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Capitol Reports » LWVFL Capitol Report: March 31, 2021

LWVFL Capitol Report: March 31, 2021

Around the Capitol

The past week has been filled with one bad bill hearing after the next. While most policy advancing this session seems to not align with League positions, we are thankfully seeing some small advances in the areas of Juvenile Justice and Natural Resources.

Last week, each subcommittee in both chambers released their proposed budgets. On Friday, the first versions of each chamber’s budgets dropped. In the upcoming weeks we will be watching diligently for the budget conference to begin which signals the beginning of the end of the 2021 session.

Top Priority Opposition — Election Changes Legislation(Senate Bill 90 + House Bill 7041)

The 44-page bill, HB 7041, that is filled with changes to the state elections continues to be one of our highest priorities even as it has not yet been scheduled for another hearing. SB 90 has also not been scheduled to be heard in it’s final committee stop.
While the bills have not been moving, the League has been out in front of the media outlining the problematic proposals and why they should be defeated. We absolutely must do everything we can to educate the public on these attempts to suppress the vote.

In case you missed it, the Florida League has:

Top Priority Opposition — Anti-Protest Legislation(House Bill 1/Senate Bill 484)

The House of Representatives has passed HB 1: the un-American anti-protest bill. The House debated HB 1 for 6 hours on Friday before it came to a vote. Around the state this issue is not looked at favorably. A statewide poll found that people are not in favor of implementing HB 1 and that it is considered harmful.
The Senate has yet to hear its version of this bill in a committee. The League will continue to lobby against this un-American bill behind the scenes.

Other Voting Rights & Election Legislation

  • Senate Joint Resolution 1238 – Percentage of Elector Votes Required to Approve an Amendment or a Revision

SJR 1238 was heard in the Ethics and Elections committee on March 29th, the League testified in opposition. SJR 1238 is attempting to change the percentage of elector votes required to approve an amendment or a revision to our state constitution from 60% to 66 and 2/3%.
Florida’s constitutional amendments are already subject to the most difficult approval process in the nation, this only furthers the challenges for a citizen-led initiative (or any initiative) to pass. This bill is a blatant attempt to limit power of those who seek change outside of our gridlocked state legislature. If passed, since the bill is a joint resolution, this proposal will be put on the ballot during the next general election and require an extraordinary education effort from the League.
If the 66 and 2/3% requirement was in place in the past decade the following notable proposals would have failed:

  • 2010: Fair district mandate
  • 2018: Restoration of the right to vote for most people with prior felony convictions upon completion of their sentences
  • 2020: Minimum wage increase

The bill now awaits a hearing in the Rules committee.

Natural Resources Legislation

  • Senate Bill 138 & 140 – Electric Vehicles

SB 138 and 140 call for providing for the distribution of grants to certain entities to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure, requires the department to coordinate, develop, and recommends creating a master plan to address innovations in electric vehicle charging station infrastructure and the development of high-powered charging infrastructure for electric aircrafts. The League is has waived in support of these bills on March 23rd. The bills passed unanimously.
The bills now awaits a hearing in the Appropriations committee. The House versions have yet to be heard.

  • House Bill 59 – Growth Management

This bill would remove rights from local governments to determine in their comprehensive plans areas where certain types of development can occur within their counties.  It would give property owners rights to do seemingly anything they want with their property, irrespective of zoning or other land use decisions already in place within the County comprehensive plan.  Owners of property, even if they were in an agreement regarding future use of a property, could transfer this property without ensuring that the new owners were prepared to abide by the previous agreement. HB 59 is scheduled to be heard later this week on the House floor.
We’ve urged our members to act by calling their representatives and asking them to vote NO on this legislation! Missed the action alert? Click here to view it in your browser.

Education Legislation

  • Senate Bill 86 – Student Financial Aid

SB 86 was originally the bill that modified the Bright Futures program in Florida and would have limited eligibility to students who study certain majors. After a lot of backlash from students across the state, there was an amendment that revised the language dealing with funding for certain degrees. However there are still some concerns with the bill and the League continues to be opposed. The League waived in opposition on March 24th.
The bill will be heard next on April 1st in the Appropriations Committee.

Reproductive Rights Legislation

  • House Bill 241 – Parental Rights

House Bill 241 was heard in the Education & Employment Committee on March 24th, it passed on a party line vote. This bill would prevent young people from receiving the essential services they need, including wellness exams and reproductive health care. This would make our young people less healthy and less safe. HB 241 is scheduled to be heard later this week on the House floor.

We’ve urged our members to act by calling their representatives and asking them to vote NO on this legislation! Missed the action alert? Click here to view it in your browser.

The League of Women Voters of Florida encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund works to register voters, provide voters with election information through voter guides as well as candidate forums and debates.


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