Florida Legislature

Online Sales Tax Collection Bill Goes To Florida Senate Committee

1 hour ago
In 2018, Adrienne Kosewicz, owner of Play It Safe World Toys, paid $3,600 a year for tax collection software to handle payments and reports to her home state, Washington. Her online business sold products through Amazon, which handled collection.
Elaine Thompson / Associated Press 2018 file photo

A proposal that would require more online sellers to collect Florida sales taxes and turn the money over to the state will appear Monday before the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Bobby Caina Calvan / Associated Press

State lawmakers are advising about limited tax dollars amid the COVID-19 pandemic but they have already proposed at least 43 hometown projects worth more than $45 million. 

Florida Capitol, Where It's Legal To Carry Guns, Braces For Possible Armed Protests

Jan 15, 2021
Fresh Take Florida

Ahead of warnings about possible armed protests at Florida’s Capitol in Tallahassee so dire that legislative leaders urged employees to stay away, what some might consider an oddity emerged: It’s lawful for some citizens to carry guns inside the Capitol.

The Florida Legislature wants to stop scammers from taking advantage of people seeking vaccine doses. Fraudsters created fake internet pages designed to look like Pasco and Pinellas County Health Departments and charged money for fake vaccination appointments. And they aren’t the only ones. The Department of Legal Affairs Consumer and Protection Division has been contacted more than 14,000 to report COVID-19 related fraud. (R-Land O' Lakes) is the bill sponsor.

News Service of Florida

With the coronavirus pandemic significantly reducing state tax revenues, the House appropriations chairman told his committee Wednesday to expect budget cuts.

Florida Senate May Consider Permanent Post To Address Climate Change

Jan 12, 2021

An effort is back in the Senate to permanently set up a statewide office to consider climate change impacts, as environmentalists wait for a new chief resiliency officer to be appointed.

Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, filed a proposal Friday to establish an Office of Resiliency, a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Office of Resiliency would be part of DeSantis’ office.

Rodrigues’ proposal (SB 514) would also set up a nine-member Sea-Level Rise Task Force to establish baseline projections on anticipated sea-level rise and flooding impacts along Florida’s coastlines.

TALLAHASSEE --- Saying it is designed to quash voices of Black and brown people, Florida Democratic lawmakers on Monday excoriated a proposal pushed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders aimed at cracking down on violent protests.

“We know, from lifetimes of experiences, who this will harm … communities of color, Black and brown Floridians. This is calculated political opportunism,” House Minority Co-leader Bobby DuBose, D-Fort Lauderdale, said during a video conference with reporters.

A study commissioned by a state government watchdog group says the absence of COVID-19 liability protections may have cost the state more than 16 billion dollars. The Florida tax watch report suggests more than 200,000 jobs could have been lost. The report comes amid an effort to shield businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis says the protection will help provide a boost to the economy by providing confidence for businesses to reopen.

A controversial gun-rights proposal that was sidetracked in 2018 in the wake of a mass shooting at a Broward County high school has again been filed in the Florida Senate.

Sarasota Sen. Joe Gruters, who is also the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, on Friday introduced a proposal (SB 498) that would allow any person with a state concealed-weapons permit to bring their firearm on any property owned, rented, leased, borrowed, or lawfully used by a church, synagogue, or any other religious institution.

Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) is working on a bill he says would require social media sites to notify users why they’ve been disabled or suspended within 30 days. He’s chosen to take up this issue after Twitter banned President Donald Trump’s account due to what the company called a risk of further incitement of violence. The company's decision came after a pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol earlier this week in an attempt to overturn the election certification process.

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls
News Service of Florida / Via WUSF

Fraudsters who mislead the public about access to COVID-19 vaccinations could be charged with a third-degree felony and sued in civil court, under a measure championed by House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Associated Press

As supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to block congressional certification of the 2020 election on Wednesday, Republican leaders in Florida released legislation aimed at cracking down on violent protests.

Florida Law On Same-Sex Marriages Targeted By New Bill

Jan 5, 2021
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Six years after same-sex marriages began in Florida, a House Democrat has filed a bill that would delete a ban on such marriages from state law.

Police: Former Florida Lawmaker Arrested In Haiti On Weapons Charge

Dec 24, 2020
Florida House of Representatives

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Florida lawmaker who was disciplined after using a gay slur against a political rival and who lost re-election earlier this year is in custody in Haiti on a weapons charge, police there said Thursday. Circumstances of his arrest were a mystery.

A controversial proposal to allow guns to be carried on public college and university campuses in Florida is back. The measure has failed several times in the past but the sponsor believes it’ll have a shot this year since Republicans gained seats in the Florida legislature. The usual opponents are standing their ground on the issue.

Florida is one of 16 states that doesn’t allow guns to be carried on the campuses of its public colleges and universities. Clermont Republican Representative Anthony Sabatini wants to change that.

Sen. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) wants to increase broadband service in Florida’s rural counties. She says the need has always existed but has been highlighted by COVID-19 and distance learning. Ausley says currently not every student has the same access to education because some live in areas where broadband service is weak. She hopes to address that in the upcoming state legislative session.

