01/26/18: Felon Rights, Fla. Supreme Court Uses Facebook, Texting Legislation

Jan 26, 2018

The state’s voters will now decide if convicted felons should regain the right to vote after they leave prison. The Florida Supreme Court is going live - on Facebook Live. And put down your phone. You might be pulled over for texting while driving if a new law passes.

Restoring The Rights Of Felons

Felons in Florida who’ve served out their punishment behind bars, may have their voting rights restored after the November election.

A proposed constitutional amendment will be on the ballot asking voters if they think felons should be allowed to cast votes in elections. The amendment does not apply to murderers and felony sex offenders.

The group Floridians for a Fair Democracy gathered more than enough certified petition signatures to bypass the Florida Legislature and get the proposal on the ballot. They needed 766,200 signatures - and got 799,000.

If the amendment gets at least 60 percent voter approval, the group says more than 1.5 million felons in the state would regain their voting rights.

Kevin Gay runs Operation New Hope in Jacksonville. It's a group that works to keep former inmates from returning to prison by providing job training and life coaching.

Lucy Cole is a graduate of Ready4Work, which is a job training program run by Operation New Hope.

They joined us to talk about the proposed amendment.

Florida’s Supreme Court Utilizes Facebook

It’s been more than 40 years since the Florida Supreme Court began allowing cameras in the court.

Now, the state’s highest court is boosting its social media footprint. From now on, the court will webcast  its official proceedings - including oral arguments - via Facebook Live.

The court became the first in the world - as far as we know - to stream live video on its website back in 1997. Now, it’s breaking new ground again - becoming one of the first courts in the world to use social media for official live video. The first oral arguments will be shown on February 5th.

The court made the announcement - fittingly - on its Facebook page.

Carrie Johnson, a NPR justice correspondent in Washington, joined us to discuss the implications.

Florida Lawmakers Look To Crack Down On Texting While Driving

Florida lawmakers are considering a proposal to make texting while driving a primary offense. That means drivers could be pulled over for being caught texting behind the wheel.

Drivers can only be ticketed for texting if they are pulled over for some other reason under the current law.

On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee became the second House panel to approve the bill.

Its sponsor in the House is Delray Beach Democrat Emily Slosberg, whose twin sister Dori died in a car crash nearly 22 years ago. She said drivers of all ages continue to text and drive every day.

WFSU News Director Lynn Hatter joined us from Tallahassee with more on the proposal.