Open Carry Legislation which would allow holders of concealed weapon permits to openly carry such weapons is gaining momentum in the Legislature. Recently, the Florida Police Chiefs Association’s governing board voted 15-7 to support the measure if additional law enforcement protections are added. Bill sponsors have indicated they are open to amendments. The Florida Fraternal Order of Police unanimously opposes the legislation. Of Florida’s sheriffs, only ten of sixty-seven support the legislation.
University & College Campus Carry A bill which would allow students who have a concealed weapon permit to carry a firearm on campus is ready for a floor vote. Meanwhile, the Senate version awaits a third and final committee hearing before the Judiciary Committee, where it stalled last year. In response to the bill’s advancement, college presidents have requested a $74 million appropriation to make their campuses safer. Currently, only five of the twenty-eight colleges have police or armed security on campus.
Firing Guns in Neighborhoods Bills in both chambers have passed all committees and are ready for chamber votes on legislation prohibiting the discharge of firearms in residential areas which have a density of one or more dwelling units per acre. Violations would be a first degree misdemeanor.
School Safety Officers A bill was re-filed this year to allow school districts to appoint a school safety designee who would have the right to carry a concealed weapon on school property. The sponsor subsequently withdrew the bill from consideration.
WATER POLICY Comprehensive water policy legislation will likely pass the House and be heard in the Senate during the first week of session. Protection of Florida’s springs, permitting in Lake Okeechobee, and water use planning in Central Florida are some of the issues addressed in these bills. The bills have the support of more than one hundred groups including the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida and The Sierra Club Florida.
PERSONS WITH UNIQUE ABILITIES The Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program Act is poised for a Senate floor vote. This top priority of Senate President Gardiner offers postsecondary educational program opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities and provides statewide coordination of such programs. The bill also expands the personal learning scholarship accounts, passed in 2014, and gives school districts discretion to establish a school uniform policy. A $95 million appropriation is anticipated for this legislation
EDUCATION The “Best and Brightest” teacher scholarship program is back. The controversial bill ties teacher bonuses to college entrance exam scores. Also being considered is a bill that would change how class sizes are calculated and penalties assessed.