Florida

Commentary & Community

Same-sex weddings; civil asset forfeiture; stand your ground

 

Check out these key votes made by elected officials in Florida during the most recent legislative session, and go to www.votespotter.com to signup and see how your elected officials voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life. 

 

House Bill 43. To let religious institutions not provide services for same-sex weddings. Passed 82 to 37 in the House on March 2, 2016, and 23 to 15 in the Senate on March 3, 2016.

Establishes that clergy, churches and other religious institutions may choose to not participate or assisting a wedding ceremony if doing so would violate sincerely held religious beliefs. It also establishes that a tax-exempt organization that chooses to not participate or assist such a weeding will not lose its tax-exempt status for that decision.

 

Senate Bill 1044.  Asset forfeiture Passed 116 to 0 in the House on March 8, 2016, and 38 to 0 in the Senate on March 4, 2016.

To require that a person’s property may be seized by law enforcement only if that person has been arrested. It also requires that the government prove to a court that property was connected with a crime.  It it does not, the government must make a payment to the property owner.

 

House Bill 344. Stand your ground. Passed 24 to 12 in the Senate on January 28, 2016; died in the House Judiciary Committee.

To change the burden of proof in cases involving claims of self-defense. In pre-trial hearings, the burden would shift from the person who makes a claim of self-defense to the prosecution.

 

House Bill 7029. To give parents the right to enroll their children in any public district or charter school that has room. Passed 81 to 37 in the House on March 10, 2016, and 29 to 10 in the Senate on March 11, 2016.

To require school districts to enroll students who live outside their boundaries, provided there is room, and to publish information that is needed by parents who wish to enroll their students there. Parents would be responsible for transporting their children to the new district.

 

No money for Planned Parenthood; Juries must reach unanimous verdicts to impose death penalty; Give property tax exemption to some disabled first responders

  

 

Check out these key votes made by elected officials in Florida during the most recent legislative session, and go to www.votespotter.com to signup and see how your elected officials voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

House Bill 1411. To prohibit the state and local governments from giving money to Planned Parenthood. Passed 74 to 44 in the House on March 3, 2016 and 25 to 15 in the Senate on March 9, 2016.

To prohibit government in Florida from entering into contracts with Planned Parenthood. It also imposes bans the sale or donation of body parts of fetuses and several other restrictions on how abortion clinics operate. Several months after Gov. Scott signed the measure into law, a federal court said the law was unconstitutional. The governor has said he will not appeal the ruling.

 

House Bill 7101. To require a unanimous verdict in death penalty cases. Passed 93 to 20 in the House on February 18, 2016 and 35 to 5 in the Senate on March 3, 2016.

To change Florida state law to comply with a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. If a jury recommends the death penalty, it must now do so by a unanimous vote rather than a majority vote. If the vote is not unanimous, the jury may recommend life imprisonment without parole.

 

House Bill 287. To give school principals more independence in hiring teachers. Passed 97 to 17 in the House on February 28, 2017, and 36 to 4 in the Senate on March 11, 2016.

To give school principals more independence over staffing and financial decisions, including the power to veto the incoming transfer of a teacher. The law creates a pilot program that is limited to three years and districts in seven counties, including Broward, Duvall, and Pinellas. Participating principals must first complete a training program.

 

House Bill 7015. To give school principals more independence in hiring teachers. Passed 97 to 17 in the House on February 28, 2017, and 36 to 4 in the Senate on March 11, 2016.

To give school principals more independence over staffing and financial decisions, including the power to veto the incoming transfer of a teacher. The law creates a pilot program that is limited to three years and districts in seven counties, including Broward, Duvall, and Pinellas. Participating principals must first complete a training program.

 

House Joint Resolution 1009. To exempt disabled first responders from property taxes. Passed 114 to 0 in the House on February 11, 2016 and 39 to 0 in the Senate on March 9, 2016.

To change the Florida Constitution to exempt permanently and totally disabled first responders from property taxes. Voters must approve this constitutional amendment for it to take effect.

 

Senate Bill 218. To punish fraudulent uses of food stamp benefits. Passed 86 to 31 in the House on March 10, 2016, and 39 to 0 in the Senate on March 10, 2016.

To define “traffic” in existing law covering food stamps (officially, “electronic benefit transfers”) to prohibit their use to purchase guns, ammunition, or controlled substances (drugs). Also prohibits reselling for cash items purchased with food stamps and directs courts that use “community service” as a sentence to send violators to local food banks to work.

 

Remove a statue of a Confederate general; welfare-work requirements penalties; local voters tax themselves

 

 

Check out these key votes made by elected officials in Florida during the most recent legislative session, and go to www.votespotter.com to signup and see how your elected officials voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

 

Senate Bill 310. Remove a statue of a Florida Confederate general from the U.S. Capitol. Passed 83 to 32 in the House on February 24, 2016 and 33 to 7 in the Senate on February 11, 2016.

