Florida Lawmakers Aim to Cut Red Tape for Public Schools with New Legislation

Florida lawmakers have filed a new bill to cut red tape for certain aspects of public and charter school assessments, accountability, instruction and education choice.

Senate Bill 7004 was introduced by the Florida Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12 and builds on the deregulation of public schools provision in House Bill 1, providing additional authority to school districts related to pre kindergarten programs, school improvements, assessments, reporting and instructional materials.

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Florida Lawmakers Examine Streamlining of State’s Workforce Development Programs

Florida lawmakers took a closer look last week at a 2021 law that is supposed to streamline and make the state’s workforce development system more accountable.

The Florida House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee met on Nov. 15 to discuss the implementation of the Reimagining Education and Career Help Act.

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Florida Lawmakers Pass Iran Sanctions, Hurricane Relief Bills in Special Session

The Florida Legislature wrapped up its special session after several new measures were passed, including sanctions on Iran, protections for the state’s Jewish community and relief funds for those affected by Hurricane Idalia.

Senate Resolution 8C, House Resolution 9C and HR 11C all would express support for the State of Israel and its right to exist as a sovereign nation with the right to defend itself against attacks from terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The resolutions passed unanimously.

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New Committee Assignments for Florida Lawmakers Issued Ahead of Session

There will be some changes to committee assignments when the Florida Legislature reconvenes in January.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, has announced new committee assignments ahead of the start of interim committee meetings on Sept. 18. Lawmakers can start filing bills on Monday.

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Florida Lawmakers Avoid Large-Scale Reforms to State’s Pension System

Florida public retirees will get some improvements in their benefits, but larger, structural improvements to the state’s defined benefit pension system were not pursued by lawmakers this session.

The Florida Retirement System’s 629,073 members will receive a cost of living adjustment that they last received in 2011 and first responders will have their retirement age lowered.

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Florida Lawmakers Pass Bill Allowing DeSantis to Run for President Without Resigning

Florida lawmakers on Friday approved reforms to the state’s “resign to run” requirements that would allow Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to seek the presidency without resigning from his post.

The state requires candidates to resign from their elected posts once they qualify for the ballot when seeking higher office, CNN reported. Lawmakers approved revising the measure to exclude “any person seeking the office of President or Vice President of the United States.”

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Florida Lawmakers to Tackle School Choice Expansion in New Session

Florida’s Legislature will be serving up a smorgasbord of issues during the upcoming 60-day regular session that begins on Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said many times that Florida is the place where “woke goes to die” and passage of laws to stop it tops the agenda for the Republican supermajority in 2023.

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Florida Lawmakers Discuss Effects of Benefit Cliffs on Low Income Families

The Florida House Subcommittee on Children, Families and Seniors met in Tallahassee Wednesday and discussed the phenomena of benefit cliffs with several programs and how they can provide a disincentive for work.

The subcommittee was given a presentation on the barriers that are present for Florida families, with the main focus being benefit cliffs — which refers to the sudden and often unexpected decrease in public benefits due to a small increase in earnings.

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Florida Lawmakers Conclude Special Session, Strip Away Disney’s Special Status

The Florida Legislature concluded its special session on Friday, passing bills regarding Disney’s autonomy, transport of foreign nationals and election fraud.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner said at a news conference before the House’s final meeting that the special session was successful and that lawmakers addressed “the complete abdication by the federal government in defending our border and stopping the flow of illegal immigrants so that the state can take action to protect our citizens.”

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DeSantis’ Office: No ‘U-Turns’ on Decision to Strip Disney of Special Status

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has no plans to back down against corporate behemoth Walt Disney Co. after speculation that laws put in place in April to dissolve the company’s self-governing power were going to be scaled back.

In March, then Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly opposed House Bill (HB) 1557, the “Parental Rights in Education Act,” which was designed to restrict the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools from kindergarten through to third grade. The bill quickly became known in the media as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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Florida Mulls Undoing Law That Revoked Disney’s Self Governing After ‘Woke’ Feud with DeSantis

Florida lawmakers are reportedly working to reverse a law that stripped Disney of its special tax status in the state after its then-CEO criticized a state law on gender classes in public schools.

