State News

Women hold signs.
Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Emotions can run high when social issues are discussed during session. Whether it's abortion, LGBTQ rights, or banning conversion therapy, getting a hearing on these issues can be important to getting them passed.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

A slew of criminal justice reform bills will be up this 2020 legislative session. A number of them will get a hearing during the first week lawmakers return to Tallahassee.

Florida Supreme Court building in front of blue sky
Nick Evans / WFSU

The Florida Supreme Court has struck down the Citizens for Energy Choices ballot initiative. They say the ballot summary tells voters they are granted a personal right to sell electricity but that’s not what the amendment would do.

hand in jail
mudretsov / Adobe Stock

A bill filed Friday would give some help to expectant mothers who are behind bars.

Sign with the words "now hiring" stands in the grass near a street.
Free To Use Sounds/Unsplash

Update: 

Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) and Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) have filed compromise bills that would require public employers - not private - to use E-Verify for potential hires.

Original Story: 

Florida lawmakers banned sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants last year. Now, Governor Ron DeSantis wants all employers to use the federal E-Verify system to make sure their workers are legally eligible to work in the United States.

Previous efforts requiring private employers to use E-Verify have failed in Florida, and Republican lawmakers are trying again.

A display of Medical Marijuana at Fluent in Tallahassee, FL.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

A 2017 law challenging Florida’s medical marijuana industry plays a big part over what may happen with medical or recreational marijuana in Florida during the 2020 legislative session. The lawsuit is being brought by Florigrown a Tampa-based firm which was denied a license from the state. Cannabis Wire’s Shawn Mulcahy talks about the current status of that case and the impact it could have on the upcoming session.

Tai's captures / Unsplash

High school graduation data for the 2018-19 school year has been published by Florida’s Department of Education. The statewide numbers show an uptick of an eighth of a percentage point over the previous year, bringing the graduation rate to 86.9 percent.

One man has his back to the viewer. In front of him are four giant computer screens. Behind him is another man with a pencil in his mouth. This man is looking at a computer as well.
Richard Drew / AP Photo

The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Economist says there’s a low chance of a recession this year. However, that doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing.

Lauren Book is a woman with black glasses and blonde hair. She sits at a desk and looks off to the left while speaking to the committee.
The Florida Channel

Democratic state Senator Lauren Book’s move to seek term limits for local school board members is a change from her previous position on the issue.

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

A group of Florida teens say the state has violated their constitutional rights by not doing enough to combat climate change. They’ve sued the state because of it. A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled after the defendants agreed new documents could be added in the case. Still, the teens met in Tallahassee to present their case to the public.

SAM CRAFT / AP Photo

A day before the 2020 legislative session kicks off, three House committees will meet to discuss the idea of allowing collegiate athletes to get paid for their name and likeness.

Man in suit is surrounded by women and men in t-shirts
Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Under a new bill, counties and cities could require employers to give workers benefits like sick pay.

Sen. Lauren Book discusses her annual "Walk in My Shoes" event to highlight sexual abuse and human trafficking. 3/5/18
Ryan Dailey / WFSUNews

A push to term limit local school board members has gained a powerful Democrat: State Sen. Lauren Book. She's filed a constitutional amendment proposal to keep those board members from serving more than eight consecutive years in office.

Small grocery list presented by Stacy Wein.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Florida state workers haven’t gotten a pay raise since 2008. Now the public employee union is calling for one. But if state negotiators have their way, that won’t happen without the legislature stepping in.

brides walk down the aisle.
Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

January 6th is the anniversary of same-sex marriage becoming legal in Florida. But 5 years after the historic ruling, Florida statute still says marriage is only between a woman and a man. Lawmakers are hoping to change that during this upcoming 2020 legislative session.

When the Florida Legislature convenes on Jan. 14 for the start of its 60-day session, lawmakers will be faced with several important issues – with raising teacher pay and placing new limits on abortion among the top priorities.

Here is a list of several other issues the legislature will tackle during the session.

ADA Lawsuit Against Florida Legislature Can Be Heard, Court Says

Jan 6, 2020
Legislative leaders made their pitch at the Capitol Wednesday.
Nick Evans / WFSU News

  A federal appeals court Friday cleared the way for a lawsuit that alleges the Florida House and Senate have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing closed captioning on online videos of legislative meetings.

The ruling by a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was a victory for the National Association of the Deaf and South Florida resident Eddie Sierra in the lawsuit filed in 2018. The appeals court upheld a district judge’s refusal to dismiss the case against the House, Senate and Florida State University, which owns the public-broadcasting station WFSU-TV.

blonde woman in front of grey background blowing vapor out of her mouth
Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Under a new federal law, stores cannot sell tobacco products to anyone under 21. The federal Food and Drug Administration is also limiting the sale of e-cigarette and vaping flavors. It comes as bills to do both are pending in the Florida legislature ahead of the upcoming lawmaking session. While the federal moves are welcome, anti-smoking advocates say there's plenty work left for states. 

Florida Supreme Court building in front of blue sky
Nick Evans / WFSU

Interviews are scheduled to start next week for two new Florida Supreme Court Justices.

Shiny bullets next to a black amunition magazine
Photo by Ryan on Unsplash

“Does anybody think we have too many gun laws in Florida right now?”

Senator Tom Lee asked that question of a panel of experts including scholars and law enforcement. He’d gathered them for a September committee discussion after Senate President Bill Galvano tasked Lee with looking into the causes and possible solutions of gun violence and mass shootings.

Dog looks at camera
Justin Rowland

As legislative session looms on the horizon, lawmakers are trying to squeeze in their personal projects into next years’ budget. However, not all of those proposals will make it.

Protestors march in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of an expanding national movement known as Fight for 15, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Miami. The event was part of a national protest day to coincide with the April 15 deadlin
Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Voters will soon have the option to raise Florida's minimum wage to $15 an hour. The state Supreme Court approved language for the proposed amendment Thursday. Now the issue is heading for the 2020 ballot. State Chief Economist Amy Baker says if approved, the change could cost the state.

Woman is typing numbers into a cash register. A woman in front of her has her wallet out to give the cashier money.
Craig Line / AP Photo

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun writing rules for two plans aimed at lowering drug costs for consumers. One would allow states to develop programs to import Canadian drugs. The other guides international manufacturers on how to bring their drugs into the U.S.

A map of North Florida criss-crossed by black, red and blue lines showing highways
Florida Department of Transportation / https://floridamcores.com/

Three new toll roads planned for the state are supposedly coming with millions of dollars to upgrade city and county septic and sewer systems. But there’s little information on when and how the money will be distributed and who will be responsible for the work. 

A display of Medical Marijuana at Fluent in Tallahassee, FL.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Florida currently allows medical marijuana use and St. Petersburg Republican Senator Jeff Brandes thinks it’s time to take the next step to recreational. The drug is currently legal in 11 states for recreational use, and the majority of states allow medical marijuana.

"I would be shocked if we don’t have adult use in Florida by 2024 just via the constitutional amendment," says Brandes. "I think it’s time for the legislature to take this issue on so we’re going to be proposing legislation this year that would allow for adult use cannabis in Florida."

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