The League of Women Voters was proud to stand on the Historic Capitol steps with US Senator Bill Nelson as he expressed his gratitude for our hard work in expanding voter rights, as well as our decade-long fight for Fair Districts!
Following Senator Nelson, Florida League President Pamela Goodman made a strong statement supporting Florida’s public school system. In a meeting with Senate President Andy Gardiner, we learned that the proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 759/SJR 976 State Charter School Authorizer) would not be heard in the Senate, killing the bill for the session.
President Gardiner also reported on Florida Face to Face that the Senate took a look at the charter school system and saw a growing business. He said the upper chamber was interested in getting charter schools back to its roots, and that legislation being prepared by Senator Gaetz would be a reflection of that effort. President Gardner concluded that the distribution of funds between charters and traditional public schools is most important when it comes to construction dollars.
In the midst of the annual Legislative dinner, President Pamela Goodman received word that Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla had just announced he would not hear SB 300 — the Open Carry bill — effectively killing the bill. The Senator had announced earlier that he would not allow SB 68, Campus Carry, to move forward. The latest action puts to bed two dangerous pieces of legislation pushed by the gun lobby.
Legislation that would add unnecessary obstacles for women seeking abortions in the state of Florida continued moving in the Senate this week. SB 1722 (Stargel – R) requires all doctors performing abortions in a clinic to have hospital admitting privileges. Current law requires one doctor from a clinic have admitting privileges and requires abortion referral or counseling services to register with the state. The Senate version does not prohibit state or local funding to Planned Parenthood for women’s health care as its counterpart in the House does (HB 1411 by Burton), which is awaiting second reading in the lower chamber. We continue to advocate in opposition to this punitive legislation.
LAND AND WATER
The League continues to oppose legislation in the Senate that would preempt local communities from banning fracking within their jurisdictions. SB 318 (Richter – R), has not yet been scheduled for its final committee stop, Appropriations. Chair Tom Lee (Bradenton – R) had strong words for regulators who have failed to address concerns raised by Senators and citizens. A companion bill, HB 191, has already passed the House chamber. A particular quagmire for Senators goes beyond the existing tension of usurping 60-some fracking bans throughout the state with the power of Senator Richter and the oil and gas lobby. This legislation is being considered in terms of how this vote will be greeted in the newly configured districts that every member will have to run for, due to court decisions supporting sound implementation of our Fair Districts legal challenges.
Debbie Harrison Rumberger is the League’s professional lobbyist for the 2016 Legislative Session. Ably supported by our very active volunteer Lobby Corps from the Tallahassee League. Updates on League legislative issues will be provided on a regular basis through Capitol Report, which is published every week during the session. Important information may also be accessed at www.leg.state.fl.us. Watch for your Capitol Report each Friday of the session for news on priority issues and what you can do to help. For updates on or copies of proposed legislation, call legislative information at 1-800-342-1827 or visit the Florida Online Sunshine homepage at www.leg.state.fl.us. For more information about the League’s advocacy, check out www.thefloridavoter.org
Debbie Harrison Rumberger
LWVF Legislative Liaison