The possible change, first reported by the Financial Times, follows Disney replacing CEO Bob Chapek who was in a feud with GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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Florida Chamber of Commerce Releases Legislative Report Card

The Florida Chamber of Commerce, one of Florida’s largest trade associations, released their annual Legislative Report Card and also announced their Distinguished Advocates for the 2022 Legislative Session. The chamber describes itself as an organization that supports free enterprise policies and has historically backed Republicans over Democrats.

The chamber said that their calculated average grade for all of Florida’s lawmakers was a 68 percent, equating to a “D.”

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Florida Legislature Passes Congressional Redistricting Map, Democrats Protest

A number of Florida’s House Democrats staged a protest on the floor of the Florida House to voice their opposition to Republicans’ efforts around congressional redistricting yesterday. Due to the protest, the Florida House’s procedures were temporarily halted. However, the protest was short-lived, and the House proceeded to approve Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) proposed congressional map.

The Florida Senate had already approved the map, and the House was the map’s final stop.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Will Draw Congressional Maps, Legislature Defers

The Florida Legislature announced it will not be drawing the redistricting congressional maps, but instead, will defer to the maps drawn up by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis became involved with the process earlier in 2022 when he submitted his own plans outside of the legislature’s recommendations.

“We are awaiting a communication from the Governor’s Office with a map that he will support,” said Republican leaders in a joint memo. “Our intention is to provide the Governor’s Office opportunities to present that information before House and Senate redistricting committees.”

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Florida Lawmakers Continue Working on the State Budget as Its Deadline Approaches

Florida lawmakers continue to be in budget conference reconciling differences between House and Senate budget proposals. So far, numerous agreements and billions of dollars have been agreed upon.

The Florida House approved a $105 billion budget and the Florida Senate approved a $108 billion budget.  

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Florida House Redistricting Proposal Backs DeSantis’ Recommendations

A map from the Florida House proposes that Florida’s congressional redistricting process will see Congressional District 5, currently held by Representative Al Lawson (R-FL-5), eliminated as it currently sits. According to the new map, Lawson’s district would only encapsulate an area in Duval County.

The recommendation to shift the boundaries of District 5 come from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The rest of the voters in the Tallahassee and North Central Florida area would be incorporated into District 2, held by Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL-2).

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Florida Lawmakers File Immigration Enforcement Bill

Florida Republican lawmakers Sen. Aaron Bean (R-FL-4) and Rep. John Snyder (R-FL-82) filed companion bills to enhance Florida’s illegal immigration enforcement. The bill would expand an already existent ban on sanctuary cities, municipalities that protect illegal immigrants from immigration enforcement.

The bill would also prohibit state and local government from contracting with transportation companies that have been transported illegal aliens across state lines into Florida.

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Florida Lawmakers Looking to Expand Health Insurance for Children

Florida’s lawmakers are considering expanding state-funded health insurance for children. The idea has gained traction among Republicans and Democrats, and two competing proposals would increase the amount of money beneficiaries can make.

Currently, families making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the state’s program, KidCare. However, the same families do not qualify for Medicaid.

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Florida Supreme Court Calls for Additional State Appeals Court

Florida Supreme Court Building

The Florida Supreme Court is calling for creating a sixth state appeals court. One of their reasons for making the call is “serious underrepresentation” of appellate judges from Jacksonville.

“The creation of a new district court, like any other significant change in the judicial system, would be accompanied by some degree of internal disruption, but we conclude that any such internal disruption in the district courts associated with the creation of a sixth district court would be short-lived and would be outweighed by the benefit of enhanced public trust and confidence,” said the Florida Supreme Court’s majority opinion shared by Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Jorge Labarga, Alan Lawson, Carlos Muniz and John Couriel.

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