Monday, 26 April 2010 13:46

Update from Tallahasse: Legislative Session 2010 Week Eight

Written by  Greg Giordano
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Florida State SealWeek eight was not without a fair amount of action in the Capitol as the second to last week of the session wound to a close. Good bills went to the governor, advances were made in the construction of the state budget, and other bills were moved into the posture of possibly being voted out and sent to the governor.

As of this writing the state budget is in the hands of the respective chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees.  Any issues that they leave unfinished puts the onus on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House to resolve by noon on April 24.  For the session to end on time the budget must be printed and delivered to the legislators no later than April 27 so the constitutionally mandated 72-hour waiting period can begin before the budget can be voted on.  At the current pace the budget should be ready for floor votes in each chamber on April 30.  Depending on how quickly any unresolved issues are addressed the budget could potentially be delivered earlier.
On April 22 Governor Crist signed into law SB 2126 by Senator Joe Negron of Palm City.  The legislation, entitled the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, will allow non-profit scholarship funding organizations to award scholarships to students from families that meet income limitations.  The students then can use the scholarship to either attend a private school or pay for transportation to attend a public school outside  of their school district of residence.  The bill appropriates a maximum scholarship of $3,950 per student per year.
Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey filed SB 2754 in response to an attempt by the  City of Oldsmar to annex a portion of the East Lake Community.  That attempt united the community in its desire to exist without being splintered.  This bill will prevent a Pinellas County municipality from annexing unincorporated territories that are within the defined boundaries of the East Lake Tarpon Community. Additionally, the legislation defines the boundaries of the East Lake Tarpon Community.  The bill passed the Florida Senate with an unanimous vote and is awaiting action by the Florida House of Representatives.
Senator Steve Wise of Jacksonville filed SB 2128 which amends a statute that was first enacted in 1868.  When the law was created it prohibited the peddling of goods, services and gaming events within one mile of a religious camp or event.  Senator Wise’s bill makes an exception for businesses that are regularly established within the one mile limit and have permission by the organizers of the religious event to operate.  The bill passed both chambers as HB 985 by Representative Charles Van Zant of Palatka and is now awaiting the governor’s consideration.
The end of the regular legislative session begins on April 26 and closes on April 30.  With the budget yet to be voted on, and other priorities in the works including reforming the Florida Public Service Commission and legislation that will help shut down pill mills, thus curbing the misuse and diversion of prescription drugs, the week ahead should be an exciting and productive one.
Greg Giordano is the Chief Legislative Assistant to State Senator Mike Fasano. To read last week's update, go here.
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