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The Week Ahead in Florida Politics – December 10 – 14, 2012

By the News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE…..The big news this week will come on Friday, as the Revenue Estimating Conference meets to hammer out a mid-year estimate for next year's revenue picture. It's the main forecast for available money as lawmakers start contemplating the budget, though there will be an update in the spring once legislators actually start crafting the spending plan. 

The overall picture for revenue has looked better this year than in nearly half a decade, with the state coming out of recession. But one major thing looms large – and inconclusive – the fiscal cliff. If federal politicians can't hammer out a plan, all bets are off. Still, officials expect the state to start the new calendar with an in-the-black revenue picture. 


State elections officials this week will visit several South Florida counties to begin breaking down what happened to slow down lines, and later vote counting, on Election Day. The state hasn't put out a public schedule for the visits yet. 

Also this week, expect legislation to continue to be filed, though the next legislative committee week isn't until the week of Jan. 14.

There's also a Cabinet meeting this week in Tallahassee, on Tuesday.

MONDAY, DEC. 10, 2012

PSC SAMPLES WATER, WASTEWATER ISSUES: The Florida Public Service Commission will take up issues such as a proposed increase in water and wastewater rates in Lake County by Utilities, Inc., of Pennbrooke, and a proposal about wastewater rates by Aqua Utilities Florida, Inc. (Monday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

TASK FORCE ON NEWBORN RX ABUSE: Attorney General Pam Bondi will convene a meeting of the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. It's been a pet issue of Bondi's since she became attorney general. By the start of the 2013 legislative session in March, the task force is expected to have finished examining the problem and will provide lawmakers with a series of policy recommendations on how to combat the problem. (Monday, 1 p.m., 401 Capitol.)

TUESDAY, DEC. 11, 2012

CABINET MEETS: The  governor and Cabinet have a packed agenda as they round out business for 2012. They are expected to approve the 2013 Florida Forever priority list to steer land-buying and leasing efforts for the coming year. Department of Environmental Protection officials have said they will focus on projects that are substantially complete and those that impact water quality and access. The proposed budget and legislative agenda for the Department of Highway Safety, the Department of Revenue and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will also be on the agenda.  (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Cabinet Room, the Capitol.)

FINANCIAL OVERVIEW AND BONDS: The Cabinet looks at bonding requests totaling $560 million for education construction and $125 million in Florida Turnpike  construction. The Division of Bond Finance will submit its debt affordability report while the State Board of Administration conducts quarterly performance reviews of various state programs including investment plans for the Florida Retirement System, The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and  the Prepaid College Board. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., Cabinet Room, the Capitol.)

PROPERTY TAXES TALLIED: The Revenue Estimating Conference will discuss ad-valorem tax projections. Property taxes play a large role in funding public schools. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., 301 Capitol, the Capitol.)

COMMISSIONER CANDIDATES INTERVIEWED: The Florida Board of Education will interview three candidates who are seeking to become the state’s education commissioner. Those candidates are consultant Charles Hokanson, Jr., Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and Murray State University President Randy Dunn. (Tuesday, 3 p.m., Tampa Airport Marriott, Tampa.)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 12, 2012

EDUCATION BOARD TO MEET: The Florida Board of Education will take up a series of issues, including consideration of appointing a new state education commissioner. Also, the board is expected to take up rules related to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, end-of-course assessments and school improvement and accountability. (Wednesday, 8 a.m., Tampa Airport Marriott, Tampa.)

STATE EMPLOYEES HEALTH INSURANCE AT ISSUE: The Self-Insurance Estimating Conference will discuss costs of the state employees’ health insurance program. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., 301 Capitol.)

TECO PROJECT AIRED: The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a hearing about a proposal by Tampa Electric Co. to expand its Polk Power Station. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

PROJECT CONNECT: The Department of Economic Opportunity holds a meeting to discuss its ongoing "Project Connect," a project aimed at modernizing and combining various parts of the unemployment system. (Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., Caldwell Building, Conference Room B49, 107 E. Madison St., Tallahassee.)

DCF TOUTS POST-BARAHONA IMPROVEMENTS: Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, Hotline counselors and administrators, and child protective investigators hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss improvements at the Florida Abuse Hotline following recommendations made last year by the panel that looked at the death of Nubia Barahona. (Wednesday, 11 a.m., Department of Children and Families, 1317 Winewood Blvd., Tallahassee.)

RENEWABLE ENERGY TECH TAXES: The Agriculture Department's Office of Energy holds a hearing to solicit public comments on the application process, review and administration of the Florida Renewable Energy Technology Sales Tax Refund. It will consider comments on the following rules: 5O-2.001: Florida Renewable Energy Technologies Sales Tax Refund; 5O-2.002: Florida Renewable Energy Technologies Investment Tax Credit; 5O-2.003: Florida Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., 221 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

FUTURE OF SILVER SPRINGS: The Department of Environmental Protection holds a workshop Wednesday evening to discuss the possibility of making the Silver Springs attraction in Ocala a state park. Currently, it's operated by Palace Entertainment, which leases it. The park, which includes a petting zoo, a couple of giraffes and shops, is built around the springs themselves. The park also offers boat tours of the springs. (Wednesday, 7 p.m., Vanguard High School cafeteria, 7 NW 28 St., Ocala.)

FLORIDA SMART JUSTICE SUMMIT OPENS: The Florida Smart Justice Summit opens with a reception on Wednesday evening at which the speakers include Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle. The summit continues through Friday. (Wednesday-Friday, Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.)

THURSDAY, DEC. 13, 2012 

SCHOOL ENROLLMENTS DISCUSSED: The Education Estimating Conference will review projections for public-school enrollment. (Thursday, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

LAND PANEL TO MEET: The Acquisition and Restoration Council, which makes recommendations about state-owned lands and purchases, will start a two-day meeting. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Marjory Stoneman Douglas Building, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd, Tallahassee.)

CLEMENCY MEETING: The governor and Cabinet, sitting as the Board of Executive Clemency, meet to review cases on Thursday. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Cabinet Room, The Capitol.)

FPL RATE SETTLEMENT TO GET DECISION: The state Public Service Commission is expected to decide whether to approve a controversial settlement proposal that would allow Florida Power & Light to raise base electric rates by $378 million in January. FPL reached the settlement with large electricity customers, but the state Office of Public Counsel opposes the proposal. (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

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

CITIZENS COMMITTEES MEET IN PREPARATION FOR FULL BOARD: Committees of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. meet throughout the day in preparation for a full board of governors meeting on Friday.  The Audit Committee begins its deliberations at noon and will be followed by Citizens’ depopulation committee and investment committee, which  meet throughout the afternoon. For a full slate of meetings, agenda items and conference call-in numbers, go to, Peabody Hotel, 9801 International Drive, Orlando.)

FRIDAY DEC. 14, 2012

GR ESTIMATING CONFERENCE: The Revenue Estimating Conference will update projections for state general revenue, a crucial part of funding the state budget. (Friday, 9 a.m., 301 Capitol.)

CITIZENS BOARD OF GOVERNORS: Citizens Property Insurance Corp Board of Governors meets to discuss a range of items. The state-run insurer is working on efforts to reduce its policy count, which now totals nearly 1.5 million. (Friday, 9 a.m. Peabody Hotel, Orlando. Teleconference number (888) 942-8686. Code; 5743735657#)

FLORIDA SMART JUSTICE SUMMIT LEGISLATIVE PANELS: Several lawmakers participate in discussions of so-called "Smart Justice," or trying to reduce incarceration through treatment. There are two legislative panels on Friday, one at 10 a.m., and one at 10:45 a.m. The first features Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. The second one features Sens. Joe Abruzzo, D-Royal Palm Beach, Rob Bradley, R-Flemming Island, Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, and Gibson and Evers, and Reps. James Grant, R-Tampa, Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, and Baxley and Rouson. (Friday, 10 a.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.)

ERP WALK: The Department of Environmental Protection, in coordination with the five Water Management Districts, is conducting rulemaking to develop statewide environmental resource permitting, or ERP, rules. ERP rules govern the construction, alteration, operation, maintenance, repair, abandonment, and removal of storm water management systems, dams, impoundments, reservoirs, appurtenant works, or works, including dredging and filling in wetlands and other surface waters, or combinations thereof. The public is invited to provide comments if it so wishes. Mainly, officials are trying to streamline ERP rules. The meeting is by Webinar. (Friday, 10 a.m., Webinar at