Wednesday, March 7, 2018

State News in Review - February 2018 + a week

Since my last post on state news, the Legislature has been in session and 17 people were killed in a shooting at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. That terrible incident and how to respond to it captured the nation’s attention for weeks, and moved the Legislature finally — after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas and so many others — to take action against gun violence.

On Monday, after weeks of deliberations, the Senate passed a gun-safety bill (SB 7026; press release) and the House, after similar deliberations, is now considering it for what could be the final vote. Ultimately, whatever the two chambers agree on will head to Governor Scott for final action.

In other news, the Legislature failed to finalize a budget in time to end session this Friday as scheduled; a judge found Florida’s rights restoration process unconstitutional; and 37 proposed constitutional amendments remain under consideration by the Constitution Revision Commission.

Read more on those and other stories of interest from the past five weeks:

Legislative reaction to the Parkland shootings

While not as much as many hoped for, and more than others wanted, it looks like something will happen.
Meanwhile:

  • Governor Scott touts $500 million school safety plan. He proposed $450 million to provide sheriff’s departments the authority to train additional school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers to protect students if requested by the local school board. An additional $50 million would expand mental health service teams and require every sheriff’s office to have a Florida Department of Children and Families officer embedded in their department. NWFdailynews.com

Money, money, money

On March 7, House Speaker Corcoran said there will not be a budget agreement on time, requiring members to stay later or come back for a special session. What’s the hold-up? Corcoran wouldn’t say, but “hundreds of millions of dollars in hospital funding is widely considered to be the problem.

Here’s some of how they got here:
Bills headed to the governor

Bills have been moving fast and furiously in the last days of session. When session ends, I’ll report on ones of particular interest or concern that pass both chambers. But here’s one that’s too good not to report now:
As a result, Florida can join the 22 other states plus DC that are already members of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), whose mission is to help states improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls.

In the courts
The Constitution Revision Commission

Thirty-seven proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution remain under consideration by the Constitution Revision Commission, from among the 103 that made it out of the committee process in the fall.

The last of six public hearings will be on March 13 in St. Petersburg; the CRC then has until May 10 to decide which amendments to put on voters’ ballots in November.

Other state news
It’s been a whirlwind month, and with the Legislature still in session, it’s been hard to decide what to include in this post. So that’s it for now. In my next post, there will be much more definitive news to report. Stay tuned!

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