5 things to watch Wednesday at the Florida Legislature

Herald/Times Tallahassee BureauMarch 5, 2014 

TALLAHASSEE -- On Day 2 of the Legislature's annual session Wednesday, abortions, guns and nursing homes will enter the political debate. Here are five things to watch:

* Abortions would be banned in Florida with rare exceptions if a doctor "reasonably determines" that a fetus can survive outside the womb. The bill (SB 918), by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, will be debated by the Senate Health Policy Committee, where six of nine members are from South Florida and Tampa Bay.

* People would be allowed to carry concealed weapons during a "state of emergency" even if they don't have permits to carry them under a bill (HB 209) sponsored by Rep. Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, to be heard in the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee. Sheriffs are mobilizing to oppose the bill, calling it overly broad.

* Nursing home employees would be shielded from exposure to lawsuits under a bill (HB 569) to be debated by the House Health Innovation Subcommittee. The bill's sponsor is Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

* Lobbyists who influence special taxing districts that oversee water, hospitals and children's services would be required to register and disclose their fees. The bill (SB 846), sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

* Senators on a budget subcommittee that oversees education will receive a status report on Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, largely the brainchild of former Sen. JD Alexander, a Winter Haven Republican who for four years controlled the budget-writing process in the Senate.

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