Florida House backs schools bill on sexual orientation, gender identity
The Florida House on Thursday passed an education measure that would prohibit instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, as Republicans disputed a “don’t say gay” moniker that critics gave the bill.
Amelia Island Bartending Competition
Inside Florida House on Amelia Island, you’ll find the Mermaid Bar. It’s an eclectic hangout that has a long history that Cocktail Program Manager Austin Hammond hopes to share with people when they roll up for multiple events being held there. Next Thursday, they relaunch their bartending competition which is free for anyone of age to attend. Taste 8 mixes from invite only mixologists from spots all over the island. Find out more at www.ameliaisland.com .
Texas abortion decision quickly fuels Florida debate
While Gov. Ron DeSantis said people shouldn’t “read too much into” the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to block a Texas law that bans almost all abortions, Republican legislative leaders indicated Thursday they will determine if Florida can enact similar restrictions.
Measure to ban vaccine passports in Florida clears House
With a key lawmaker saying he recognizes that vaccine hesitancy is “real and understandable,” the Florida House on Wednesday approved a measure that would limit local emergency orders and make permanent Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring COVID-19 vaccine “passports.”
Florida’s ‘anti-riot’ bill faces uncertain fate in Senate
With the number of weeks left before the Legislature's schedule adjournment in the final week of April, lawmakers also are beginning to tackle the state budget with more urgency. But proposals like the anti-riot bill are consuming much of the air in the Florida statehouse this session. The measure could spawn an interesting dynamic in the state Senate, where it has yet to get a hearing. The House passed the measure Friday, with the Republican majority arguing that the measure was needed to preserve law and order. Another House committee is taking up a proposal that would abolish the state’s Constitution Revision Commission.
Florida House passes bill to allow guns at churches with schools
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With supporters saying the issue is about property rights, the Florida House on Friday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would allow people to carry guns at churches that share locations with schools. House members voted 76-37 to approve the measure (HB 259), sponsored by Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, and Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach. Florida law generally allows people to carry concealed weapons at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions, but it bars being armed on school properties. That leads to people being prevented from carrying guns on properties shared by religious institutions and schools. The bill would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to bring guns on properties shared by churches and schools.
Florida House debates ‘anti-riot’ legislation
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House on Thursday began debating legislation that aims to crack down on violent protests. Democrats proposed adding five amendments to House Bill 1 in an effort to water down the bill, which critics say will impose on people’s rights to peacefully protest. The legislation was written in response to the burning of buildings in the Tampa Bay area in June and windows smashed in Tallahassee, among violent unrest elsewhere in the state. It protects police officers who are there protecting against violent protests,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls said of the bill. Opponents claim the legislation will stifle peaceful protests, a criticism Sprowls took issue with.
Florida House and Senate split on response to 2020 civil unrest
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Senate and House are split on how to respond to the civil unrest spurred by the death of George Floyd last year. Pizzo, who chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, is sponsoring the policing reform package. The police reform bill is being held up in the House by the prime co-sponsor of the anti-rioting legislation. Likewise, the anti-rioting bill is being blocked in the Senate by the sponsor of the police reform bill. House Criminal Justice Chair Cord Byrd is skeptical of the police reforms proposed in the Senate.
Pre-game prayer bill going to full Florida House
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A proposal that could allow high schools to offer prayers over public-address systems before athletic championship games is headed to the full Florida House. The athletic association has argued that allowing a prayer over the loudspeaker would have been viewed as “government speech.”The bill, sponsored by Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, was approved Wednesday by the House Education & Employment Committee in a 15-6 vote after little discussion. The bill would require allowing schools to offer up to two-minute remarks over public-address systems. The athletic association could not control the content of the remarks. The vote positioned the bill to be considered by the full House.
Florida House committee weighs new rules for voting by mail
FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2020, file photo, an election worker sorts vote-by-mail ballots at the Miami-Dade County Board of Elections, in Doral, Florida. AdThe Senate is considering its own changes to how vote-by-mail ballots are handled, including the banning of drop boxes. In the coming week, the House floor will take up a measure already passed by the Senate — but it’s unclear how the House will handle that proposal. It could decide to abandon its own two-pronged approach, which carves out a separate bill for health care providers, and instead adopt the single Senate bill to address what proponents fear could be a proliferation of frivolous COVID-related lawsuits. AdAnother controversial measure the House is taking up is the so-called anti-riot bill, which comes up this week for final debate in the chamber.
Gov. DeSantis’s riot bill could be in trouble
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The governor’s top legislative priority, a bill increasing penalties for violent protestors, could be in trouble because of a lack of support from law enforcement. “DeSantis’s anti-protest bill attempts threatens us into submission with ridiculous prison sentences,” Jalen Blocker, a student at Florida State University, said. “I just don’t know they have the votes on that committee,” said Brandes. “Oh, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” he said. AdThe Democratic Caucus in the Florida House voted Thursday to oppose the House version of the bill, meaning all 42 Democrats will likely vote against it.
