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2019 Florida Legislature

A Senate Bill that would permanently cut back the time Floridians have to apply for Medicaid if they want healthcare costs retroactively covered is up for debate when lawmakers reconvene in Tallahassee next week.

Florida’s insurance industry has tried for years to reign in a practice known as assignment of benefits—where a property owner signs over payment of a claim directly to a contractor or service provider. The fight is back. This time, spearheaded by state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

The Republican–controlled Legislature will be tasked with an unexpected job: deciding whether to allocate funds for environmental causes championed by the governor.

The environment wasn’t a priority under former Governor Rick Scott. Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, is taking a different approach - and raising eyebrows - as he seeks massive dollars to clean up the state’s water ways.

Now it's up to the Legislature to consider his funding request.

As health care continues to take up a growing slice of the state’s budget, House Speaker Jose Oliva has set his eyes on market reform. 

Heading into the 2019 Legislative Session, state lawmakers on either side of the aisle aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on education. Like they have in previous years, school choice and school safety remain polarizing issues.

The rising use of biometrics by private companies is pushing Florida lawmakers to ensure consumers are aware and protected when giving up their information. 

The 2019 legislative session begins Tuesday. Over 60 days, lawmakers will tackle the states’ biggest issues, including school safety, education and health care.

St. Petersburg Arts Alliance

Members of the Florida Cultural Alliance want lawmakers to give millions of dollars more in grant funding for arts and cultural programs throughout the state after years of declining contributions.

Two bills in the Florida legislature would add workplace protections for LGBTQ individuals, but activists say one could be a step forward while the other could be a step back.

Florida legislators are ready to vote on measures that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana, boosting chances of approval before a mid-March deadline set by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

Lawmakers are considering legislation this year that would provide more oversight of the state’s pediatric heart surgery centers.

Prison bars
Michael Coghlan/Wikimedia Commons

Visits from friends and loved ones can be beneficial to prisoners, but challenging for people who live far away. Florida House and Senate Democrats are proposing a new law to move inmates closer to their homes in an effort to increase visitation opportunities.

House Panel Backs Bill Expanding Gun-Sale Background Checks

Feb 14, 2019
Jacq_kelly

A key House committee approved a bill Wednesday to require background checks for all sales and transfers of firearms, a first step by majority Democrats to tighten gun laws after eight years of Republican rule. 

It’s turning into an interesting week for medical marijuana in Florida: Growers are working on deals to get edibles in the state, while lawmakers are again taking up the issue of smoking medical cannabis. 

Photo Courtesy of Florida Department of Environmental Protection

There is little chance the Florida Senate will revisit a controversial state law that has impacted public access to some beach areas, according to top Republicans in the chamber.

Florida lawmakers want to give high school students another pathway to graduation. Two new bills are part of a larger push for expanded vocational education in the state.

Governor Ron DeSantis is proposing changes to the state’s Best and Brightest program that he says will result in sizable bonuses for highly rated teachers. The move comes amid a teacher shortage that has made recruitment a necessity.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, seen in a file photo.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new programs for teacher retention and recruitment at a news conference Thursday morning at Armwood High School in Seffner.

A high-profile effort to repeal the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana morphed Monday into legislation that, according to the proposal’s author, would be worse for patients than doing nothing at all. 

Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Gov. Ron DeSantis' first proposed budget is calling for more money to be spent on schools and the environment in the coming year. At the same time, he's also asking for a small cut in taxes.

The Assignment of Benefits issue that has been plaguing the property insurance industry for a few years may finally be changed. During Wednesdays Associated Press Legislative Planning Session Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis blamed bad actors who he says are twisting the law.

Future Of Medicaid Cut Remains Unclear

Jan 31, 2019

A new era in the Medicaid program will begin Friday when the state eliminates a long-standing policy about paying health-care bills that accumulate while people prepare to apply for coverage. 

Floridians in August would get a 10-day sales tax “holiday” for back-to-school shopping, under a bill proposed Tuesday in the Senate.

A bill to limit constitutional amendments to one subject passed its first committee unanimously Tuesday. The bill sponsor says bundling issues into one ballot initiative is unfair.

Meaning Of 'Murder' Key In Felons' Voting Rights

Jan 23, 2019

A key Senate panel on Tuesday began grappling with how to carry out a constitutional amendment that “automatically” restores the right to vote to felons who’ve completed their sentences.

At the outset of the meeting, Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Keith Perry vowed not to have “any kind of hindrance or roadblocks” in implementing Amendment 4, approved by nearly 65 percent of voters in November.

At the top of the to-do list for the committee: figure out the definition of “murder.”

Florida may be the next battleground state over abortion rights. With six weeks until the start of the Legislative session, a new proposal has been filed that would ban abortions if a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

In Florida, voter pre-registration is open to both 16 and 17-year-olds, which means their private information like phone numbers, addresses, and birth dates is public record. Two Florida lawmakers are trying to change that.

DeSantis Pushes To End Medical Marijuana Smoking Ban

Jan 17, 2019
Abe Aboraya / WMFE

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he will push to end a state ban on smoking medical marijuana in Florida.

Lawmaker Seeks Warning Sticker For Opioids

Jan 16, 2019

Florida lawmakers continue to respond to the state’s opioid epidemic, with Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, filing a bill Tuesday that, among other things, would require pharmacists to place red warning stickers on prescription drug bottles containing opioids or other controlled substances.

State Senator Jeff Brandes believes the Florida Legislature is now organized in a way that will lead to more insurance issues being heard and ultimately solved. The Office of Insurance Regulation held it’s 2019 summit this week.

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