2019 Scored Bills
To view scored bills for the 2018 legislative session, click here.
To view scored bills for the 2017 legislative session, click here.
A Ban On Plastic Straw Bans
A typical overreach by the state legislature interfering with home rule, HB 771 prevents local governments from enacting plastic straw bans. Single use plastics, like straws, are a pernicious source of pollution that is devastating sea life. The bill passed on a mostly party line vote in the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Gov. DeSantis.
Anti-Immigrant Family Separation Bill
According to the ACLU of Florida: "this legislation will force all local law enforcement to blindly carry out unlawful and unreliable “detainer” requests issued by federal immigration agents against Florida residents, including U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents, regardless of whether the individual has committed any crime. Legislators chose to undermine the right to due process and equal treatment for Floridians by passing this bill, which will create a statewide environment of fear among immigrant communities and result in more immigrant parents being torn away from their children." The bill passed on a party line vote in the House and Senate.
Anti-Public Schools Private Voucher Scheme
This bill, for the first time, siphons public tax dollars solely assigned to traditional neighborhood public schools to instead fund unaccountable private schools. Previously, private school vouchers had been funded by corporate tax avoidance, with business tax revenue that would have gone to the state of Florida but went instead to a nonprofit which then distributed funds to pay for vouchers to attend private schools, including religious private schools. The bill passed on a mostly party line vote in the House and Senate.
Anti-Voter Initiative Act
Up until now, Floridians have been able to use the citizen initiative process as a check on the power of entrenched special interest groups that control the state legislature. In the last decade alone, Floridians have amended the constitution to stop gerrymandering, fund land and water conservation, legalize medical marijuana, and restore voting rights. In response, powerful special interests strongly pushed for HB 5, which may make it nearly impossible for citizens to get proposed amendments to Florida’s constitution on the ballot. Florida already has one of the most difficult amendment processes in the country. The bill was rushed through in the waning hours and passed on a party line vote in the House and Senate.
Banning Local Tree Protections
This bill was another overreach by the legislature interfering with home rule. HB 1159 severely restricts local governments ability to enact and enforce rules protecting trees, and tree canopies cherished by many Florida communities. The bill passed on a mostly party line vote in the House and Senate.
Blocking Local Tobacco Rules and Restrictions
Big Tobacco is back. HB 1299 takes away local governments’ authority to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products. The bill goes one step further and eliminates existing local rules as well. As the Florida Phoenix reported, “For instance, Tallahassee prohibits tobacco companies from offering samples within two blocks of playgrounds, schools, colleges and fraternity houses. Orlando bans tobacco advertising on transit benches or shelters. Jacksonville prohibits tobacco signs at athletic fields.” By eliminating these rules, Big Tobacco is better able to push its toxic and deadly product. The bill passed on party lines in the House.
Cancer Benefits For Firefighters
The job of a firefighter is often a dangerous one, and an overlooked danger is the amount of carcinogens firefighters are exposed to when doing their jobs. As a result, firefighters are more likely to get cancer. SB 426 is a long overdue proposal to provide firefighters who get cancer with the full cost of their treatment along with a $25,000 payout, disability pay, and death benefits for beneficiaries. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
Criminal Justice Reform
This bill makes a number of changes to Florida’s justice system in an effort to make it more fair and cost-effective. Broader and bolder reform is still needed, but HB 7125 makes several positive changes, including provisions to make it easier for formerly incarcerated Floridians to re-enter society, removing occupational licensing restrictions on returning citizens, and increases the threshold for what constitutes a felony theft (a standard Florida hasn’t updated since 1986.) The bill passed unanimously in the House and near-unanimously in the Senate.
Dignity For Incarcerated Women Act
In 2015, a Miami Herald investigation found that female inmates at Lowell Correctional Institution lacked basic feminine hygiene products. Guards used their positions of authority to coerce inmates into sex in order to obtain basic hygiene products. This scandal prompted lawmakers to create the Dignity For Incarcerated Women Act, which requires prisons to immediately provide female inmates, without charge, “feminine hygiene products, including tampons.” The bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
Diverting Funds To Charter Schools
In response to the Florida Legislature’s chronic underfunding of traditional public schools, many counties have passed voter-approved measures to increase local property taxes to pay for important programs like art, music, and vocational training. HB 7123, a long list of good and bad changes to Florida’s tax code, notably requires local school districts to share revenue from any future school funding referendum with charter schools. The bill passed on a mostly party line vote in the House and Senate.
Forced Parental Consent For Abortion Care
This legislation would have required young people to obtain parental consent prior to receiving an abortion. Most young people already seek the counsel of their parent or guardian when it comes to a decision like this. If they do not, there is usually a good reason. That is why leading health and medical professionals oppose these laws. The bill passed in the House. It then passed the Senate Health Policy Committee but did not advance further in the Senate.