Florida bill seeks to block trans athletes from girls teams
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Transgender women and girls couldn’t play on girls and women’s school sports teams under a bill passed by a Florida House committee on Wednesday. The bill, called the Fairness in Women's Sports Act, would require that anyone participating in girls and women's sports at the K-12 and college level be biologically eligible to do so. But Democrats slammed the proposal, calling it discriminatory against transgender girls and women. AdThe House Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee voted 13-4 to approve the bill, with all “no” votes cast by Democrats. AdThe Florida bill has two more committee stops in the House.
Florida’s big tech censorship bill clears second committee
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Legislation seeking to increase transparency in big tech and fight back against social media censorship is moving quickly through the Florida House after it cleared its second committee stop Monday. Republicans believe conservatives are being unfairly targeted by big tech censorship, but Democrats argue the GOP-sponsored legislation is a response to former President Donald Trump’s de-platforming from Twitter and Facebook. Burgess is sponsoring legislation that would require social media companies to inform users why their accounts were blocked or disabled within 30 days of action being taken on the accounts. AdA similar bill in the House goes much further, requiring social media companies to publish standards for censoring users on their sites and apply them in a consistent manner. The bill would impose a $100,000/day fine on social media platforms for de-platforming statewide candidates and a $10,000/day fine for all other Florida candidates.
Florida House precautions remain largely unchanged
Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, initiated the process before committee meetings began in January. To adhere to social-distancing requirements during the 60-day legislative session, the House is offering limited seating on a “first-come, first-served basis” for committee meetings in which legislation is discussed. AdThe updated House protocols won’t allow people who can’t get access to committee rooms to testify remotely from an overflow room, a change from the earlier coronavirus precautions. Members of the public who aren’t registered lobbyists and can’t attend committee meetings in person will be allowed to submit written comments to committee members electronically. House visitors will be required to wear face masks, including when they are addressing committees, and won’t be allowed to show up unannounced.
Vaccine fraud bill getting teed up in Florida House
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, making the issue a priority, the House Judiciary Committee on Monday will consider a bill that would crack down on scammers who provide fraudulent information about COVID-19 vaccines. If the bill (HB 9), sponsored by Rep. Ardian Zika, R-Land O’Lakes, gets approved by the Judiciary Committee, it would be ready to go to the full House after the annual legislative session starts March 2. Sprowls told reporters last week that Zika’s bill and a measure that would provide COVID-19 liability protections for businesses (HB 7) are priorities for early passage in the House. A news release last month announcing the filing of Zika’s bill pointed to such things as fake websites that offer access to vaccines in exchange for payments. “This legislation puts them on notice and helps protect Floridians from getting scammed.”AdThe House is tentatively scheduled to hold two floor sessions next week in which it could take up the bills.
Florida lawmakers raise questions on federal school money from CARES Act
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida House panel looking at public-school funding is asking the state Department of Education for answers on how federal CARES Act money is being spent, and if those expenditures are tied to COVID-19 recovery. The clock is ticking for the state to disburse districts’ shares of the “CARES Act 1.0” money, as Kelly called it. He told lawmakers that those federal funds must be obligated to districts by May of this year, and districts will have until September 2022 to spend the money. To do that, Kelly told the panel that districts had to “collapse funds around critical services.”“For those students, those schools were spending more money on food services. Florida expects to receive $2.8 billion in federal K-12 stimulus funding through a second round of CARES Act money, which officials anticipate could be spent through September 2023.
Florida House leaders named, along with panel to eye COVID-19
Lawmakers will hold an organization session Nov. 17 to formally swear in members and leaders, with the 2021 legislative session starting in March. Sprowls' committee changes also involve a newly named and expanded Education & Employment Committee, which will be chaired by Clearwater Republican Chris Latvala. Palm Coast Republican Paul Renner, who is in line to succeed Sprowls as speaker in November 2022, was named Rules Committee chairman. Spring Hill Republican Blaise Ingoglia will chair the Commerce Committee, and Lakeland Republican Colleen Burton will chair the Health & Human Services Committee. Meanwhile, Miami Republican Daniel Perez, R-Miami, will take over as Judiciary Committee chairman; Lecanto Republican Ralph Massullo will serve as State Affairs Committee chairman; and Palatka Republican Bobby Payne will be Ways & Means Committee chairman.
