1The upcoming 2024 Florida legislative session has many bills currently in committee. Here is a select number that may interest you with basic information and commentary. We invite you to go to the Florida legislature website to track all aspects of the legislation, including votes, supporters, and outcomes. https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/bills.aspx
1. HB-13 Minimum Teacher Salary or Save Our Teachers Act:
Pros: This bill would increase the minimum salary for teachers in Florida to $65,000, thus improving their financial stability and job satisfaction. The sponsors of this bill are Rep. Jervonte Edmonds (D) of District 88 West Palm Beach
Cons: The bill might increase the state's education budget, which could concern some lawmakers.
Florida teachers are vastly underpaid in many districts, such as Miami-Dade County, where living expenses have vastly outpaced teachers' salaries. We think this is an important bill to pass if adequate funding can be secured.
2. HB-57 City Commissioner Term Limits:
Pros: This bill would impose term limits on city commissioners in Florida of a maximum of 8 years, thus promoting accountability and new leadership. The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Michelle Salzman(R), District 1, Escambia County.
Cons: The bill might limit the experience of qualified city commissioners who have served for a long time.
Florida has had 30 years of this level of term limits without deleterious effects.
3. HB-27 Citizens Arrest:
Pros: This bill would limit the power of citizens to make arrests in Florida, thus reducing the risk of violence and wrongful arrests. The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Christopher Benjamin (D) of District 107, Miami-Dade County.
Cons: The bill might make it difficult for citizens to protect themselves and their property in some situations.
The woeful state of law enforcement nationwide and in many parts of Florida establishes a frightening prospect of rampant lawlessness. Citizens need to feel safe; this bill would likely denigrate that prospect.
4. SB-30 Boating Safety:
Pros: This bill would increase safety measures for boaters in Florida, thus reducing the risk of accidents and fatalities. The sponsor of this bill is Sen.Illeana Garcia (R), District 36 Miami-Dade County.
Cons: The bill might impose additional regulations on boaters, which could be a concern for some people.
Identification cards and safety courses sound great, however, the number of boating accidents is miniscule when compared to the carnage that is taking place on Miami-Dade streets and interstates every day. We think Senator Garcia would better serve the community to address the over 50,000 accidents, over 300 fatalities and 20,000 injuries in Miami Dade from the 2020 FLHSMV report. Perhaps enforcement of reckless driving and anger management courses instead of boating safety.
5. HB-31 Landlord/Tenants:
Pros: This bill would provide more protection for tenants in Florida limiting rent increases to a maximum of 30% per 12-month period, thus improving their rights and well-being. The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Jervonte Edmonds (D) District 88, West Palm Beach.
Cons: The bill might limit the freedom of landlords to manage their properties and increase their costs.
The real estate crunch is affecting almost all Floridians in the pocketbook; however, a free-market economy works out these details in time. Price controls and over regulation do nothing but hurt the consumer and property owner alike.
6. HB-111 Termination of Pregnancy:
Pros: This bill would clarify the penalties from last years legislation for violations to a 3rd degree felony but eliminate all pregnant women from this jeopardy. Sponsor is Senator Lauren Book (D) District 35 Miami-Dade County.
Cons: The bill might face opposition from those who believe that abortion is morally wrong.
For those who feel that changing the law from 15 weeks to 6 weeks was wrong for whatever reason there may be some hope as this legislation confirmed what many term a war against women by conservatives and an overreach for a bill that had previously been more of a consensus. It will be a sticky point for Governor DeSantis in this session as he has lost points with moderates over this subject during his Presidential Candidate run.
7. HB-35 Cash Payments to Business:
Pros: This bill would require most Florida businesses to accept cash payments with exceptions, thus giving customers more payment options. The sponsor of this bill is Rep Rudman (R) District 3 Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County.
Cons: The bill might make it difficult for businesses to track their income and prevent fraud.
Given proposed Federal mandates for monitoring cash expenditures of $600 as well as other efforts to eliminate cash from the economy we think this is a good proposal for the Free State of Florida.
8. HB-37 Compensation for Wrongful Incarceration:
Pros: This bill would compensate people who were wrongly incarcerated in Florida at a rate of $50,000 per year to a maximum of $2 million, thus providing them with justice and support. Heirs will have no standing to file for this compensation on the deceased's behalf. The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Traci Koster (R) District 66, Hillsborough County.
