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Politics / Issues

Legislature Could Start Earlier

State_Capitol.jpg

Lawmakers, staff members and lobbyists might get a chance in 2016 to enjoy Florida's spring weather. 

The House voted 102-11 on Thursday to approve a bill (HB 9) that would move up the start of the annual legislative session to January in even-numbered years. Lawmakers typically go into session in early March and stick around the Capitol for 60 days.

A Senate bill (SB 72) would move up the starting date of the 2016 session but would not make the change for later years.

Also in the Capitol on Thursday:
 
With a longstanding moratorium set to expire, the Florida House on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal (HB 287) that would help clear the way for more nursing home beds in the state.

A moratorium has been in place since 2001 on adding nursing home beds through what is known as the "certificate of need" process.

The moratorium was designed, at least in part, to help lead to more care being provided in communities instead of in nursing homes.

The moratorium is scheduled to expire when a move to a statewide Medicaid managed-care program is completed, which is supposed to happen by Oct. 1, according to a House staff analysis.

The bill would repeal the moratorium as of July 1 and make a series of other changes in the certificate of need process. It also would build in a future limit on additional beds.

It says the Agency for Health Care Administration could not issue additional certificates of need after 3,750 new beds have been approved over a three-year period. A similar Senate bill (SB 268) has been approved by two committees.

And, the Florida House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill (SB 236) that would rename Edison State College and Pasco-Hernando Community College, sending the measure to Gov. Rick Scott.

House members voted 113-2 to approve the bill, which had earlier passed the Senate. Only Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach, voted against the measure.

Edison, which serves Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties, is slated to become Florida SouthWestern State College. Its trustees agreed to a name change for the Fort Myers-based school amid the possibility of a trademark-infringement lawsuit from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J. The New Jersey school trademarked its name about a decade ago. 

The name of Pasco-Hernando Community College would be tweaked to Pasco-Hernando State College.