jjrMarch 17, 2017 —

The second week of the 2017 Legislative Session was packed with many bills that we’re tracking. The Legislature is gearing up for what could be a very productive Session. 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.

I can’t wait to meet everyone at our 2017 Legislative Summit in Tallahassee in just two short weeks. Don’t miss out and register today here: http://bit.ly/2017LWVFSummit

Each week we’ll have a League Legislative Champion that shows exemplary leadership in the Florida Legislature. This week our League Legislative Champion is Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez. Continue reading to find out why!

EDUCATION

  • The League continues to monitor and is neutral on HB 591 that passed out of the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee on Tuesday. The bill hopes to allow flexibility and not lose funding as long as they are compliant with their class sizes. Follow the story here: http://bit.ly/2017HB591
  • HB 293 requires the Department of Education to conduct a study of all high-performing middle schools in reading and math to see how they compare to other states. The League supports this bill.
  • Religious Expression in Public Schools, HB 303/SB 436, was heard in both the House and the Senate on Tuesday. The House bill was passed with an amendment out of the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee, however, the Senate bill passed its last committee without the same amendment. The League is in opposition to these bills as they stand right now. You can read more on the bills here: http://bit.ly/2017HB303SB436
ELECTIONS & ETHICS

  • The League supports HJR 811 which passed unanimously this week in the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee. This will change the office of the Secretary of State into an elected Cabinet position. Florida’s Secretary of State oversees elections throughout the state. Read up on it here: http://pbpo.st/2mXqZ1U
  • SB 352 passed 2nd Reading on the Senate floor this week. This bill addresses reapportionment and redistricting. As the bill stands, the League is in opposition because it’s an attempt to dictate judicial procedure when the judiciary should remain independent from the other branches. Sen. Rodriguez, this week’s League Legislative Champion, filed an amendment that would have maintained the independence of the Judicial branch. Thank you Sen. Rodriguez for your support! Read on it here: http://bit.ly/FLSB352
  • The First Amendment Foundation has taken the lead on SB 80 relating to Public Records Requests. This week, the Foundation and Sen. Steube were able to find common ground and proposed an amendment that the League supported. 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.
GUN SAFETY

  • SB 128 shifts the burden of proof to the state and requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s self-defense claim is not valid. This bill has passed the Florida Senate. The League is opposed to this bill and all related ones. The vote on Wednesday was 23-15, with Sen. Flores voting against it. Read on it here: http://bit.ly/2nzQ41g
  • The League is monitoring SB 1052 that references Stand Your Ground and seeks to make the statute consistent throughout. We currently have no position on this bill.
  • On Wednesday, HB 779 and HB 849 were heard in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. HB 779 decriminalizes the temporary exposure of weapons or firearms to a non-criminal violation: a $25 fee for the first violation; a $500 fee for the second violation; and, a 2nd degree misdemeanor for the third and continued violations. The League is opposed to this bill. We feel this could become a catalyst for other gun bills in the future. Read on it here: http://bit.ly/2nw7f7h
  • The League is monitoring and in opposition to 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. We believe there is no need to introduce firearms into churches and parochial schools where children are present. Read on it here: http://hrld.us/2mDAssx
  • This week, the League and the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence held a press conference with Sen. Gary Farmer, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Rep. Lori Berman and our partners – Equality Florida and the Florida PTA. The Coalition is pushing to have SB 1334 by Sen. Gary Farmer and HB 1113 by Rep. Bruce Antone heard by the Senate Judiciary and the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, respectively. These bill would “close the gun show loophole” and ensure that unlicensed dealers complete their transaction through a licensed dealer that would subsequently report the sale to the Department of Law Enforcement. Following this method would prohibit ineligible individuals from obtaining weapons or firearms. Hear the press conference here: http://fla.st/2nNKlnW
HEALTHCARE

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

  • This week we didn’t see any Natural Resources bill, but stay tuned for them this upcoming week.
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.

Sincerely,

Kelly Quintero

Legislative Advocate

LWV of Florida

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