Gov. DeSantis proposes bill to get tough with violent protesters
Ron DeSantis announced a bill to get tough with any protesters who attack police officers or cause property damage. While DeSantis said Florida hasn’t seen the type of violent protests that have occurred in other states, he said he wants to make sure they don’t happen here. DeSantis also said law enforcement would use the RICO Act to prosecute any groups found to be funding or organizing protests that turn violent. “Recently in our country we have seen attacks on law enforcement, we’ve seen disorder and tumult in many cities,” DeSantis said. It’s wrong and it’s unconstitutional,” state Rep. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat who is running for the state Senate, tweeted Monday afternoon.
Florida House ready to take up parental consent for abortion
The bill was given only one committee stop -- a rarity for legislation and a signal that it's a high priority for Republican House leadership. The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Erin Grall would require a minor to get written, notarized permission from a parent or legal guardian to obtain an abortion. Florida already requires that doctors notify parents before performing an abortion on a minor, but parental consent isn't required. PREVIOUS STORY: Florida lawmaker proposes parental consent abortion bill"I pray that our colleagues in the Senate will take up this issue this year and allow the state of Florida to put parents back into this conversation with their daughters,'' Grall said. Others argued that girls might be victims of the same parents they need to seek consent from to get an abortion.
Lawmakers file dueling Electoral College proposals
News Service of FloridaTALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With the 2020 presidential election looming, Florida House members have filed dueling proposals about the Electoral College. Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, filed a proposed resolution (HR 323) last week that would support the preservation of the Electoral College in its current form. Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, filed a bill (HB 335) last week that calls for Florida to join an agreement with other states to effectively elect the president by a national popular vote. Under the proposal, Florida and other states would certify slates of electors tied to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationally. News Service of Florida
Florida Legislature fights rehearing in conservation case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Attorneys for the Florida House and Senate urged an appeals court Monday to reject a request for a rehearing in a battle about conservation funding. The environmental groups, in part, argue that lawmakers improperly diverted money to other expenses, such as agency expenses and salaries. A Leon County circuit judge ruled in favor of the environmental groups, but the Tallahassee-based appeals court last month overturned that ruling. But in asking for the rehearing, the environmental groups said the appeals court's ruling "imposes no requirement upon the Legislature to acquire, restore and manage any new conservation and recreation lands whatsoever. In short, the court's decision permits the Legislature to continue expending LATF (Land Acquisition Trust Fund) funds to managing existing state lands without acquiring and restoring any new conservation lands.
House Democrats seek long-shot special session on gun violence
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida House Democrats say theyve rounded up more than enough support to require votes from both Republican-dominated chambers of the Legislature to determine if there is any appetite for a special session dealing with gun violence. President Galvano does not support calling a special session, Senate President Bill Galvanos spokeswoman Katie Betta said in an email, when asked about the Democrats' move on Tuesday. While Im sure this request for special session is sincere and well intentioned, we must always strive to do something right rather than just do something. Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate failed to give the request for the special session the required support. In 2013, Democrats also failed to drum up the support needed for a special session on the state's "stand your ground self-defense law.
Lawmaker seeks to roll back gun restrictions
Hill proposed a similar bill for the 2019 legislative session (HB 6073), but it was not heard in committees. Red flag laws have drawn heavy attention nationwide after separate shootings last weekend that left 22 people dead in El Paso, Texas, and 10 people dead in Dayton, Ohio. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was among people urging U.S. Senate leaders to take up a red flag bill he introduced in 2018 after the Parkland shooting. On Monday, Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, directed Senate Infrastructure and Security Chairman Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, to lead efforts to determine if any further action is needed on state gun laws. News Service of Florida
State lawmaker wants Duval County School Board to be appointed
Fischer's proposal is raising eyebrows with current School Board members. "If the city of Jacksonville will have an appointed School Board, appointed by the mayor, removed at the mayor, serving at the will of the mayor -- it just doesn't make any sense to me." In its 2009 report, the Jacksonville's Charter Review Commission supported changing to an appointed board, arguing it would increase accountability. City Councilman Aaron Bowman said he's aware of the discussion about changing to an appointed School Board, but questions the timing of such a move. Councilman Matt Carlucci on Wednesday said he would introduce legislation next week that would require a change to an appointed School Board to be approved by voters in a referendum.
Florida House seeks to join monumental' marijuana case
But Tampa-based Florigrown argued that legislators instead should concentrate on fixing the law, aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. But the Tallahassee judge refused to allow the House to join in the lawsuit. How can the House not be allowed to intervene on the merits of that determination? Thomas asked Katherine Giddings, a lawyer representing Florigrown. But Thomas disagreed, saying the constitutionality of the law will be determined by the appeals court, not the circuit judge. But Judge Scott Makar questioned why the House was bothering to intervene in the case, which Makar said would almost certainly wind up before the Florida Supreme Court.