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Capitol Report: February 18, 2016

Capitol Report: February 18, 2016

CAPITOL REPORT 2016 Session Week 6
February 18, 2016

There is something about standing on the old capital steps on a beautiful day in Tallahassee. The Florida League delegates to the Legislative Summit assembled to hear Senator Nelson not only praise the LWVF’s successful redistricting lawsuit, but also the possibility that a more thoughtful mix of legislators may result. The sunny day, the sense of possibility permeated the air.

The League of Women Voters was proud to stand on the Historic Capitol steps with US Senator Bill Nelson as he expressed his gratitude for our hard work in expanding voter rights, as well as our decade-long fight for Fair Districts!

EDUCATION

Following Senator Nelson, Florida League President Pamela Goodman made a strong statement supporting Florida’s public school system. In a meeting with Senate President Andy Gardiner, we learned that the proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 759/SJR 976 State Charter School Authorizer) would not be heard in the Senate, killing the bill for the session.

President Gardiner also reported on Florida Face to Face that the Senate took a look at the charter school system and saw a growing business. He said the upper chamber was interested in getting charter schools back to its roots, and that legislation being prepared by Senator Gaetz would be a reflection of that effort. President Gardner concluded that the distribution of funds between charters and traditional public schools is most important when it comes to construction dollars.

GUN SAFETY

In the midst of the annual Legislative dinner, President Pamela Goodman received word that Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla had just announced he would not hear SB 300 — the Open Carry bill — effectively killing the bill. The Senator had announced earlier that he would not allow SB 68, Campus Carry, to move forward. The latest action puts to bed two dangerous pieces of legislation pushed by the gun lobby.

HEALTHCARE

Legislation that would add unnecessary obstacles for women seeking abortions in the state of Florida continued moving in the Senate this week. SB 1722 (Stargel – R) requires all doctors performing abortions in a clinic to have hospital admitting privileges. Current law requires one doctor from a clinic have admitting privileges and requires abortion referral or counseling services to register with the state. The Senate version does not prohibit state or local funding to Planned Parenthood for women’s health care as its counterpart in the House does (HB 1411 by Burton), which is awaiting second reading in the lower chamber. We continue to advocate in opposition to this punitive legislation.

ENVIRONMENT

The League continues to oppose legislation in the Senate that would preempt local communities from banning fracking within their jurisdictions. SB 318 (Richter – R), has not yet been scheduled for its final committee stop, Appropriations. Chair Tom Lee (Bradenton – R) had strong words for regulators who have failed to address concerns raised by Senators and citizens. A companion bill, HB 191, has already passed the House chamber. A particular quagmire for Senators goes beyond the existing tension of usurping 60-some fracking bans throughout the state with the power of Senator Richter and the oil and gas lobby. This legislation is being considered in terms of how this vote will be greeted in the newly configured districts that every member will have to run for, due to court decisions supporting sound implementation of our Fair Districts legal challenges.

Sen. Soto thanks League members for their hard work and dedication to the passage of Fair Districts:

ELECTIONS AND ETHICS

The work of the League in the successful adoption of online voter registration and preparation for the 2016 voting year was discussed by Secretary of State Ken Detzner. He explained their agency is on time and on task for the election cycle, including implementation of the League’s voting district maps approved in the judicial challenges.

Please listen in and hear what Secretary Detzner sees as the challenges and how we can help to make this election cycle successful:

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Get involved with the League of Women Voters of Florida. There are lots of ways to participate and make a difference.

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