Diary

2011 Florida Legislative Wins, Losses And WTF’s

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By Tom Tillison
Florida Political Press


The following is a list of some of the activity from the just completed 2011 Florida Legislative Session compiled from the St. Petersburg Times. All passed bills await Gov. Scott’s approval unless otherwise noted.

I’ve categorized the list by Wins, Defeats and WTF’s from a tea party perspective. Asterisks are mine, indicating inclusion may be subject to interpretation. Final judgement of the success of this year’s session rests with the reader…

WINS

DRUG TESTS FOR WELFARE RECIPIENTS (Passed): Requires drug screening for adult welfare recipients. (HB 353)PENSION REFORM (Passed): Employees in the Florida Retirement System will pay 3 percent of their salaries into their retirement accounts, face higher retirement ages, and their retirement accounts will no longer collect cost-of-living-adjustment starting July 1. (SB 2100, HB 1405)

CHARTER SCHOOLS (Passed): Lifts barriers for charter schools to expand, in part by designating certain schools as “high performing.” (SB 1546/HB 7195)

TEACHER TENURE (Signed into law): Teacher evaluations will be based in part on student test scores, and administrators will be able to more easily fire teachers with weak evaluations. (SB 736/HB 7019)

ENDING SUNPASS DISCOUNT (Failed): Eliminates discount on prepaid tolls for those who buy SunPass Cards (SB 1252)

RENEWABLE ENERGY (Failed): Allows utilities to raise rates $377 million every year for the next five years to build solar or biomass renewable energy plants. (SB 7082)

CORPORATE INCOME TAX (Passed): A tax break of $1,100 a year on average for 15,000 small businesses as first step in effort to cut the state’s annual $2 billion corporate tax. (HB 7185)

ELECTIONS (Passed): Reduces days of early voting from 14 to eight, requires some voters who have moved to cast provisional ballots, tightens the time for third-party groups to submit voter registration forms and reduces the time that signatures on citizen-led ballot initiatives are valid. (SB 2086/HB 1355)

*PILL MILLS (Passed): Limits ability of doctors to dispense prescription drugs. Establishes stiff penalties for illegal dispensing. (SB 818/HB 7095)

*MEDICAID (Passed): Reforms place the program’s 3 million recipients into managed care. HMOs and other large, managed-care networks will bid with the state on managing any number of 11 regions in Florida. Also makes it more difficult for recipients to sue Medicaid doctors and hospitals. (SB 1972/HB 7107, 7109)

*UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (Passed): Pays for a tax cut for businesses by cutting state benefits for unemployed Floridians. Instead of making the maximum $275 weekly benefit available for 26 weeks, the state would use a sliding scale based on the unemployment rate. Benefits would be available for no more than 23 weeks and no less than 12 weeks. (HB 7005)

*GROWTH MANAGEMENT (Passed): Shifts review and regulation for development from the state to local governments with repeal of the 1985 Growth Management Act. (HB 7207)

LOSSES

IMMIGRATION (Failed): Requires some public or private employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify system, and changes rules for law enforcement to check the immigration status of suspects or inmates. (SB 2040/HB 7089)

JUDICIAL NOMINATING COMMISSION (Failed): Ends terms of all current members of judicial nominating commissions, which recommend judicial appointments to the governor. Allows Gov. Rick Scott to appoint new members, with input on some positions from the Florida Bar. (SB 2170/HB 7101)

ANTI-SHARIA LAW (Failed): Says foreign laws and doctrines should stay out of Florida courts. (SB 1294/HB 1273)

CLIMATE (Failed): Repeals the Florida Climate Protection Act, which authorizes the state to create a cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (SB 762)

RED-LIGHT CAMERAS (Failed): Outlaws traffic infraction cameras at intersections, repealing legislation adopted last year. (SB 672/ HB 4087)

SEPTIC TANKS (Failed): Repeals 2010 policy requiring homeowners with septic tanks to have them inspected by Health Department-certified regulators every five years. (HB 13/SB 1698)

ETHICS (Failed): Bars a lawmaker from voting on legislation that would “inure to his or her special private gain or loss” or to an employer, relative, business associate or board upon which the official sits. (SB 2088/HB 1071)

*UNION DUES (Failed): Bans public employee unions from using automatic payroll deduction to collect union dues and using dues for political activity. (SB 830, HB 1021)

WTF???

WOUNDED WARRIOR HUNTS (Passed): Requires Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to develop more hunting areas for disabled veterans. (SB 850/HB 663)

BARKING TREEFROG (Failed): Makes barking treefrog the state amphibian. (SB 502/HB 645)

SAGGY PANTS (Passed): Requires school boards to prohibit students from wearing clothes that show their underwear or body parts, and imposes punishment up to in-school suspension. (HB 61/SB 228)

BESTIALITY (Passed): Bans abuse involving sexual contact with an animal. (SB 344/HB 125)

SEXTING (Passed): Decriminalizes sending sexually explicit text messages, photos or videos via cell phone or other devices by minors. (SB 888/HB 75)

GOLF COURSES (Failed): Requires the Division of Recreation and Parks to hire Jack Nicklaus Design to build courses in state parks in every region of the state, creating a Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail. (SB 1846/HB 1239)

VETO OVERRIDE

LEADERSHIP FUNDS: Allows leaders in the House and Senate to operate campaign accounts that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash. (HB 1207)