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The South Florida Roundup

The 7 Things To Know About Florida's Legislative Session

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So many issues made the headlines during the state's 60-day legislative session.  But if you haven't been following the ins-and-outs of Tallahassee, we have you covered.  Here are the 7 main events from Florida’s recently concluded legislative session.

Dolphins Stadium

The legislature failed to pass a measure allowing Miami-Dade County to raise hotel taxes for Sun Life Stadium renovations.  Perhaps the job fair for stadium work was a bit premature

Medicaid Expansion

Although Florida fought the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail, Governor Rick Scott’s about-face on Medicaid expansion gave Democrats some hope. But House Republicans opposed accepting federal money to pay for the expansion and ultimately no plan was passed.  Florida joins 24 other states that have or are likely to reject expansion.

Voting Reform

Long lines and slow tallies during 2012 election, which made Florida the butt of jokes nationwide, pushed legislators to act quickly to change election laws.  The new law expands early voting sites, requires eight days of early voting for eight hours each day and allows counties to offer more early voting days. 

Texting Ban

A ban on texting while driving, if signed by the governor, would make texting a secondary offense (meaning you committed another offense in addition to texting.) Florida is one of five states without a ban; even Live-Free-or-Die New Hampshire has one.  But a big enforcement gap in the proposed law: prosecutors could only use mobile phone records to prove a violation in the event of a crash that resulted in death or personal injury. 

Citizens Property Insurance

Called “Citizens–lite” by a legislator who wanted aggressive rate hikes, the bill would force homeowners into private insurance only if comparable rates are available.  After much publicized allegations of misconduct and abuses by Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer would be required to have an inspector general and abide by state contracting rules. The company’s board would also include a new consumer advocate.  The Governor is reviewing the bill.  

Alimony Reform

The legislature passed a bill that would have among other things prohibited permanent alimony and required judges to give parents equal custody of children, absent extraordinary circumstances. But Gov. Scott, citing concerns about the bill’s retroactivity, vetoed it

Parent Trigger, Teacher Pay

The parent trigger bill, which would have allowed parents to restructure a failing public school and possibly convert it into a charter school, failed. Raising teacher pay, another left turn for Gov. Scott, did pass, although legislative leaders added that the raise was dependent on performance evaluations.  

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The South Florida RoundupThe Florida RoundupSession 2013