legislature

Sherrilyn Cabrera / WLRN

For the last two years, Key Biscayne resident Debbie Wanninkhof has advocated for stricter texting while driving laws. A new law in the state of Florida will do just that.

The House bill will likely go into effect July 1 and will make texting while driving a primary offense. Under current law it is only a secondary offense, and police officers are not allowed to pull over drivers for texting while driving.

Florida Lawmakers Eye Change In Divvying Up School Money

May 14, 2019

A long-controversial part of the state’s formula for distributing money to public schools could be headed toward a change.

DeSantis Vetoes Bill On Plastic Straw Bans

May 13, 2019

In his first veto, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday rejected a bill that would have blocked local governments from banning plastic straws.

The First Amendment Foundation (FAF) in Tallahassee keeps watch over policy discussions that could impede the public’s right to know about government business.

“We track all bills that affect the public’s ability to oversee government and hold it accountable," says FAF president Barbara Petersen.

The foundation tracked 111 bills this year that would create new open government exemptions or extend current exemptions. 25 of them passed.

Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority Battle Speeds Into Court

May 9, 2019
Miami Herald

A circuit judge has scheduled a hearing Friday in a lawsuit quickly filed by the Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority after lawmakers passed a bill that would eliminate the authority and transfer its responsibilities to a new agency.

The authority filed the lawsuit Sunday in Leon County circuit court, two days after the Legislature gave final approval to the bill, which drew heavy debate from Miami-Dade lawmakers. While the bill has not formally been sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, the authority is asking Circuit Judge John Cooper to block it.

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.

Associated Press

A bill that will increase the penalty for texting and driving has passed the legislature and is heading to Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature.

Under Florida law it’s currently a secondary offense to text and drive.

But the new bill would make it a primary offense starting July 1.

That’s when Orange County Sheriff Chief John Mina says officers will be able to pull over offenders and write them citations for non-moving violations.

These types of violations result in fines and court fines-beginning at around $30.

ICE To Train Florida Officers To Serve Federal Warrants

May 7, 2019
Associated Press

The country's immigration enforcement agency on Monday announced a new partnership in Florida to allow some sheriff's deputies to serve warrants on behalf of the federal government.

Pinellas County in the Tampa Bay area is the first jurisdiction to participate, but more have expressed interest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

The plan is intended for jurisdictions restricted by local policies so they can keep certain immigrants requested by authorities in custody for a longer time, the agency said.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

The state legislative session is over and the fate of a bill that would allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida is now up to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among injection drug users.

The bill passed 111-3 in the Florida House and unanimously in the Florida Senate.

Insurers would be given the green light to sell scaled-back health insurance policies under a bill that the Florida Legislature passed Friday. 

Lawmakers Step Up Fight Against Human Trafficking

May 6, 2019

Florida lawmakers late Friday passed legislation that would require police, hotel employees and massage-parlor workers to get training in how to recognize signs of human trafficking. 

SCOTT KEELER/TAMPA BAY TIMES

A new program that would allow more Florida students to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for private school in Florida has passed — and is likely to end up in a court battle.

Controversial Felons' Rights Bill Goes To DeSantis

May 3, 2019

With two men who’ve become the faces of Amendment 4 watching from the gallery, Florida lawmakers passed a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored.

The Republican-dominated House passed the bill in a party-line vote Friday, the last full day of the 2019 legislative session. That came after the Senate approved the plan in a party-line vote Thursday night.

Firefighter Cancer Benefits Get Final Approval

Apr 25, 2019

The House on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would expand benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with 21 types of cancer, sending the high-profile measure to Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

After Fiery Debate, Florida House Passes 'Sanctuary Cities' Bill

Apr 24, 2019
News Service of Florida

After a long and fiery debate about how the state should deal with illegal immigration, the Florida House on Wednesday passed legislation that seeks to crack down on local governments that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

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