Legislative Issues

Bills Signed by Governor Scott

SCHOOL SAFETY Governor Scott wasted no time signing into law the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Among other things, the Act raises the minimum age to purchase all firearms to 21; bans the sale or possession of bump stocks; creates a three-day waiting period for the purchase of firearms; allows law enforcement to seize firearms from individuals detained under the Baker Act; provides $162 million in funding for schools to hire safe-school officers, who must be worn law enforcement officers; creates the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program which permits school districts, should they choose, to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry firearms; requires active shooter training in schools; provides $75 million in funding for expanded mental health counselors in schools and $28 million to increase mental health service teams statewide to serve young adults with mental illness; and requires schools statewide to have a threat assessment team.

As a result of this legislation, two lawsuits have been filed thus far. The NRA filed a federal lawsuit that accuses the state of violating the constitutional rights of young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 by raising the age at which firearms may be purchased. A group of gun owners has filed a suit in Leon County circuit court taking issue with the ban on bump stocks. They claim the Florida Constitution bars the state from taking private property “except for a public person and with full compensation therefore paid to each owner.”

 HIGHER EDUCATION The Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018, a priority of Senate President Joe Negron, revises the preeminent state research universities programs’ graduation rate requirements and funding distributions; establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program; creates the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program; expands the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Academic Scholars award to cover 100 percent of tuition and expands the Medallion Scholars award to cover 75 percent of tuition; and authorizes students to use their Bright Futures Scholarship for summer term enrollment.

EDUCATION House Bill 7055, a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran,  passed the house by a 74-39 vote and the Senate 20-17. Provisions in this extensive K-12 education bill include: requiring all Florida public schools to display the words “In God We Trust” on school grounds and in all district buildings; compelling Florida teacher unions go through a recertification process if paid membership levels fall below 50 percent; and the creation of the Hope Scholarship for students who are victims of bullying and other types of violence to move to a different public school or receive a private school voucher.

OPIOIDS Governor Scott signed HB 21 by Representative Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) on March 19th. Doctors may now prescribe pain medication for three days and seven days for acute pain sufferers; doctors and pharmacists must now consult the state’s prescription database to review a patient’s medication history; and greater penalties are in place to those who overprescribe. Additionally, $65 million in federal and state funding will be available for substance abuse programs. Over 3,300 Floridians died in 2016 because of opioid overdose.

SLAVERY MEMORIAL The Capitol Complex will include a new memorial dedicated to Florida’s history with slavery. The Florida Historical Commission will make recommendations to the Department of Management Services on the design.

U.S. STATUARY HALL The statute of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith will be returning to the State of Florida and replaced by a statue of African-American educator and philanthropist Mary McLeod Bethune. The Joint Committee on the Library of Congress must approve the replacement.