Cons: The bill might impose additional costs on Florida taxpayers, which could be a concern for some lawmakers.
Wrongful incarceration is a valid check on the justice system, however, without knowing potential number of claimants, this could turn out to be a pricey give-away.
9. SB-44 Public Restroom Requirements:
Pros: This bill would require public buildings in Florida to provide balanced restroom facilities for men and women. The sponsor of this bill is Sen Linda Stewart (D) District 17, Orange County.
Cons: The bill might face opposition from those who believe that gender-neutral restrooms are necessary or appropriate.
This seems to be a compromise bill that leaves culture war issues out of public restrooms. We would note that women may consider that their ratio of stalls to urinals should be higher given the waiting line one witnesses at concerts and other large public events.
10. SB-46 Reading Achievement Initiative; tutors:
Pros: This bill would help improve reading skills among Florida students by providing additional tutoring and support utilizing high school 11th and 12th graders with educator supervision. The sponsor of this bill is Sen. Linda Stewart (D) Orange County.
Cons: The bill might increase the state's education budget and require additional resources, which could be a concern for some lawmakers.
This seems like a reach to allow for school districts short of qualified teachers to meet the needs of students reading scores that have dropped into the underworld.
11. HB-47 Municipal Water and Sewer Rates:
Pros: This bill would require municipal water and sewer rates in Florida, be uniform both inside and outside a utilities municipal boundary, thus protecting consumers from excessive charges. The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Felicia Robinson (D) District 104 Broward and Miami-Dade County.
Cons: The bill might limit the ability of municipalities to generate revenue and invest in their infrastructure.
The consumers in South Florida are being squeezed to the limit financially and should not be made to pay for the avarice of greedy developers who have over stretched the means of current utilities capacity.
12. HB-49 Employment and Curfew of Minors:
Pros: This bill would establish new guidelines for the employment and curfew of minors in Florida, thus promoting safety and responsibility. The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Linda Chaney (R) District 61 Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
Cons: The bill might limit the freedom of minors to work and engage in activities outside of school hours.
Labor is needed to keep the booming Florida economy rolling and this may help that economy while helping minors financially within guidelines.
13. SB-86 Hope Card
Pros: This bill allows for the issuance of a laminated card for any court ordered protection order so that law enforcement may more easily and readily protect the victims of abuse. Sponsors are Rep. Michael Gottlieb(D) district 102 Broward County and Sen. Lauren Book (D) Miami-Dade County.
Cons: More layers of bureaucracy and questions about the effectiveness of another program to fund
Victims of Abuse and court ordered protections are critical for people to feel safe in their community, but we question how law enforcement will become more effective with a card in someone's wallet. Normally by the time someone pulls a card out of their wallet the injury has already been done.
14. SB-102 Property Insurance
Pros: This is the bill everyone has been waiting for. It creates a Property Insurance Commission and the regulation of the insurance industry in Florida. Safeguards for insurer insolvency and enhanced deductibles for homeowners are included. Sponsors are Sen Shevrin Jones (D) District 34 Broward and Miami-Dade County
Cons: This lengthy bill has a lot in it and creates a new level of bureaucracy that many may not vote for.
With new property deductible and consumer protections there is good in this bill, yet being proposed by a democrat in a strongly republican legislature we don’t hold out much hope this will pass. Sen. Jones would probably be better served to break this bill apart and look for consensus among conservatives on specific items.
15. HB-209 Possession of a Firearm in a Sensitive Location.
Pros: This bill expands the places in which a firearm can not be in possession of a non-law enforcement citizen. Sponsors are Rep Michele Rayner (D) District 62 Hillsborough and Pinellas County.
Cons: This is just another gun grab and restriction by Democrats, Conservatives will likely not allow this out of committee.
If Democrats want domestic safety and security, they should support law enforcement at all levels of government.
This is just a simple survey of some of the bills filed by both houses as of the date of this article. Our intention is for you the citizen to go to the Florida Legislative site indicated above and follow your issues and contact your legislators, lobbyists if you know them and the major donators to the legislators behind this legislation.