Florida Legislature

STEVE CANNON / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pointing to a “legal fiction,” two pari-mutuel facilities have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a newly approved plan for the Seminole Tribe to operate sports betting in Florida.

Surfside Condo Collapse Could Lead To Legislation

Jun 29, 2021

State and federal legislation could be proposed to address construction or engineering issues after the deadly condominium-building collapse in Surfside, where crews continued to search the rubble Monday.

Addressing reporters, Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said they await information from forensic investigations that are proceeding alongside search-and-rescue operations at the Champlain Towers South, which collapsed early Thursday.

Even though the this year's regular legislative session was not especially productive in terms of the number of bills passed, Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet acted on more than a third of them.

Two months after the regular session ended, the governor still must decide the fate of 97 of 275 bills that passed. Eleven are on his desk, and 86 more remain in control of the legislature, with the start of a new fiscal year just days away.

More Than 100 New Florida Laws Ready To Take Effect

Jun 28, 2021
Florida's Historic Capitol building
Ryan Dailey / WFSU

More than 100 new laws passed during the 2021 legislative session will hit the books this week, ranging from a record $100 billion state budget to a ban on COVID-19 vaccine “passports” and an expansion of school vouchers.

DeSantis Signs School CPR Bill, 43 Others

Jun 22, 2021
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed 44 bills, including a measure that will require high-school freshmen and juniors in Florida to take one hour of instruction on how to administer CPR.

Gov. Ron DeSantis
News Service of Florida

While pointing to an economic resurgence amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday used his line-item veto power to slash $1.5 billion as he signed a record $100 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Florida Gambling Deal Gets Final Approval In Special Session

May 19, 2021
News Service of Florida

The Florida House on Wednesday gave final approval to a gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would include allowing sports betting in the state.

Florida’s special on gambling is moving quickly. The Senate voted Tuesday to approve a compact agreement with the Seminole Indian Tribe. Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote on the issue today.

The state’s proposed gambling agreement with the Seminole Indian tribe passed the Senate on an almost unanimous vote. Senate President Wilton Simpson said that’s a “consensus” that stems from nearly a decade of work and negotiation.

Lawmakers drew closer Monday to approving a proposed 30-year gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida after leaders agreed to strip a controversial provision that could have opened the state to online gaming under the control of the tribe.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is pictured with Marcellus W. Osceola Jr., chairman, Seminole Tribe of Florida.
News Service of Florida

As lawmakers prepare to decide whether to approve a $2.5 billion gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the tribe is trying to assuage concerns about part of the agreement that could open the door to the legalization of online betting in the state.

Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press file photo

Appearing at a Volusia County eatery, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday a bill that makes permanent a popular COVID-19 emergency order allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks with take-home meals.

During the recently concluded 2021 legislative session, members of the Florida House and Senate decided to get rid of two tuition assistance programs.

Combined, the moves save $42 million — but may come at a cost to thousands of students.

While the planned elimination of the Access to Better Learning and Education (ABLE) program saves $5 million, the cutting of a $600 textbook stipend that Bright Futures recipients received every year saves $37 million.

LYNNE SLADKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Amid a legal battle that could be decided by the Florida Supreme Court, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a measure that will ratchet up a ban on local gun regulations.

Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed an elections overhaul that was one of the most-contentious issues of the 2021 legislative session, as opponents immediately filed a lawsuit alleging that the measure is unconstitutional.

DeSantis Promotes Bonuses For First Responders

May 6, 2021

The bonuses are contained in the $101 billion state budget, which lawmakers approved days ago. It has yet to reach DeSantis. In an appearance in Fort Myers, DeSantis the governor called the bonuses a recognition of first responders like law enforcement, EMS and firefighters during the pandemic and last summer's social justice protests following the death of George Floyd.

Florida Capitol Will Reopen To The Public This Week

May 4, 2021

After nearly 14 months of being closed to the public, the Florida Capitol will reopen this week ahead of a special legislative session on gambling.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, made the announcement Monday, but it’s not clear if other parts of state government will follow a public-health advisory by Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to open back up as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Simpson’s office sent out a memo that said the Capitol will be open to the public Friday, one week after lawmakers finished the regular 60-day legislative session.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (at podium)
News Service of Florida

A Special Session has already been called for May 17 to address gambling-related bills and an agreement reached with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, while the regular 2021 legislative session ended Friday with a traditional hanky-dropping ceremony in the fourth-floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol.

