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2020 Legislative Session

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.

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.

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.

two men talk, one with his hand raised to make a point
Florida House of Representatives

House Speaker José Oliva on Saturday blasted a plan that would give Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration the power to randomly audit private businesses to ensure they are not hiring undocumented workers.

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.

University Merger Plan 'Abandoned'

Mar 7, 2020
glass, dome shaped building
Robin Sussingham / WUSF

A short-lived, yet high-profile, fight to merge New College of Florida and Florida Polytechnic University into the University of Florida died Friday in the state House.

House Speaker Jose Oliva told reporters the chamber “abandoned” the proposal after the Senate refused to go along with the consolidation plan.

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.

A bill aimed at making Florida schools safer just passed a full chamber vote in the House. The proposal includes penalties for school officials and adds members to a school safety committee, among other changes.

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Florida is getting closer to imposing stiffer fines for bear poaching and expanding rules against shark “finning.”

Senate President Bill Galvano says Florida legislative leadership is in talks with Governor Ron DeSantis about an emergency appropriation to fortify agencies working to combat the spread of coronavirus. Galvano didn’t give many details, but told reporters after Tuesday’s floor session the specifics are being worked out.

A bill allowing the state to preempt local governments on nearly all aspects of regulation concerning short-term vacation rentals, like Airbnb, has stalled in the Florida Senate.

New Law To Ensure All Florida Officers Are Allowed To Park Marked Cars At Home

Feb 24, 2020
CHRIS DAY/FRESH TAKE FLORIDA

Some Florida law enforcement officers aren’t allowed to park their marked cars at home – but that’s about to change.

the florida house of representatives
Governor's Press Office

As the 2020 legislative session dwindles down to the final weeks, the Florida House has yet to consider an E-Verify proposal that is one of Gov. Ron DeSantis top priorities.

Florida House Cracks Down On Domestic Violence Agency

Feb 22, 2020
Florida House of Representatives

The Florida House on Thursday voted to repeal a law that requires the state to contract with a domestic violence non-profit organization, amid a bipartisan outcry from lawmakers and investigations into the former agency head’s compensation.

JONAH HINEBAUGH/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Proponents and critics reacted strongly to the Florida Legislature’s passage of a measure that will require minors seeking an abortion to get their parents' approval.

Florida Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Minors To Get Parental Consent For Abortions

Feb 20, 2020
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Minors who seek abortions would be required to obtain parental consent or convince judges to waive the requirement under a bill that received final legislative approval Thursday and has the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

man holding alarm clock
iStock

Daylight Saving Time may feel like it’s always been a part of our lives, but it really didn’t come into general use in the United States until near the end of World War I.

Some U.S. states, including Florida, are now trying to end the habit of changing the clocks in favor of Daylight Saving Time, all the time.

In 2019, state lawmakers passed the Sunshine Protection Act, to make Daylight Saving Time permanent year-round in Florida. But the law requires a federal statute to take effect.

Florida Lawmakers To Ban Discrimination In Organ Transplants

Feb 18, 2020
SAM THOMAS/FRESH TAKE FLORIDA

Florida's Legislature is moving toward ensuring new protections for disabled people who may need organ transplants, part of a national trend among states.

According to a state analysis, about half of Florida's marriages end in divorce. To curb that number, Republicans want to require couples to read a handbook before they can get a marriage license. 

Hundreds of people lined up outside the main courthouse in West Palm Beach late last year, all of them trying to get their suspended driver licenses reinstated.

“Operation Green Light” was part of a recent initiative by state legislators requiring local court clerks to create driver license reinstatement days. About two million drivers in Florida have suspended licenses — most because of unpaid fines and fees that have nothing to do with unsafe driving.

Vape shops would have to be permitted and regulated by the state, under a House effort to combat an “epidemic” of electronic-cigarette use by teens.

Floridians would get sales-tax breaks before hurricane season and the new school year, while taxes on commercial leases and cell phones and other communications services would be trimmed, under a tax package rolled out Tuesday in the House.

The Florida Senate is moving its version of a plan allowing college athletes to receive pay for their name, image and likeness. Florida is trying to follow California, which passed a law allowing student athletes to earn money from endorsements.

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