting that will include electing officers. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., William A. Seeker Campus, 5901 College Road, Building A, Key West.)

WATER QUALITY DISCUSSED: State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, will help host a town hall meeting in Melbourne to discuss the quality of drinking water. Fine will be joined by representatives from Melbourne Utilities and the St. Johns River Water Management District. (Tuesday, 4 p.m., Melbourne City Council chamber, 900 East Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne.)

WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2019

COMMUNICATIONS TAX CONSIDERED: The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze the communications services tax and the gross receipts tax. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

PAROLE CASES ON TABLE: The Florida Commission on Offender Review will meet. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

UNEMPLOYMENT CASES WEIGHED: The state Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission will meet. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission, 101 Rhyne Building, 2740 Centerview Dr., Tallahassee.)

RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Broward, Sumter and Monroe counties. (Wednesday, 10 a.m., Broward County Library, Hollywood Branch, 2600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Also, 10 a.m., Savannah Recreation Center, 1545 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages. Also, 11 a.m., Key Largo Public Library, Publix Shopping Center, 101485 Overseas Highway, Key Largo. Also, 1 p.m., Deerfield Beach Percy White Library, 837 East Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach.)

SENIOR SCAMS TARGETED: The Florida Department of Financial Services will hold one in a series of "Be Scam Smart" workshops to help seniors avoid financial scams. (Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., Gadsden County Senior Services, 852 Lincoln Dr., Chattahoochee.)

HOSPITAL PAYMENTS AT ISSUE: The Agency for Health Care Administration is scheduled to hold a rulemaking workshop about the Medicaid payment methodology for inpatient hospital services. (Wednesday, 11 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, Building 3, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

REFUGEE ISSUES ON TABLE: The Southwest Florida Refugee Task Force will meet. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., Florida Department of Health, 2200 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.)

KIDCARE COSTS DISCUSSED: The Social Services Estimating Conference will analyze expenditures in the KidCare subsidized health-insurance program. (Wednesday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 2019

CITIZENSHIP ISSUE ANALYZED: The Financial Impact Estimating Conference will hold a workshop on potential financial impacts of a proposed constitutional amendment about the citizenship of voters. The political committee Florida Citizen Voters is seeking to place the proposal on the November 2020 ballot. The proposal would change part of the state Constitution that now says, “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” The proposal would change that wording to: “Only a citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” (Thursday, 8:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

ALGAE WOES TARGETED: The state Blue Green Algae Task Force, which was formed to address water-quality problems in parts of Florida, will meet in St. Lucie County. The topics include regulation of septic tanks and sanitary sewer overflows. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Johnson Education Center, 5600 U.S. 1 North, Fort Pierce.)

MASSAGE THERAPY AT ISSUE: The Florida Board of Massage Therapy will meet. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Four Points Tallahassee, 316 West Tennessee St., Tallahassee.)

NORTHEAST FLORIDA COUNCIL MEETS: The Northeast Florida Regional Council Board of Directors will meet after holding committee meetings. (Thursday, committees start at 9 a.m., with council at 10 a.m., Northeast Florida Regional Council, 100 Festival Park Ave., Jacksonville.)

ANESTHESIA REIMBURSEMENTS DISCUSSED: The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting about Medicaid reimbursement requirements for anesthesia services. (Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, Building 3, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.)

COLLEGE STRATEGIC PLANNING EYED: The St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees will hold a workshop focused on strategic planning. (Thursday, 11 a.m., St. Petersburg College, EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. North, Clearwater.)

CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUES ON TABLE: The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida will hold a press briefing in Hillsborough County about civil-rights issues facing communities of color. (Thursday, 11 a.m. Reporters may contact the ACLU of Florida for location information in Tampa.)

PRIMARY ELECTIONS PROPOSAL EYED: The Financial Impact Estimating Conference will hold a workshop on potential financial impacts of a proposed constitutional amendment that would revamp state primary elections. The political committee All Voters Vote is seeking to put the proposal on the November 2020 ballot.  Under the proposal, all registered voters would be able to cast ballots in primaries, regardless of political affiliation. The two candidates getting the most votes in each primary would advance to the general election. (Thursday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

RAIL SERVICE DISCUSSED: The SunRail Customer Advisory Committee will meet. (Thursday, 5 p.m., LYNX Central Station, 455 North Garland Ave., Orlando.)

ROAD WIDENING AT ISSUE: The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a hearing in Bay County about the proposed widening of U.S. 231, from four to six lanes, from north of Pipeline Road to north of Penny Road. (Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, parish hall, 5622 Julie Dr., Panama City.)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019

SALES TAX ‘HOLIDAY’ BEGINS: A sales-tax “holiday” for back-to-school shoppers will start at 12:01 a.m. Friday and last through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 6. During the period, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes and shoes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less and personal computers and accessories costing $1,000 or less.

BOARD OF MEDICINE MEETS IN MIAMI-DADE: The Florida Board of Medicine will meet after holding a series of committee meetings Thursday. (Friday, 8 a.m., Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, 50 Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables.)

HOUSING ISSUES CONSIDERED: The Florida Housing Finance Corp. Board of Directors will meet in Hillsborough County. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., Tampa International Airport, 4200 George J. Bean Parkway, Tampa.)

EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH INSURANCE ANALYZED: The Self-Insurance Estimating Conference will look at issues related to the state employees’ health insurance program. (Friday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

MASSAGE THERAPY AT ISSUE: The Florida Board of Massage Therapy is scheduled to meet. (Friday, 9 a.m., Four Points Tallahassee, 316 West Tennessee St., Tallahassee.)

GR ‘OUTLOOK’ DISCUSSSED: The Revenue Estimating Conference will discuss an end-of-year “outlook” for the general revenue fund. (Friday, 1 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

ORTHOTISTS AND PROSTHETISTS BOARD MEETS: The Florida Board of Orthotists and Prosthetists will meet in Lee County. (Friday, 1 p.m., Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center, 9931 Interstate Commerce Dr., Fort Myers.)

RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Broward County. (Friday, 1 p.m., Riverland Branch Library, 2710 West Davie Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.)

TRANSPORTATION MONEY CONSIDERED: The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze transportation revenues. (Friday, 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

PETTY COULD GET HOMETOWN HONOR: The Florida Historical Marker Council will consider a series of applications, including a proposal to put a historical marker honoring the late rock star Tom Petty in his hometown of Gainesville. (Friday, 2 p.m., R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough St., Tallahassee.)

BENSE SPEAKS AT FSU COMMENCEMENT: Former House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, will offer the keynote address during a Florida State University summer commencement ceremony. (Friday, 7:30 p.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.)

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