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Bad news for former felons: House passes controversial bill on Amendment 4

The Florida House approved a bill late Wednesday that is expected to limit the number of former felons who will be eligible to vote following the passage of Constitutional Amendment 4 last fall.The vote was 71-45.Amendment 4, passed by more than 64 percent of Florida voters, said that the voting rights of all former felons – with the exception of those charged with murder or a sexual felony offense – would automatically get their voting rights restored when they complete “all terms” of their sentence.The House bill says that completion of a sentence includes full payment of any fines...

State Dept. of Corrections assistant general counsel resigns over offensive social media comments

A Florida Department of Corrections attorney has resigned over comments he made about black people during a conversation on Facebook.“Black people need to stop raping, murdering, stealing, and vandalizing, and quit having children out of wedlock. That’s how literally every other once-despised ethnic group broke the cycle and entered into the middle class mainstream,” Eric Giunta wrote during a series of comments.The Tallahassee Democrat reported the story Wednesday.Guinta has worked as an assistant general counsel to the department since December 2017, according to his LinkedIn page.“This individual’s comments are absolutely unacceptable and are not in line with the values of...
Empty boots

Legislature unanimously passes measure to help firefighters stricken with cancer

After fifteen years of trying, Florida firefighters finally got the Legislature to pass a measure Wednesday that aims to help them deal with the leading cause of deaths in the line of duty: cancer.The Florida House and Senate each voted unanimously for a package that requires local governments to shoulder the cost of cancer care for firefighters. The bill now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature or veto.Florida joins 44 other states which have passed legislation to address cancer in firefighters.Sponsored by Miami Republican State Sen. Anitere Flores, the measure identifies 21 different cancers which studies have...

Gov. DeSantis signs death warrant for 1980s Tampa killer

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed his first death warrant, for Robert Joseph Long, a confessed serial killer from the Tampa area who has been on Death Row since 1989.Prison officials set the execution for May 23 at 6 p.m., although the warrant authorizes them to put Long to death any time that week.The document was dated Tuesday and released publicly on Wednesday.Long, referred to in press accounts as “Bobby Joe,” lost his most recent appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on Jan. 29, 2018 and to the U.S. Supreme Court  Oct. 1, according to documents accompanying the warrant.Long was...
Florida Immigrant Coalition

Legislation to fine local governments if they don’t coordinate with federal immigration agents passes...

(Updated)The Florida House passed a controversial proposal on Wednesday that would force local law enforcement agencies around the state to coordinate with federal immigration authorities to detain people who are suspected to be in the United States illegally.The measure was supported mostly along party lines in the GOP-led body, 69-47. It came after several hours of intense and passionate debate. The bill now moves on to the Senate before it gets to the governor.“Today is a sad day for Florida," said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Luisana Pérez. "House Republicans today sold out their communities to Donald Trump and Ron...
Florida Supreme Court

FL Supreme Court upholds Gov. DeSantis decision to fire Broward sheriff

The Florida Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for alleged incompetence following mass shootings at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.The ruling came Tuesday, a week to the day after the justices approved DeSantis’ removal of another local official - Okaloosa County School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson. Jackson was removed for alleged negligence involving child abuse complaints – a ruling the court referenced in deciding the Israel case.When DeSantis dismissed Sheriff Israel, Israel contested the firing and that’s how the case landed before the Supreme Court.The ruling "leaves...

Ready, set, go. Lawmakers start nitty gritty state budget talks

Florida lawmakers began formal negotiations on a new state budget on Tuesday, with legislative leaders saying they are moving toward agreement on a plan to provide money for affordable housing around the state.Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, and House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Miami-Dade County Republican, briefly addressed the House and Senate members who will negotiate the details of a new $90 billion state budget over the next week.“It’s been a great process so far…. It’s good to see that at least we’re on track to finish on time,” Oliva told a meeting room crowded with lawmakers,...

Gov. DeSantis: “Do you think I’m just going to, like, bring in a lot...

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday mocked the pharmaceutical industry’s advertising campaign against his plan to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, and took a swipe at Asia.“Do you think I’m just going to, like, bring in a lot of drugs from Pakistan and off the street?” he said. “C’mon. We’re talking about, there’s a process in place. A country like Canada, they’re a wealthy, modern democracy” with safety regulations in place.The Partnership for Safe Medicines has been running ads attacking House and Senate bills – HB 19 and SB 1528 – that would authorize pharmaceutical imports from Canada, where...

Vaping bill, other legislation now on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk

Legislation is now on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk that would  enact a constitutional amendment banning vaping in workplaces, create a public-records exemption for home addresses for civilian police employees, and  boost penalties for harming police animals,The items are among 10 bills sent over Monday by the Legislature and now awaiting the governor’s signature or veto.The vaping bill – SB 7012 – would enact a constitutional amendment that voters approved in November forbidding use of vapor-generating electronic devices in enclosed workplaces. People will be allowed to  vape in places where smoking is allowed, including in vape shops.The police animal  bill...

Groups blast Legislature’s proposed new toll road plan as “worst ever” bill

Fifty-six community and environmental groups sent a letter to state senators Monday opposing the Florida Legislature’s proposed bill to create a new statewide network of toll roads.Sierra Club’s Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone called the toll road bill “the worst environmental bill that I have seen in 20 years.”The toll road bill is a top priority for Republican Florida Senate President Bill Galvano of Bradenton. The multi-billion-dollar, years-long proposal is up for consideration before the full Senate on Tuesday.“These corridors would essentially put a bullseye on some of the last best natural conservation and agriculture land in Florida,” said Paul...

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