Bills that failed to pass this legislative session include:
EDUCATION Several education bills died during session and did not make it into the conforming bill. These included: promoting computer coding courses in high school; ending mandatory third-grade retention based on state reading test results; changing class size penalties in order to allow all schools to meet the requirements as a school average; and requiring students to remain on school grounds during school hours. The “Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Education Act,” a priority of Senator Hukill (R-Port Orange), the chair of the Education Committee, would have required future high-schoolers to earn a half-credit in financial literacy before graduation. Hukill was excused from the legislative session this year as she recovers from a cancer diagnosis.
JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS A joint resolution that would amend the State Constitution would have set term limits of twelve years for Supreme Court and appellate judges. These judges currently face retention votes every six years and have no term limits. It was the first bill filed for the 2017 session.
ETHICS House Speaker Corcoran’s legislative priorities for 2017 included lobbying and ethics reform. Both subjects failed to gain support in the Senate. Bills that did not pass included a proposed constitutional amendment to extend the lobbying ban for legislators and statewide elected officers from two years to six years (the longest such ban in the country); strengthening the financial disclosure requirements of local government officials and requiring local government lobbying registration; and a law that would prevent public officials from seeking employment from entities they regulate.
RED LIGHT CAMERAS The annual attempt to prohibit the use of red light cameras as detection devices was quickly defeated by a vote in a Senate committee. The House passed their bill version, but it was never taken up again by the Senate.
FIREARMS Almost a dozen bills were filed to create additional exceptions to existing concealed weapon prohibitions. Among the exemptions would have been airport terminals before security checkpoints, private schools, campuses, and legislative meetings. One measure to allow firearms in courthouses where they would be stored in a locked facility upon arrival was approved by the Senate, but died in the House. None of the bills passed this session. The bill addressing open carry of firearms also died in committee.
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING A push to make texting while driving a primary, rather than the current secondary, offense failed. Texting as a secondary offense has been illegal since 2013. Since then opponents have been trying to make it a primary offense. Studies have shown that crash related hospitalizations decreased by seven percent in states where bans were passed.
FRACKING COSTS These bills would have allowed utility companies who produce a minimum of 65 percent of their electricity through the use of natural gas to bill their customers a total of up to $500 million annually for fracking investments in other states as a hedge. The Senate bill made it to the floor but was never voted upon, while the House vote was never taken.
REDISTRICTING A bill which would have required any court challenges to redistricting maps to be filed within 60 days and would subject judges to cross-examination died on the last day of session. Competing bills passed unanimously in their respective chambers, but no agreement could be reached.
VACATION RENTALS A measure to prohibit municipalities and counties from enacting new regulations concerning the use of private homes as vacation rentals (through such companies as Airbnb) was withdrawn from Senate consideration after having passed in the House. The issue was contested as local governments were nearly unanimous in their opposition. Many saw this as a legislative overreach which further limits local authority. Several amendments were attached to Senator Greg Steube’s (R-Sarasota) bill, which would have eroded the original intent. The Senator emphasized that he planned to introduce the bill again next year and that he was prepared to work several years to ensure its passage.
SANCTUARY CITIES The House passed a bill which would have outlawed the sanctuary city designation of Florida municipalities. Harsh penalties would have been imposed for violations. The Senate did not take up the measure where it died in the Judiciary Committee.
GAMING The indecision regarding slot machine operation at pari-mutuel facilities in eight counties where voters had approved them via referendum was the key reason this legislation failed. Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) and Representative Jose Felix Diaz (R-Miami) were the main negotiators of this deal. The Senate wanted Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington counties to have the option to operate slots while the House did not. There were several other opposing issues in the proposed bills. Meanwhile, talks with the Seminole Tribe of Florida concerning the Compact have stalled.
HEALTH CARE No major health legislation passed this session. Several bills failed including the certificate of need approval process for building hospitals; changing the criteria to add hospital trauma centers; direct primary care agreements; retroactive claims denial; modifying preferred drug lists and therapies; regulating pharmacy benefit managers as third party affiliates; carving out nursing homes from the Medicaid managed care system and rearranging the regions of the current program.