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Today in Tallahassee: Five Things to Watch

Hump week, the mid-point of the 2014 Legislative session, is here, and not a moment too soon. But don’t think that the pace is slowing down on bills. Even though it’s a Monday, typically a travel day for lawmakers, a number of high profile bills will be considered.

  • Public records will take a beating at the House Government Operations committee at 1:30 at 212 Knott Building. On tap is the curious HB 421, by Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, which would exempt the email addresses collected by county tax collectors to send tax notices. A companion bill in the Senate, SB 0538 is scheduled for a second reading on the Senate floor Friday. Although the intent is to prevent identity theft, the First Amendment Foundation has concluded that there’s no “factual evidence” to support the premise that any identities will be protected by this measure. If passed, could justify an avalanche for future exemptionsthat will further restrict public records. But wait, there’s more. There’s also HB 555, which would exempt recorded images from red light cameras; HB 865, which would exempt contact information of people involved in car crashes 60 days following a crash; and HB 1269, which would exempt public records for certain family trust companies.


  • Public records get a bit of support at the same meeting, with HB 1151, which is getting its first committee meeting. It would clarify existing records law, which should make it easier to access records.


  • The Senate’s Agriculture committee meets at 4 p.m. at 301 SOB to consider SB 1576, which seeks to restore and safeguard the state's natural springs with $378.8 million. It will also take up SB 1044, sponsored by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, that would allow electric vehicle charging stations and alternative fuel stations to notify the state so their locations could be provided online.


  • Environmentalists have targeted HB 703 as one of the more troublesome bills of the session. Sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, it gets heard at the House’s agriculture and natural resources committee at 102 HOB at 4 p.m. It revises water permitting, and was heavily revised last week to make it palatable for environmentalists, but some say it still goes too far in easing regulation, especially in allowing 30-year water use permits for large projects in rural areas.


  • The Senate’s Ethics and Elections committee is slated to meet at 4 p.m. at 412 Knott Building to discuss SB 784, which would require the Florida Department of State to develop an online voter registration system and require the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to verify information submitted online. 

- Michael Van Sickler, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau