News from Tallahassee for 5/28/15

44 bills signed by Scott affect guns, muni pensions, distilleries posted on 5/22/15

by john kennedy | Palm Beach Post

fl gov rick scottTALLAHASSEE — A measure revamping police and firefighter pension benefits approved under former Gov. Jeb Bush, along with weapons and body camera legislation were among 44 bills signed into law Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott.

The municipal pension changes had divided cities and unions for years, but were approved amid rising concerns about the cost of benefits OK’d by Bush, now a likely presidential contender.

The pension sweeteners were the first bill signed into law by Bush as governor, and were a payback for police and firefighter union support in his 1998 victory over Democrat Buddy MacKay.

The legislation (SB 172) signed by Scott basically rewrites state law to include terms of an interpretation of pension benefits crafted by the state Department of Management Services.

The agency gave cities some leeway in providing union members with extra benefits if governments can make a case that there are insufficient tax dollars to cover them. The bill also increases minimum accrual rates and puts a cap on overtime hours for calculating police benefits.

Another bill signed by Scott allow weapons to be carried (SB 290) without a permit for the first 48 hours following a mandatory evacuation order, such as during a hurricane.

Once gun-carriers look for housing in a shelter, bans on weapons could still apply. Schools and many other public buildings ban visitors from entering with weapons — so the gun-carrier would have to find another place to take refuge or stow weapons elsewhere.

Scott also signed into law a measure (SB 248) allowing body camera recording made by a law enforcement official in certain situations to be exempt from public records.

Supporters said the move was designed to protect the privacy of residents when police entered a home in response to a complaint. Critics warned the exemption could be misused, and shield recordings that could prove significant if claims of excessive use-of-force by law enforcement were made.

But law enforcement lobbyists said the exemption will encourage the broader use of body cameras.

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Revenge porn bill headed to Scott's desk posted on 4/30/15

by sean rossman | tallahassee democrat

Senators passed a bill outlawing revenge porn Wednesday, even though the bill's sponsor doesn't think it does enough to protect victims.

SB 538 now heads to Gov. Rick Scott's desk after it passed the Senate 38-2. The bill outlaws sexual cyberharrassment, commonly known as revenge porn, or the online posting of sexually explicit photographs or videos of another person without their consent.

Sen. David Simmons instructed his colleagues to vote for the bill even though it restricts the definition of revenge porn.

"It doesn't go as far as the Senate bill in protecting these victims," Simmons said.

The amended version only concerns posts to websites, while the original Senate version included all electronic distributions of revenge porn. The bill also requires posts to have some name or identifying number, the Senate's original version only required someone be identified by identifying information or by their face.

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Alimony overhaul legislation dies in session acrimony posted on 4/30/15

by News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — An alimony overhaul that brought together people once bitterly divided on the issue has created an even deeper rift between two powerful Republican lawmakers who blame each other for a failure to get the bill passed this year.

After a year of wheeling-and-dealing by lawyers, lawmakers and others, the alimony proposal died when the Senate refused to take up the House's version of the bill, which would have established a formula for alimony amounts based on the length of marriages and the amounts of money spouses earn.

The acrimony over the measure involved a provision, pushed by Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, that would have established a "50-50" presumption regarding child sharing between divorcing spouses.

The House proposal (HB 943) didn't go as far as Lee wanted, and the Senate did not consider the measure after the House adjourned and went home Tuesday.

Lee said language about child sharing in the House bill was "poorly drafted" and "designed to create confusion in the courts."

But House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman, who sponsored an alimony overhaul vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott two years ago and who worked on a revamp for more than eight months with The Florida Bar and representatives of an organization seeking to change the state's alimony laws, accused Lee of being a "bully" and "hijacking" the bill for his own reasons.

The Family Law Section of The Bar supported the alimony overhaul but strongly opposed Lee's child-sharing element, one of the reasons Scott gave for his veto of the 2013 version.

Workman said Scott told him this year "don't bring back retroactivity and don't bring back drama" if he wanted the governor's approval. Workman also said Lee promised in March that he would not allow the child-sharing portion to kill the bill.

But Lee refused to back down from the requirement despite repeated attempts to amend it, Workman complained.

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Senate passes bill to let children secretly record rapists posted on 4/23/15

by AP

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A bill passed by the Florida Senate would let children who are victims or potential victims of rape and other violent acts secretly record their attackers.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill (HB 7001) on Wednesday. It applies to victims who are under the age of 18.

The law generally prohibits conversations to be recorded or otherwise intercepted without the consent of both parties.

The bill was filed after the Supreme Court ordered a new trial for an ice cream truck driver convicted of raping his teenage stepdaughter over a period of years.

The girl twice secretly recorded him talking about the assaults with an MP3 player hidden under her shirt. The court said the recordings shouldn't have been used as evidence.

The bill now goes back to the House.

Florida Senate votes to limit access to police camera videos posted on 4/23/15

by Gray Rohrer | Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE — Amid an ongoing national debate about police tactics, Florida may soon place limits on who is allowed to access video taken by body cameras worn by law enforcement officers.

The Florida Senate on Wednesday voted 36-2 for a bill that would keep confidential police videos that are shot in a house, a health care facility or any place that a "reasonable person would expect to be private."

Supporters of the measure contend that placing some level of restrictions on who could have access to videos recorded by police officers might encourage more agencies to require their officers to use them. They also said it would guarantee the privacy rights of those caught on video.

There has been a call to have more police use body cameras as a way to hold officers accountable. Earlier this month, a police officer in South Carolina was arrested on murder charges after a bystander's video showed the officer shooting a man as he ran away.

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