Florida Business Groups Ready Wish List For 2021

Dec 1, 2020

A coalition of business interests Monday released a far-ranging wish list for Gov. Ron DeSantis and state legislators to consider in 2021, including revamping alcohol laws, changing tax policy and providing broad immunity from lawsuits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The future of Florida is glowing bright, and it is the hope of the … task force that COVID-19 has only served as a bump in the road,” said the 74-page report issued by a group calling itself the RESET --- an acronym for Restore Economic Strength through Employment & Tourism --- Task Force.

'Campus Carry' Issue Re-Emerges For 2021 Florida Legislative Session

Nov 30, 2020

A long-debated proposal that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on Florida college and university campuses was filed Monday for consideration during the 2021 legislative session.

Two members of the Florida Senate, and Seven House members missed the legislature’s organizational session Tuesday after testing positive for, or being exposed to, COVID-19.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D-Windermere) is one of them. She believes she picked up the virus while campaigning.

“In my case, I had run for re-election. I’d had a tough campaign. And I had in the course of the campaign been out circulating with people," said Thompson. "For example, the last weekend before elections I went to every early voting site in my district.”

While most of the focus during Florida’s legislative session is on House, Senate, and party leaders, it’s the folks behind the scenes doing many of the heavy lifts. For the second year in a row, Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) is in one of the key leadership positions. He explains exactly what goes into being the House’s Minority Whip.

Alexander is entering his third term and fifth year of representing Leon and Gadsden counties. Among his many tasks: showing incoming lawmakers the ropes. He says that’s a lot of what being a Minority Whip is.

Tuesday’s first meeting of the Florida Legislature since March acted as a preview of what lawmakers can expect when they reconvene next year. Leaders of both chambers gave speeches, and in them are clues as to what lawmakers will be focusing on.

One of the first topics brought up by newly appointed Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls was law enforcement.

"For any member that wants to have an honest, thoughtful, fact-based conversation about how we can improve policing in Florida, my door and my mind are open," said Sprowls.

The Florida Senate officially has a new president in Pasco County Republican Wilton Simpson. The new chamber leader gave remarks during the legislature’s organizational session Tuesday, giving a glimpse of how the Senate will look with him at the helm.

Much of Simpson’s remarks centered on spending, which he says will be much tighter and under scrutiny, as the legislature faces significant budget shortfalls brought on by COVID-19’s economic disruption.

Florida Legislators Could Limit COVID-19 Lawsuits

Nov 18, 2020

Legislative leaders on Tuesday showed support for limits on lawsuits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they could have a difference of opinion about whether to move ahead with changes to the workers’ compensation insurance system.

In separate news conferences, Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, indicated support for legislation that would protect businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

On the eve of the Florida legislature’s organizational session, influential Republican Senator Manny Diaz talked about COVID-19 protocols, the 2020 election, and more. He’s also eyeing a key leadership position down the road.

Diaz wasn’t running for reelection this cycle, but is coming off a very successful election nonetheless. The Miami-Dade Republican had a hand in his party’s strong showing in South Florida, where a Senate seat flipped for the GOP.

Florida’s House and Senate Democrats have appointed new leaders for the upcoming state legislative session.

Florida’s House Democrats will have two leaders to guide the caucus over the next two years. The chamber’s Democrats elected Rep. Bobby DuBose (D-Fort Lauderdale) Monday as minority leader. DuBose then officially named Rep Evan Jenne (D-Dania Beach) as his co-leader.

When the Florida House of Representatives meets on Tuesday for the first time since March, new leadership will take the helm. This week, incoming House speaker Chris Sprowls published a list of proposed rule changes for the chamber during his two-year term.

During the organizational session Tuesday, the House will vote on those rule changes. Among them are provisions increasing the number of bills House members can file from 6 to 7, and reducing the number of proposed committee bills allowed.

TALLAHASSEE --- After the Florida House and Senate early this year asked for a rehearing in the case, a federal appeals court Tuesday again cleared the way for a lawsuit that alleges the Legislature has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing closed captioning on online videos of meetings.

Incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls on Thursday rolled out a leadership team and committee changes, including a new committee that will be directed to look at the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and plan for future emergencies.

The Palm Harbor Republican, who takes the gavel on Nov. 17, sent a memo to House members that named a dozen leaders for the next two years and outlined changes such as creation of the Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee.

Orlando Attorney John Morgan said he will sue if Florida lawmakers try to thwart implementation of a minimum wage amendment.

Morgan spent upwards of $5 million getting a $15/hour minimum wage amendment passed on election day.

Sixty-one percent of voters — just over the 60% level needed for passage — approved Amendment 2, which will raise Florida’s minimum wage to $10/hour in 2021 and to $15/hour in five years.

The Florida Senate begins its Organizational Session in mid-January. Lawmaking will look a lot different next year due to the coronavirus, with the state senate releasing precautionary rules.

Every Senator must be tested for COVID-19. The session starts on Jan. 11 and ends on Feb. 19. During that time district staff based outside of Tallahassee won’t be able to travel to the capital.