Florida Lawmakers Still Have Much to Do in Final Three Weeks

The Florida Legislature has three weeks left to finish its business after dragging its feet for the first six weeks of the annual 60-day session.

So far only one major issue that has passed both chambers, a bill requiring girls under the age of 18 get a parent's permission before having an abortion.

Here's a bold prediction: Once the House and Senate resolve differences in the state budget, a flood of bills will start heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk.

In the meantime, one issue that's coming up in the week ahead is the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The private non-profit is, by law, the only agency that funnels government money to groups that help domestic violence victims.

But it's now under scrutiny after officials learned it's president was compensated $7.5 million over three years. The House has a five-hour hearing scheduled on the matter Monday, and the Senate is taking up a bill that would strip the coalition's unique status in state law. The House has already passed that legislation.

Lawmakers will also look to make sure there aren't similar private agencies taking advantage of the state.

“That one was extraordinary. I can't imagine that an abuse of that level exists somewhere else, but without a doubt we are concerned, and we are looking at legislation that ensures that the right oversight is applied to anyone with that kind of authority,” Oliva said.

The Senate is ready to pass a bill that would give judges flexibility to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses. The bill addresses first-time offenders convicted of possessing or selling small amounts of drugs and who didn't possess a gun or commit violent acts.

The House could pass a bill that would require informed consent before a pelvic exam can be performed on a woman under anesthesia. Democratic Rep. Evan Jenne has said that university hospitals sometimes perform the exams on women as a teaching tool for medical students without patients' knowledge. He wants that practice ended.

And the House is also taking up a bill that would authorize the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to use drones to hunt invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades and other public land.

The language is being added to a current law that prohibits law enforcement use of drones except in certain circumstances.

The drones could also be used to locate invasive plants that are strangling native trees and vegetation, as well as helping the Florida Forest Service fight wildfires.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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