2019 legislative session

Tom Hudson

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.

Sierra Club
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

"Veto! Veto! Veto!"

A group of about two dozen protesters chanted in front of the Tri-Rail station in Hollywood Tuesday. Together, they represented a handful of environmental groups that have been writing letters and calling Gov. Ron DeSantis's office, asking him to veto two bills on his desk.

Timmy Gunz/C.M. Guerrero/Martin County Health Dept / Creative Commons/Flickr/Miami Herald

Florida lawmakers have finished their work for the year. The 60-day legislative session had to have a few extra hours on Saturday for them to okay a $91.1 billion state budget.

vote here sign
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

A bill that is advancing in the Florida Senate could provide relief for a large chunk of people with felony convictions who want to regain the right to vote following  the passage of Amendment 4 last November.

Tom Hudson

Republicans and Democrats in Tallahassee are in agreement on at least one thing as they forge a state budget that will total around $90 billion: Florida's economy is doing well. 

The state’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, and more than 25,000 jobs were added that month.

Still, the state forecast for money coming in from sales taxes is down a little bit from forecasting just a few months ago. While still growing, the incoming tax dollars are expected to grow slower in the years ahead.

As the legislative session continues in the Florida Capitol, advocates question if lawmakers are making climate change a priority. 

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN News

Before the Florida Senate Committee for Criminal Justice began a discussion about how to implement Florida’s Amendment 4 this week, committee chairman Sen. Keith Perry showed fellow senators a video.

In the video, which was taken in May 2017, the prominent attorney and former Democratic Speaker of the Florida House Jon Mills is having a back and forth with Florida Supreme Court Justices about what it means for someone to have to “complete all terms of their sentence."

Money Could Flow To The Environment, Water Quality

Mar 20, 2019
Everglades
Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

The Florida Senate is topping Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request for environmental funding, despite early concerns about a tight budget and the need to react to Hurricane Michael.

The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday released an initial $5.9 billion budget proposal that includes $656 million for Everglades restoration and water-quality efforts such as trying to reduce future outbreaks of toxic algae and red tide.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., who represents Hialeah and is chairman of the Senate Education committee, says South Florida charter schools shouldn’t be excluded from money generated by voter-approved property tax hikes.

“Those referendum that say they’re going to be used for public school teachers should go to all public school teachers, not only union school teachers,” Diaz told WLRN Thursday.

WMFE

The 2019 legislative session begins Tuesday. Over 60 days, lawmakers will tackle the states’ biggest issues, including school safety, education and health care.

Florida lawmakers will gather March 5 in the House chamber to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis give his first State of the State address, the traditional start of the 60-day legislative session.

A controversial abortion measure known as the “fetal heartbeat bill” has been filed in the Florida Senate, mirroring a bill filed last month in the House. 

AP Photo/Steve Cannon

Familiar battlelines are being drawn over the biggest pieces Florida's state budget -- healthcare and education.

 

Republicans plan on going after healthcare regulations they contend drive up the cost of care. Democrats say, after three failed attempts, Medicaid expansion returns as their priority.

 

plastic straws
Fairywren/Flickr Creative Commons

Local governments wouldn’t be able to regulate single-use plastic straws under a measure filed Thursday in the House.

The proposal (HB 603) by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, says “a municipality, county, or other local governmental entity may not adopt, enforce, or implement any ordinance, rule, or law that would further restrict a food service establishment from distributing single-use plastic straws to customers.”