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Running in Place:  Florida Lawmaking Takes
Back Seat to Politics

What will the Florida Legislature accomplish during the 2024 session? With all eyes on the elections, it's unlikely the Legislature will make big waves like last year. And yet ... Stay tuned and find out during the March Hot Topics legislative debrief with panelists Jason Garcia of the "Seeking Rents” newsletter and podcast and Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel. Retired Chief Circuit Judge Fred Lauten will moderate.


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Panelists and Moderator

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Jason Garcia
Jason Garcia

Jason Garcia is one of Florida’s leading investigative journalists and the publisher of “Seeking Rents,” a newsletter and podcast that explores the ways businesses influence public policy. The winner of multiple state and national awards, Garcia is the author of “Big Profits, Tiny Taxes,” which exposed how corporations dodge taxes, and a 2021 series about dark money used in a “ghost candidate" election scheme.

“Seeking Rents” examines the many ways that businesses influence public policy across Florida, from city halls to the state Capitol. “Rent-seeking" is a term in economics that describes when a corporation uses its political influence to turn tax laws and public policy in its favor.

Originally from Toronto, Garcia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. As an investigative reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, Garcia wrote an award-winning series on corporate-tax avoidance and led an investigation into a statewide “ghost candidate” election scandal that exposed the role of operatives for utility giant Florida Power & Light and sparked a criminal investigation in Seminole County.

Prior to that, he was an associate editor for Florida Trend, covering state politics and business for the business-news publication.

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Skyler Swisher
Skyler Swisher

Skyler Swisher is a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel and covered the 2023 session of the Florida Legislature. He has been reporting on most of the hot-button issues that affect Florida voters. His most recent stories include Disney’s legal and power struggles with Gov. Ron DeSantis, allowing concealed weapons carry without permit or training, the six-week abortion ban, assaults on open records laws and former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s presence in Central Florida.

He previously covered politics, health and other topics at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

He was a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for five years, covering politics, elections and Mar-a-Lago. He worked as a health and projects reporter for four years for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, and spent six years as an education and government reporter for The Columbia (TN) Daily Herald.

Swisher grew up in Memphis and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Tennessee.

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To be announced
To be announced

To Be Announced

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Judge Fred Lauten-Moderator
Judge Fred Lauten-Moderator

Moderator: Fred Lauten currently works as a mediator and arbitrator at the law firm of Upchurch, Watson, White, and Max. He joined the firm in January 2020. He served as Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit from 2014-2019. Prior he was the Administrative Judge of the Circuit Civil Division and the Circuit Criminal Division of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Judge Lauten has also presided over the Complex Commercial Litigation Division. He has presided over the Violation of Probation Division, Circuit Criminal Division 17, a Circuit Criminal Division in Osceola County and served in every division in the Orange County Court. Judge Lauten served on the bench for 26 years.

Parking Options

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Hot Topics Recap

Click to read the complete RECAP of FEB 14 event.

If you attended the event or watched it on our Facebook Live stream please consider completing the evaluation linked below:

Jan 2024: Healthier Communities = Healthier Democracy

JAN Recap


NOV Recap
AI & Elections
OCT Recap
Maxwell & Maxwell

SEPT Recap
Latina Leadership & Legacy
AUG Recap
Superhero Buildings 
Give Me Shelter
Shock and Law: Legislative Session Review
Metro Mayors' Forum

Shock and Law: Legislative Session Review
Metro Mayors' Forum
A Thousand Disrespectful Cuts: Schools
FEB Recap
Black History Month
JAN Recap
The State of FL's Democracy


Sponsors are vital to our work to empower voters by providing timely information for the benefit of non-partisan civic engagement in our community. To further explore how becoming a Hot Topics Sponsor can align with your business goals, please contact LWVOC Vice President, Lee Rambeau Kemp HERE

A range of sponsorship levels are available.


The best regular public affairs forum in town, our Hot Topics Luncheons feature speakers and panelists talking about the hottest issues of concern to Central Florida. Open to League members and community guests, your ticket includes a delicious lunch prepared by Cuisiniers to be enjoyed along with food for thought and action. You’ll want to be present in the magnificent and new Winter Park Events Center. Programs are also streamed on the League’s Facebook Live, recorded, and available on the League’s YouTube channel.

Winter Park Events Center

1050 W. Morse Blvd.

Photo courtesy Adjaye Associates