5 things to watch Monday at the Florida Legislature

April 29, 2013 

Monday marks the start of the ninth and final week of the 2013 session of the Florida Legislature. Here are five things to watch:

-- The continued progress through the weekend on a $74 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 will usher in a brief era of good feeling between the House and Senate, as lawmakers prepare to scour the spending plan for individual projects in their cities and counties. The budget must be accessible to all legislators by Tuesday and for 72 hours before they can take a final vote on it, allowing a timely adjournment Friday.

-- Now that the budget has $480 million for teacher raises -- tied to pay-for-performance plans Gov. Rick Scott did not seek -- he now must launch one final push for his other priority, a sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment purchases. The idea is languishing in both houses and appears to be going nowhere at this point.

-- Both the House and Senate have all-day floor sessions scheduled for Monday. The House scheduled a final vote on a series of local bills that apply only to one city or county, including one that allows a hotel in Madison County to get a liquor license and another allowing Florida State University to take ownership of the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, where the Seminoles play basketball.

-- The House is scheduled to debate the bill (HB 13) that would allow police to issue tickets to motorists who text while driving. The measure has already passed the Senate.

-- The Senate is set to take a final vote on a bill (HB 7083) designed to speed up the appeals process for the 405 men and women on Death Row in Florida. The bill narrows the timetable for filing death sentence appeals and it will continue to allow a death sentence to be recommended by as few as seven jurors, a bare majority of a 12-member jury. Most other states require a unanimous jury recommendation for a death sentence.

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