Capitol Report for Week Ending February 24, 2017

Written by Ben Wilcox on February 17, 2017


Capitol Report 2017

Week ending February 24, 2017

Filed by: Ben Wilcox, Governmental Consultant

Overview

The Florida legislature completed its final week of pre-legislative session committee meetings this week.  Common Cause Florida has several priority issues that are expected to receive attention during this year’s regular session which begins on March 7th.  Work on some of these issues has already begun during pre-session committee weeks in December, January and February. 

Ethics Reform

A House Committee this week continued Speaker Richard Corcoran’s push for ethics reform taking up two bills that would impose a six-year lobbying ban on legislators and statewide elected officials after they leave office.  The so-called revolving door prohibition would be the longest in the country.  The bills, HJR 7001 and HB 7003 were approved Tuesday by the Rules and Policy Committee setting the stage for a hearing by the full House during the first week of the legislative session.

Redistricting

Common Cause Florida voiced its opposition this week to a bad bill, SB 352.  The bill by Senator Travis Hutson was heard in the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. The bill was amended to take out language that would direct the courts to hold an “immediate” hearing in cases where a legislatively passed redistricting plan is challenged and to require the court to render a decision as “expeditiously as possible.” 

The bill does set up a timetable that allows legislators to run in their current districts while a legislatively drawn map is being challenged. It goes on to “encourage” the court to hold public hearings on remedial maps and allow public testimony on any proposed map. Common Cause Florida opposes the bill as a violation of the separation of powers and an attack on the independence of the judicial branch.  The bill passed by a four to three vote. Its next stop will be the Rules Committee. The bill now has a House companion, HB 953.

Common Cause members should contact members of the Rules Committee and ask them to vote “No” on SB 352.

Government Accountability

HB 479, addressing government accountability, was passed this week by the House Subcommittee on Oversight, Transparency and Administration. The bill, by Representative Larry Metz, is similar to legislation Common Cause supported last year. The bill provides clear definitions of abuse, fraud and waste and requires all government agencies establish internal controls aimed at preventing those problems. The bill also prohibits local governments from requiring a member of the public to provide an advance copy of his or her testimony as a precondition to be allowed to speak at a meeting. The bill goes next to the House Appropriations Committee.

Legislation

Common Cause Florida is currently tracking a number of bills that have already been filed for the coming legislative session. They include:

  • HJR 1 and SJR 482 – Proposes a constitutional amendment to place a 12-year term limit on Supreme Court Justices and District Court Judges. 
  • HB 41 and SB 774 – This bill would create an independent commission responsible for legislative and congressional redistricting.  
  • HJR 51 and SJR 74 – These joint resolutions would propose a constitutional amendment that, if passed by voters, would automatically restore the voting rights of non-violent ex-felons, once they have completed the terms of their sentences. Common Cause Florida supports these bills.
  • HB 53 and SB 270 and SB 934 – These bills would statutorily provide for the automatic restoration of voting rights and some other civil rights to former felons.
  • SB 72 – This bill would allow driver license applications and identification card applications to serve as voter registration applications.  Common Cause Florida supports this bill.
  • SB 80 – This is a bad public records bill that would make attorney’s fees “discretionary” in successful public records lawsuits.  Common Cause Florida opposes this bill.
  • HB 105 and SB 544 and SB 954 – These bills require Supervisors of Elections to allow submission of an affidavit to cure signature discrepancies on vote-by-mail ballots.  Common Cause Florida supports these bills.
  • HB 117 and SB 426 – Requires an independent audit of voting systems in random precincts before certification of an election rather than after.
  • HJR 121 and SJR 1098 – Provides for legislative review of judicial rulings declaring a legislative act void.  Common Cause Florida opposes this bill.
  • SJR 130, SJR 132, SJR 134, SJR136, HJR 187, HJR 271, HJR 571, HJR 721 – Dealing with the selection and duties of county officers.
  • SJR 138 – Proposed constitutional amendment requiring Supervisors of Elections be elected.
  • HB 159 and SB 758 – Gives a candidate an additional 48 hours to pay a qualifying fee if for some reason a check is returned.
  • HB 207 – This bill would prohibit agency Inspector Generals from receiving a bonus for work performance.
  • SB 224 – Related to voting assistance, poll watching and voter solicitation.
  • HB 231 and SB 366 – Provides for nonpartisan elections for state attorneys and public defenders.
  • SB 242 and HB 311 – Providing for the election of the president by popular vote.
  • SB 246 and HB 163 – This is the compromise public records bill that was agreed to last year as an alternative to Senator Steube’s bad public records bill.
  • SB 306 – This bill would raise the conflict of interest bar for the legislature and prohibit legislators from voting on issues that benefit themselves. 
  • SB 352 and HB 953 – These are bad redistricting bills that attempt to set a timetable where legislators can run for election in their current districts even while those districts are being challenged in court. The bills also “encourage” the court to adopt certain procedures.  Common Cause Florida opposes these bills.
  • HB 409 – requires Supervisors of Election to establish an election alert system informing voters of changes in polling.  
  • HB 445 – Provides public records exemption for certain voter registration information.
  • HB 479 and SB 880 – These bills provide clear definitions of government abuse, fraud and waste and require all government agencies establish internal controls aimed at preventing those problems.
  • SB 508 and HB 519 – Relating to automatic tabulating equipment and recounts.
  • HB 521 and SB 726 – Allows an absent elector to vote by personally delivering a vote by mail ballot to an early voting site.
  • HJR 565 – Provides a constitutional amendment to automatically restore a felon’s right to vote three years after completion of sentence.
  • SB 598 – Relating to provisional ballots.
  • SB 602 and HB 817 – Allows preregistered voters to vote in the presidential preference primary if they turn 18 before the general election.
  • HB 707 and HB 709 and SB 1070 and SB 1072 – These bills direct the Secretary of State to enter into agreements with other states to maintain the statewide voter registration system.
  • HB 733 – Revises provisions for “curing” provisional and mail-in ballots.
  • HJR 811 and HJR 882 – Constitutional amendment that would make the Secretary of State an elected office.
  • SB 862 – Provides for a public records exemption for preregistered voters who are minors.
  • HB 897 – Allows local governments to post legal notices on their websites.
  • SB 952 – Revises the resign-to-run law to require an officer who qualifies for federal public office to resign from the office he or she presently holds if the terms, or any part thereof, run concurrently.
  • SB 990 – requires local governments to hold elections in odd or even years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
  • SB 1160 – Specifies what payment can be used to qualify for election.
  • HJR 7001 and HB 7003 – This joint resolution and bill propose a six-year ban on former legislators, elected officials and appointed officials from lobbying state government after leaving office.

Capitol Report will be filed weekly when the legislature holds committee meetings and during the legislative session.  We will let you know if there is any recommended action that can be taken by Common Cause members that would be helpful to our lobbying efforts.

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Office: Common Cause Florida

Issues: Accountability, Ethics, Money in Politics, More Democracy Reforms, Voting and Elections

Tags: State Ethics, Redistricting, Registration and Voting Systems

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