Seminole Tribe Gambling Deal Signed By DeSantis Faces Legal Questions

May 3, 2021

After years of legal wrangling and failed attempts to seal a deal, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida have nailed down a gambling agreement to bring sports betting to the state and rake at least $2.5 billion into state coffers within five years.

But the complicated 30-year pact faces significant hurdles before Florida residents and visitors legally could whip out their phones and place bets on their favorite sports teams.

Florida lawmakers passed a $101.5 billion state budget Friday and ended a 60-day legislative session that gave Gov. Ron DeSantis many of his top priorities.

The House and Senate adjourned “sine die” --- the traditional end of session --- at 2:40 p.m. after a flurry of activity that included passing the budget and approving a repeal of the state’s no-fault auto insurance system and a revamp of the property-insurance system.

Florida’s election made headlines in November, something not unusual because the state usually does—for the number of problems it often has administering balloting. But last year was different, as the news was largely positive. Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken credit for the nearly problem-free cycle and Republican Rep.

Police Training Bill Passed By Fla. Legislature Touted As 'Good Start'

Apr 30, 2021
News Service of Florida

With several Black lawmakers heralding what they described as a starting point to improve community interactions with police, the Florida Senate has given final approval to a bill that includes new use-of-force training requirements for officers.

Florida Republican Lawmakers Pass Elections Overhaul

Apr 30, 2021

With time running out before the end of this year’s legislative session, Florida lawmakers signed off Thursday night on a controversial elections bill that would make it harder for voters to cast ballots by mail.

Rep. Cord Byrd debates on the House floor.
MyFloridaHouse.gov

The director of policy at Jacksonville’s LGBTQ youth center said Thursday that Florida’s late-night push to ban transgender women from sports is “disgusting” and “discriminatory.” 

Florida lawmakers have unanimously passed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act. It is considered a milestone in efforts to preserve migration paths for animals such as the Florida panther, keeping them from becoming isolated and inbred.

The bill passed by a rare 115-0 vote in the House and a 40-0 vote in the Senate — and they passed a budget that includes ways to pay for it. Lawmakers doubled to $100 million funding for Florida Forever, which preserves environmentally sensitive lands.

With Democrats decrying the “eleventh-hour” move, the Florida House and Senate on Wednesday night revived and passed a controversial plan that would ban transgender female athletes from competing on high-school girls’ and college women’s sports teams.

The House tucked the transgender athlete proposal into an education measure and sent the revamped bill to the Senate. The Senate signed off on the proposal in a 23-16 vote late Wednesday, with one Republican --- Gayle Harrell of Stuart --- crossing party lines to join Democrats in opposition to the bill.

Florida boasted a largely issue-free election last year. Democratic State Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, asks why fix what’s not broken?

“This bill, this amendment is a slap in the supervisors of elections faces, after an election that you say, we say, was one of the best we’ve had," Davis, a former deputy supervisor of elections for Duval County, said.

Florida Medical Marijuana Legislation Stalls As Public Employees Are Fired For Legal Use

Apr 28, 2021
Former Marion County school administrator Michael Hickman listened at a school board hearing as the board decided the fate of his educational career. He was fired, part of a string of public employee firings in Fla. related to legal medical pot use.
Christopher Cann/Fresh Take Florida

The first time Allison Enright, a Brevard County teacher, fell at work, doctors prescribed her opioids to deal with the pain. 

The Republican-controlled legislature has passed bills cracking down on riots, and efforts aimed at changing election policies following the outcome of the 2020 election. Democrats have blasted both moves as potentially racist and haven’t hidden their disappointment with the bills. Now comes House Bill 7051—the legislature’s response to the killings of Black Americans by police which sparked the summer protests.

A measure that would create a public records exemption for university presidential candidates failed in the Florida Senate Tuesday. Since the measure would have changed the state’s public record laws, it needed a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

The bill would have shielded the identities of anyone applying for a job as a state university or college president. But it would have made the names of finalists public at least 21 days before any interviews or final decisions could happen.

News Service of Florida

With Democrats likening the measure to Jim Crow-era practices aimed at keeping Black people from voting, the state Senate has passed an elections package that would make it harder for Floridians to cast ballots by mail.

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