A House version of a bill that bans so-called sanctuary policies is now moving in Florida. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved a bill Wednesday that would require local law enforcement agencies cooperate with federal authorities that enforce immigration laws. A Senate version of the bill already has been approved by two committees and has one more stop before it can be considered by the full chamber.
So you want to rent an electric scooter to check out the sights? Better head to Fort Lauderdale. Hollywood has now banned the controversial devices. The ban, which took effect immediately after the commission vote on Wednesday, extends from the western neighborhoods all the way to the Broadwalk, a popular beachfront promenade already humming with bicyclists and skaters. The new law also prohibits the sale, rental and leasing of e-scooters, motor scooters and two-wheeled, gas-powered go-peds within city limits. Under the new rules, such devices cannot be ridden on any street, roadway or sidewalk in Hollywood.
Florida Sen. Debbie Mayfield has amended her bill that would have moved state oversight of septic tanks from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection. Now the bill, SB 1758, would require DEP and DOH to instead form a study that looks at the possibility of doing so. If passed, the departments would have to present the findings of the study to legislators before July 1, 2020. The amended bill unanimously passed the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee Wednesday.
A constitutional amendment adopted by voters in November requires a two-thirds majority of legislators in both chambers to approve a new state tax or a tax increase. Meanwhile, taxpayers in 56 of Florida’s 67 counties, and in 19 school districts across the state, are paying $4.3 billion annually in “local option” sales tax levies to build schools, widen roads or finance mass transit projects. Eight of 11 such “local option” sales tax increases were approved in referendums in 2018.
Central Florida officials are concerned about a bill moving quickly through the Legislature they fear would make it more difficult for local governments to gain voter approval for local-option sales taxes to fund road improvements or capital projects. The proposed state law (HB 5) would require the approval of at least two-thirds — or almost 67 percent — of voters in a general election to allow a county or local government to raise the sales tax.
At the House scooter bill’s first committee hearing, home rule advocates weren’t shy about their distaste for the bill. The Florida League of Cities arraigned HB 453 for its “aggressive” pre-emption language. The bill wouldn’t allow local governments to cap the number of scooters or vendors operating within in their borders, supplanting programs such as the recently announced pilot in Tampa. Those concerns held sway with a few House members, but the bill still coasted through committee. The Senate, however, plans to address those concerns straight away.
The Florida Senate is looking to pump another $220 million into projects to rebuild portions of the Panhandle battered by last fall’s Hurricane Michael, but it’s well short of what some lawmakers say is needed in the region. The Senate budget proposal unveiled this week would bring the state’s overall investment in recovery from the Category 4 storm to $1.8 billion, with the bulk of spending already underway and some of it eligible for reimbursement from the federal government.
The Senate on Thursday published initial details on how much it wants to spend on Hurricane Michael relief. The chamber’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year pegs total state spending at $1.8 billion, one of the first true price tags for the near-Category 5 storm that made landfall in Mexico Beach on Oct. 10. That total consists of $1.6 billion in emergency funds from the state and just shy of $220 million from the spending plan the Senate will unveil on Friday. The emergency funds are primarily paid from reserves under an emergency order, according to Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta.