House Democrats scramble after redistricting lessens competitive edge
Democrats became newly worried this month as favorable redistricting maps in Florida and New York were struck down and replaced with district lines that will likely make it even more difficult to keep their already slim majority in the House.washingtonpost.com
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.