During Florida’s 2019 Legislative session, lawmakers had two months to debate hundreds of bills. In the end, the House and Senate worked a half-day of overtime to approve a $91-billion budget -- with record spending on the environment and even more planned for public schools.
But the session closed with hundreds of measures left undebated and a number of high-profile issues that didn’t pass.
Jim Saunders, Executive Editor for the News Service of Florida, gives us this roundup of some of the more controversial bills that didn't make it out of session this year.
WLRN: Of the bills that didn’t make it this past session, two of the most controversial were abortion measures. What happened with those?
SAUNDERS: The House moved forward pretty quickly with the bill that would have required parental consent before minors can have abortions. The Senate never really took it up much. The other one got quite a bit of attention it's the so-called fetal heartbeat bill -- would have outlawed any abortions that at any time after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. But it never really move very much during the legislative session. I think "parental consent" was really the priority of the folks who wanted to pass an abortion bill.
There was a higher education bill that also created quite a stir -- it would have required public universities to survey students’ and faculty members’ political beliefs every year. How much debate was there on that one?
Supporters wanted to prevent indoctrination on college campuses and it moved fast in the House with Republican leadership. It did not move in the Senate. In fact, Senator Rob Bradley -- a very powerful senator [Appropriations Chairman], a Republican from the Jacksonville area -- said basically he just thinks it's wrong to do those sorts of things on campuses, dangerous to do those sorts of surveys. But the House continued pursuing that all the way up until the final day of the legislative session.
Lawmakers included in their budget about $682 million for water-quality efforts and Everglades restoration. But one of the highest-profile environmental issues of the session did not pass. What happened to the proposed ban on the oil- and gas-drilling technique known as “fracking?”
This year, it actually looked like it might have a better chance; partly because Governor DeSantis was in favor of a fracking ban. So the bill started moving early in session in both the House and the Senate. But the bills would have allowed another type of drilling technique that uses many of the same types of chemicals as fracking does. And environmentalists were very opposed to the other technique, as well.
So the two issues kind of got tangled together and it just sort of stopped in the middle of the session.
I think environmentalists must have made a decision that that it was important enough to oppose the overall fracking bill to also prevent this other technique.