Dan Sweeney Profile picture
Mar 5, 2018 82 tweets 29 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Greetings from the @FLSenate, where they'll be voting out their bill in response to the #StonemanDouglas shooting today. That's after a rare Saturday session to amend the bill.
My thread on the Saturday session, which -- fair warning -- is Tolstoy-esque in its length though not its prose, is here:
The Stoneman Douglas bill will not be voted on till the afternoon, so sit tight if you're curious about that vote. In the meantime, this morning they'll be taking up HB7055, the big education bill.
HB7055 would give bullying victims a voucher to attend private schools, paid for with money siphoned off vehicle sales taxes.
Here we go! Session just starting, 26 minutes late.
Senate is starting with the "special order calendar" -- that means bills that are ready to be amended or swapped out for the House version, but not yet ready for a vote. I'll have some downtime here as I work on my newsletter while they move through calendar. Tweet later.
They're doing voting bills now. Passed a couple things they do every year, updating language in state law. Now, passing a proposed constitutional amendment on tax increases.
If passed with two-thirds vote, voters in November will have to decide whether #flleg will need a two-thirds vote to raise any tax or fees.
This has already passed the House, so if the @FLSenate votes yes here, it's on to the ballot.
It'll require three-fifths vote of the Senate to get this done. Three-fifths of 40 = 24. There are 23 Republican senators. In other words, they need Democrats to push this through. So far, @JoseJavierJJR, @SenatorThurston, @FarmerForFLSen, @KevinRader have all spoken against.
PASSES 25-13. Both @LindaStewartFL and @Powell4Senate voted for it.
Also, @Book4Senate. I believe @TomLeeFL voted against? That gets them to 25.
Up now is #HB7055, the big education bill. Right now, they've got an amendment -- a relative rarity for bills ready for a vote -- to exempt #StonemanDouglas students from taking statewide standardized assessment tests. School rating would remain an A for the year.
Amendment passes. Assuming bill passes, #StonemanDouglas students will be exempt from taking standardized assessment test this year.
Reasoning for amendment is that students lost so much school time -- which is true, given not just the shooting, but also Hurricane Irma -- that an assessment on this school year would not give an accurate picture.
Debating #HB7055 now, Republican @TomLeeFL calls language that would decertify many teachers unions a "poison bill." Says he won't vote for bill because of it.
Sorry. He called it a "poison pill." I have bills on the brain.
The Senate has gone to lunch in the middle of debate on the education bill. Basically, they recessed on the House's big education bill, then the House recessed while debating SB 4, the Senate's big higher ed bill. Each wants the other to pass to guarantee passage of the other.
#flleg brinkmanship to kick off the last week of session. What I'm playing in the press gallery right now:
While we await the #flleg return from lunch, here's an interesting late-filed amendment by @SenReneGarcia on the #StonemanDouglas bill. Removes teachers from the arming-school-staff program:
By the way, this Garcia amendment is amending an amendment by bill sponsor @BillGalvano, which changes the name of the Florida Sheriff's Marshal Program to the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
Senate is back, they're still talking #HB7055. Democrats are arguing against the bill over the portion that potentially decertifies teachers unions.
While we await debate on the #StonemanDouglas bill, I just knocked out this story updating where we are now. I've seen a lot of comments expressing confusion over why so many votes on one bill, so this is just explaining the process:
Senate still debating #HB7055. Some split among Democrats as Bill Montford says he'll support bill while @FarmerForFLSen says he'll vote against. Bill's almost bound to pass though. It's pretty clear this is tit-for-tat for House passing the Senate's higher ed bill, SB 4.
Back to the @SenReneGarcia amendment to restrict teachers from participating in arming-school-staff program.
Have now heard from three people heavily involved that this deal will ensure passage.
As all this is going on, several #NeverAgain #StonemanDouglas students are speaking right now at @FloridaCRC. Tune in to Thefloridachannel.org to watch.
.@davidhogg111 speaking now at @FloridaCRC saying they should vote down Prop. 72, requiring supermajority to raise taxes. He will perhaps be unhappy to learn that such a proposal was voted to be put on the ballot in 2018 by the Legislature this morning.
OK, back to the Senate. They are, yes, STILL debating #HB7055, the major education bill. Not surprising, of course -- teachers unions are big Democratic supporters, and this bill specifically targets only their unions for decertification.
.@Kathleen4SWFL responds to @FarmerForFLSen, says with $21B in education funding, "We are not starving education, we're doing the best we can."

