Legislative Issues

Bills of Interest

AMENDMENT 4 Debate continues on whether Amendment 4, which grants voting rights to certain ex-felons, is self-implementing The Senate Criminal Justice Committee and Representative J.W. Grant (R-Tampa) filed bills that establish certain rules and regulations before voting rights would be restored. The main issue is whether full financial restitution should be made prior to granting the right to vote. Currently, Florida does not track such information so a statewide system would have to be developed.

EDUCATION There are dozens of education bills making their way through the Legislature. Several bills involve: expanding school choice and scholarship opportunities, including the creation of the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program; changes to the Best and Brightest Teacher and Principal bonus program; allowing public school students to wear military uniforms during graduation ceremonies; easing testing requirements for teacher certification; expanding apprenticeship programs and adding career planning support for students; replacing a science graduation credit with a computer science course; adding a half credit civics education class as a high school graduation requirement; adding state colleges and universities to the list of charter school authorizers, currently reserved for local school districts; and mandating schools add filters to drinking fountains.

School safety bills, carrying out the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, are being ironed out in each chamber. A controversial piece of the House version would allow school districts to arm classroom teachers. Other components of the bills include: expanding access to school guardians by allowing private schools and charter schools to employ school guardians; increasing information sharing among schools and school districts by requiring schools to transfer student records, including mental and behavioral records maintained by the school; and requiring schools to consult with law enforcement when an act poses a threat to school safety.

FRACKING Both chambers are moving forward with bills that would govern fracking. Environmentalists oppose the bills because they believe they do not go far enough in banning a process called matrix acidizing. Business interests support the legislation and explain that the acidizing is used to repair damaged and clogged wells.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS Laws governing emotional support animals might soon mirror those of the federal government if bills by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Miami) and Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) pass. There also have been concerns about people falsely claiming their pet is an emotional support animal to get out of paying pet deposits for housing. An amendment to stipulate such animals must be in carriers while in airports is under consideration.