Plants froze. Pipes burst. Noses dripped.

Temperatures approached the teens this week in Tallahassee, causing a conundrum for visitors to the Capitol from balmier regions of the state.

But the frost outside didn’t create a chill inside the Capitol, where House and Senate committees sifted through a range of legislation that included Hurricane Irma fallout, gambling and opioids.

The legislative week also gave Rep. Ross Spano, a Dover Republican running for attorney general, an opportunity to burnish his conservative creds with a measure that would declare pornography a public health risk.

According to Spano, research shows a correlation between porn and “mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships,” and a host of other ills.

The only “no” vote on the measure, approved by a House panel Thursday, came from Republican Rep. Cary Pigman, an emergency-room doctor who said the state should focus on real health risks affecting Floridians, such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

Objections to pornography have historically been overridden by First Amendment protections, calling to mind Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler and other sexually graphic mags.

“Freedom of speech doesn’t protect speech you like; it protects speech you don’t like,” Flynt, who’s been entangled in several First Amendment fights, once said.

ANTI-GAMBLING PROPOSAL HITS THE JACKPOT

The “Voter Control of Gambling Amendment,” an initiative largely bankrolled by a Disney company and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, would make it harder to expand gambling in Florida by requiring voter approval for any form of casino gambling, an issue now largely controlled by the Legislature.

Backers of the amendment this week topped the 766,200 petition signatures required to get on the November general-election ballot, where it will appear as Amendment 3. The Florida Supreme Court last year approved the ballot language. Like all constitutional changes, the proposal will require 60 percent approval from voters in November to pass.

If ultimately approved, the proposal would give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state. The change would require voter approval of casino-style games, such as slots, in the future.

The amendment pits the state’s gambling industry — and many members of the Legislature — against anti-gambling advocates in what is expected to be a high-dollar campaign before the fall election.

“It’s game over for the Legislature if that (constitutional) amendment gets on the ballot and passes. And at that point, we’ll just be spectators in the world of gaming, which will essentially be a monopoly for the Seminole Tribe,” Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who has been instrumental in gambling-related legislation for eight years, told the News Service on Wednesday.

Industry representatives also foreshadowed dire consequences if the constitutional amendment passes.

“I think it will have a huge impact on our industry, because as opposed to the Legislature regulating us, we’ll need 60 percent of the residents of Florida to regulate us in the future. And, as the most regulated business in the state, that just makes anything we want to do to grow our business in the future more difficult,” Izzy Havenick, whose family owns dog tracks in Naples and Miami, said in an interview.

SENATE ADOPTS NEW SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY

After the resignation of two prominent senators because of sex scandals, Senate President Joe Negron this week released a new sexual-harassment policy outlining do’s and don’ts — mostly don’ts — to guide senators, aides and lobbyists.

Unwelcome physical behavior that could constitute sexual harassment includes “kissing or hugging, unless welcome or clearly not objected to, when made in connection with a greeting or parting, such as a peck on the cheek.”

And “patting, pinching, or intentionally brushing against an individual’s body” are also off-limits, according to the new policy.

The policy also advises members and aides to keep in mind that a single incident may or may not constitute sexual harassment and that “conduct or communications that might have been welcome between two individuals at one time may become unwelcome at any time.”

Negron released the policy after the Senate has been roiled by the resignations of Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens and Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala. Clemens resigned after disclosures about an extramarital affair with a lobbyist, while Latvala stepped down after a highly damaging investigation about sexual harassment.

IRMA, REDUX

The House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness inched forward this week with recommendations based on lessons learned from Hurricane Irma, the historic storm that swept through the state in September.

Requiring nursing homes to have adequate backup power, blocking storm-damaged properties from being rebuilt in “high-risk” areas and looking into changes in highway traffic flow during evacuations are a few of the proposals advanced by the select committee.

The suggestions focused on Hurricane Irma recovery, the impact on Florida of people fleeing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and how to better prepare for future storms. They will be distributed to various committees and subcommittees to determine the potential impacts on the next state budget as ideas are converted into bills.

Select committee Chairwoman Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, whittled down the list of proposals and called them a “starting point” for short-term and long-term measures.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest utility had some good Irma-related news for its customers.

Florida Power & Light said Tuesday that savings from the federal tax overhaul will allow it to avoid billing customers for the $1.3 billion cost of restoring electricity after Hurricane Irma.

FPL had initially planned to start billing customers in March for the restoration costs but put those plans on hold after Congress and President Donald Trump last month approved the overhaul, which cut corporate tax rates and made numerous other changes in the federal tax code.

In the announcement Tuesday, FPL said a 2016 agreement that set the utility’s base electric rates allowed it to “leverage” the tax savings to deal with the Irma costs.

“The timing of federal tax reform, coming on the heels of the most expensive hurricane in Florida history, created an unusual and unprecedented opportunity,” Eric Silagy, FPL’s chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “We believe the plan we’ve outlined is the fastest way to begin passing tax savings along to our customers and the most appropriate approach to keeping rates low and stable for years to come.”

NO (STATE) LOVE FOR AMAZON

After playing the key role in reducing and revamping Florida’s economic-development programs last year, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Thursday he has no interest in developing a state incentive plan to bring Amazon’s new headquarters to Florida.

Florida suddenly became a contender for the giant online retailer’s second headquarters — dubbed HQ2 by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — after Miami emerged as one of 20 finalists for the project, which could generate some $5 billion in spending and lead to 50,000 jobs.

Miami, which was competing with 238 other cities, was the only finalist in Florida, although the Miami bid also includes sites in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Gov. Rick Scott, who’s pushed state funding to lure businesses to Florida, tweeted that it was “great news” that Miami made the cut.

But Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, didn’t share the love.

In an interview with the News Service, Corcoran said he was doubtful that Florida would end up as the location for the Amazon project, citing remarks by Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo, a Hialeah Republican who formerly served in the state House.

Bovo told The Miami Herald in October that Miami-Dade’s transportation challenges would ultimately eliminate Miami from contention.

“What was the reason?” Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, asked. “There’s not enough money? We didn’t throw enough incentives? No, (it’s) because of their infrastructure and their transit issues.”

Corcoran listed the items he said “site selectors” consider when relocating.

“Here’s what we ought to do as a state. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face,” Corcoran said. “There are five things that site selectors look at. The most important being having a great educational system.”

STORY OF THE WEEK: The anti-gambling “Voter Control of Gambling Amendment” made it onto the November ballot.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Quite simply, advising clients to grow their own marijuana based on a fake doctor’s advice is wrong and cannot now be said to be subject to interpretation based on the evolution of medical marijuana law.” — Carlos Alberto Leon, a Florida Bar lawyer who served as referee in a disciplinary case against Ian Christensen, who was disbarred Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court. Christensen and a colleague charged clients $799 for a patient identification card that they said could keep the patients out of trouble for having or growing marijuana.

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