Capitol Report
“Bringing Tallahassee to your Doorstep”
April 21, 2017

Another week closer to the end of the 2017 Session and we are hopeful for a timely end. Both the Senate and House Budget Chairs are optimistic that we’ll end in time. Senate Budget Chair Jack Latvala told Florida Politics that he thinks “we’re making good progress” (read the article here: http://bit.ly/2oxViKa). In other news this week, Senator Frank Artiles resigned after making inappropriate comments to his colleagues, Senators Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston. Read more here from the Miami Herald: http://hrld.us/2oRRNBG

As a reminder, the League will always take one of three positions: 1. Support; 2. Oppose; or 3. No Position. No position means we are neutral on the issue and are closely monitoring the bill. A no position can change if a bill is amended and sways the League to either a Support or Oppose position.

Amendments happen fast and furiously now. This is the time of stewart
session when committees are shutting down and the majority of activity moves to House and Senate floor sessions. Be on the lookout for more Action Alerts than ever as this is when our collective voices become SO important.

This week, the League Legislative Champion is Senator Linda Stewart for her continuing leadership on Natural Resources issues. Keep reading to find out why!

EDUCATION

  • SB 1552 will create the Best and Brightest Teacher and Principal Scholar Award Program that would recognize the academic achievements of teachers and principals and award them with scholarships as determined by either their GPA or scores on standardized tests. However, SB 1552 had several amendments to mirror aspects of the House’s School of Hope bill. After much analysis from the League’s Education Committee, the League supports this bill. With the insertion of the school improvement language, it eliminates Schools of Hope funding and maintains district control. If a school receives a grade below C, it will have turnaround support that includes the following:
    • An additional hour of instruction
    • Wrap around community support services provided by a non-profit entity that includes health services, after school programs, drug prevention, college and career readiness, and food & clothing banks
    • Principal autonomy mostly in the curriculum

If after three years the public school fails to improve, students will either be reassigned, the school will close and subsequently open as a charter OR contract as a conversion charter school or an with an outside agency to run the school. Follow SB 1552 and other education issues here: http://bit.ly/2oRO3Qw

  • SB 796 passed out of the Senate Education committee on Monday and the League is in opposition to this bill. Read more about the bill from the Orlando Weekly: http://bit.ly/2ouuOtE
  • SB 468 requires the Just Read, Florida office to provide teachers in PreK-3 with training and requires VPK providers to provide parents with pre and post assessment results. The League is in support. It passed out of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education.
  • SB 808 hopes to allow flexibility to classes and not lose funding as long as they are compliant with their class sizes. The League is in support of this bill and it passed out of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education on Tuesday.
  • HB 293 requires the Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive study of state with nationally recognized high-performing middle schools in reading and math. The League is in support of this bill.
  • The Senate Rules committee heard SB 926 on Wednesday and the League supports this bill. Read more about the education train bill here from the Tampa Bay Times: http://bit.ly/2oUV01W

ELECTIONS & ETHICS

  • ICYMI: The Florida House Ethics bills are dead this session. The League was in support of the House Ethics Reform bills. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2o5fmYU
  • SB 848 pertains to the suspension of civil rights for certain felons. This bill was temporarily postponed in the Senate Criminal Justice committee. The League supports this bill.
  • SB 934 concerns the automatic restoration of civil rights of former felon’s other than the right to own, possess or use a firearm upon completion of their sentence. The League is in support of this bill. It was TP’d in the Senate Criminal Justice committee and we will most likely not see this bill for the rest of session.
  • “VOTING RIGHTS BALLOT INITIATIVE GETS GREEN LIGHT FROM SUPREME COURT” Read the Miami Herald article here: http://bit.ly/2oVcbjz. The League supports this initiative. Stay tuned for MORE to come in the following weeks!
  • SB 1072 passed out of the Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee. This bill would exempts 16 and 17 year-olds from public records. This bill is linked to another bill that will prevent voters from being registered in multiple states. The League supports this bill.
  • SB 80 was substituted for HB 163 in the House. This bill was worked on by the First Amendment Foundation and Sen. Greg Steube who were able to find common ground. This bill addresses issues with the Sunshine Law and while it still requires a court to award attorneys’ fees, it only does so if the agency did violate Sunshine Law and the requestor did not file it for as a frivolous request. The League supports this bill. Read more here from Florida Politics: http://bit.ly/2oZvPvb
  • SB 1160 requires a candidate to provide a money order or cashier’s check from their campaign account if they are not qualifying by petition. This bill also prohibits elected officials from being designated as a poll watcher. The League is in support of this bill.
  • The League is in support of HB 707 and HB 709, which both address potential voter fraud issues by having the Florida Secretary of State share voter registration information across states. This will prevent multiple registrations across states. The Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections support this bill. Both bills have passed out of the House Government Accountability Committee and move onto the House floor.

GUN SAFETY

  • The League is in opposition to SB 1330/HB 849 that would allow for private schools at religious institutions to decide whether they allow guns on their property. The property owner is able to make that decision. There is no need to introduce firearms into churches and parochial schools where children are present. It passed out of the Senate this week.

HEALTHCARE

  • While there weren’t any related bills this past week, we continue to monitor all Health Care bills that are coming up.

NATURAL RESOURCES

  • This week’s League Legislative Champion Sen. Linda Stewart presented SB 1748 requiring the inspection of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems by professionals. The League is in support of this bill. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2oo3eOO
  • SB 1304 would create the Florida Black Bear Habitat Restoration Act. While the bill was heavily amended, the koala-ty of this bill was maintained. The League is in support of this bill.
  • SB 90 was back on this week’s agenda for a final time before going to the Senate floor. The League is in support of this bill that will implement Amendment 4 and expand solar opportunities for Florida. Read more here from Florida Politics:¬†http://bit.ly/2pjKCU8
  • The League is now in support of HB 587 which requires pet dealers to tag non-native species prior to selling them and launches a pilot program to examine the benefits of the slow eradication of invasive species like lionfish.

Looking for a specific bill or issue that you think the League should take a position on? LWVF prides itself on being a grassroots organization and receives suggestions on which issues we should make a priority from local leagues each year. From this list we’re able to create a comprehensive list of priorities and lobby for or against these issues in the Capitol.

Questions, comments or concerns? Don’t hesitate to send me an email at LWVFAdvocacy@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Kelly Quintero

Legislative Advocate

LWV of Florida

Join LWVFL today

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