Today will be the busiest Monday so far, especially for the Senate, an appropriate start for what should be the most hectic week yet.
1. Another controversial gun bill is up for a Senate vote. The Senate's Criminal Justice Committee takes up SB 180, sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, that would authorize school boards to allow designated teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons on public school campuses. The groups Everytown for Gun Safety and the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, have taken aim on this bill and Evers' SB 176 (which would allow concealed weapons on college campuses) in a TV ad. (4 p.m, 37 S).
2. Also during the same Criminal Justice Committee meeting, a distant cousin to a controversial measure in the House (HB 583) that would ban members of the opposite sex from entering a bathroom gets a hearing. SB 1464, which is sponsored by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, doesn't specify gender, but it does address the same safety concerns raised in the House measure.
3. Tax breaks will be considered during the Senate's Committee on Finance and Tax. Up for consideration: SB 384, which would establish a one-day sales tax holiday for items of $1,000 or less bought from small businesses, which would drain $33 million from state coffers and $7.3 million from city and county treasuries around the state; and SB 140, which would cut taxes on commercial leases by 1 percent, reducing revenues by another $110.5 next year and $265 million each year after that. (4 p.m. at 401 S)
4. Could pot be Florida's next big cash crop? The Senate's Agriculture Committee will mull over SB 902, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, that would establish hemp as a crop that would register with the state's Department of Agriculture . The "Hemp Industry Development Act" would give the department the authority to test and inspect hemp and to collect a fee, but only to cover costs associated with testing and inspection. So there's no money grab yet. (4 p.m. at 301 S).
5. Finally weighing in on the Iran situation is Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, whose SB 1422 gets a hearing at 3 p.m. at the Senate's Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee. The bill urges Congress and Pres. Obama to pass and enact new economic sanctions against Iran should the nation be found to be in violation of the Joint Plan of Action. Who says state Democrats aren't focused like a laser beam on issues that directly affect Florida residents?