Five Stories To Think About Today
* Happy Valentine’s Day! What’s more romantic than prison privatization? The Senate is scheduled to take a dramatic up or down vote on a controversial plan to privatize south Florida prisons and work camps. The vote is too close to call and Senate President Mike Haridopolos declined to predict the outcome Monday.
* The House is in session too, with a bill to create 2012’s sales tax holiday listed as its first order of business. For three days in August, clothing, wallets, and bags less than $75 and school supplies less than $15 will be tax-exempt.
* A bill that would prevent lawmakers from working for a state university or college is coming before the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday afternoon. SB 1560, sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher, would also require members of the Legislature to resign from whatever jobs they may have with universities or colleges before seeking reelection. Florida’s higher education institutions currently employ several state lawmakers, including Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who teaches political science at the University of Florida; Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, a professor at Tallahassee Community College; and Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne, works at Valencia Community College.
* Speaking of higher education, the House’s higher ed appropriations committee will consider a bill that would give college credit for military training courses. Meanwhile, the House’s K-12 education appropriations committee will take up a bill to toughen charter school standards.
* Fore! Representatives from the World Golf Foundation will convene in the third floor of the Capitol to educate the public about the importance of the golf industry to Florida. Gov. Rick Scott will stop by at 3 p.m.
Three Issues You Missed Yesterday
* A tense and divided state Senate voted 21-19 on Monday to keep a controversial prison privatization plan alive. An amendment filed by Sen. Mike Fasano would have changed the actual plan into a study of privatization, effectively killing the idea.
* The Florida Supreme Court has scheduled to hear oral arguments for the Legislature's redistricting maps on Feb. 29, Leap Year Day, although briefs from the intervening parties are due by noon Friday.
* The University of South Florida was sent reeling after the Senate's budget recommendations over the weekend revealed a disproportionate cut to the school compared to other universities. Of the $400 million recommended to be cut from the entire state university system, $79 million of that -- or 20 percent -- would come from USF.
Who To Watch Today/Quotable Quotes
* "I will definitely come down on the side of us not being big government and telling people exactly what to eat. And thank God there is still freedom and a fat guy can get a Coke once in a while." -Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), speaking in support of an amendment removing the ban on unhealthy foods from the proposed EBT reform bill Monday.