Legislative Update: Week of April 6th

Provided by Moné Holder, The New Florida Majority’s Legislative & Policy Director

SB 1442 by Senator Oscar Braynon II (D-parts of Miami-Dade and Broward) and HB 1139 by Representative Cynthia Stafford (D-Opa Locka) is legislation that outlines that voting is a fundamental right that should be enshrined into state law. This would require strict scrutiny, the highest standard of judicial review, to apply to voting in Florida – and protect citizens against partisan efforts to make voting harder.

New Florida Majority is urging Senate Ethics & Elections Committee Chairman Senator Garret Richter (R-Naples) and House Government Operations subcommittee Chairman  Representative Michael Bileca (R-Miami) to take up and discuss the bill in their respective committee. The call follows up a recent press conference where community groups and legislators called on the legislature to pass these measures. That press conference was covered by a number of media outlets, including WFSUV.

Currently, SB 1442 has been referenced to the Ethics and Elections, Judiciary and Rules committees.  HB 1139 has been referenced to Government Operations Subcommittee, Civil Justice Subcommittee, and State Affairs Committee.

The full bill language can be found here: House | Senate

Online Voter Registration

SB 228 by Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) was heard in its second committee of reference; Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development. The bill passed unanimously and has now moved to the Senate Appropriations committee.

There currently are not any online voter registration bills moving in the House. The committees in which the bill (HB 1161) was referenced are no longer meeting this session. Which means it is likely to die.  According last Thursday’s Tampa Bay Times, “Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is quietly trying to scuttle legislation that would allow people to register to vote online in Florida”

Other Ethics and Elections News

The Senate Ethics and Elections committee met on Tuesday, March 31st and unanimously passed three bills:

CS/SB 1296-Creates the military and overseas voting assistance task force within the Department of State. Provides legislative intent regarding academic credit for military training and coursework, allows veterans to request written or electronic information on services available to veterans, waives driver license and ID card fees for combat veterans and removes an existing provision regarding the waiver of driver license and identification card fee.

SB 894, Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-Orange)-Changes the phrase “absentee ballot” to “vote by mail” where it appears in the Florida statues

SB 1276, Senator Flores (R-Miami)-reduces the Miami-Dade County Expressway (MDX) authority governing body from thirteen to nine members, prohibits appointment of a person to serves as and MDX governing body member under certain circumstances, and provides for immediate termination from the MDX governing body for specified violations  at 4 pm.

Criminal Justice

SB 248 by Senator Christ Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale)passed unanimously out of the Senate Rules committee on Wednesday. The bill addresses the public record exemptions for police body camera recordings.

There was a great deal of testimony in favor of the bill by law enforcement agencies.  However, civil rights groups such as the ACLU-FL and the State Conference NAACP, opposed the bill and raised concerns about the transparency of the footage and clarification on the meaning of ‘disclosed’ as used in the bill to address how video footage can be provided to those depicted.

SB 248 will now make its way to the Senate floor for debate. It has not been placed on the calendar yet.