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2019 Florida Legislature

In an idea that has popped up repeatedly -- and been rejected -- in the past, a South Florida Democrat is asking lawmakers to consider moving the state capital from Tallahassee.

State Rep. Shevrin Jones’ proposal also specifies that juveniles arrested for possession of certain amounts of cannabis would be eligible for civil citations or pre-arrest diversion programs.
Florida House of Representatives

State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, filed legislation Monday that would decriminalize possession of certain amounts of marijuana in Florida, a bill that could be a longshot in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

“We must restore justice to our broken criminal justice system. For far too long, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana, and we must end this injustice once and for all,” Jones said in a prepared statement.

Under Book’s proposal, Florida veterinarians that declaw cats unless it's medically necessary would face a $1,000 fine and be subject to disciplinary action by the Board of Veterinary Medicine.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Declawing cats, unless medically necessary, would be banned under a bill proposed for the 2020 legislative session by Sen. Lauren Book.

The Plantation Democrat's measure (SB 48) mirrors a plan recently enacted in New York. The New York law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on July 22, imposes a $1,000 fine on veterinarians that perform the procedure.

Under Book’s proposal, Florida veterinarians that declaw cats unless it's medically necessary would face a $1,000 fine and be subject to disciplinary action by the Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Protesters lined up in front of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's office for a "Close the Camps" rally, aimed at shutting down immigration detention centers.
Ti'anna Davis / WUSF Public Media

Two prominent state senators intend to release proposals for the 2020 legislative session that would set up the Republican platform on immigration, a key issue going into next year’s election cycle.

Sen. Joe Gruters, who doubles as the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and Senate Judiciary Chairman David Simmons plan to file measures that illustrate different approaches to the thorny topic of immigration, the source of some of the Legislature's most heated controversies in recent years.

Margaret Good announced on  July 22, 2019, that she will run against Vern Buchanan next year in Congressional District 16.
margaretgood.com; vernbuchanan.com

State Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, has set her sights on Washington and seven-term Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan rather than a second full term in the Florida House.

Good announced Monday that she will run against Buchanan next year in Congressional District 16.

A mockup of the ISEAUTO, designed at Tallinn Technical University in Estonia.
Tallinn Technical University

A new state law aims to make Florida a leader in self-driving cars. It sets out rules for the day when the vehicles are widely available. It also allows testing of those cars without a backup driver.

lottery ticket
Florida Lottery

By Associated Press

A bill that would have required warnings on all Florida Lottery tickets will not become a law.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the bill Friday.

In a memo that accompanied the veto, DeSantis explained that Florida Lottery revenue goes to public education and that an agency analysis showed the bill could lead to a minimum $79.4 million reduction in education funding.

From Vaping To Texting, New Florida Laws Take Effect

Jun 29, 2019
Florida legislature
News Service of Florida

Florida’s record $90.98 billion spending plan for next fiscal year and more than 100 new laws will hit the books Monday.

A dental flushing tool rests on a stand in an office.
Tasayu Tasnaphun / Flikr

By Daylina Miller

Dentists burdened by high student loan debt may soon get some relief.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 843 that – among other things - revives a defunct loan repayment program for dentists who see low-income patients.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

A move to eliminate a 90-day Medicaid retroactive eligibility period will continue for at least another year.

children entering school building
School District of Manatee County

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a budget-related bill that could lead to changes in a long-controversial formula for divvying up money among school districts.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday issued vetoes for 25 projects and programs specifically for the Tampa Bay region.
Florida Governor's Office

Florida’s budget was made official Friday afternoon, but not before Gov. Ron DeSantis issued vetoes for 25 projects and programs specifically for the Tampa Bay region.

Facebook Live

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a nearly $91 billion budget Friday that increases money for education and the environment — but not before cutting $131 million from the spending plan lawmakers sent him, including $18 million in projects from the Tampa Bay area..

Courtesy Florida Humanities Council

Since 1973, the Florida Humanities Council has brought history programs, authors, and Smithsonian exhibits to communities across the state.  

High school students from across Florida gathered at USF St Petersburg to learn about careers in government from Florida legislators.
Carrie Pinkard / WUSF Public Media

For some high school students, summer is a time to relax. But for nearly one hundred Florida high school students, it's a time to study civics, thanks to a program from USF St Petersburg and the YMCA. 

The pair partnered to create the Civics Fellows Program, a yearlong fellowship that immerses students in local government and public service.

When Bill Galvano became the leader of the Florida Senate, he made it clear that his top priority was building new roads.

In January, weeks before the start of the legislative session, Galvano called for three new roads. He called them corridors. Lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis agreed with Galvano and now the state’s biggest road project in 50 years is moving forward.

With the expansion comes concerns about the potential environmental impact, along with the additional stress motorists will endure during construction.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its annual Legislative Report Card. The chamber says the report card helps hold state leaders accountable for how they vote on issues relating to Florida’s business climate.

Everglades
National Park Service

It was a mixed bag for environmentalists in the wake of this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. Lawmakers allocated more money than Governor Ron DeSantis asked for on Everglades restoration and fighting red tide and blue-green algae.

But there were some drawbacks, including a bill to build three new toll roads and getting a fraction of the money the governor proposed to buy environmentally sensitive lands.

WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Jennifer Rubiello, state director for Environment Florida - starting with the good that happened.

During Florida’s 2019 Legislative session, lawmakers had two months to debate hundreds of bills. In the end, the House and Senate worked a half-day of overtime to approve a $91-billion budget -- with record spending on the environment and even more planned for public schools.

But the session closed with hundreds of measures left undebated and a number of high-profile issues that didn’t pass.

Hillsborough Legislative delegation
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Several members of Hillsborough County's legislative delegation gave their take on the just-ended Tallahassee session Friday at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.

This week we learned not one but two Florida counties had their voting databases hacked, but we didn’t learn which two.

Florida will seek new bids in three years instead of renewing its contract with the company that oversaw last year’s botched SunPass conversion.
FourteenSixty / Flickr

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a controversial measure aimed at expanding and building three toll roads on the western side of the state, with supporters saying the plan will help prepare for future growth and aid in disaster evacuations.

Straws
Flickr

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a controversial bill Friday that would have restricted the right of local governments - including St. Petersburg - to regulate single-use plastic straws.

DeSantis To Sign Felons’ Voting Measure

May 8, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he will sign a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights are restored. 

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are returning home after two months of hashing out bills - some of which could soon become law. Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talks with Janelle Irwin, a reporter with Florida Politics, and Steve Bousquet, a columnist with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel.

Doctor treating a baby
iStock

Funding within this year’s budget could help thousands of children get health insurance.

Florida lawmakers finished the 2019 legislative session Saturday by passing a budget for the upcoming year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks with reporters after the 2019 legislative session comes to an end.
News Service of Florida

Crediting himself with “changing the conversation on a number of things” during his first legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday his agenda contributed to Republican lawmakers passing policies with broad appeal.

Lawmakers Sign Off On Budget As Session Ends

May 4, 2019
Gov. Ron Desantis in state capitol
Governor's Press Office

Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature quickly put the finishing touches on a record $91.1 billion spending plan Saturday, meeting numerous requests from freshman Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida Lawmakers Open Debate On $91.1 Billion Budget

May 4, 2019
Florida legislature
myfloridahouse.gov

Florida lawmakers debated a $91.1 billion state budget Friday with bipartisan support for the fiscal year that begins July 1, but must wait until Saturday to put it to a final vote.

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