Florida Legislature

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.

News Service of Florida

Midpoints can carry a split sensation of dread and relief.

St. Johns And 2 Other North Florida Rivers Get Boost In Senate Bill

Feb 4, 2020
Pictured: The St. Johns River
LINDSEY KILBRIDE / WJCT NEWS

Some additional money would be shifted to help three North Florida rivers under a Senate proposal designed to carry out Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to spend $625 million annually on Everglades and other water projects over the next three years.

Rep. Holly Raschein
News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis would get more than the $625 million he requested for environmental projects, Florida Forever would see a funding cut and Visit Florida would be shuttered, under parts of a House budget proposal released Tuesday.

News Service of Florida

Clifford Williams says he relied on his faith during more than four decades behind bars, including five years on Florida’s Death Row.

Rocks along the coast of St. Augustine Beach
John Raoux / Associated Press

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) that would establish a statewide Office of Resiliency along with a statewide Sea Level Rise Task Force unanimously passed a House Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

Pictured: Fireworks over the Acosta Bridge
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

A plan to revamp Florida’s fireworks law is headed to the Senate floor. 

Florida’s average teacher salary is among the lowest in the nation. The Florida Education Association says the state suffers from high turn-over rates and teacher shortages. The teachers union wants to change that and Monday, it brought educators from across the state to the Florida Capitol to demand more funding for education.

When the Florida Legislature convenes on Jan. 14 for the start of its 60-day session, lawmakers will be faced with several important issues – with raising teacher pay and placing new limits on abortion among the top priorities.

Here is a list of several other issues the legislature will tackle during the session.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is pictured delivering his first State of the State address at the start of the 2019 legislative session.
The Florida Channel

Florida’s 60-day legislative session kicks off Tuesday, and while what’s known as “the process” has evolved over the years, some things remain the same.

A cleaning lady works at an Airbnb in this 2018 file photo.
Thibault Camus / Associated Press

With state lawmakers preparing to wade into a debate about vacation rental properties, Airbnb, Inc., last month sent $250,000 to a Florida political committee, a newly filed finance report shows.

State Could Take Hit In Hospital Funding

Jan 9, 2020
Bobby Caina Calvan / Associated Press

As Florida lawmakers prepare to start the 2020 legislative session, the state is being confronted with a $70.4 million loss in the coming months in the amount of Medicaid money it gets to fund hospitals, train future physicians and treat people who are mentally ill.

Pages