TEN DEAD ISSUES AS LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDED
May 3, 2021Jim Saunders
TALLAHASSEE — From abortion restrictions to vacation rentals, many high-profile bills died Friday when the Florida legislative session ended. Here are 10 issues that did not make it through the Legislature:
ABORTION: The House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have prevented doctors from providing abortions that women seek because of tests showing fetuses will have disabilities. The bill about so-called “disability abortions” threatened criminal penalties against doctors, but the Senate did not take it up.
ALIMONY: A long-running debate about overhauling Florida’s alimony laws will have to wait at least another year. While the House approved alimony changes, the controversial issue stalled in the Senate. The proposal, as in the past, sought to eliminate what is known as permanent alimony and reduce the duration of alimony.
BRIGHT FUTURES: The Senate ran into noisy opposition from students and other critics when it started moving forward with a proposal to make eligibility for Bright Futures scholarships contingent on students selecting degree programs likely to lead to employment. The Senate ultimately backed away from the idea.
DATA PRIVACY: Business groups breathed easier Friday with the demise of a bill that would have given consumers more control over personal data collected by companies. The bill, backed by House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, faced heavy opposition from an army of business lobbyists.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: More than four years after Florida voters broadly legalized medical marijuana, lawmakers let die a proposal that would have limited THC potency in smokable mairjuana and other cannabis products. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive component in cannabis.
PENSION SYSTEM: An effort by the Senate to overhaul the state retirement system fizzled as it was not taken up by the House. The Senate proposal would have blocked new government employees from enrolling in the traditional pension system and required them to enroll in a 401(k)-style plan.
TERM LIMITS: A renewed attempt by the House to impose eight-year term limits on county school board members died in the Senate. The proposal, which has emerged repeatedly in recent years, would have asked voters in 2022 to pass a constitutional amendment to limit the terms of school board members.
UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: After massive job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate backed increasing unemployment benefits from a maximum of $275 a week to $375 a week. But the House did not take up the proposal, which also faced opposition from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
UNION DUES: Public-employee unions staved off attempts by Republican lawmakers to place new restrictions on union dues. The proposals included adding a step in which government employers would have had to confirm with workers that they want dues taken out of their pay before the deductions could start.
VACATION RENTALS: Bills aimed at further restricting local governments from regulating vacation rental properties did not make it through the House and Senate. The issue has long been controversial, as cities and counties have fought the additional restrictions on their authority.