2013 Scored Bills
Each of Florida's 2013 Middle Class Champions stood up to protect and expand Florida's middle class with their votes on each critical bill below in their respective chambers:
Anti-public school extremists once again pushed a "parent trigger" bill that would have allowed public schools to be turned over to for-profit charter management companies. The Florida PTA along with almost every parent group in the state again opposed this attack on public education.
Corporate special interests once again tried to undermine the retirement security of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public employees. HB 7011 would have forced all new public employees into riskier defined contribution plans instead of more reliable and secure defined benefit plans. The fact is, the Florida Retirement System (FRS) remains one of the best-funded and most efficient retirement systems in the country.
Local communities, led by Orange County, have proposed earned sick time ordinances to ensure middle class families could take care of their own when someone was sick. Led by Disney, Darden, and other corporate special interests, HB 655 bans local governments from passing earned sick time ordinances.
With several major Florida counties passing wage theft protection ordinances, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other corporate special interests worked to ban local governments from passing these critical measures. Wage theft robs an estimated $60-90 million from hard working Floridians' paychecks every year.
An appeals court had ruled that Florida's Sunshine Laws did not apply to the public's opportunity to speak to their elected officials at public meetings. SB 50 protects effective government by filling in this gap in the Sunshine Laws. The public must be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard before a board or commission makes a final decision.
An important step towards more efficient and effective government, HB 5401 requires the creation of a single website where information on state contracts will be posted. Currently, information is dispersed throughout several websites, making it harder for Floridians find the information they have a right to see.
Labeled an "economic development" bill, HB 7007 contained Gov. Rick Scott's corporate tax giveaway to manufacturing companies. The provision provided a sales tax exemption for the sale of manufacturing equipment. Florida already has some of lowest business taxes in the nation, and this latest giveaway is both unnecessary and unlikely to create middle class jobs.
Common sense ethics reform is badly needed in Tallahassee. SB 2 was a good first step towards this worthy goal, helping close the revolving door between retiring politicians and lobbying firms. The new law also provides the Florida Ethics Commission with the ability to garnish the wages of politicians who fail to pay fines after violating the law.
The original House version of HB 7169, known as "Florida Health Choices Plus", bill was ungraciously offered as an alternative to extending health care to more than one million Florida families under the Affordable Care Act. HB 7169 refused $51 billion in federal investment, instead dipping into scarce state funds to extend health care access to only 115,000 Floridians.
HB 7169 was later amended in the Florida Senate to accept $51 billion federal funds and expand health care to more than one million Floridians. Tragically, the Florida House refused to take up the amended bill, and uninsured Floridians and their families await relief.
HB 845 was a discriminatory proposal that would have done nothing to advance women’s health or equality. Instead this legislation inserted politics where it doesn’t belong by interfering in the doctor/patient relationship under the guise of preventing race or gender bias. This is harmful to women’s health, counter to a human rights agenda, and primarily a political tactic of those who oppose safe and legal abortion.
HB 759 would have violated due process of law and attempted to elevate the legal status of a fertilized egg to that of an adult human being. The real purpose of this bill is not to protect women, but to politicize violent crimes, especially those against pregnant women.
Backers of the alimony reform bill worked to end so-called "permanent alimony" and make it easier for ex-spouses to rewrite existing alimony agreements. SB 1718 unfairly targeted stay-at-home moms and others who rely on alimony income.
Many middle class Floridians have gone from being home owners to renters, and tenant rights have become more important than ever. HB 77 represented a major erosion of tenant rights, making it easier for landlords to evict tenants. The bill's sponsor was an investment property manager.
A key component of reforming the troubled Citizens Property Insurance Corporation was the establishment of an insurance clearinghouse that would move citizens to private plans where cost appropriate. However, HB 7093's version of the clearinghouse left middle class families vulnerable to unexpected rate hikes by allowing surplus lines companies (unregulated by the state) to take former Citizens plans.
Foreclosures, and the threat of foreclosure fraud by big banks, remains a big problem for middle class Floridians. HB 87 speeds up the foreclosure process and gives banks more control at a time when they need more accountability.