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Capitol Report: Oct. 30, 2019

The legislature convened in Tallahassee for two weeks during the month of October, where numerous committees were briefed on “Legislative Budget Requests” from agency and department heads. 
This week in Tallahassee, the Associated Press hosted their annual “Legislative Preview Session” at the Capitol, providing reporters and editors a chance to listen to — and question — some of Florida’s top elected officials ahead of the 2020 session that starts in January.
On the heels of Governor DeSantis’s recently announced proposal to increase the minimum salary for teachers across the state, the Governor touted the importance of the increase.
Approximately 846 bills have been filed to date. By the time Session kicks off, over 3k bills will have been filed. Less than ten percent pass.
The CAG team is honored to represent the League of Women Voters of Florida. We are closely monitoring priority legislation and engaging legislators with coordinated volunteers.

Interim Committee Meeting Schedule
In preparation for the 2020 Legislative Session, please be advised of the schedule for remaining fall interim committee meetings:
Monday, November 4 – Friday, November 8, 2019
Tuesday, November 12 – Friday, November 15, 2019
Monday, December 9 – Friday, December 13, 2019
The 2020 Legislative Session will convene on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.

LWVF Attends Anti-Abortion Presser 
The CAG team attended last week’s Anti-Abortion Agenda press conference lead by House Representatives Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando and Amy Mercado, D-Orlando surrounding the legislature’s fundamental assault on abortion rights in Florida. The pro-choice advocates congregated on the 4thfloor rotunda intimating HB 265 is a vehicle for Republicans to test what could favor the newly established judicial environment: a new conservative majority on the Florida Supreme Court installed by Governor DeSantis.

Abortion Parental Consent Bill Fast Tracked in House
After much heated debate, HB 265 by Representative Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, passed favorably out of it’s solely referenced committee largely along party lines. The bill, now ready for floor debate in the House, will undoubtedly face more roadblocks clearing the Senate. The bill seeks to add a requirement that minors must obtain a parent or guardian’s consent to have an abortion, except in some exceptions such as medical emergencies or situations where the minor is already a parent. Florida law currently requires that minors notify their parents or guardians before an abortion — or obtain a judicial waiver to bypass that requirement.

Teri Cleeland, President of the League of Women Voters of Tallahassee, delivered compelling testimony against the bill. The CAG intends to lobby hard against the bill in the Senate.

State Mum on Election System Patches
A cybersecurity review has been completed of state and county elections systems following disclosures of Russian hacking during the 2016 elections.Details of what was found remain undisclosed, along with information about system patches and what further precautions are being taken to protect against future attacks.
In May, Governor DeSantis ordered the review focused on cybersecurity after he was advised by the FBI that election records in two counties were hacked by Russians in 2016. DeSantis said he was told that the hackers accessed voter-information files, not the systems involved in vote tallying.DeSantis said he had signed a non-disclosure agreement that barred him from identifying the two counties, but the Washington Post and Politico subsequently reported that rural Washington County in the Panhandle was one of the targets.
DeSantis has called the review a “top priority,” noting the state has funneled millions of dollars in recent years into improving elections security, including distributing $14.5 million in federal grants to supervisors of elections in 2018.

Judge Hands Down Ruling in Amendment 4 Case
In early October, two key Republican lawmakers said the intend to address some of the highlighted problems with Amendment 4 that were recently criticized by a federal judge.
Both Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, and his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, intend on passing a bill to clean up the restoration process during January’s session.U.S. District Judge Hinkle reserved particular ire over the changes lawmakers made to the state’s voter registration form, wondering whether lawmakers intentionally changed it to discourage felons from registering, and – in essence – stated the Supreme Court will have the “last word” on whether Amendment 4 includes payment of fines, fees and restitution.

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