We are in our final days of the 2019 Legislative Session. I’m still tracking bills based on our five priorities. This report has a different format from previous weeks because both Chambers are still voting today. The bills are categorized into three groups: Governor’s desk, pending votes, and those that didn’t make it this Session. I will report one last time next week with a comprehensive status update on all bills tracked this Session.
It was my privilege to represent the League and its members this session. As always I’m happy to hear from you with feedback or to answer any questions.
Nicolette Springer, M.S.
LWV of Florida
Governor’s Desk: These bills have passed both chambers and are either on the Governor’s desk or will arrive there shortly.
SB 1306 Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration Committee (Sen. Lauren Book, District 32, Co-Sponsored by Sen. Jason Pizzo, District 38 and Sen. Kevin Rader, District 29)
Would create a Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration Committee for the purpose of ensuring a suitable statewide observance of the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020. The League of Women Voters of Florida will be included on the Committee.
SB 7030 Implementation of Legislative Recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission (General Bill by Senate Education Committee)
This bill is commonly known as the “Guardian” bill and intends to arm teachers. Last session a version of this bill passed but stated that teachers who “exclusively perform classroom duties” would be ineligible to participate. The current version eliminates that clause, thus allowing teachers to carry a gun into the classroom.
SB 7070 School Choice (General Bill by Senate Education Committee)
This bill pertains to various existing voucher programs, including creating a new one entitled the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program. Passage of this bill will greatly expand “scholarships” and increase eligibility. The League affirms that funneling general revenue dollars to private and religious schools reduces general revenue for public schools and is clearly unconstitutional based on the 2006 Supreme Court Case Bush v. Holmes.
SB 1400/1159 Private Property Rights (Sen. Ben Albritton, District 26/Rep. Mike La Rosa, District 42)
Prohibits local governments from requiring permits, fees, or other notices for certain tree activity on residential property under specified conditions; deletes provision that authorizes electric utilities to perform certain right-of-way tree maintenance only after certain local government approval; creates Property Owner Bill of Rights; requires county property appraisers to provide specified information on their websites.
The League opposes these bills because of the preemption of home rule. Each county and municipality can enact ordinances regarding property rights; it should not be directed by the state.
SB 366 (Sen. Oscar Braynon, District 35/Rep. Shevrin Jones, District 101) Infectious Disease Elimination Programs
Authorizes certain eligible entities to establish sterile needle and syringe exchange programs. This bill has very strong bipartisan support and the League is in full support as well. Creating syringe exchange programs has been a priority of the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
HB 281 Public Records/Voters and Voter Registration (Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, District 17)
Protects the privacy of minors who choose to pre-register to vote. It also protects the privacy of returning citizens to assure that voting records do not reflect their prior voting status.
SB 7068 – Transportation (Infrastructure and Security Committee)
Creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program within the Department of Transportation; specifying that projects undertaken in the corridors are tolled facilities and certain approved turnpike projects, and are considered as Strategic Intermodal System facilities. The League opposes this bill. Take action against this bill and ask Gov. DeSantis to veto it by clicking here.
SB 7066 – Election Administration (Ethics and Elections)
Requires the Secretary of State to provide signature matching training to certain persons; revising the voter threshold necessary to require the reporting of certain precinct-level results by ballot; authorizing certain individuals to serve as witnesses during the ballot duplication process; revising requirements for vote-by-mail ballot instructions.
Until yesterday, the League supported this bill. However on Thursday night on the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Brandes proposed an amendment adding language that requires returning citizens affected by Amendment 4 to pay all court fees, fines, and restitution before voting. The amendment does allow a judge to waive costs or convert them into community service hours, but does not allow a returning citizen to vote if a judge has converted any outstanding financial obligations into a civil judgment. The House approved the bill Friday afternoon.
The League does not believe this language is in line with the 5 million voters who voted for Amendment 4. We are now in opposition to this bill. You can read our statement on passage of this bill here.
Still Possibly Pending a Vote: As of writing this report, the bills mentioned below are still pending a vote in one or both chambers. Most will be voted on today, May 3rd. Those not voted on today will be dead for this session.
HB 403 Safety of Religious Institutions (Sen. Debbie Mayfield, District 17/Rep. Erin Grall, District 54)
Authorizes religious institutions to allow concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to carry a firearm on property of an institution and gives private schools authority to designate someone to carry a weapon on the school property in accordance with the schools adopted policies and procedures. The League is opposed to this bill for several reasons. The first being our opposition to guns being on any school campus. Second, the bill would infringe on home rule. Finally, the bill does not address the very common practice of religious institutions who rent space from public institutions such as school buildings.
SB 1470/HB 7095 School Choice (Sen. Manny Diaz, District 36/Rep. Vance Aloupis, District 115)
The bills would allow community service organizations and Houses of Worship to house charter schools without rezoning. Additionally, in relation to Schools of Hope, the bill would change the definition of “persistently low-performing” to a school three grades lower than a C in at least 3 of the last 5 years. It would expand the areas in which School of Hope funds can be used and allow them to be built in Florida Opportunity Zones.
Passage of these bills would shift control over charter schools away from the locally-elected school board. It would also expand the definition of School of Hope and low-performing districts. The change in language of land and zoning would allow charter schools and Schools of Hope to be housed within religious institutions.
HB 1197 Charter School (Rep. Jason Fischer, District 16)
Authorizes state universities and Florida College System institutions to sponsor charter schools; revises reporting and accountability requirements; provides for funding; authorizes career and professional academy to be offered by charter schools. The League opposes this bill.
SB 1278/HB 405 Biosolids Management (Sen. Debbie Mayfield, District 17/Rep. Erin Grall, District 54)
Defines the term “biosolids”; requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules for biosolids management. The League supports this bill.
HB 1335 – Abortion (Rep. Erin Grall, District 54)
Would require young people to obtain parental consent prior to receiving an abortion. Most young people already seek the counsel of their parent or guardian when making this health care decision, but when they don’t there is usually a good reason. That’s why leading health and medical professionals oppose this bill. Not all young people are fortunate enough to have a healthy relationship with their parents. This legislation puts those already vulnerable young people in harm’s way or forces them to go to court. The League opposes this bill.
HB 587 Medicaid School-based Services (Sen. Bill Montford, District 3/Rep. Alex Andrade, District 2)
Revises provisions relating to reimbursement of school-based services by AHCA to certain school districts and private and charter schools; specifies that U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is authorized to waive certain school-based provider qualifications. This bill aligns state law with federal requirements concerning Medicaid sharing the cost of providing school health services to students who are Medicaid recipients. The League supports this bills.
Farewell, for now: These bills did not survive this session however we expect to see several of them again next session.
SB 232/HB 57 Percentage of Elector Votes Required to Approve Constitutional Amendment or Revision (Sen. Dennis Baxley, District 12/Rep. Rick Roth, District 85)
Proposes an amendment to State Constitution to increase percentage of votes required to approve an amendment or revision to the State Constitution from 60 percent to 66 and 2/3 percent. The League opposed both versions.
SB 1224/HB 1163 Charter School Employees (Sen. Gary Farmer, District 34/Rep. Shevrin Jones, District 101)
Requires each charter school principal, governing board member, chief financial officer, or their equivalent, to meet certain certification requirements. The League supported this bill.