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Capitol Report: Dec. 13, 2019

CAPITOL NEWS

With the sixth and final interim committee week behind us, all remains quiet at the Capitol until the New Year. Following the New Year, legislators will reconvene in Tallahassee for a sixty-day legislative session. The legislative tone and pace will quickly amplify over the 8-week Session as the fate of bills emerge.

The CAG team are closely monitoring priority legislation and engaging legislators on the League’s behalf.

The Sixty-Day 2020 Legislative Session
Convenes on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.Adjourns on Friday, March 13, 2020.
KEY LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Governor DeSantis Announces Florida’s Acceptance In Membership In ERIC Which Will Ensure Accurate Voter Rolls

This week Governor DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee announced that Florida has been accepted for membership, along with 29 other members, into the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a multi-state partnership that uses a sophisticated data-matching tool to enhance the accuracy of voter registration systems. Through ERIC, member states can share information from voter registration systems, motor vehicle databases, social security death records, and U.S. Post Office records. This data-sharing agreement will help identify voters who have moved to another state, passed away, or changed their name in Florida. In addition to enhancing the accuracy of voter rolls, ERIC also improves voter registration by providing information for member states to contact potentially eligible but unregistered voters with instructions on how to register to vote. Prior to the 2020 general election, Florida will spend $1.3 million to contact potentially eligible voter who are not registered to vote. This outreach is conducted every two years ahead of federal general elections. Governor DeSantis included in his 2020-2021 recommended budget to the Florida Legislature the necessary funding to move forward with joining ERIC, which includes annual dues estimated at $75,000 and an estimated $1.3 million to conduct outreach to potentially eligible but unregistered voters through a direct mailer. Florida’s full participation in ERIC prior to the 2020 elections will be contingent upon receiving funding from the Legislature. LWVFL sent him a letter earlier this year thanking him for joining.
First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces Three Statewide School Based Initiatives

This week First Lady Casey DeSantis, as part of her Hope for Healing Florida initiative, announced the creation of H.O.P.E. Innovators, a new statewide community-based team tasked with developing innovative ways to connect Florida students and parents with mental health information and resources. The new team, “Helping Organizations, Professionals and Educators Transform How Florida Understands Youth Mental Health” (H.O.P.E. Innovators), will work under the direction of the Florida Department of Education’s (DOE) Chancellor for Innovation, Dr. Eric Hall.First Lady DeSantis also announced the creation of Hope Ambassadors, a youth peer-to-peer student mentorship program that will recruit student volunteers to work with their peers and help create an environment of kindness and compassion in their schools.
Parental Consent Bill Advances in Senate

This week the Senate Health Policy Committee advanced SB 404 by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, requiring parental consent before minors can have abortions. Florida law currently requires parents to be notified if their daughters are planning to have abortions. The law also provides for a judicial waiver process that allows pregnant teenagers to circumvent the notification requirement. But the bill would go further by requiring parental consent, rather than notification. Similar to the current notification requirement, the bill would allow exemptions for teens who already are parents or are in medical emergencies. Meanwhile, a House health care panel already passed its version of the parental-consent bill, and that measure is poised to be considered by the full House during the 2020 session. The League’s own, Trish Neely, testified against the bill. Click here to watch the full committee meeting.
Amendment Radically Reshaping Florida Primaries Gets Spot on Ballot Pending Judicial Approval

A petition-driven constitutional amendment that would radically reshape Florida’s primaries by opening them to all voters regardless of their party affiliation has earned a place on the November 2020 ballot.The All Voters Vote campaign has achieved the number of verified signatures to get on the ballot’s number three spot, according to the Secretary of State’s website. It still must pass muster with the Florida Supreme Court over whether the ballot language meets the single issue requirement.

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