Legislative Updates: Week of April 20th

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

Elections/Voting Rights

On Wednesday, the Senate Ethics and Elections committee met to hear SB 1360
by Senator Tom Lee (R-Hillsborough). The bill originally required voter registration applications to contain the applicant’s address of legal residence, including an apartment, suite, lot, room, dormitory room number, or other appropriate identifier.

New Florida Majority, along with many other organizations and advocates, had concerns with this language because it had the potential to disenfranchise college students and registered voters who may inadvertently omit their apartment or suite number but were still legally eligible to vote.

Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Palm Beach) introduced an amendment in the committee which stated that failure to provide a distinguishing apartment, suite, lot, room, or dormitory room or other identifier on a voter registration application may not serve as the basis for a challenge to a voter’s eligibility or reason to not count a ballot.

The amendment was passed unanimously with bi-partisan arguments in support of this much needed clarification.  The amended version of the bill was then passed out of the Senate Ethics and Elections committee.

Online Voter Registration

HB 7143 was on second reading on Wednesday. An amendment filed by Representative Matt Caldwell (R-Lee) was adopted; which allocates $1.8 million dollars for the development of the online voter registration system. The bill is on the calendar for third reading in the House on Tuesday, April 21st at 10 am.

SB 7064 passed its last committee of reference-Senate Appropriations with 13 yeas and 4 nays.

Fundamental Right to Vote

SB 1442 by Senator Oscar Braynon II (D-parts of Miami-Dade and Broward) and HB 1139 by Representative Cynthia Stafford 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.

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

New Florida Majority and its members have been urging chairman of the Senate Ethics & Elections committee; Senator Garret Richter (R-Naples) and chairman on the House Government Operations subcommittee; Representative Michael Bileca (R-Miami) to hear these bills in their committees.

Tuesday, April 21st marks the 50th day of the 2015 legislative session and is the last day for regularly scheduled committee meetings.

Criminal Justice

SB 248 by Senator Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) that addresses public records exemptions to body camera footage was heard on the Senate floor Tuesday. There were questions from legislators regarding the concerns presented by many organizations and the ability for the public to have access to camera footage in the event of police misconduct.

The full language can be found here

The bill is on the Senate calendar for third reading on Wednesday, April 22nd at 10 am.