Florida Senate prepares for 2019 legislative session

The chamber where the Florida Senate meets.
Picture courtesy of Planar/Leyard media.

Members of the Florida Senate convened for their biweekly interim committee meetings last week. Over the course of these meetings, different Senate committees met in various locations throughout the Capitol building to provide information about potential bills and updates on previously implemented statutes.

“The purpose of the meetings is to further inform the legislators on the information surrounding the bills being considered,” explained Liam Clark, a representative from the office of District 3 Senator Bill Montford, a Democrat from Tallahassee.

District Three, which is comprised of Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties, has the highest population of the 40 districts, according to the Florida Senate’s District Summary Statistics.

“[The meetings] allow different agencies and institutions to represent their interests and legislative positions in front of the Senate, to provide the aforementioned information and discuss amendments to proposed bills with their related committee,” Clark added.

Last week’s meetings began Tuesday morning, with the Agriculture, Criminal Justice and Health Policy committees presenting from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Following them were the Banking and Insurance, Children, Families and Elder Affairs and Judiciary committees, who presented from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The Education Committee presented from 2:30 to 4 p.m., and the Environment and Natural Resources Committee presented from 4:30 to 6 p.m., closing out the first day of meetings.

The second day of the meetings featured presentations from the varying appropriation subcommittees. The Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services was the sole presenter Wednesday morning. The Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government, Criminal and Civil Justice and Education all presented that afternoon from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

The final day of the interim committee meetings began with the Hurricane Michael legislative delegation, which consists of senators and representatives affected by Hurricane Michael, discussing long-term recovery efforts at 11 a.m. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission presented from 11:30 to noon and the three days of meetings concluded with the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee and the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee both presenting from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

As chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and vice chair of the Education committee, Senator Montford saw the brunt of his work take place the first day of the meetings. He is also a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee of Education and the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee.

The meetings were the third of the council’s interim session, with the first taking place the week of Dec. 10. There are three more meetings scheduled to take place before the legislative session begins March 5 with Gov. DeSantis’ first State of the State address.