 

To remove the statute of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, a Confederate general, from the U.S. Capitol. This is one of two statutes there representing Florida.

 

House Bill 563. Increase penalties for not complying with cash welfare work requirements. Passed 82 to 33 in the House and 33 to 0 in the Senate on March 7, 2016. (The House and Senate could not agree on a single version of the bill, so it was not enacted.)

 

To increase the sanctions for not complying with the work requirements of a welfare program that pays cash benefits. The sanction for a first offense would increase from losing benefits for 10 days to losing them for one month. The bill would also increase the sanction for losing a benefits debit card more four times during a year.

 

House Bill 1297. Impose higher sales tax to cover government pension underfunding. Passed 86 to 23 in the House on February 24, 2016 and 35 to 1 in the Senate on March 9, 2016.

 

To let counties impose a 0.5 sales tax surcharge to cover the unfunded liabilities of government employee pension plans that are no longer open to new employees. A vote of the people in the county would be required.

 

House Bill 669. Require public schools to accept out-of-district students if space is available. Passed 79 to 34 in the House on February 18, 2016 but died in the Senate education committee.

 

To require public school districts to accept out-of-district students if space is available. The bill would also require districts to publish on their websites procedures for enrolling and list schools that still have space. The district could give preferences to siblings of students already enrolled as well as to children of military personnel.

 

House Bill 191. Permit and regulate fracking. Passed 73 to 45 in the House on January 27 but died in the Senate environmental policy committee.

 

To allow hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil and natural gas, and regulate it at the state rather than local level.

 

Local Syrofoam bans banned; Joint custody required in divorces; Property tax breaks for long-term senior citizens

 

Check out these key votes made by elected officials in Florida earlier this year, and go to www.votespotter.com to sign up and see how your elected officials voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

 

Senate Bill 514. Increase the average pay of election supervisors by $18,540: Passed 58 to 54 in the House on March 8, 2016 and 36 to 4 in the Senate on March 3, 2016

To change a number (known as the "group number") used in a formula to calculate how much election supervisors are paid in each county. According to a report from the Florida Senate, the change would increase the average cost to counties by $18,540 per year and increase the average salary of a supervisor by 18.7 percent.

House Bill 7007. Prohibit local governments from banning Styrofoam food packages: Passed 110 to 4 in the House on March 9, 2016 and 38 to 0 in the Senate on March 9, 2016.

To prevent local governments from enacting ordinances that regulate the use of polystyrene containers (which often go by the brand name Styrofoam), reserving that power to the state government. It also reserves to the state ("preempts") the power to regulate commercial (e.g., cattle) feed.

Senate Bill 668. Establish a presumption that children in divorce cases will spend half their time with each parent: Passed 74 to 38 in the House on March 8, 2016 and 24 to 14 in the Senate on March 4, 2016.

To establish a presumption that children in divorce cases will spend half their time with each parent; also ends lifetime payments for alimony.

House Joint Resolution 275. Let some senior citizens keep their property tax exemptions when the value of their home goes higher than $250,000: Passed 113 to 0 in the House on February 11, 2016, and 39 to 0 in the Senate on March 9, 2016.

To benefit low-income, long-term state residents who are at least 65 years old and have a property tax exemption because their primary home is worth less than $250,000. If voters approve this constitutional amendment such residents could maintain their exemptions even if the value of their property is above $250,000 cap.

House Bill 1365. Let students test out of subjects. Passed 31 to 6 in the Senate on March 10, 2016.

To let students earn high school credits by passing state or other specified tests rather than have to spend a certain amount of time in the classroom. The law establishes a pilot program for two counties.

Political Gamesmanship, Partisan Differences, Stall Enhanced Funding to Counter Zika Threat

The government response to the Zika virus is one of those situations that reminds so many people of why they hate politics. Florida has been hit by the mosquito-borne virus, which can produce significant birth defects in humans.

The Centers for Disease Control counts more than 400 cases in the state, and according to USA Today, the disease has recently been found in a new section of Miami. Most cases in the state have been introduced by people returning from Brazil and other infected areas. But some cases have been locally transmitted, meaning that people become infected without leaving the state.

Political commentators across the ideological spectrum blame their partisan opponents for stalling a government health response. The conservative publication National Review, for example, criticized Democratic members of the U.S. Senate. It contends that the Democrats made federal funding for Zika dependent on a block grant for Planned Parenthood. The progressive publication Mother Jones, meanwhile, says that Florida state governments “war on abortion is hurting its fight against the virus.”

Republicans in Congress blame Democrats for asking for too much money and not using money that can be redirected from unspent funds. Democrats blame Republicans for not spending enough. The result is an impasse.

Politico reports that Florida’s Republican representatives in Washington are pressuring their party leaders to deliver funds to Florida, one way or another.

Meanwhile, fearful Floridians may be right to ask, “We don’t care who started the fight; why can’t you people get your act together and do something to help us?”

 

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Votespotter Inc. All rights reserved.