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2019 Florida Legislature

Florida Passes Bill Creating Hurdles To Change Constitution

May 4, 2019
WUFT

Republican lawmakers slipped language into a bill in the final hours of Florida's legislative session Friday that could make it more difficult for citizens to change the constitution through petition drives.

Tax Package Approved After Charter School Fight

May 4, 2019
Florida Capitol
Michael Rivera

After a battle about the issue, a proposal to distribute voter-approved local money to charter schools landed back in a tax package that the House and Senate passed late Friday.

Desmond Meade and Neil Volz, who work for a political committee that propelled the amendment to victory in November, called the measure “disheartening” and “disappointing.”
News Service of Florida

With two men who’ve become the faces of Amendment 4 watching from the gallery, Florida lawmakers passed a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored.

Push For Underground Power Lines Passes In Florida Legislature

May 4, 2019

With memories of massive outages after Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Michael and other storms, state lawmakers Thursday gave final approval to a bill that could lead to an expansion of underground power lines.

Teeth cleaning in process
By Erik Christensen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8412023

Several counties in Florida have very few dentists who accept Medicaid - and a few have none at all.

But a bill passed by the Florida House and Senate could incentivize new dentists to work in those areas.

With the passage of this Legislative session’s marquee school choice bill, a new private school voucher program is on the verge of being created. Senate Bill 7070 is now on the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s been a vocal supporter of school choice since before taking office. (Photo: Steve Cannon/AP)

Budget Chiefs Finalize State Spending Plan

May 1, 2019
State Capitol
News Service of Florida

House and Senate budget chiefs agreed Tuesday to a roughly $90 billion budget deal, but lawmakers will not end the 2019 legislative session on time. 

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Florida legislators have passed a bill that would pave the way for residents to buy cheaper prescription drugs imported from Canada.

Budget Leads Major Issues In Florida Legislature's Last Week

Apr 28, 2019
Florida Capitol
Michael Rivera

The Florida Legislature careens into its final scheduled week with a host of major issues still to be settled, including a roughly $90 billion state budget that is the only bill lawmakers are required to pass.

A JEA crew works on power restoration in the Egrets Bluee area after Hurricane Irma in Sept. 2017.
JEA

Utilities would have to come up with a 10-year plan to strengthen and bury power lines and be allowed to pass along the cost to customers under a bill passed by the Florida Senate.

Gabrielle Monroe gives testimony as to why she is against Senate Bill 540.
The Florida Channel

Survivors of human trafficking are divided on two bills in the legislature.

“I am a survivor of childhood sex trafficking,” said Gabrielle Monroe of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars. She spoke out this week against Senate Bill 540, which is designed to stop human trafficking. “I also was arrested in 2004 on the charges of prostitution.”

A controversial bill that bans local governments from adopting or practicing sanctuary city policies is moving forward, but it comes with some new amendments.

The new law, which increases penalties for killing or seriously injuring police dogs, is in honor of Jacksonville Police K-9 Fang, who was killed by a carjacking suspect last year.
Jacksonville Police

People who kill or seriously injure police dogs in Florida will now face tougher penalties.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday making that crime a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It was previously a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

State Leaders Study Late Proposal For A Gambling Compact

Apr 26, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis and his staff continued Wednesday to scrutinize a proposed gambling agreement, but the odds of closing out what some lawmakers have called a “three-dimensional game of chess” grow dimmer as the clock winds down on the legislative session.

After weeks of negotiations, Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and representatives of the Seminole Tribe reached a tentative deal on Tuesday. DeSantis and House Speaker José Oliva received an outline of the agreement, known as a “compact,” on Tuesday.

Florida Senate Signs Off On Expansion Of School Choice

Apr 26, 2019

Florida senators on Thursday passed legislation that would allow more students to use taxpayer-funded scholarships to pay for private-school tuition, a major step toward expanding school choice in the state.

Senate Passes Wide-Ranging Health Insurance Proposal

Apr 26, 2019

The Florida Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping health insurance bill that could protect hundreds of thousands of Floridians with pre-existing conditions while at the same time blunting the impact of the federal health care law. 

Lawmakers Try To Bridge Health Budget Differences

Apr 25, 2019

In a first round of health-care budget negotiations, the Senate on Wednesday agreed to pare funding for local projects in an attempt to bridge spending differences with the House. 

In a move that’s ignited fierce debate, Florida lawmakers appear set to approve controversial legislation that aims to ban so-called "sanctuary cities" in the state. Bills in the House and Senate both passed their final committees last week and are making their way to discussion. 

The legislation would require local police to honor requests from federal immigration authorities to detain people who are thought to be in the United States illegally. The House version would fine local governments that don’t cooperate with federal requests.

People casting their votes at polling booths
WUSF Staff

Florida lawmakers are considering several measures to address the state's long documented election woes.

Problems with ballot counting - from the controversial 2000 presidential election to the 2018 statewide election - prompted Spring Hill Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia and two House committees to draft a bill to streamline the absentee balloting schedule.

The Senate is moving forward with certificate of need repeal. But some call the move a dramatic shift that reneges on weeks of work. The plan to scrap hospital regulations points to a bigger picture about the legislative process.

On Friday’s Florida Roundup, we devoted the full hour to the debate over immigration and sanctuary cities in the Sunshine State.

The Florida Legislature has approved a bill that will allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill—which passed a house vote on Wednesday and has already passed in the Florida Senate—creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among intravenous drug users.

Florida's House of Representatives
myfloridahouse.gov

More than 100,000 low-income parents could lose  health care coverage under a Medicaid work-requirement bill being considered in the Florida Legislature, experts estimate.

For years now some members of the legislature have been pushing to create a way to help firefighters battling cancer. Studies show they are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, because of their line of work. This year the effort has overwhelming support in the Senate but hasn’t been heard in a house committee yet.

Florida Could Make It Harder To Change State Constitution

Apr 9, 2019

Amending the state constitution would require approval by a two-thirds majority of voters, up from the current 60 percent, under a proposed ballot question approved by a House committee Monday. 

Florida Senate passes $90.3B state budget; House next up

Apr 4, 2019
State Capitol
Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a $90.3 billion budget plan for next fiscal year, while the House began work on its version that is about $400 million less in total spending. 

Lawmakers hope allowing state colleges impacted by Hurricane Michael to waive out of state tuition for 3 years will spur economic growth. 

A Jacksonville state representative’s bill aimed at easing the burden on victims of housing discrimination who are pursuing civil action passed unanimously in its first committee stop this week.

Lawmakers Renew Push To Curb Human Trafficking

Mar 30, 2019

A year ago, state Sen. Lauren Book wanted to allow human-trafficking survivors to sue hotels that turned a blind eye to abuse. But after that idea did not pass, the Plantation Democrat is back with a different proposal: training hotel employees to spot trafficking.

Prison buses in front of a prison.
Florida Department of Corrections

Florida's prisons have a health care problem.

The state's aging prison population and the high cost of treating inmates with debilitating diseases are behind a surge in spending on health care in recent years.


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