2016 Scored Bills
Each of Florida's 2016 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:
HB 675 would have required local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, including detaining undocumented immigrants who have committed nonviolent crimes. In addition to being overly costly to cash-strapped local governments, the bill is merely pandering to the extreme right and not a serious solution. Immigration is a national issue requiring a comprehensive immigration reform law passed by Congress which includes a pathway to citizenship. The bill passed the House but was not heard in the Senate.
HB 7029 provides additional capital funding to largely unaccountable charter schools with no change in oversight while limiting what traditional public schools can spend on capital projects. This anti-public school legislation also creates logistical and fiscal hurdles for local school districts by allowing students to transfer to neighboring districts. The bill passed the House and Senate on mostly party line votes.
HB 1411 blocks access to reproductive health care for thousands of Floridians including birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests and other care for the more than 5,500 Title X patients and nearly 2,000 Medicaid patients served by Planned Parenthood in Florida. This extreme legislation contains Texas-style restrictions on safe, legal abortion that could close down health centers throughout the state. The bill passed both the House and the Senate mostly along party lines and was signed into law by Gov. Scott.
HB 191/SB 318 would have preempted local fracking bans while placing a one year moratorium on fracking and requiring the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to study fracking for one year, write regulations and send them to the Legislature for final approval. There is no such thing as clean or safe fracking, and rather than the state preventing local communities from banning fracking, the Legislature should pass a statewide ban. The bill passed the House on mostly party lines and was withdrawn in the Senate.
HB 7099 was a $129 million tax giveaway to mostly corporate special interests. While a far cry from Gov. Scott's original proposal of $1 billion, the bill represented an unnecessary giveaway of precious tax dollars at a time of pressing needs in public education, health care access, mental health, environmental conservation, and more. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate.
HB 89 allows lawfully residing immigrants who have been living in the United States less than five years to be insured under the state and federal KidCare program. This is a long overdue change that will allow more people to receive the health care they need. The Legislature should go further and accept federal funds (as it did with HB 89) and close the immoral health care coverage gap affecting nearly 600,000 hard working Floridians by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. HB 89 passed unanimously in the House and was included in the state budget.
SB 242 will create a needle exchange pilot program for Miami-Dade County. Florida tragically leads the nation in new HIV infections and the disease is often spread through the use of dirty needles by drug users. Needle exchange programs, which exchange dirty needles for clean ones, have been proven to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS. The bill passed with strong support in both the House and Senate with opposition only from the extreme right.
HB 7043 makes the so-called "Best and Brightest Scholarship Program" a permanent part of state law. Originally passed in 2014, the program provides a bonus to teachers who scored well on their SAT and ACT exams. The program makes an already flawed teacher bonus system more faulty as a teacher's score on a potentially decades old exam has little relevance to a person's teaching ability. The bill passed the House on a mostly party line vote, was not heard on the Senate floor, but was included in the state budget.
HB 4001/SB 68 would have allowed conceal and carry permits on public college campuses. This dangerous and unnecessary proposal was strongly opposed by law enforcement, administrators, faculty, parents, and students. The bill passed the House on a mostly party line vote and was stopped in a Senate committee.
HJR 193 places a proposed constitutional amendment on the August 2016 primary election ballot that would eliminate personal property taxes on solar equipment and exempt solar devices from real estate taxes for 20 years. This amendment stands in stark contrast with the utility monopoly supported "Sham Solar" amendment on the November 2016 general election ballot which would keep solar markets largely closed to Floridians. The joint resolution passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
SB 668 would have set up a new formula for judges to use in deciding alimony payments in addition to child custody. Divorce is complicated and unique in every situation, and undermining judicial discretion with an arbitrary formula makes little sense. The bill passed mostly on party lines in the House and Senate.
HB 43/SB 110 was also known as the "Pastor Protection Act". Ostensibly, the goal was to "protect" clergy from lawsuits if they refuse to perform a wedding that violates religious beliefs, such as for same-sex couples. The reality is clergy are already protected and this bill was merely an attempt to pander to the extreme right. Amendments to the original bill effectively neutered the worst provisions and the final legislation essentially restated existing law. Nonetheless, the bill was redundant, unnecessary, and potentially harmful. The bill passed on a mostly party line vote in the House and Senate.
HB 163 allows open carrying of firearms for those with carry permits except in a few circumstances. This dangerous legislation unnecessarily threatens public safety and hinders the efforts of law enforcement. The bill passed on a party line vote in the House but was not heard in the Senate.
SB 1044 requires a criminal conviction before police can permanently confiscate personal property used in committing a crime. Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure used by law enforcement to seize property and prior to SB 1044 state authorities could do so without a crime being committed. In addition to being constitutionally questionable and prone to abuse, the status quo disproportionately impacted poorer Floridians who often don't have the time or resources to go through the recourse process. The bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate.
HB 7071 provides prosecutors of public corruption - whether by an elected official or a private contractor working with the government - with an important change in the law. Instead of having to prove that an official showed “corrupt intent” in their action, prosecutors will now have to show only that the officials “knowingly and intentionally” did so. This seemingly technical change lowers the burden of proof for prosecutors in proving corruption. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
HJR 197 proposed an amendment to the Florida Constitution to impose term limits on both Supreme Court justices and judges of district courts of appeal. The proposed amendment was largely a political move by the Republican majority in the Legislature against a state court system that has ruled a number of their laws unconstitutional. Florida's courts don't need term limits. What they need are experienced, seasoned jurists, and to keep politics out of our judicial system. The joint resolution passed the House on mostly party lines but was not heard in the Senate.
HB 7107 was the latest attempt to threaten state pensions and is part of the larger agenda to either privatize or eliminate the Florida Retirement System (FRS). Despite being one of the best funded pension systems in the nation, HB 7107 would have automatically enrolled all new state employees into the investment plan which operates as a 401k instead of the more reliable defined benefit plan. This has the effect of undermining the fiscal solvency of the pension system while increasing the funds to private investment managers without regard to what's best for state employees. The bill passed on a mostly party line vote in the House but was not heard in the Senate.