What’s left for Florida lawmakers in final 3 weeks? A lot
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers are heading into the final three weeks of their annual 60-day session and nearly every major issue before them is unsettled.
Republican Senate President Bill Galvano’s goal of building rural infrastructure? Still not done.
Republican House Speaker Jose Oliva’s goal of bringing down health care costs? Still not done.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ goal of expanding school vouchers? Still not done.
And the list goes on: Bills to prevent human trafficking still haven’t passed both chambers. Neither have bills to created new restrictions on abortion. And a widely discussed bill to ban fracking is stalled.
The Legislature is behaving like a college student who suddenly realizes finals are coming up and it’s time to get serious about studying.
“The thing about session, is in the last few weeks, we really start to use every hour of the day,” said Oliva. “A lot of the work gets worked out right near the end.”
So while some measures such as the hotly debated bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities may seem stalled, it and others can start to move quickly.
One thing is for sure, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t had to worry about suffering with carpel tunnel syndrome from signing too many bills. He’s signed fewer than 10 through the first seven weeks of session.
Need evidence that the Legislature is going to do some last minute cramming? The House is going into session on Wednesday and there are 84 bills on the calendar.
Among those is a 26-page bill aimed at strengthening the state’s ethics laws. It aims to keep elected officials from trying to profit from their positions by seeking investment advice from lobbyists or asking for jobs from people with business before the Legislature.
Other bills the House is set to take up would:
— Require doctors obtain parental consent before performing an abortion on a minor.
— Allow counties to set up needle exchange programs.
— Establish the Honor and Remember Flag as a state emblem to recognize the sacrifice of those who have been killed while serving in the military.
— Require investment advisers to report exploitation of vulnerable adults.
— Encourage Congress to keep in place a ban on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico
— Make it easier for police to charge suspects with racing cars on city streets.
The Senate is taking up bills that would:
— Keep the state’s tourism agency, Visit Florida, in existence.
— Prohibit high schools from telling students they can’t lawfully wear military uniforms at graduation ceremonies.
Meanwhile for the more than 3,000 bills that haven’t been passed by both chambers, time is running short. Legislative committees will stop meeting at the end of the week, so if legislation is to make it to the House and Senate floors, it has to happen now. Otherwise, the chambers will have to bend usual procedures to get items passed.