2017 Scored Bills
This bill implements Amendment 4, which was approved by voters in 2016, incentivizing greater solar energy use by Florida families and businesses through a tax reduction on solar energy equipment. It was unanimously approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Scott.
Concealed Weapons In Courthouses
This needless bill would have allowed concealed-weapons permit holders to take their guns into courthouses and temporarily surrender them at a security checkpoint. “Who are these people that are so afraid to walk from their car to the courthouse?...I don’t know anyone that paranoid,” testified Roy Blondeau, Tallahassee attorney and former federal prosecutor in New Orleans. The bill narrowly passed in the Senate but died in the House.
This bill represented a serious attack on local democracies, local control, and the U.S. Constitution by stripping power away from local governments to protect their residents, threatening to withhold state funding and imposing a state-wide ban on misleadingly termed “Sanctuary Cities”. This anti-constitutional rights bill passed the House along party lines but died in the Senate.
Death Penalty Sentencing
This bill requires a unanimous jury decision in the sentencing portion of a capital trial in order for the death penalty to be applied. Passage of this reform, though still leaving a criminal justice system in need of major reform, does remove Florida from the list of states (now only Alabama) which allow people to be sentenced death with a split jury decision. It was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott.
HR 1335 passed the House unanimously, approving a resolution (SR 1440) issuing an official state apology for the horrendous mistreatment and decades of abuse of juveniles at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.
This travesty of a bill wastes precious taxpayer resources and harms neighborhood public schools by funding a parallel system of for profit private voucher and charter schools that is less accountable to citizens and has produced mixed results at best. It passed the House and narrowly squeaked through the Senate before Gov. Scott signed it into law despite vehement opposition from parents, teachers, school boards, and education leaders.
SB 10 authorizes the building of a water reservoir as an important step toward protecting the Everglades and reducing the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee that have poisoned south Florida waterways in recent years. It overwhelmingly passed the Legislature with the strong support of environmentalists, and was signed into law.
Homestead Exemption Amendment
This bill places a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that, if approved by voters, would increase the homestead exemption on primary residences from $50k to $75k undermining and starving budgets for local infrastructure needs, first responders, parks and recreation programs and more while providing small savings for individual homeowners. It passed with strong majorities in both houses.
Judicial Term Limits
This resolution would have put a constitutional amendment before voters to impose 12-year term limits for state Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges. This was an act of retribution on the part of leaders in the Florida House who resent the court for doing its job and acting as a check on their abuse of power. Judicial term limits are opposed by the Florida Bar and many legal scholars. The resolution passed the House along a near party-line vote but was withdrawn in the Senate.
Living Wage Rules
This anti-worker bill strips away local control by prohibiting local governments from requiring wage and benefit standards for contractors. It passed with a mostly party-line vote and was signed by Gov. Scott.
This resolution proposed a constitutional amendment that would have increased the length of time that legislators are banned from becoming lobbyists from two years to six. It overwhelmingly passed the House but died in the Senate.
Local Meetings Secrecy
This bill would have made a mockery of Florida’s 50-year-old open government laws by allowing board and commission members to discuss public matters behind closed doors without notifying the public or providing written minutes. It received a majority of votes in the House but fell short of the two-thirds vote required to carve out Sunshine Law exemptions
Open Carry Penalties
HB 779 would have pushed Florida closer to becoming an “open carry” state by reducing the penalty for displaying a concealed gun to a noncriminal offense. It passed in the House but died in the Senate.
Shoot First Expansion
This bill flips the burden of proof requirement for Florida’s notorious Stand Your Ground law by shifting the burden of proof during the pretrial phase from the shooter to prosecutors. This change forces state attorneys to prove the shooter is not entitled to a Stand Your Ground defense “beyond a reasonable doubt”. It passed the Legislature along mostly party lines and was signed by Gov. Scott.
HB 27 would have authorized the creation of a Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol in Tallahassee. The purpose of the memorial would have been to recognize the part slaves played in settling Florida and the inhumanity of their treatment while doing so. It passed the House unanimously and died in the Senate due to opposition from senate committee chairman Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake), a consistent defender of the confederate flag.
This bill increases penalties for substance abuse service providers that engage in fraudulent marketing of their services or operate without a license, an increasing problem due in part to Florida’s opioid abuse crisis. It passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed by Gov. Scott.
The state budget that was negotiated behind closed doors is one of the worst in recent memory. It shortchanges our neighborhood public schools, devastates health care by cutting $550 million from Medicaid, and provides no funding at all for the Florida Forever land conservation program, defying the will of 74% of Florida voters who approved Amendment 1 in 2014. The budget passed with strong majorities in both houses and was signed by Gov. Scott.
This politically motivated bill supported by the Koch brothers targeted teachers and public employee unions. The bill would have decertified any union, except first responder and corrections unions, that represented less than half of a workforce. This “union busting” bill passed the House along mostly party lines and died in the Senate.
Whiskey and Wheaties
HB 81 would have allowed grocery stores and big box retailers to sell liquor in their stores alongside other products rather than in a separate side store required by current law. Passage of the bill would have potentially led to the closure of hundreds of locally owned businesses and the loss of thousands of jobs. It narrowly passed the Senate and squeaked through the House by a single vote, but was vetoed by Gov. Scott.
After a Florida Supreme Court decision overturned the state's worker's compensation system, the Florida Legislature needed to work on a constitutional replacement. The House version was a bad bill for workers, requiring more out-of-pocket costs for Floridians hurt on the job. The Senate version was the better version, not having the flaws of the House's version while trying to develop a better rate system. In the end, neither side agreed on a compromise, and this issue will be up for debate again in the 2018 session.