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Here are the Northeast Florida bills to watch as legislative session approaches

Tracie Davis
Submitted
/
Florida House of Representatives
Jacksonville Rep. Tracie Davis speaks on the House floor.

COVID vaccines, masks and racial equity are likely to remain hot topics as Florida's legislative session begins Jan. 11 — based on more than 60 bills that Northeast Florida lawmakers submitted ahead of their January filing deadline.

At least three Republican-sponsored bills could prevent local governments from passing some COVID mitigation measures.

State Sen. Keith Perry, who represents Putnam and part of Marion County, filed a bill that would ban local governments and employers from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine. He submitted a separate bill that would block school districts from passing mask mandates.

Fellow Republican Travis Hutson, who represents St. Johns and Flagler counties, filed a bill that would let businesses sue local governments for damages caused by local ordinances.

Other Northeast Florida Republicans have filed bills that would block certain types of education about race in schools, shrink the area where school buses have to pick up students and increase mandatory sentencing requirements for crimes committed by undocumented migrants.

Of Northeast Florida’s 15 state lawmakers, just three are Democrats. Northwest Jacksonville Democratic representative Angie Nixon has cosponsored a bill that would make the education commissioner a position filled by statewide election starting in 2026. Currently the state board of education appoints its commissioner.

Downtown Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Tracie Davis has filed a bill that would create an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the governor’s office, with the goal of combating systemic racism. She’s also filed a bill that would keep some lottery winners' names out of the public record.

Check out what your representatives are prioritizing in Tallahassee below. To use WJCT’s bill guide, find your elected officials by entering your address, and then search below for your representatives’ names or a topic you’re interested in.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.