Florida Legislature

DeSantis Expresses Opposition To Increasing Unemployment Benefits

Apr 16, 2021
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press file photo

Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed opposition Friday to a Senate proposal that would increase unemployment benefits, as Florida’s jobless rate held steady at 4.7 % in March.

A Fla. House proposal is topped by a back-to-school tax holiday in August that would be estimated to save $44.5 million in state and local sales taxes for shoppers.
Bill Sikes / Associated Press

As legislative leaders work on a new state budget, a House proposal that would provide at least $61.5 million in tax reductions next fiscal year drew support Friday from the Ways & Means Committee.

Senate Signs Off On Controversial Anti-Riot Bill

Apr 16, 2021

Republican lawmakers handed Gov. Ron DeSantis one of his top legislative priorities Thursday, with the Florida Senate giving final passage to a contentious law-and-order measure spawned by nationwide protests after last year’s death of George Floyd.

The sweeping proposal, titled “Combating Public Disorder,” would create a new crime of “mob intimidation,” enhance penalties for riot-related looting and violence and create an affirmative defense for individuals who injure or kill violent protesters.

Masked woman outside of an unemployment office with a "now hiring" sign.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

An effort to increase Florida’s much-criticized unemployment benefits, boosting the amounts and lengths of payments, continued to advance Thursday in the state Senate.

Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Neptune Beach)
News Service of Florida

A bipartisan proposal to add hiring standards and bolster use-of-force training for police and correctional officers began moving forward Thursday in the House.

Fla. House Backs Gambling Bills But Changes Are Likely

Apr 14, 2021
In this file photo, a poker dealer is works a game at the Magic City Casino in Miami.
WILFREDO LEE / ASSOCIATED PRESS

With the chairman cautioning that the proposals likely would change, a House committee Wednesday approved bills that would revamp laws about pari-mutuel facilities and create a state gaming commission.

Florida Lawmakers Approve Out-Of-State Online Sales Tax Plan

Apr 9, 2021

A plan to use taxes on sales by out-of-state online retailers to help Florida businesses is heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis after passing the House and Senate on Thursday.

While some Democrats argued that working Floridians would be hurt by the proposal because of “regressive” sales taxes, the House voted 93-24 to approve the measure (SB 50). Hours later, the Senate voted 27-12 to give final approval.

A man wades through flood water as he check out damage from Hurricane Matthew Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, in St. Augustine , Fla.
John Bazemore / Associated Press


Tens of millions of dollars a year would go to fight the effects of rising sea levels under bills passed by the Florida House and Senate this week.

The Florida Senate on Wednesday approved an initial $95 billion budget plan for the fiscal year that will start July 1. But the plan is considered only a starting point for negotiations with the House, which has offered a $97 billion proposal.

Heading into those negotiations, lawmakers received positive news Tuesday that they will have about $2 billion more than previously forecast in state general revenues. Also, negotiations will involve how to use about $10 billion in anticipated federal stimulus money --- something not included in the Senate’s initial plan.

Florida lawmakers Wednesday passed a controversial bill to require Florida’s public universities to ask students and faculty to complete yearly surveys to identify political bias in college classrooms. It passed the Senate in a 23-15 vote and awaits the governor's signature.

The bill would also allow students to record their professors during lectures to show evidence of political bias.

The sponsor of the House version of the legislation, Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, said he has not spoken with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis but anticipates his support.

U.S. Rep. Cathy Castor, D-Tampa, and healthcare advocates held a media conference Monday to highlight a long-shot effort in the Florida House to expand Medicaid through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

TALLAHASSEE --- A proposal spurred by the coronavirus pandemic to limit local emergency orders is ready to go to the full Senate, despite lingering concerns from Democrats and local governments.

Florida Transgender Athlete Ban Heads To Full House

Apr 7, 2021

TALLAHASSEE --- A proposal to ban transgender females from taking part in girls’ or women’s high-school and college sports is teed up for consideration by the full House, after a Republican-controlled education panel overrode fiery objections Tuesday.

The House Education & Employment Committee voted 15-6 to approve the proposal (HB 1475) sponsored by Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Lake Placid, with Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, the only Democrat supporting the bill.

Lawmakers are again considering a proposal to change how alimony and child sharing is handled in divorce cases. Of the many changes included in the measure, one would eliminate permanent alimony unless both parties agree to it. Deborah Shultz is a 68-year-old physician who says she pays permanent alimony to her ex-husband.

