10 Florida Bills You May Not Have Heard Of
By William Patrick - Watchdog.org // January 5, 2015
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — On the heels of a record $77 billion state budget, and a projected $628 million general revenue increase on the horizon, the race is on to file legislation.
Last year’s session saw 2,827 total bills filed. Not all of them became laws, of course, but that doesn’t mean lawmakers weren’t trying. Here at Watchdog, we’re trying to do our part to shed light on a few bills that may be overlooked for the bigger ticket items. Here’s a look at a few interesting ones currently in the taxpayer queue:
Greyhound racing injuries: Before you start thinking this in a politically motivated bleeding-heart animal rights bill, consider it’s dubbed the “Victoria Q. Gaetz Racing Greyhound Protection Act.” Gaetz is the wife of former Senate President Don Gaetz, a conservative Republican from the Florida panhandle. The bill would require dog tracks to report racing greyhound injuries.
Sexual orientation change efforts: Licensed counselors and therapists, listen up. Trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation could land you in hot water with the Florida Department of Health. State Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Palm Beach, wants to abolish any attempts by licensed professionals to dissuade young people from pursuing same-sex relationships. The bill does, however, allow for professional support for minors seeking “gender transition” and “identity exploration.” But actively trying to change “gender identity” or “gender expression” is a no-go. Confused? It’s probably safe to assume some members of the Legislature will be, too.
Medical tourism: Without question, Florida’s top industry is tourism. With countless beautiful beaches, a mild winter and Disney World, how could it not be? In 2013, more than 94 million people visited the Sunshine State, generating $76 billion in economic activity and accounting for 23-percent of the state’s sales tax revenues, according to Visit Florida. So why not use taxpayer money to build on that success? That’s at the heart of a new plan to market Florida’s health care facilities as tourism destinations. Because, if you have to have surgery, why not make a vacation out of it?
Patriotic film screening: If you call yourself a real American than how could you not support a bill requiring every school board in the state to show eighth-graders and 11th-graders the movie, “America: Imagine the World Without Her.” Dollars to doughnuts, that’s how state Sen. Alan Hays , R-Umatilla, will pitch this bill. America is indeed a great nation, but if there’s extra homework and a quiz attached, that may be grounds for gridlock.
Financial literacy month: If passed, this bill would officially designate April 2015 “Financial Literacy Month.” Four pages of bill text provide a history lesson dating back to 1787 on why financial ignorance is a bad thing. Driving home the point is a litany of unsettling modern statistics, including $2 trillion in American consumer debt, 3 in 10 citizens report having no extra cash, and 40 percent of the public grades themselves “C,” “D,” or “F,” when it comes to money. The solution: a one-month declaration that financial literacy is important, especially for school students. No word yet on how much this might cost.
Malt Beverages: As Watchdog reporter Eric Boehm put it: In Florida, you can buy beer in kegs, in cases, in six-packs and in fancy bottles with cork-stoppers. You also can buy beer at a bar. But if you want to buy 64 ounces of beer in a reusable container known as a “growler,” you’d be breaking the law. But that could soon change. A bill filed in the state House and a companion bill filed in the state Senate would end that strange restriction. The House bill would also make it illegal to use EBT welfare cards to buy alcoholic beverages. It’s already illegal to use EBT benefits to buy liquor. As a Watchdog investigation revealed, the state isn’t all that serious about enforcement.
State lotteries: Hailing from one of South Florida’s most affluent bay front areas, state Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Coconut Grove, has introduced a trio of gambling-related bills that would apply to the entire state. An advanced deposit wageringbill would allow for an individual to deposit money into an account with a registered gaming outfit that would be used solely for betting. Another bill, simply called gaming, would forbid direct political contributions by gaming permit holders to state elected officials. That measure is dubbed the “Public Confidence in Gaming” bill. The veteran lawmaker also wants to create a new program to sell lottery tickets online. But, it’s really about funding education, right?
Lawmakers have until Feb. 25, 2015, to file legislative bills.
Read the full article on Watchdog.org HERE.