Florida legislature briefs: House unanimously approves Everglades bill

March 23, 2013 

House approves 'Glades bill

TALLAHASSEE -- A new plan for Everglades restoration is moving ahead quickly in the Florida Legislature.

The Florida House on Friday unanimously approved a bill that would help pay for restoration.

The legislation will keep intact an existing tax on farmers in the northern Everglades until 2036.

The money from the tax will be used to help pay for restoration projects. The legislation (HB 7065) also calls for spending $32 million a year for the next 10 years.

The bill has the backing of environmental groups and sugar farmers.

The measure is backed by Gov. Rick Scott since it carries out the agreement that he negotiated with the federal government.

There have been legal battles over the fate of the famed River of Grass for the last two decades.

House panel clears 'cyberbullying' bill

A Florida House panel has cleared a bill that would include "cyberbullying" under the state's anti-bullying law.

The House Education committee Friday passed the bill (HB 609) by a vote of 14-0.

The state defines bullying as "inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress." School districts already have to adopt policies prohibiting bullying and other harassment in schools. The bill extends protection from bullying when it is done using computers connected to the Internet.

The latest version of the bill was amended to clarify that bullying using computers off of school grounds has to "substantially interfere with or limit" a student's in-school activities to be covered. It's also covered if it disrupts the educational process.

Sixteen other states' anti-bullying laws already address cyberbullying.

Bill allows optometriststo prescribe certain meds

The Florida House has unanimously passed a bill that would allow optometrists to prescribe certain medications taken by mouth.

The bill (HB 239) passed Friday now heads to the Senate.

Optometrists are not medical doctors and do not have the same authority to write prescriptions like ophthalmologists who are medical or osteopathic physicians.

The bill was backed by the Florida Optometric Association. Florida law already permitted optometrists to prescribe topical medicine such as eye gels.

The organization saidoptometrists needed theadded prescriptive authority to help treat more eye diseases.

Forty-seven other states allow some kinds of optometrists to prescribe medications.

Florida House unanimously approves wine keg bill

Wine kegs would be available in Florida for the first time under a bill that won House approval.

The House voted 116-0 on Friday to approve the bill (HB 623) that would legalize wine barrels that hold just more than five gallons. Currently wine can't be sold in containers larger than one gallon.

The idea is to help reduce costs for restaurants and bars that serve wine by the glass. The kegs use an inert gas that preserves wine and prevents the spoilage that often befalls corked bottles, which need to be consumed more quickly.

A Senate companion bill (SB 658) has won unanimous approval in two of its three committee stops.

-- Associated Press

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