News By Industry
News from Tallahassee for 5/22/13
Court Rulings Send Legislature Back To The Drawing Board posted on 5/20/13
by Lynn Hatter | WFSU
Florida’s 2013 lawmaking session is slowly fading into the mists of history. But although lawmakers may have finished their work, some of what they did or didn’t do could prompt much more work on the part of the state’s courts. It’s a bit like a game of legal ping pong...
A law the courts rejected allowed Florida colleges and universities to charge U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants out of state tuition. This past legislative session, state lawmakers considered a bill that would have codified that ruling into law. Tania Galooni with the Southern Poverty Law Center says the bill was unnecessary.
“U.S. Citizens have a right to in-state tuition even if their parents are undocumented. To deny them that would violate the Constitution.”
But Galooni says the bill wasn’t exactly a throwaway piece of legislation. She says it could have come in handy if it had outlined steps for complying with the court’s ruling.
“It could have spelled things out, and that’s something that would have been helpful, it could be either by statute or legislation to clarify the impact of the judge’s ruling and sort of, how to implement it," she said.
Agencies that deal with tuition, like the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors, still have to have rules in place for colleges and universities to follow, regardless of what the courts and lawmakers say.
And then there was a court ruling left a big hole in Florida laws that deal with sentencing juveniles for crimes.
Scott steps up pace on signing death warrants posted on 5/20/13
by BRENDAN FARRINGTON | AP
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott is signing death warrants at a pace rarely seen in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Scott already has signed five death warrants this year, including three in a recent span of less than four weeks.
“I go through them and when people have exhausted their appeals and when they’re finished with their clemency process, then I continue to move the process along,” Scott said.
But death-penalty opponents see the surge in death warrants signed as upsetting.
“He’s clearing out death row,” said the Rev. Phil Egitto, a Roman Catholic priest from Daytona Beach who organizes protests at each execution. “It’s very, very crazy. It’s very unusual. It is my understanding that Gov. Scott wants to be hard on crime, but I don’t think this is the answer.”
So far only one of the five condemned men has been executed — Larry Eugene Mann was put to death by lethal injection last month for kidnapping and murdering 10-year-old Elisa Vera Nelson on Nov. 4, 1980.
Still, there are five active warrants. Scott signed John Errol Ferguson’s death warrant last year, but the execution has been delayed as his lawyers seek appeals. Florida law states that once a warrant is signed, it remains in full effect even if the initial execution date passes.
If the sentences are carried out this year for each of the active warrants, it would guarantee at least the most executions in Florida in one year since six people were executed in 2000, Gov. Jeb Bush’s second year in office.
More trouble for Scott-backed manufacturing tax bill posted on 5/15/13
by Staff | News Service of Florida
The First Amendment Foundation is asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto one of his signature pieces of legislation because of what appears to be a mistake.
In a letter emailed to Scott, the foundation points to a section of the bill (HB 7007) that makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to receive some confidential information related to unemployment compensation. The foundation believes that the bill was intended to make it a violation for a public employee to release the information, in line with federal rules. “This amendment, while perhaps a drafting error, is patently unconstitutional, and [we] respectfully request that you veto the bill,” wrote Barbara Petersen, the president of the foundation, in a message that appeared on the governor’s Sunburst site.
Florida state rep says he’s more confident he can lower state DUI threshold after NTSB’s recommendation posted on 5/15/13
by Ana M. Valdes | Palm Beach Post
The federal government’s push Tuesday to have states lower the threshold for when a driver is presumed to be drunk made things a little easier for Rep. Irv Slosberg, the ranking Democrat on the state House’s transportation committee.
Talk of lowering that threshold has bounced around the Florida Legislature in the past, Slosberg said, but it rarely got anywhere.
Now that the National Transportation Safety Board said it’s in the best interest of the public’s safety to drop the blood-alcohol limit from .08 to .05 percent, fellow legislators may be more likely to listen, he said.
“Federal government giving guidelines makes my job as a road safety advocate easier because I can look at the members of the transportation committee and say these are the federal guidelines and we should comply,” said Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, who took up road safety as his almost singular mission after one of his daughters died and another was injured in a crash in 1996.
“Lowering it from .08 to .05 – it’s a good idea. Conditions have changed out there. There are other distractions that compound our problems of keeping the roads safe: drinking and texting, drinking and looking at your GPS, or drinking and looking at your Facebook page,” he added...
Despite the federal government’s proposal, some advocates predict it could be an uphill battle against restaurants, bars and the liquor industry that may quake at a limit that equates to one drink for a 120-pound woman and two drinks for the average-size man before they are too drunk to drive.
Freed death row inmates urge Scott to veto bill to speed up state's capital punishment process posted on 5/15/13
by Kelli Kennedy | AP
MIAMI — Two exonerated former death row inmates are urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto legislation that would accelerate the state's capital punishment process. The system has been criticized for allowing some condemned inmates to languish for decades on death row.
Seth Penalver spent 13 years there and says he would have died an innocent man if the Timely Justice Act had been law.
Follow us on Twitter