Issues of Interest

TEXTING AND DRIVING A bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2019 allows law enforcement to pull over a driver for texting while driving. Records show that the law is rarely enforced. In 2020, more than 20 county sheriff’s departments did not report any issued tickets. Broward County reported only 18 tickets and there were none in Alachua and Leon Counties. An estimated 56,000 crashes were blamed on distracted driving in 2019, which includes texting.

FLORIDA UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM Florida Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel released early findings  about major failures with the state’s $81 million unemployment system. The Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT reemployment assistance system was not able to handle the influx of unemployment claims last March and April during the pandemic. The system, implemented when Rick Scott served as Governor in 2013, was never fully tested. Deloitte representatives presented to a Senate committee saying they had not worked on the CONNECT system since May 2015. Bills have been introduced to improve the system and the Department of Economic Opportunity has requested a $73 million appropriation to cover costs of the current system and make improvements.

CLEMENCY During their March 10th meeting, the Florida Cabinet approved new rules that could speed up the clemency process, allowing felons who have served their sentences and satisfied court financial obligations to apply for automatic restoration of full civil rights. Previously, felons were required to wait five years before going to the Board of Executive Clemency to have their cases considered.