Welcome to the Florida PBA’s first Capitol Report of the 2021 Legislative Session. If this is your first time receiving the report allow me to introduce myself, I am Matt Puckett, and I am the Executive Director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association. In my role as Executive Director, I also serve as the PBA’s Chief Lobbyist. I try my best to provide our membership with information on a weekly basis during the Legislative Session about the events happening in Florida’s Legislature. Over the years, this report has become very Reader’s Digest like as far as content. That’s mainly because writing an exhaustive report on weekly basis can be challenging and because you’re busy so your time is valuable. Perhaps you do not have time to read a 2,000 word write up, but you may be able to listen to a podcast while walking your dog, mowing the grass, or riding your bike.
With that in mind, we plan to be innovative this session on certain subjects to offer you more content in easier to consume platforms. We will host podcasts with guests who are experts in the subject matter, or who we just enjoy (or not) hearing their opinions on a topic. We will replay some of our leadership discussions to allow you to hear our thinking (and hopefully understand why we are thinking this way) on a piece of legislation. Our hope is that you get necessary information from us in a format that works for you. The big takeaway from this report is we plan to keep you informed through different mediums.
Next week, we begin the second full week of interim committee meetings. These committees are a time for legislators to work on the bigger issues they plan to tackle during the 60-day session. Also, this Legislature is new with a fresh set of leaders and dozens of freshman members. There’s a learning curve that goes into the process and interim weeks allow many of the new members and leadership to hone the process so once session actually begins things are rolling.
You should expect to see legislators extensively examine the following:
- The 21-22 Fiscal Operating Budget since we are looking at a $2 billion plus hole in revenue from the virus shutdown; and
- Senate President Wilton Simpson has prioritized looking at the Florida Retirement System. You should view this FRS examination like a negotiation. Meaning, the first offer from the Senate will be something we do not necessarily like, but we are at the table and we can make offers of our own; and
- Speaker Chris Sprowls is prioritizing COVID-19 civil liability protections for businesses. However, you should expect a robust discussion around Workers’ Compensation coverage for front line workers; and
- There will be a great deal of discussion about police reform. You can also look at this issue like a negotiation, but I will caution you that unless a chairman, or the upper levels of Legislative leadership are pushing police reform the likelihood of seeing these ideas pass are slim.
I offer a note of patience when reacting to any issue. The legislative process is designed more for failure than success. Our most difficult task is recognizing a politically motivated bill that offers up a platform for soundbites and an actual bill that has “legs” in the process. The legislative leadership plays such a strong role in what ultimately passes, or fails so pay close attention to what they prioritize.
Please stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.