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2019 Florida Legislature

Florida’s legislative session has been underway for almost a month and there have already been some big changes.

We talk with reporters about key issues lawmakers are considering and how their actions could affect our lives on this week’s Florida Matters.


Parental Consent Bill Advances In The Florida House

Mar 22, 2019

A bill (HB 1335) requiring minors to get a parent’s consent for abortions passed a House committee this week. The debate was mostly civil, but some audience members had to be escorted out.

Florida law says parents have to be notified when their daughters seek abortions. Under the proposal, parents would have to give their permission.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee heard from a string of women who’ve had abortions, but who have differing opinions about the bill.

There's a proposal in Tallahassee right now that could make it easier for injection drug users to trade dirty needles for fresh ones -- preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

A trial project in Miami Dade County is the only legal needle exchange in Florida. The bill would let the other counties to create something similar.

Tuesday was Coding Day at the capitol as part of an initiative to promote computer science education.

Students, some in elementary school, are lined up at computers getting ready to show off their work to state leaders.

“We need more computer scientists. We need more data scientists, and in the state of Florida alone there are 8,000 computing jobs open, not necessarily all for computer scientists," says Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Philanthropies for Microsoft. "Some of them are for individuals who might have a philosophy degree or a poetry degree and take a one-year certificate class.”

A bill advancing in the Florida Senate would extend the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia border.
Visit Florida

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano's plan to extend the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia border is moving forward.

Hookers who’ve been convicted of prostitution three times, cyberstalkers and inmates who expose themselves to prison workers wouldn’t be eligible to have their voting rights automatically restored, under a House proposal aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment approved in November.

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano is the driving force behind a new transportation plan coming up for another committee discussion in the Senate Tuesday. But the measure could face a bumpy road in the House.

A joint resolution that’s making its way through the House would change the way campaigns for statewide races are funded.

Florida lawmakers are one step closer to adding a work requirement for Medicaid eligibility. 

Are Florida’s public universities promoting intellectual freedom? Some state lawmakers don’t think so, and they want to survey schools on the issue. It’s part of a broader bill aimed at tweaking the way the schools are run and funded.

Smokable Medical Pot Gets Legislative Green Light

Mar 14, 2019

In their first full action of the 2019 legislative session, Florida lawmakers — many of them grudgingly — ceded to a demand by Gov. Ron DeSantis and overwhelmingly approved a proposal doing away with the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana. 

A bill that would define anti-Semitism under Florida law and prohibit religion-based discrimination at public schools and universities is advancing in the Legislature.

The Florida Senate is one step closer to approving a ban on fracking, but the bill looks dramatically different than environmental advocates had hoped.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar meets with environmental leaders and activists in Tampa on March, 10.
Ashley Lisenby / WUSF Public Media

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, says lawmakers cannot afford to ignore the environmental impacts of rising temperatures.

While cities say they’re excited about new transportation options associated with so called “micro-mobility devices,” some are worried the state is trying to scoot by with yet another home rule exemption.

A pair of Senate and House Bills looks to address maternal deaths from what legislators say are preventable complications during pregnancy. Supporters of the measure are alarmed that women of color die in childbirth at significantly higher rates than white women.

User DXR via Wikimedia Commons

Florida is known for providing easy access to public records. But Barbara Petersen of the Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation says the 2019 legislative session is remarkable for the broad records exemptions bills that are being filed.

Former Illinois Republican Rep. Steve Andersson talks about the history of the Equal Rights Amendment at a Athena Society luncheon in Tampa.
Ashley Lisenby | WUSF

Florida could become the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment if resolutions by Democratic state lawmakers are approved.

A bill that would regulate hemp growing and sales, bringing Florida in line with federal laws, unanimously passed in its first Senate committee hearing Wednesday.

Senate Signs Off On Smokable Marijuana

Mar 8, 2019

Bowing to a demand by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a measure that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana if doctors deem it the proper treatment. 

Education Committee Chair Republican Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. at Wednesday's hearing.
The Florida Channel

A Senate measure could make it easier for people to pass the Florida Teacher Certification Exam.

Firefighters are at a greater risk of developing cancer than others. According to federal research, they’re also at greater risk from dying from it. But cancer isn’t explicitly part of their insurance coverage in Florida. An effort in the state legisalture is underway to change that and momentum is beginning to build. 

DeSantis To Lawmakers: Be Bold On Big Issues

Mar 5, 2019
The Florida Channel

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an anti-tax, pro-environment State of the State address Tuesday, asking lawmakers to be bold as they tackle issues like education, school safety and health care.

Controversy Swirls Around Straws And Sunscreen

Mar 5, 2019

What started out as an effort to prevent local governments from regulating the distribution of plastic straws morphed Monday into a push for a study on the issue, lumped in with an attempt to prohibit cities and counties from banning certain sunscreens.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Retail Association and Disability Rights Florida are among the groups supporting the study on straws.

A number of environmental groups opposing the proposal (SB 588) argue that studies already show plastic and certain sunscreens are detrimental to the environment.

Senate Fracking Bill Draws Criticism

Mar 5, 2019

Increased protections for the Everglades could be added to a controversial measure that would ban the oil- and gas-drilling technique known as fracking.

After about 90 minutes of public comment, the Senate Agriculture Committee delayed a vote until at least next week on the latest Senate anti-fracking proposal (SPB 7064). The delay will give time to consider changes based on testimony Monday, committee Chairman Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, said.

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano is paving the way for a new transportation plan as the legislative session kicks into gear. But a bumpy road could lie ahead.

The Florida Health Care Association is against a Florida House bill that would eliminate the “certificate of need” process for healthcare facilities. Currently nursing homes are among the facilities that must demonstrate sufficient need in a location before building a new site.

In Florida, two months into the job, Florida's new governor is showing what it means to be a Trump conservative, Florida-style.

Gov. Ron DeSantis kicks off the 2019 legislative session Tuesday and will deliver his first State of the State address.

Florida Matters will bring you live coverage of his speech, the Democratic response and analysis.

New Leaders, New Agendas As Florida Legislature Set To Begin

Mar 3, 2019

Florida's 2019 Legislative session begins Tuesday with a new governor, new Legislative leaders, and new priorities.

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