Capitol Report
“Bringing Tallahassee to your Doorstep”
April 28, 2017

With one more week in the 2017 Legislative Session, tensions are high and deals are being made.

We’ve finally had budget conference committees to discuss big ticket issues like the environment and education. The Legislature remains optimistic that it will finish in time on May 5th. To find the conferees for each conference committee, follow here for the Senate and follow here for the House.

Make sure you pay attention to the action alerts we’re sending out.
Amendments are being filed around the clock — including weekends. All committees except the Rules committee will no longer meet and the action is coming from the floor in both chambers. Remember, our collectives voice is critical to send a unified message.

membersAs 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.

This week’s Legislative Champion is YOU.
Our members are our lifeblood, and it is only with your decisive action and passion that we are able to accomplish all that we have. As we enter the home stretch of Session, please know that none of this would be possible without your dedication.

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. 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. This bill passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, but still has one more committee stop. The PreK-12 Education conference will take up the Schools of Hope issue. There have been reports that the House will take up the Senate’s version of Schools of Hope. Read more about it from the Miami Heraldhttp://hrld.us/2qeYuiM

  • SB 796 passed out of the Senate Appropriations committee on Monday and the League is in opposition to this bill. The bill has not been picked up by the PreK-12 Education Appropriations Conference but we’re keeping an eye on this terrible legislation. The bill creates the High-Impact Charter Management Organization that will take away local district control by granting the management organization the same legal local education agency status as districts, meaning charters will directly receive federal funds.
  • SB 468 requires the Just Read, Florida office to provide teachers in PreK-3 with training and requires voluntary Pre-Kindergarten providers to provide parents with pre and post assessment results. The League is in support. It was not considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee, but stay tuned to see if it moves further.
  • 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 but it was not considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Stay tuned to see if this move any further in the next week.
  • HB 773 is the House companion to SB 926. This bill reduces standardized tests and includes mandatory daily recess. The League is in support and the bill moves to 3rd reading in the House.
ELECTIONS & ETHICS

  • HB 953 was heavily amended prior to coming before the House Judiciary committee. This redistricting bill previously overstepped legislative boundaries regarding an independent judicial branch, among other things. With the new amendments, the League is now neutral on HB 953. The Florida House substituted its bill for SB 352 and then amended it to mirror HB 953. The bill has passed out of the Senate and the House.
  • SB 1070 passed out of the Senate Appropriations committee and heads to its last committee stop in the Senate Rules committee. This bill ensures that the Secretary of State enters into an interstate agreement to verify voter registration information across state lines. This will prevent voters from being registered in multiple states. The League is in support of SB 1070.
  • The League is in support of SB 726 that would allow vote-by-mail ballots to be turned into any early voting site in their county during operating hours. It passed the Senate Rules committee on Tuesday and now moves onto the Senate floor.
  • The League is in support of SB 862 by Sen. Lee that exempts 16 and 17 year-olds from public records requests after they’ve pre-registered to vote. It passed through the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. This bill passed the Senate Rules committee and moves to 3rd reading on the Senate floor.
  • 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 Senate and the House are in a standoff when it comes to HB 677 and SB 1052. These bills concern the current Stand Your Ground law and changes the burden of proof to the state. The House voted on the Senate version and passed. The League is in opposition to this bill.
  • SB 616 passed out of 2nd reading in the Florida Senate and moves onto a final vote from the Senate. This bill will allow concealed weapons permit holders to take their weapons or firearms to a courthouse and check in their firearm with the courthouse security prior to entering. The League is opposed to this bill. Read more here from the Bradenton Heraldhttp://bit.ly/2qk6viW
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

  • SB 198 by last week’s League Legislative Champion, Sen. Linda Stewart, was heard and passed unanimously in the Florida Senate. It now moves to the Florida House. This bill would require the Governor to fill a vacancy on the Environmental Regulation Commission within 90 days. The League is in support of the bill.
  • SB 90 was back on this week’s agenda for a final time. It passed through the Senate Appropriations and is in 3rd reading on 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
  • Similar to the previous bill, HB 1351 seeks to impose senseless new regulations written by Florida Power & Light for the implementation of Amendment 4. The League is in opposition to this bill and urge the legislature to pass SB 90.
  • SB 1238 attempts to enrich investor-owned utilities at the expense of residents. The League is in opposition to this bill. This bill is on the Senate’s special order calendar for today.
  • HB 587 establishes a pilot program for the eradication of certain invasive species. The League is now in support of this bill.
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

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