The Florida Legislature convened its 2020 session on January 14th.
As the Florida legislative session nears its end, it appears the Republican-controlled legislature is trying to pass as few new laws as possible. Committees are wrapping up and some bills will still make it through to a full vote by both chambers but others will go nowhere. However, there are still things to watch and be aware of:
•Lawmakers will vote on a bill that forces school teachers and counselors to out students, even when doing so puts students in harm’s way. Rush a message to the committee members right away telling them to vote “NO” on SB 1634. Please, take a few minutes to also call the committee members and express your outrage on this attack on LGBTQ kids:
Sen. Manny Diaz (R) (Chair) (850) 487-5036
Sen. Bill Montford (D) (Vice Chair) (850) 487-5003
Sen. Dennis Baxley (R) (850) 487-5012
Sen. Lori Berman (D) (850) 487-5031
Sen. Janet Cruz (D) (850) 487-5018
Sen. Keith Perry (R) (850) 487-5008
Sen. David Simmons (R) (850) 487-5009
Sen. Kelli Stargel (R) (850) 487-5022 (bill sponsor)
•HB 1 is an anti-union bill that has a lot of Republican support—let’s tell our legislators we are against this bill—Go deeper here
•Water-quality bills that critics say are deeply flawed seem to be moving toward approval—let’s tell your legislators we need real protections for our water—Go deeper here
•Big budget issues remain unresolved between the state House and Senate—and the affordable housing fund seems to always be raided—let’s tell our legislators we demand more dollars to protect our unique ecosystem—Go deeper here and here
• An anti-abortion bill (HB 265/SB 404) has been approved by the Florida Senate and is ready for a vote by the House. This bill would require parental consent for teens to obtain an abortion. It is a clear attack on women’s reproductive rights and is opposed by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU among others. We need to let our legislators know we oppose this bill. See the ACLU’s letter here
•Alyssa’s law, which is named after a victim of the school shooting in Parkland, would mandate a panic alarm in school buildings to alert authorities about a mass shooting or lockdown. This bill (SB 70/HB 23) appears to have bi-partisan support. Let’s tell our legislators we support this bill—it’s a lot more sensible than arming teachers!
•An anti-science bill (HB 113/SB 172) is also being fast-tracked. The Florida Senate already approved this bill to stop local governments, like Key West, from banning the use of sunscreens in the water that are killing our coral reefs. The Republicans call the findings that sunscreen chemicals cause coral bleaching “junk science.” This is just another attack on environmental issues that are so important to our state, as well as an attack on local home rule power. We need to let our legislators know we oppose this bill. Go deeper on this bill here
•A gun safety measure to close gun show loopholes is picking up bi-partisan traction despite vociferous opposition from the NRA’s Marion Hammer. Although critics say the measure contains only weak restrictions, some gun law changes are better than none in the Republican-controlled legislature. The Florida Senate appears to supports the bill, but it looks like it is going to run into opposition in the House. Let’s let our legislators know that we support this bill and demand even stronger gun safety measures. Go deeper here
Here are some other things to watch:
•In Florida, failing to pay back student loans can result in a professional license being suspended, denied or revoked. That includes nursing licenses, and licenses for doctors, teachers, lawyers, therapists and so many other critical professions. HB 115, called the Keep Our Graduates Working Act, would change that. This bill would prevent the state from revoking professional licenses for student loan default. Go deeper here
•HB 1 is a priority of the Republicans in the legislature. It is an anti-union measure that would require public unions including teacher, police and fire unions, to collect signed authorization forms from employees indicating their desire to join the union and pay the required dues. Go deeper here
•Bi-partisan support appears to exist for sentencing reform—go deeper here
•Florida lawmakers are looking for new paths to create charter schools—go deeper here
•Teacher pay is another hot button issue—go deeper here
•Bills to address sea-level rise have been introduced—go deeper here
Let’s make our voices heard about these issues. Contact your representative and let them know where you stand. In all your communications tell your legislators you are part of the Indivisible movement! They need to know we are a voting bloc and will determine their fates in future elections!
CALL TO ACTION: Let’s make our voices heard about these issues. Contact your representative and let them know where you stand. In all your communications tell your legislators you are part of the Indivisible movement! They need to know we are a voting bloc and will determine their fates in future elections!
Find your state Senator and Representative here.