Guns In The Classroom
This bill expands the so-called “school guardian” program, to allow the arming of public school teachers. Adding guns into a school environment puts Florida’s students and public school staff in danger. Floridians deserve real solutions to address the epidemic of gun violence in our state, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. The bill passed on a party line vote in the House and Senate.
Gutting Growth Management
Florida’s growth management laws, once some of the strongest and most innovative in the nation, have been chipped away to almost nothing from decades of lobbying by big developers. HB 7103 is the developers’ latest attack on commonsense growth management rules. Local governments routinely pass zoning and development changes that often conflict with their comprehensive plans (official blueprint for growth.) The state should be reviewing these changes and challenging conflicts, but usually doesn’t. This has typically left enforcement up to everyday citizens who file suit to force local governments to stick to their comprehensive plans. HB 7103 attacks this last line of defense for smart growth, rural lands, sensitive wetlands, and vulnerable wildlife habitats. The bill makes any citizen who challenges a developer and loses liable for the developer’s attorney’s fees. The bill passed on mostly party lines in the House and Senate.
Health Care Inequality
This bill removes an important rule requiring new hospitals receive a “Certificate of Need” (CON) from the state of Florida in order for a new hospital to be built or for an existing hospital to add new services. The CON system has helped ensure new hospitals don’t end up concentrating in specialty services and procedures, which are more financially lucrative, while effectively pushing low income patients elsewhere. While hospital monopolies have abused the CON system, rules could have been put in place to require new hospitals meet certain standards, such as charity care and care for Medicare and Medicaid patients, but these were not included in the final bill. The health care landscape in Florida could become more unfair and inequitable as a result. The bill passed on party lines in the House and Senate.
Legalizing Smokable Medical Marijuana
After Florida voters passed an amendment to the state constitution in 2014 legalizing medical marijuana, the Republican majority in the legislature immediately moved to undermine the amendment by banning smokable medical marijuana. SB 182 finally repeals this unnecessary ban. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate.
Preventing The Spread Of HIV and Disease
There has been a longstanding consensus, backed by the Centers For Disease Control, that providing clean needles to addicts can prevent the spread of diseases like HIV. In 2016, the legislature authorized a pilot needle exchange program in Miami-Dade County. SB 366 now authorizes these locally-led needle exchange programs statewide, and counties can now voluntarily create them. The bill passed with near-unanimous support in the House and unanimous support in the Senate.
Restricting Access To Health Care
This bill requires Medicaid recipients, who must be low income in order to qualify, to work a minimum number of hours every week in order to qualify for the program. As the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute points out: "Parents subject to the new reporting rules will find themselves in a catch-22 situation. Working 20 hours per week at Florida’s minimum wage of $8.46 per hour would earn a parent about $677 per month, well above the 33% of federal poverty level limit for Medicaid eligibility in Florida for parents and caretakers. They would make too much money for Florida’s extremely low income eligibility level if they comply, but would be ineligible if they didn’t report sufficient hours." The bill passed on a party line vote in the House and Senate.
Subverting Locally Elected School Boards
Proposed new charter schools have had to receive approval by the elected school board in a community in which they wished to establish a new school. This process is in line with the Florida Constitution, which states that school boards, “shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district.” However, this bill creates a new process that allows charter school operators to go around elected school boards and be approved by a local college or university. This is yet another attack on local public schools. The bill passed on a mostly party line vote in the House.
The Billionaire Boulevard Toll Road Bill
This bill begins the process of constructing three new major toll roads through the heart of rural Florida. Our state simply does not need more asphalt industry-backed rural toll roads and the numerous problems they bring: more traffic, more pollution, and more threats to our springs, lakes and rivers. These potential toll roads are also a recipe for out of control urban sprawl that would further strain Florida’s water resources, contribute to climate change, and wreak havoc on wildlife and wilderness. The bill passed with near unanimous support in the Senate and on a mostly party line vote in the House.
Undermining Amendment 4 & Voting Rights
After nearly 65 percent of Florida voters passed Amendment 4 to restore the right to vote to 1.4 million individuals with prior felony convictions – legislative leadership pushed this anti-voting rights bill through, denying voting rights to hundreds of thousands of Floridians. By making restoration of voting rights contingent upon full payment of all civil financial obligations after completion of one’s criminal sentence including probation and parole, the legislature enacted what is in essence a poll tax and conditioned an individual’s right to vote on their ability to pay. The bill passed on a party line vote in the House and Senate.
Unemployment Compensation For Domestic Violence Victims
Victims of domestic violence often need to leave their home and job to get away from their abusers. The last thing these individuals should have to worry about is their finances. This bill extends unemployment compensation to domestic violence victims in these scenarios. The bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate.