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Capitol Reports » LWVFL Capitol Report: March 5, 2022

LWVFL Capitol Report: March 5, 2022

Session At A Glance

Week 7 & 8 of the 2022 legislative session were filled with a marathon of Rules and Appropriations committee meetings.
From now until the end of session (March 11), each respective chamber will spend a bulk of their time in budget conferences and on the floor. Floor sessions in each chamber will be filled with bill questions, amendments and debates. Almost every controversial piece of legislation that we’ve seen pop up this session will be bounced back and forth between chambers.
The Capitol Alliance Group remains actively engaged with the League’s legislative agenda and high priority issues
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Voter Suppression Legislation

Senate Bill 524 and House Bill 7061 is better know as the Anti-Voter Freedom Act. The proposed legislation, in it’s current form, would:
Fund an expensive and unnecessary Office of Election Crimes and Security,
Lead to more rejected ballots, and raise costs for election officials without providing more funding,
Purge thousands of registered voters from registration rolls
Make it a felony to assist voters in some circumstances, and
Harm organizations that help register voters with egregious fines.

The League believes Floridians deserve free and fair elections. The Anti-Voter Freedom Act creates new, expensive, unnecessary, and deliberate barriers to voting. During the 2020 presidential election, Governor Ron DeSantis touted Florida’s election process as the “gold” standard nationwide. While we can all agree that election security is of the utmost importance, these additional confusing and unnecessary steps will deter voters from participating in the democratic process. We must do everything in our power to protect our freedom to vote in safe and secure elections.

The League testified in opposition to both bills at their respective final committee stops.

On March 4, late into the night, the full Senate passed SB 524.

HB 7061 is more than likely to be heard by the House in final days of session. Watch for an Action Alert from the League and please respond accordingly!
Our Fight for Fair Districts

State Legislative Districts: Both chambers completed their work on state legislative maps and finalized passage (CS/SJR 100) on February 3.
This week, the Florida Supreme Court approved the House and Senate maps without any challenges.Click here to view the final state Senate map.Click here to view the final state House of Representative map.
U.S. Congressional Districts: As many have likely read, the reapportionment process has been contentious with the Governor interceding in what is constitutionally a legislative authority. The Governor put out his own congressional map and vowed to veto the map prepared by the Senate and House.
On March 4, the House presented 2 maps for passage, one that reflects the Governor’s map and another one similar to the Senate map. The House voted to pass both maps and the Senate concurred in passing shortly after, discarding their own map.
The congressional maps now go to the Governor for approval, but the Governor once again asserted he would veto the maps as they were being debated on the House floor. Should he actually veto them, it is probable that the legislature will either be forced to go back to the drawing board or the courts will intervene. The League is continuing to monitor this process and will keep League members as updated as possible.
Updates on Legislation by Issue Area

Additional Voting Legislation
SB 1412 & HB 1127 – Limiting Subject of Constitutional Amendments Proposed by Citizen InitiativeSenate Bill 1414 and House Bill 1127 would limit citizen initiatives to topics regarding procedural subjects or to the structure of the government, essentially killing direct democracy in Florida. HB 1127 awaits to be heard on the House floor. The League was prepared to testify against SB 1412 on March 1, but the bill was temporarily postponed. If the bill should be heard in either chamber the League will send an Action Alert.

Education
HB 7 & SB 148 – “Individual Freedom”Dubbed by the Governor as the “Stop WOKE Act”, House Bill 7 would censor conversations about racism, discrimination, and injustice, allowing people to sue for discrimination if they are made to feel “guilty” or “discomfort” because of a training or school lesson. This extends to private businesses as well, giving employees the right to sue their employers for discrimination if trainings that cover implicit bias, racial equity, and even sexual harassment cause them discomfort. HB 7 passed the House of Representatives on February 24. The bill was sent to the Senate Rules Committee where the League testified in opposition. The bill was passed by the Rules Committee and awaits to be heard on the Senate Floor. Watch for Action Alerts from the League on this.
SB 1834 & HB 1557 – “Parental Rights in Education” better know as the “Don’t Say Gay” BillHouse Bill 1557 bans discussion of LGBTQ+ people or issues in primary grades, would further stigmatize the LGBTQ+ community, chill efforts to create inclusive school environments, and isolate LGBTQ+ kids who are already at staggeringly higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. HB 1557 passed the House of Representatives on February 24. The bill was sent to the Senate Rules Committee where the League testified in opposition. The bill was passed by the Rules Committee and awaits to be heard on the Senate Floor. Watch for Action Alerts from the League on this.

Natural Resources + Clean Energy
HB 741 & SB 1024 – Net MeteringThe proposed changes to net metering in House Bill 741 would decimate Florida’s growing rooftop solar industry and result in the loss of thousands of solar jobs. The League testified in opposition on February 23 in the House Commerce Committee and on March 1 in the Senate Rules Committee. On March 2, the House passed the bill. The bill is up for it’s final vote in the Florida Senate on March 7.
SB 2508 – Environmental ResourcesSenate Bill 2508, pushed by Sen. Ben Albritton and backed by Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, was amended prior to its Senate floor vote remove some of its most damaging provisions. That amendment was a direct response to outrage from the people of Florida — calling on lawmakers to reject the bill in its original form. The amended version remains very concerning. It retains three dangerous components:It allows public entities such as utilities to expedite the evaluation of environmental resource permits and “dredge and fill” 404 wetland permits if they are related to a project that serves “a public purpose.” It does not define that public purpose. It safeguards water shortage rules that protect Big Sugar over the environment.It triggers significant changes to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program that are unnecessary and potentially costly for taxpayers.This bill has become part of the House and Senate budget negotiations. The League plans to ask the Governor for a veto of this bill after session concludes.

Reproductive Health & Justice
HB 5 – 15 Week Abortion BanHouse Bill 5 mirrors Mississippi’s 15 week abortion ban. The League has expressed time and time again that this legislation is an attempt to advance a political agenda over sound science and medicine. On March 2, the Florida Senate passed this legislation without any exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking. The Florida House passed the bill early in session. After the conclusion of legislative session the League will ask for a veto on this legislation from Governor DeSantis.
SB 1796 – Dissolution of MarriageThe League waived against Senate Bill 1796 on March 1. SB 1796 is a bill that deals with divorce and alimony which is typically out of the League’s scope but as this bill is written it would have a disproportionate impact on women in the state of Florida. According to the U.S. Census Bureau nearly 97% of all alimony recipients are women. The Senate passed this bill on March 4, it is awaiting to be heard on the House floor.

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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