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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 22, 201312:00 PM EST

Gambling, health care, oil claims on tap for Senate


Another week of committee meetings in the House Senate start today, with the Senate's ethics bill making its debut.

The ethics changes are a major priority for both chambers' leaders, and there's talk that the ethics bill could be among the first to pass this year in the Legislature.

Senate committees also are studying gaming and the federal health care law today and receiving an update on oil spill claims. 

Midweek, a committee discusses safety on college campuses and there will be discussion of digital learning, a top priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford. 

Everglades restoration also is a theme this week, with a couple of different committees hearing updates on the progress to restore the system. Here's a look at some of today's items:

Gambling industry lays down its cards.

The Senate Gaming Committee will hear from representatives of the gambling industry and its impact on Florida's economy.

The panel also will take public testimony, so opponents of the industry may be heard from as well. Legislative leaders have said lawmakers aren't likely this year to pass any major gaming legislation, but intend to study it for a year.

Federal health care

The special Senate committee established to review ramifications of the new health care law holds another meeting and will hear a presentation on "lessons from Massachusetts" and information from the Office of Insurance Regulation.

BP oil spill claims

The Senate Agriculture Committee receives an update on the current status of BP oil spill claims from claims administrator Patrick Juneau.

Ethics bill up in Senate Ethics and Elections

A committee bill, SPB 7006, aimed at toughening ethics rules for lawmakers receives its first hearing before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. The measure is a priority for Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville). The bill would make financial disclosures available online, give the Commission on Ethics more authority to collect fines, require state officers to abstain from voting if they would financially benefit and puts greater restrictions on the lawmaking-lobbying revolving door. The panel also plans to discuss what should be put into a separate bill addressing elections — trying to figure out how to ease long lines seen on Election Day.

Senate Commerce and Tourism

Senate Commerce and Tourism takes up a bill, SB 122, that adds sales tax exemptions for certain add-on charges imposed by stadiums, halls or exhibition centers and arenas. It also hears a bill, SB 222, that makes changes to the appeals process and the eligibility requirements for unemployment compensation, which is now called re-employment compensation. The measure also puts limits on assessments to employers related to paying back the federal government for money borrowed to prop up the state's unemployment system. Another measure before the panel, SB 224, tries to integrate several economic development efforts. The committee will hear a presentation from Gray Swoope, Enterprise Florida Inc. president, regarding the amount of economic development incentives, the recipients of incentives and what the state receives in return.

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