5 things to watch Thursday in the Legislature

Herald/Times Tallahassee BureauMarch 7, 2013 

TALLAHASSEE -- Politics often makes strange bedfellows, as will be obvious once again in the state Capitol Thursday. Here are five things to watch:

• A rally urging expansion of the Medicaid low-income insurance program will be held by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a health care workers’ union that has opposed most of Gov. Rick Scott’s policies. But SEIU members, many of whom are in South Florida, favor Scott’s call for a three-year expansion of Medicaid and will show their support in the Capitol. An SEIU news release said the rally would focus on a leading foe of Medicaid expansion, House Speaker Will Weatherford, "who chose partisan politics over serving the hard-working people of Florida."

• Scott and the Cabinet will meet for the first time in weeks, and the first time since all three elected Republican Cabinet members forcefully opposed Scott’s support of Medicaid expansion.

• One of several bills that would make texting while driving a non-criminal traffic violation will be considered by the House Transportation & Highway Safety Subcommittee. The bill (HB 13) is sponsored by Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota.

• The annual political fight over how to pay for Everglades restoration will emerge in the House State Affairs Committee, which takes up a bill (SAC 13-01) dealing with the long-term plan for reducing phosphorus flows into the River of Grass. The Everglades Foundation and Audubon of Florida both oppose the bill, saying it does not require sugar cane growers to pay their fair share of the cleanup of ’Glades pollution.

• The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee considers a bill (SB 7018) that allows Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to shrink its risk by loaning some of its surplus money to private insurers who would be encouraged to take over Citizens’ policies.

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