Florida Legislature

TALLAHASSEE --- More than 100 new laws will hit the books Wednesday from the 2020 legislative session, with issues ranging from expanding school vouchers to increasing fines for bear poaching.

Out of 156 bills Gov. Ron DeSantis had signed into law as of Tuesday afternoon, 112, including the state’s new $92.2 billion budget, will take effect Wednesday, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis late Monday signed 28 bills into law, including a controversial measure that will prevent local governments from imposing bans on certain types of sunscreen.

The sunscreen bill (SB 172), spearheaded by Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, stems from a plan by Key West to enforce a ban on the sale of sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Key West pointed to concerns that the chemicals could damage coral reefs.

DeSantis Signs $92.2 Billion Budget, Vetoes $1 Billion

Jun 29, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis is pictured on  June 19, 2020, at Florida International University in Miami.
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Pointing to “difficult circumstances,” Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said he signed a $92.2 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year after vetoing about $1 billion in spending.

TALLAHASSEE --- Continuing to gradually finish the work of this year’s legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday signed 21 bills, including measures aimed at improving school-bus safety and preventing bear poaching.

Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach
News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ vow this week to make deep cuts in the new state budget has health-care advocates and lawmakers on edge, as the Legislature tucked nearly $100 million in so-called “special projects” into the health and human-services portion of the more than $93 billion spending plan.

Governor Ron DeSantis likens upcoming budget cuts to the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones—lots of spending is going to die, including some of his own agenda items. The state has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic and is expecting the outlook to get worse. State agencies will likely have to hold back a portion of their budgets.

News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed 25 bills into law, including approving $2.15 million for a Jacksonville man wrongfully imprisoned for almost 43 years and two measures tied to a series of controversial highway plans.

Former Florida Senate President Gwen Margolis has died. She was 85.

When Margolis was first elected to the legislature, it was 1974. Efforts to enshrine equal rights for women through the Equal Rights Amendment were at their zenith.

“And I worked hard to get elected, and I was one of 6 women that got elected that year, which was good. And now, of course, at least 40% of the legislature is female,” Margolis said in a 2013 interview with the Florida Channel.

It’s the end of an era in Florida’s Capitol. After parts of four decades, one of the Legislature's most prominent and at times, controversial members, Senator Tom Lee, will call it quits in November.

Lee was first elected to the Senate in 1996. He’s the last link to the bygone era of Florida’s last Democratic governor, Lawton Chiles and he's exiting in an unprecedented health crisis and the most severe economic downturn in decades.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and one thing led to another. I really have not enjoyed my role there,” Lee told WFSU News.

News Service of Florida

Will they or won’t they? And, if they do, when?

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed seven bills into law late Wednesday, including measures that will place additional restrictions on ballot initiatives and provide sales-tax “holidays” around the start of hurricane season and the upcoming school year.

The Florida Legislature
The News Service of Florida


As Florida’s 2020 legislative session comes to a close, lawmakers can celebrate the bills they passed. But hundreds of other proposals died along the way, including a bill that would have established a state-wide office of resiliency.

Florida's Capitol buildings
The News Service of Florida

Scattered throughout a $93.2 billion budget set to go before the House and Senate on Thursday are more than 750 line items --- collectively exceeding $400 million --- tied to proposals lawmakers filed months ago to bring money to regions they represent.

Flickr Commons

Florida lawmakers will vote Thursday on a proposed state budget that includes spending $500 million to increase teacher salaries.

Florida Lawmakers Agree On $92B Budget Deal

Mar 16, 2020

Legislative leaders completed a roughly $92 billion budget on Saturday afternoon, settling numerous education and health care issues as they fine-tuned the state spending plan in anticipation of an economic hit from the novel coronavirus.