"I was married for 17 years to a man who quit working the minute we were married. I supported about seven different businesses that he ran into the ground. He abused drugs and alcohol. And he was abusive to me and our two children," Shultz says.

Cory Huston / NASA via Associated Press

After rejecting a series of amendments proposed by Democrats, the Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on potentially far-reaching changes to Florida’s property insurance system.

Cory Huston / NASA via Associated Press

After rejecting a series of amendments proposed by Democrats, the Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on potentially far-reaching changes to Florida’s property insurance system.

Social Media Crackdown Emerges In Florida Senate

Apr 5, 2021
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press 2018 file photo

The Florida Senate is poised to start moving forward with a proposal designed to crack down on social-media companies that block users from their platforms, a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

After rejecting a series of amendments proposed by Democrats, the Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on potentially far-reaching changes to Florida’s property insurance system.

The Senate on Thursday took up a bill (SB 76), sponsored by Banking and Insurance Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and positioned it procedurally for a vote.

The bill, in part, would allow insurers to limit amounts paid for roof damage and would place new restrictions on attorney fees in insurance disputes.

Florida House To Take Up Online Tax Plan

Apr 2, 2021
Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

After House and Senate leaders reached agreement on the issue, the House could pass a plan that would require out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on items sold to Floridians.

TALLAHASSEE --- A plan to revamp Florida’s much-criticized online unemployment system is now moving on both sides of the Capitol, while advocates for workers continue to push lawmakers to consider increasing jobless benefits.

With few questions and little comment, the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee on Thursday unanimously backed a proposal (HB 1463) that would overhaul the less-than-decade-old CONNECT unemployment system and move to a cloud-based system.

House Tries To Curb School Board Member Pay

Apr 2, 2021

Florida lawmakers are trying again to limit the salaries of local school board members. The idea is one that’s been tried before. Now a proposed constitutional amendment would ask voters to decide whether to keep paying locally elected officials who oversee the state’s public schools.

Clay County Republican Rep. Sam Garrison says the majority of school boards in the United State’s aren’t paid. In Florida, the average salary for a school board member is about $36,000.

LYNNE SLADKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Civil rights groups have filed a new federal lawsuit against Georgia’s sweeping new election law that makes it harder for Georgians to vote, particularly voters of color and new citizens.

Identical measures in the Florida House and Senate would establish a statewide pilot program for farmers to be compensated after adopting climate-friendly practices.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a controversial conservative and boisterous ally of former President Donald Trump, on Tuesday confirmed he is being investigated by the Department of Justice for sexual misconduct but denied the allegations tied to the probe.

Following its last meeting in 2018, the Constitution Revision Commission, often called the CRC, met criticism when it bundled topics like vaping and oil drilling, or took up subjects lawmakers had long been working to address, like dog racing.

It left many legislators feeling frustrated—like Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg).

“The CRC is bipartisanly detested and should be abolished,” Brandes said in a recent committee meeting.

News Service of Florida

Florida’s unemployment payments, among the lowest in the nation, would increase by up to $100 a week under a measure approved by a Senate committee.

Fla. Senate Weighs School, College Pandemic Concerns

Mar 30, 2021
Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale
News Service of Florida

In an effort to offset COVID-19’s impacts on Florida’s education system, a Senate committee Tuesday gave bipartisan support to a proposal that would shield public-school students from testing accountability this year and protect colleges and universities from lawsuits.

A measure that would allow people to carry in guns in churches and other religious institutions, even when they’re attached to schools, has passed in the Florida House. Supporters say it’s a property rights issue. But many Democrats are raising concerns about what the measure could mean for guns in classrooms.

DeSantis Targets COVID-19 'Passports,' Signs Liability Bill

Mar 29, 2021
 Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill (SB 72) Monday that will shield businesses and health-care providers from lawsuits related to COVID-19.
News Service of Florida

Pointing to privacy concerns, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he will issue emergency rules this week that prevent businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccinations through COVID-19 “passports” and will ask the Legislature to pass a permanent ban.

A controversial bill that aims to crack down on violent protests has passed the Florida House and is on its way to the state Senate.

Florida lawmakers spent hours in debate over HB 1 - the Combating Public Disorder bill - often referred to as the "anti-riot bill." The bill would strengthen penalties against those convicted of committing violent crimes during a protest. It would also create new offenses, including mob intimidation, cyberintimidation and demolishing historic monuments.

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