2019 FL Legislative Session Update

Here is an update on some bills that member Barb Howe has been following.

Voter Suppression Bills

  • SB 230/HB 131 Making it More Difficult for New Citizens to Vote –In the Senate this bill, sponsored by Joe Gruters, Chair of the FL Republican Party, passed its first committee and is now in another committee, of which Keith Perry is vice chair. In the House this bill passed the first committee (9 in favor, only 1 vote against it) and is now in a second committee.

Bills to Limit Local Control/Governance

Florida Republicans have a problem: voters keep approving ballot measures they don’t like, usually progressive issues such as decriminalizing cannabis or raising the minimum wage or banning plastic bags and straws.

Here are a few bills designed to prevent voters from doing stuff like this:

  • SB 232/HB 57, an amendment to the State Constitution to increase the percentage of elector votes required to approve an amendment or a revision to the State Constitution from 60 percent to 66 and 2/3 percent. In the House this bill passed its first committee and has moved onto the second of 3 committees it was referred to, the State Affairs Committee. Clovis Watson Jr is one of two ranking Democrats on that committee. In the Senate the bill passed the first of 3 committees and is currently in the Judiciary committee. Jose Javier Rodriguez is the ranking Democrat on that committee.
  • HB 7111/SB 7096 are bills to make it more difficult to use petitions to get measures put on the ballot for voter approval. In addition to a financial impact statement you would now have to also provide an economic forecast of how your ballot measure would impact the local and state economy if it were approved. These would be printed on the ballot under the summary for the the voters to examine. In addition the Attorney General would have to ask the Supreme Court for their recommendation on whether this issue would not be better addressed by legislation rather than a ballot measure. Their answer would also be printed on the ballot for the voters consideration. Finally it would also require you to print “the percentage of total contributions obtained by the sponsor that came from in-state donors” and it would make it a misdemeanor to pay petitioners by the signature rather than by the hour.
  • SB 1730/ HB 7103 Prohibiting counties from requiring developers to include affordable housing (they can still offer incentives for such but not require developers to offer a certain percentage of their units at affordable prices in exchange for tax credits for example).
  • HB 847/SB 432 Prohibits cities and counties from requiring a higher minimum wage than the state set one or establishing more stringent requirements on employers than the state mandated minimum.
  • HB 603/SB 588 Prohibits local governments from banning plastic straws
  • HB 1299 Prohibits local governments from banning plastic bags while HB 502 does the opposite: it directly bans plastic bags state-wide.

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