Around the Capitol
As week three of committee meetings ends here is a look at the activity that has happened at the State Capitol that pertains to the LWVFL. As of today, there has been a total of 1619 bills filed in the Florida Legislature. Just this week, 547 bills have been filed. On 2/2, the House hit their deadline for their appropriation project bill form submission. Reminder: Due to COVID-19, the Capitol has been closed to the public, only allowing you to enter the building if you have a meeting or have been invited to sit in on a committee in person. If you do not fall under either of these categories, you can travel to the FSU civic center to give your testimony for all Senate committees, or simply watch from the comfort of your home via the Florida Channel.
Coronavirus Update: This past week, Florida has administered close to 2 million doses of the novel Coronavirus vaccine. This information comes from the Florida Department of Health. As of today, 1.99 million people have received their vaccine for COVID-19. 667,830 of those people have received both of their doses. Since Saturday, we have seen another 6,624 people test positive for the virus. The state also recorded that we had an additional 103 deaths on Sunday, making the death total 28,161.
Educational Scholarship Program
Senate Bill 48 by Senator Diaz was heard in committee on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. In was first heard in the Education committee and passed with a 6-4 vote. It has now been referred to the Appropriation Subcommittee. There is no house companion to this bill yet, however it is something that needs to be monitored closely. This legislation provides for expanded student eligibility and parental choice for K-12 scholarship programs. This specifically serves students with unique abilities and students with lower income families. The League spoke in opposition to this piece of legislation. Watch our testimony by clicking here, our position is outlined at 1:40:33.
Safety of Religious Institutions
Senate Bill 498 by Senator Gruters would allow the people with their concealed weapons permits, to carry their firearm on religious institution grounds, including properties that also house schools. Religious institutions would still be allowed to prohibit the carry of weapons, but the choice would now be theirs instead of the state.
This bill was heard in committee on Monday, February 1st. After much debate and testimony in opposition to the bill, it passed its first committee stop with a 6-4 vote. Senator Tina Polsky spoke out against the bill and stated: “Guns are too dangerous to accidentally go off— or on purpose, I certainly don’t believe guns create more safety. They create more chaos, more violence.” The League spoke in opposition of this piece of legislation. Watch our testimony by clicking here, our position is outlined at 1:54:38.
Senate Bill 64 by Senator Albritton was heard in the Environment and Natural Resources committee on Monday, February 1st. The League waived in support on this bill. It passed the committee with a unanimous vote of 4-0. The bill has now been referred to Community Affairs but has not yet been agenda. The house version, HB 263 has not yet been heard in committee, but it has been referred to the Environment, Agriculture & Flooding subcommittee. Representative Maggard is the sponsor for this bill.