March 24, 2017 — The third week of the 2017 Legislative Session was full of at least 9-12 bills for every committee meeting! 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.

This coming week, League members will invade the state Capitol and meet key legislators from across the state. Still haven’t registered? Don’t miss out and register for the 2017 Legislative Summit here: http://bit.ly/2017LWVFSummit. Today is the last day to register!

This week, the League Legislative Champion is League member Rep. Lori Berman! She’s been a supporter of the League for years. Read on to find out why!

EDUCATION

  • The League continues to monitor and is neutral on HB 591 that passed out of the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday. The bill hopes to allow flexibility and not lose funding as long as they are compliant with their class sizes. SB 808, its companion, passed out of the Senate Education committee and moves onto the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education. Follow the story here: http://bit.ly/2mzEeHu
  • Religious Expression in Public Schools, SB 436, was heard on the Senate floor on Tuesday. The Senate bill was passed without an amendment that had been added prior. Read more on SB 436 here: http://bit.ly/2n1tCO0
  • HB 303 was in the House on Thursday and passed its final committee. It will now go to the House Floor. The League is in opposition to these bills as they stand right now. Read more on HB 303 here: http://bit.ly/2nZ9sF0
  • This week, the Senate Education committee held a workshop on SB 926 and SB 964. This means there are a few bills that have similar language and the legislators are looking for consensus.

ELECTIONS & ETHICS

  • The House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee passed HB 521. The bill ensures vote by mail ballots can be submitted to early voting locations throughout the state. 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. Both bills also passed the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee unanimously. Follow both bills here: http://bit.ly/2n202HQ
  • The House Government Accountability Committee heard HB 7021 and HB 7023. These are linked bills that specifically speak to ethics reform for local governments. This would require lobbyist to register through a statewide system in each county or municipality they intend to lobby in. HB 7021 also expands ethics education for all elected officials and full financial disclosure to elected officials in municipalities with a revenue over $10 million. HB 7023 creates a statewide system to collect the registration fees. The League is in support of these bills.  Read here: http://bit.ly/2odSDFC
  • HB 105 relating to vote by mail ballots and fixing mismatched signatures passed the House floor by 113-0. The League is in support of this good bill. Follow it here: http://bit.ly/2n1TJnR
  • The League is in support of SB 862 by Sen. Lee that exempts 16 and 17 year-olds from public records request after they’ve pre-registered to vote.
  • The Senate Judiciary passed SB 954, which is similar to HB 105. This permits the curing of mismatched signatures on vote by mail ballots. The League is in support of this bill.
  • SB 352 passed the Senate floor on Tuesday with a vote count of 24-14, along party lines. This bill addresses reapportionment and redistricting. The League is in opposition because it’s an attempt to dictate judicial procedure when the judiciary should remain independent from the other branches. It has been placed in messages to the Florida House. Follow the story: http://bit.ly/2nPTFLY
  • The First Amendment Foundation has taken the lead on SB 80 relating to Public Records Requests. Last week, the Foundation and Sen. Steube were able to find common ground. It now moves onto the Senate Floor. The League is in support of this bill. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2odtScQ
  • ICYMI: Just this week, Nevada became the latest state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on the 45th anniversary of its passage by the U.S. Congress. During Women’s History Month, Rep. Lori Berman introduced HB 319/SB 140, the Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act. This prohibits an employer to pay less to an employee based solely on gender. Thank you Rep. Berman for taking charge and for being this week’s League Legislative Champion!
GUN SAFETY

  • The League is in opposition to SB 1052 that references Stand Your Ground and removes “attack” from the statute. This means you would not need to be attacked where you reside for you to Stand Your Ground. The Senate Judiciary committee passed the bill 7-2. It now moves to its final stop in the Senate Rules Committee.
  • On Thursday, HB 779 and HB 849 were heard in the House Judiciary 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/2nZEUDb
  • The League is 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. Both bills move to the House floor. Read on HB 849 here: http://bit.ly/2odXVAY
  • The League is watching SB 1248 that was temporarily postponed (TP’d) by the Senate Criminal Justice committee. This bill would eliminate provisions that provide criminal penalties for certain conduct constituting a breach of peace. We currently have no position.
  • The League is in opposition to SB 616. We are concerned about allowing weapons and firearms to be stored by security prior to entering a courthouse. This also becomes a funding issue for courthouses if they do not have appropriate storing capabilities. Read more on it here: http://bit.ly/2nZwV9h
  • The Senate version of HB 849 was heard by the Senate Judiciary committee on Wednesday. The League is in opposition to SB 1330. Follow the story here: http://hrld.us/2nZFFfx
  • The House Judiciary committee passed HB 245 along party lines. It would expand shift the burden of proof for a Stand Your Ground case onto the state, and essentially calls for additional evidence from prosecutors to prove why someone should not be granted immunity. The League is in opposition to this bill. Read about it here: http://wapo.st/2odZNK8

HEALTHCARE

  • The League participated in a Press Conference with the Reps. Asencio, Baez, Berman, Duran, Smith, For Our Future, the Florida National Organization for Women, and Planned Parenthood. We called on Congress to vote NO on the American Health Care Act on the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. Congress must find a viable solution to provide healthcare for all Americans.

NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Both HB 861 and SB 198 were heard in the House and the Senate. HB 861 was passed by the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee and SB 198 was passed by the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee. Both bills tackle the issue of appointments being made by the Governor within a certain time frame onto the Environmental Regulation Commission. The League supports both bills.
  • SB 230 allows for the establishment of a pilot program to eradicate specific species from the state. The League is in opposition to this bill because it imposes legislation onto the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission which was created as an independent commission. This would jeopardize its independence and open the door for this to continue.
  • SB 982 takes funding from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for Water Management Districts. The League is in opposition because we believe those funds should continue to go towards fully funding Amendment 1.
  • Sen. Rodriguez introduced SB 162 that would establish a pilot program authorizing certain municipalities to regulate or ban disposable plastic bags. The League is in support of this bill. It passed the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee and moves onto Senate Community Affairs.

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