Should be noted though, that $21B in education funding still puts Florida well below national average on per-student ed. funding.
Here we go with a vote ... they do a quorum call first, which signals close vote.
HB 7055 PASSES Senate, 20-17. I saw @DorothyHukill, @TomLeeFL, @DanaYoungFL and @denisegrimsley vote down, joining 14/15 Democrats. Democrat Bill Montford voted yes.
The bill was substantially amended in the Senate, so it heads back to the House now.
Next up is HB 29, Military affairs, passes 38-0. With all the contentiousness up here, worth noting that this is typical. Many bills pass unanimously.
OK, here we go on HB 7026, bill in response to #StonemanDouglas shooting.
Three amendments. First up: @BillGalvano amendment changing Florida Sheriff's Marshal Program to the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after coach who died in shooting. More on the coach: sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/…
Sorry, four total amendments. Two of them amending this @BillGalvano amendment.
First up is the @SenReneGarcia amendment that would prevent classroom instructors from participating in the marshal program ... or, Coach Feis Guardian Program, if the underlying amendment passes.
.@JoseJavierJJR points out that, under @SenReneGarcia amendment, advisors, guidance counselors and librarians would all be able to carry firearms in schools still.
"There are all kinds of instructional personnel that will have interaction with students in teaching settings that ... could still legally be armed," @JoseJavierJJR says.
.@SenReneGarcia allows this is true, but reiterates that the entire program is optional. Wants to make sure everyone knows his amendment doesn't require anyone to participate in program.
.@JoseJavierJJR points out that there's ways to work around @SenReneGarcia amendment -- just have teacher do something outside classroom. In Rodriguez's example, make a math teacher be the track coach too, then give'em a gun.
"This gives control to the school districts to implement the program in the way they choose to," @SenReneGarcia says.

Does it? Seems like it's taking away any classroom teachers that don't do anything else at the school.
"The whole goal is to maintain local control," @SenReneGarcia says in response to @FarmerForFLSen.

Again, this is an amendment preventing locals from arming classroom teachers.
The Garcia amendment getting a lot of questions from Democrats. Essentially, it exempts only classroom instructional personnel as defined in Florida statute from participating in the marshal program.
That means everyone who is not a full-time classroom teacher could still be armed. That would include librarians, administration, advisers, coaches, etc.

Garcia has pointed out that sheriffs and superintendents could limit it further if they choose.
Montford just asked whether retired military who are teachers could still carry firearms. Garcia says "yes," and now I am completely confused.
"It's not just guns in schools, it's guns in classrooms," @FarmerForFLSen says. "There was an understanding this morning that an agreement had been reached to keep guns out of classrooms."
There's been rumor bouncing around Capitol all morning that a fix had been found for marshal program that would get @FLGovScott and the legislative black caucus onboard.
.@FarmerForFLSen appears to be alluding to that. but the fact that this amendment only applies to classroom teachers upsets that morning agreement, Farmer says.
"Somebody in that first five minutes needs to be able to act," @dennisbaxley says. Baxley supports Garcia amendment, interestingly enough. He's a strong conservative and gun-rights supporter. Not sure what his reasoning is.
Amendment PASSES on voice vote. Garcia amendment passes, excluding classroom teachers from marshal program.
After a failed amendment by @FarmerForFLSen to remove all instructional personnel from marshal program, we're back on the @BillGalvano amendment to change marshal program name to Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
Amendment passes changing name. One more @BillGalvano amendment approved as well, just a minor change in the risk protection orders allowing cops to take someone's firearms, and now, time for debate on the bill itself.
kicks things off, telling Legislature it doesn't have to "codify what Grady Judd has implemented." First time I've heard the architect of the marshal program, @PolkCoSheriff, mentioned in debate over it.
Debate on the bill seems to be centering on whether there's more good or bad in the bill now that the guardian program has been watered down a bit. @darrylrouson calls mental health funding "huge," but says he won't vote for it. Montford says he will.
"I hate that we have to be in this position," says @LindaStewartFL, who has led push for assault weapons ban that is not in the bill.
Here's what I have on the #StonemanDouglas bill so far. Story will be updated when the vote comes in:
.@KevinRader, whose district includes #StonemanDouglas, now speaking.

