Five things to watch for Wednesday at the Florida Legislature

April 24, 2013 

TALLAHASSEE -- It's Day 51 of the Session, and all eyes will be on the Senate floor, which will start at 9 a.m.

Two top priorities for Speaker Will Weatherford, campaign finance and pension reform, will be debated. Leadership seems confident that SB 1382, which will eliminate committees of continuous existence, or CCE’s, will be passed, and soon.

The fate of pension reform is more murky. Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, is sponsoring SB 1392, which would encourage state workers, teachers and county employees to enroll in private investment plans rather than the state pension. The House bill, HB 7011, is being pushed by Weatherford. That bill would prohibit state employees from enrolling in the state pension system. It's not clear, at this point, which bill the Senate will end up voting.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, presents a sweeping virtual learning bill on the Senate floor. The proposal, SB 904, would allow out-of-state virtual learning companies to qualify for a larger share of public dollars, and allow high school students to earn credit for some massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The House has already passed a similar bill.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the big Citizens bill that was delayed earlier this month over concerns that it would force rates to skyrocket. The 100-page bill, which already has taken on 35 amendments, is likely to see even more changes before the final vote.

The House session starts at 10:30 a.m. and will make some changes to its big ethics reform bill (7131) in an attempt to ease concerns of Gov. Rick Scott. What those concerns are, Scott really won't say, at least publicly. We'll see how that goes.

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