Florida Legislature: Preview of Day 3

SenateFlorida House of Representatives

An interesting day occurs in the House on Day 3.  Two bills will be debated in committee that affect the citizen’s initiative process.  In the Committee on Ethics and Elections, HB 391 by Garrett Richter allows Supervisors of Elections to designate additional early voting sites. Also, HB 559 by Representative Don Brown would give property owners the right to prohibit or allow petition gathering on their property – not a bad idea, but the Senate Democrats have some real concerns about it.

But if Senator Geller doesn’t like that bill – he will hate this one.  In the Economic Expansion & Infrastructure Council, a proposed committee bill will do that and more – require paid circulators to wear a badge, ban paying circulators on a per signature basis, allow a singer to revoke his/her own signature, and prohibit entities who claim an “undue financial burden” from paying signature gatherers. (The undue financial burden refers to charges for verifying the signatures.)

The House will formally receive the Gov. Charlie Crist Anti-Murder Bill from the Senate in Messages today, and since the House version of the bill is on the Special Order Calendar – it seems that Governor Crist will have the bill on his desk on Friday – as he wanted. The House will also receive the cybercrimes bill – making stronger penalties for soliciting a child through the Internet (the “Dateline Predator” bill??) and sending child porn.  The House also has another bill for stronger penalties for sexual offenses on tap today.
SenateFlorida Senate

There are some interesting things going on in the Senate.  In the Judiciary Committe, SJR 166 by Senator Stephen Geller proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would allow illegal aliens the right to own property in Florida.  In the Governmenal Operations Committee, SJR 388 by Senator Frederica Wilson proposes an amendment to reinstate the elected Education Commissioner.  Gotta love the Democrats – no chance these bills pass, but at least they will be debated.

The Finance and Tax Committee will hear a “County Fiscal Study Presentation” on the effects of various property tax proposals.  The Senate will probably not present their version of property tax releif for a week or two.

The meeting attracting more attention will be the Senate Ethics and Elections committee.  They will hear an interesting bill from Senator Charlie Justice (SB 734) that would prohibit local governments from using tax dollars to support or oppose a referendum issue.  SB 900, by Senator Bill Posey, will also be heard – it is basically the Senate version of the House PCB referenced above on the initiative process.

The more interesting part of the meeting, though, is the debate about Florida’s primary date.   It seems that the committee chair, Senator Lee Constantine, is not convinced that Florida needs to be THAT early (Feb 5th or 1 week after New Hampshire).  He has a shell bill (SB 960) that will be combined with SB 1010 by Senator Jeremy Ring into a committee substitute with a February 19th date.


Glossary:

  • Messages are the formal communication from one chamber to another  Usually these consist of a passed bill, as it does in the case referenced above.
  • Committee Substitute is a measure that strips out all of the language from a bill, via an amendment, and replaces the entirety with new language.  It is used to show that the bill has been substantially altered since it was first filed.
  • Proposed Committee Bill is a draft of a bill that is will be introduced by a committee, as opposed to a member bill that is sponsored by a member of one of the chambers. They are usually handled by the committee chair.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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