Florida Senate Passes Bill Dissolving Disney’s Special Self-Governing Power

The Florida Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that strips away Disney’s special self-governing status after the company publicly opposed a parental rights bill that was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis late last month.

Disney released a scathing statement after the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill was officially signed into law.

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Florida House, Senate Pass Own Budget Proposals

The Florida House and Senate have each passed HB 5001, known as Florida’s budget entitled “General Appropriations Act.” The total amount in Florida’s budget for the 2022-2023 Fiscal Year is $105 billion in the House version, and $108 billion in the Senate version.

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Florida Bill Legalizing Food Theft Amended, Passes Committee

Florida State Sen. Jim Boyd (R-FL-21) sponsored legislation that would crack down on organized retail theft, but included a provision that would have legalized theft of food items so long as the thief consumed the food.

Critics of the legislation quickly pointed out that the provision in the bill resembled Proposition 47 in California, which was adopted in 2014. The proposition made thefts of $950 or less a misdemeanor.

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Florida Surgeon General Asked to Leave Senator’s Office After Refusing to Wear Mask When Requested

Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo was asked to leave a meeting with Florida Senator Tina Polsky, after refusing to wear a mask in her office.

The meeting between Ladapo and Polsky was in request from the surgeon general who met with other senators who will weigh in on his confirmation in the upcoming legislative session.

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Florida Sen. Brandes Files Civics Education Bill

Jeff Brandes

Florida State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-FL-24) filed a bill this week for the 2022 legislative session similar to a bill he previously filed during 2021’s session. The bill will seek to expand civics-education which would instruct high school students on how to engage as an educated citizen.

Students will be able to seek internships with governmental agencies or entities and would establish a “Citizen Scholar Program” at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus.

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Albritton Wins Florida Senate President Race for 2024

Florida’s Senate Republicans have selected Sen. Ben Albritton (R-26) to be the Senate President for the 2024-2026 term. Currently, Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-10), will serve as Senate President until Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28) takes over for the 2023-2024 legislative sessions.

“It’s a real honor and privilege for me to have earned the support of my colleagues in the Senate,” Albritton said to Florida Politics. “Senator Manny Diaz is a valued colleague and a friend, who puts people above politics. We share a vision for the future of Florida, and we’ll work together in the years ahead to advance policies that are in the best interest of the state of Florida.”

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Florida Senate Staffers to Receive $1,000 Front-Line Worker Bonus

Lieutenant observing the practice fire

Police, firefighters, and paramedics won’t be the only ones receiving bonuses for working through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a Sunday report, all 117 aides to Florida Senators will be receiving a $1000 bonus for their work during the uncertain times when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. 

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Florida House Passes Bill Banning Vaccine Passports

The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill would ban “vaccine passports.”

SB 2006 passed by a vote of 76-40 in the House. It now heads back to the Florida Senate after the House added an amendment. 

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Parental Bill of Rights Legislation Heads to DeSantis’ Desk

The Florida Legislature passed a bill instituting a “parental bill of rights” and sent it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill, HB 241, worked its way through the Florida House and then passed through the Florida Senate on Thursday. It was passed on a nearly party-line vote, with Sen. Lauren Book (D-32), the lone Democrat, siding with Republicans and voting to approve the bill.

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Florida Legislature Hearing Bills to Curb Foreign Influence

Florida House Chamber

The Florida Legislature is working through two pieces of legislation aimed at curbing foreign influence in Florida’s colleges and universities, primarily research institutions.

The Florida House has already passed HB 7017 unanimously and sent it to the Senate for consideration. The bill will require state agencies and political subdivisions to disclose foreign grants and donations of over $50,000 or more to the state. Also, all donations of any size will be required to be reported from seven hostile nations. Among those nations deemed hostile are: China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela.

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FL Senate Votes 40-0 to Approve Increased Unemployment Benefits

On Thursday April 22, 2021, The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill (SB 1906) that will increase the benefits for unemployed Floridians. From a maximum weekly payment of $275 to $375, the bill also increases the maximum amount of weeks a recipient can receive these benefits  from 12 weeks to 14 weeks and is calculated monthly rather than annually. The maximum amount of benefits a recipient receives in a benefit year jumps from $6,325 to $9,375.

As far as aspects of the bill regarding recipient application, it allows for applicants to use a “base period” that is different than the one that the individual is in, at the time of applying. Instead of the required base period that includes the wages made in the last year up until the time of the application, an applicant can now choose the most recent base period that is prior to the one that the he or she is in.

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Sen. Lauren Book to Lead Florida Senate Democrats

Sen. Lauren Book (D-32) has been tabbed as the new leader of the Florida Senate Democrats. Sen. Perry Thurston (D-33), a high ranking Senate Democrat, announced his intentions to run in the special election for the late-Alcee Hastings’ seat in Congress, making the way for Book to be heir-apparent.

Book, 36, has served in the Florida Senate since 2016 when she ran unopposed for the Senate’s 32nd district.

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Florida Legislature Hearing Elections Reform Bills

Dennis Baxley

The Florida House is hearing an elections reform package and the Florida Senate is hearing a bill amending Florida’s election law related to ballot drop-boxes and absentee ballot signature verification.

Sen. Dennis Baxley’s (R-12) SB 90 passed the Senate Rules Committee by a 10-7 vote, and Baxley said the bill is well-intentioned designed to protect Florida’s voters and the integrity of Florida’s elections.

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DeSantis Signs Anti-Riot Legislation

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1, known as the “anti-riot” bill into law during a press conference in Winter Haven.

Surrounding DeSantis was Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and other deputies where DeSantis said, “If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country. There’s just nothing even close.”

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