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Jim Saunders - News Service of Florida

Jim Saunders is the Executive Editor of The News Service Of Florida.

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Nearly three years after lawmakers passed a controversial measure that sought to bolster charter schools, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a constitutional challenge by county school boards.

empty jury box
iStock

Trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at courthouses across the state, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady on Monday extended a suspension of jury trials and many other in-person court proceedings through May.

MARIA TSYRULEVA/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Pointing to his “discretionary” powers in dealing with emergencies, Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking a circuit judge to toss out a lawsuit aimed at forcing statewide beach closures because of the novel coronavirus.

Gov. ron DeSantis in front of a podium
Facebook

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that state officials are looking at the possibility of putting people who test positive for the coronavirus in facilities such as hotels to help prevent them from spreading the virus to family members.

Here Are 10 Big Issues From The 2020 Florida Legislative Session

Mar 21, 2020
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Florida lawmakers finished the 2020 legislative session Thursday by passing a $93.2 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

As they finished most of their work Friday night, lawmakers could celebrate bills they had passed during the 2020 legislative session. But hundreds of other proposals died along the way. Here are a dozen high-profile issues that didn’t pass:

As the stock marketed plummeted Monday morning, House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, indicated that fears about the novel coronavirus could affect the ongoing negotiations about a new state budget.

CDC brochure talking about after-travel health precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Two Florida seniors who had traveled abroad have become the state’s first residents to die from the novel coronavirus, the Florida Department of Health announced late Friday.

In a major victory for abortion opponents, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would require parental consent before minors could have abortions.

Duke Energy Florida customers next month will start seeing extra charges on their bills to cover the utility’s costs of preparing for Hurricane Dorian, a mega-storm that threatened to smash into the state in September before turning away.

In a case that has drawn national attention, a federal appeals court Thursday rejected arguments that a Death Row inmate should be given another chance to show he is innocent in the 1985 murder of a 14-year-old girl in Pinellas County.

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

With supporters pointing to attacks on churches and synagogues, a House panel Tuesday approved a measure that would allow people to carry concealed weapons at religious institutions that share properties with schools.

The Florida Supreme Court said Thursday that unanimous jury recommendations are not necessary before death sentences can be imposed, as justices backed away from a 2016 decision that revamped the state’s capital-punishment system.

The 4-1 ruling offered a clear picture of how much the Supreme Court has changed since last January, when a conservative majority took control after the retirements of longtime justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince.

Gov. Ron DeSantis formally started the 2020 legislative session Tuesday by urging lawmakers to boost pay for many public-school teachers, continue addressing Everglades restoration and water quality and curb business regulations.

Pointing to a “narrow timeframe” for meeting petition-signature requirements, backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to allow recreational marijuana use in Florida said Monday the measure will not go on the November ballot.

A sharply divided federal appeals court Thursday upheld the conviction of former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown in a charity scam, rejecting her arguments that a juror had been improperly dismissed because he said the "Holy Spirit" told him Brown was not guilty.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have overhauled and deregulated the state’s electric-utility industry, saying part of the proposal’s wording would mislead voters.

The ruling was a victory for state leaders, business groups and utilities that fought the amendment, which was proposed for the November ballot by a political committee known as Citizens for Energy Choices.

Electrical tower
Pixabay

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have overhauled and deregulated the state’s electric-utility industry, saying part of the proposal’s wording would mislead voters.

The ruling was a victory for state leaders, business groups and utilities that fought the amendment, which was proposed for the November ballot by a political committee known as Citizens for Energy Choices.

11th Circuit Court of appeals building
U.S. Federal Court of Appeal

A federal appeals court Friday cleared the way for a lawsuit that alleges the Florida House and Senate have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing closed captioning on online videos of legislative meetings.

The legal battle over a 2011 Florida gun law continues to ratchet up.

State and national groups -- including two prominent gun-control organizations -- filed briefs Thursday urging the 1st District Court of Appeal to reject the law, which threatens tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun regulations.

With Gov. Ron DeSantis expected to appoint two Florida Supreme Court justices early this year, a state panel is ready to interview 32 applicants for the powerful posts – including several from the Tampa Bay area.

Arguing that a new law violates constitutional rights, supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational marijuana filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking more time to submit petition signatures to get on the November ballot.

State and federal courts are expected in 2020 to grapple with high-profile Florida issues, ranging from felons’ voting rights to medical marijuana.

Here are snapshots of five key legal issues to watch in the new year:

It wasn’t the most important issue or event of 2019.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer sparred Friday after Fried’s lawyers filed a court brief arguing that an NRA-backed gun law is unconstitutional.

Richard Corcoran speaking
News Service of Florida

The Florida High School Athletic Association continues to move forward in a legal battle about whether Christian schools should have been allowed to offer a pregame prayer before a 2015 championship football game, as Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran pressures the association to reconsider its policies.

Voters will decide in November whether to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, after the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously approved a ballot proposal.

As a three-year legal battle continues over the issue, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wants the Florida High School Athletic Association to reconsider policies that prevented Christian schools from offering a prayer over the stadium loudspeaker before a 2015 state championship football game.

It’s dubbed a “jungle” primary system. And the Florida Republican and Democratic parties want no part of it.

Now, the Florida Supreme Court will decide whether a proposed constitutional amendment that would overhaul the state’s primary-election system will go before voters in November 2020.

Pointing to a “hierarchical relationship” with local governments, the state has asked an appeals court to uphold a 2011 law that has threatened tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun regulations. 

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