"Parkland was voted the safest city [in Florida]. How ironic," he says.

He adds that because ""The needle is moving just slightly," he'll vote for the bill.
"I have never in my life felt more useless and powerless," @Book4Senate says of the time she spent at a Marriott near #StonemanDouglas as parents were informed of children's deaths.
.@Book4Senate describing her visit to the #StonemanDouglas scene after the shooting. Carnations still in place for Valentine's Day. Papers and books strewn about the hall.
.@Book4Senate barely holding back tears as she describes the stairwell on the third floor where Peter Wang died holding a door for his classmates.
.@Book4Senate points out that the 1st birthday of her twins, Feb. 16, came as another mother's child was put into the ground.
.@Book4Senate confirms that shooting victim Kyle Laman asked in hospital bed for age limit of 21 on firearm purchases. @joenegronfl said last week that he had gotten the idea from a victim in hospital, but did not say which.
"Do I think this bill goes far enough? No, no I don't. But what I disagree with more is letting the great be the enemy of the good," @Book4Senate says. "We have been elected to represent the will of the people and their will is clear -- let's get something done."
.@lizbethkb announces extension of session till 8 p.m.
"Let's pretend for a minute that we have enough money and there wherewithal and the technology to create a fortress around every school, does that protect out children? No," says @FarmerForFLSen. "The next time it'll be the beach, or a park, or a mall."
"The solution has to be beyond those issues of mitigation," @FarmerForFLSen says. "It needs to look at prevention."

He's unhappy that assault weapons ban, or a moratorium or high-capacity magazine ban was not in bill.
"The mentality that we take what we get and come back next year for me? I'm sorry, I can't do that," @FarmerForFLSen says in an emotional speech. "Next year, the buses won't be here, the pressure will be reduced, and the NRA will be omnipotent again."
.@FarmerForFLSen and @Book4Senate, both Democrats from Broward, arguing voting against and for the bill, respectively.
.@BillGalvano now closing on bill, then we'll get a vote.
"The process has been extraordinary because it needed to be. We needed to response with every ounce of our effort," @BillGalvano said. "What happened cannot ever happen again."
After a series of raw, emotional speeches, @BillGalvano now closing on his bill by discussing the "data analytics" that will change how schools respond to at-risk youth.
For those of you following my tweets for the first time, @BillGalvano has a long history not only of being put in charge of some of the biggest, most important legislation in the Senate, but also of getting very in the weeds on policy.
.@BillGalvano disputes @FarmerForFLSen contention that nothing will be done in coming years on this, saying the investigative commission created by bill will be back with recommendations that will prompt further action.
"We're going into areas that may not be our comfort zone. I know I have," @BillGalvano says. "But don't we owe it to victims?"
Bill PASSES 20-18.
This was an incredibly shaky vote. A tie means a bill goes down. So one more no vote, and this would have sunk. Three Democrats voted for the bill, six Republicans voted against.
The six Republicans appear to be some of the most pro-gun rights, conservative members of the @FLSenate, including those who regularly sponsor pro-gun bills, such as @dennisbaxley and @gregsteube
The Democratic yes votes are Tallahassee's Bill Montford and Broward's @Book4Senate and @KevinRader (the latter really more of a Palm Beach guy, but the sliver of Broward in his district includes #StonemanDouglas )
Basically, the two Democratic senators most personally affected by the shooting -- Book and Rader -- voted for the bill.
Those two @FLSenateDems visited the site right after the shooting, and given their speeches in debate, the experience clearly affected them. If any of the three Dems decided it wasn't worth it -- or if just one more GOP had sided with their six colleagues, bill would've died.
Final tweet for this thread: Here's my final story on today's happenings. Will be back tomorrow with coverage of the House's amendment process on the bills.

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More from @Daniel_Sweeney

Feb 27, 2018
OK, new thread! Greetings from the Senate Appropriations, where they're set to hear the school safety/mental health/gun access bill as well.
To clarify, the last absurdly long thread was House Appropriations. Now we're in Senate Approps. They'll do their version of the bill here, which is now unlike the House version in several significant ways, esp. after amendments in House Approps.
After this, both bills will head to the floor in either chamber.
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