Senate budget chief Rob Bradley and his House counterpart Travis Cummings said the fiscal plan could be available to the public Sunday evening or early Monday, setting off a 72-hour cooling off period. Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee Wednesday or Thursday to vote on the budget before sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Bringing hemp into a state prison or county jail could soon be a felony offense in Florida, under a bill that’s on its way to the governor’s desk. The legislation revises the list of contraband in facilities statewide.

The Florida Senate has passed a bill requiring employers use the federal E-Verify system to ensure they don’t hire undocumented workers. Though, the version of the bill that passed isn’t quite what its sponsor envisioned.

Unmarked African-American burial grounds are scattered throughout Florida. Sen. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) wants to fund and reinstate a 10-member task force to locate and preserve the abandoned cemeteries.

The Florida House is pictured in session on Feb. 20, 2020.
Steve Cannon / Associated Press

Readying for negotiations with the Senate, the Florida House approved a tax package Friday that some Democrats decried as being too focused on giving breaks to special interests.

Senate Appropriation Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island
Florida Senate

The Senate on Tuesday voted to repeal an embattled bonus program for public-school teachers and principals, a move that would free up roughly $300 million as lawmakers continue to negotiate teacher-pay raises.

Moment Of Silence In Schools Bill Makes It To Florida House, Senate

Mar 3, 2020
Rep. Kimberly Daniels
Florida House of Representatives

Legislation that would require public-school students to have a moment of silence at the start of each school day is ready to be considered on the House and Senate floors.

E-Bike Regulations Head To Florida Senate Floor

Mar 3, 2020
A Buzz E-Bike is pictured
Diane Bondareff / Invision for Buzz E-Bikes/via AP

Electric bicycles would be regulated like pedal-powered bicycles instead of motorized vehicles, under a proposal headed to the Senate floor.

Florida House Speaker Willing To Look At Merging New College With USF

Feb 21, 2020
Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, addresses the house at the start of session on Tuesday Jan. 14, 2020, in Tallahassee.
Steve Cannon / Associated Press

As the House considers merging New College of Florida into Florida State University, House Speaker Jose Oliva said late Thursday he is open to considering the idea of folding the liberal arts college into the University of South Florida.

Florida Lawmakers Weigh Whether To Ban Discrimination In Organ Transplants

Feb 17, 2020
Florida Senator Aaron Bean.
Sam Thomas / Fresh Take Florida

Florida's Legislature is moving toward ensuring new protections for disabled people who may need organ transplants, part of a national trend among states.

The Florida House of Representatives is pictured in this Sept. 17, 2019 file photo.
Bobby Caina Calvan / Associated Press

As Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried holds out for “cooler heads” in the Senate, House Speaker José Oliva is hopeful he will gain support for his chamber’s effort to move the Office of Energy from under her watch.

Tiffany Carr, then executive director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, speaks at a news conference held by Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Phil Coale / Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida House on Thursday intensified an inquiry into Florida’s domestic violence agency, calling for additional investigations and issuing subpoenas over the former head of the taxpayer-backed organization’s compensation.

Fernandina Beach Republican Sen. Aaron Bean
News Service of Florida

A bill that would require state-financed coastal developments to account for sea level rise got its first no vote in a committee stop on Thursday, and it came from a prominent Northeast Florida senator.

Florida's Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer.
IFAS News / University of Florida

Environmental advocates from around Florida are calling on the state’s chief science officer to walk back his praise for a proposal making its way through the Legislature that’s aimed at improving water quality.

St. Augustine old town
Iagology / Flickr

A long-running dispute over vacation rentals is heating up, as a Senate panel Tuesday approved a proposal that would give the state — not local officials — control over regulation of short-term rentals.

Ignoring the pleas of dozens of local officials from throughout the state, the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee approved the measure (SB 1128) in a 3-2 party-line vote.

'Sunshine' Exemption Sought For College Presidential Searches

Feb 10, 2020
Photo of  Senate Education Chairman Manny Diaz Jr. (R-Hialeah)
News Service of Florida

Two proposals moving forward in the Florida Legislature would make the process of selecting presidents at public colleges and universities more secretive.

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