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2020 Florida Legislature

Wilton Simpson listening during a meeting
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Face masks, temperature checks and alternating committee weeks are among the options state leaders are pondering as they prepare for the 2021 legislative session and meetings that kick off in November.

Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed multiple environmental bills into law. 

WUSF's Jessica Meszaros spoke to Jane West with the advocacy organization 1000 Friends of Florida about highlights from the legislative session:

Annette Taddeo listening during a meeting
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Senate Democrats called out state Republican leaders Wednesday amid increasing cases of the coronavirus, including questioning Gov. Ron DeSantis for maintaining Florida is “not going back” on its reopening.

Florida abortion rights advocates are weighing whether to challenge a new law on abortion signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. It requires minors to get their parent or guardian's consent before ending their pregnancy.

Deciding whether to challenge Florida's new law isn't easy. Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Legislative Affairs Manager Laura Hernandez says the group is concerned about what happens if they sue, and end up losing the case:

USF St. Petersburg
Nicole Slaughter Graham / WUSF Public Media

When Governor Ron DeSantis cut $1 billion from the state's budget earlier this week, included in his vetoes was just over $800,000 for a trio of University of South Florida projects.

Woman applying sunscreen
iStock

Gov. Ron DeSantis late Monday signed 28 bills into law, including a controversial measure that will prevent local governments from imposing bans on certain types of sunscreen.

THE FLORIDA CHANNEL

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday slashed $1 billion before signing a $92.2 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, as he tries to keep lawmakers from having to come back to Tallahassee ahead of the November elections to address revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

DeSantis Signs School Vouchers Expansion In Tampa

Jun 25, 2020
man sitting down and signing a bill surrounded by others standing
Alysia Cruz / WUSF Public Media

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation in Tampa Thursday that will dramatically expand a voucher program that helps students go to private schools, the latest step in a two-decade push to expand school choice in Florida. 

Backing one of Senate President Bill Galvano’s priorities, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a bill that will revamp a program that helps people with intellectual or developmental disabilities live in their homes and communities.

back of a school bus from the outside
Hillsborough County Schools

Continuing to gradually finish the work of this year’s legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday signed 21 bills, including measures aimed at improving school-bus safety and preventing bear poaching.

Benjamin Alexander Thaddeus John Horbowy wearing a MAGA cowboy hat
STEVE BOUSQUET/WFSU NEWS

It was so quiet outside state elections headquarters in Tallahassee Monday, you could hear the faraway sound of a freight train whistle. The elections office is indefinitely closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida Senate

After submitting his resignation to leave the Legislature with two years remaining in his term, Sen. Tom Lee acknowledged serving as Hillsborough County clerk of courts would be a “good fit” for him.

TALLAHASSEE --- Florida’s next budget remains on hold pending another round of federal stimulus money, which could also dictate how state lawmakers readdress the spending plan.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he has put off formally accepting and reviewing a $93.2 billion budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year that was approved by the Legislature in March and is slated to take effect July 1.

man speaks, hands upturned
Steve Cannon / AP Photo

The Florida legislature has started sending Governor Ron DeSantis bills to sign -- a process delayed due to the coronavirus.

DeSantis received seven bills last week and signed all of them. 

While most are relatively non-controversial, one new law ups the stakes for citizen’s initiatives on ballots, and its opponents are disappointed in DeSantis’ move.

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed seven bills into law late Wednesday, including measures that will place additional restrictions on ballot initiatives and provide sales-tax “holidays” around the start of hurricane season and the upcoming school year.

In response to COVID-19 Governor Ron DeSantis has made all restaurants take-out or delivery only and closed all bars. He’s also limited gatherings on beaches to no more than 10 people and is asking people 65 and older to stay home.  But state elected officials believe more needs to be done to help stop the spread of the virus. Lawmakers spoke about what they think should be the next steps.

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.

Florida voters could be asked to open the state’s primaries to everyone, regardless of party affiliation. The Florida Supreme Court has approved the “All Voters Vote” amendment for the November ballot, over the united objection of the Republican and Democratic parties. 

Sam Thomas/Fresh Take Florida

Tucked away in a central Florida cul-de-sac of houses coated in pastels, sits a grey marker resembling a headstone. It honors the memory of black people who once called this town their home.

Efforts To Change Prison Sentences Failed In Florida's Capitol

Mar 15, 2020
Dianne Hart speaking to a crowd
JUSTIN BRIGHT/FRESH TAKE FLORIDA

As Florida's Legislature finishes its work in the Capitol, efforts fizzled that seemed promising just weeks ago to reduce prison sentences for non-violent offenders and otherwise reform the state's broken prison system.

Bryan Avila listening
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

A slimmed tax-cut package is heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis, after lawmakers late Friday sought to bolster state reserves that could be needed as the novel coronavirus damages tourism and other key industries.

News about the coronavirus loomed large as Florida senators debated the confirmation of Scott Rivkees as the state’s surgeon general.  Rivkees has been acting as surgeon general since Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him last year, but lawmakers didn’t make it official until now.

As The 2020 Session Ends, How Did Florida's LGBTQ Bills Fare?

Mar 13, 2020
Pride flag at parade
iStock

As Florida’s legislative session nears its conclusion, it’s shaped up to be a tough year for LGBTQ residents and their supporters.

State House Cleared, Disinfected After Coronavirus Scare

Mar 10, 2020
people in protective clear clean desks in Florida House
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Clad with face masks, black rubber gloves and protective aprons, cleaners furiously scrubbed the Florida House chamber Monday after Speaker José Oliva announced that some lawmakers had attended events where other participants subsequently tested positive for the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

After it appeared the House and Senate had agreed on spending $500 million to increase teacher salaries, the Senate on Sunday proposed increasing the amount to $600 million.

Florida lawmakers are working on a plan to allow college athletes to earn money for their name, image and likeness. The move comes after California created a path for college athletes to be compensated, forcing the NCAA to consider making changes. Now with a week left in session, lawmakers in the Senate are questioning whether any potential loopholes in the bill would give universities an advantage in recruiting.

Florida Leaders Okay $25 Million For Coronavirus

Mar 8, 2020
Florida legislature
myfloridahouse.gov

House and Senate leaders announced Saturday they have agreed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s request for $25 million to help the state combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Florida Lawmakers Resolve Key Budget Issues

Mar 8, 2020
list of Florida facts on overhang in Capitol building
News Service of Florida

As Florida lawmakers inch toward a budget deal, House and Senate leaders on Saturday announced they had reached agreement on a number of key issues, including pay raises for state workers, funding for Visit Florida and leaving intact the affordable-housing trust fund.

In 1920, African-Americans in Florida organized a voter registration movement ahead of a presidential election. In Ocoee, a white mob retaliated against black voters by killing some and burning their property, causing most black residents in the area to flee. Almost 100 years later, lawmakers want that history to be remembered and taught in Florida schools, museums and recognized in a state park.

DeSantis Sides With Senate In Heated E-Verify Debate

Mar 6, 2020
Sen. Tom Lee listening
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Gov. Ron DeSantis is backing the Senate in a heated fight over E-Verify, a move that could tip the scale in a contentious immigration battle as the 2020 legislative session draws to a close.

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