Florida legislature briefs: Bill to ban use of foreign laws stalls in state Senate

May 3, 2013 

Bill to ban use of foreign laws stalls

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida senators on Thursday dealt a late setback to a contentious bill that would ban Shariah, or Islamic law, and other foreign laws from being applied in state courts.

The Senate's leading supporter of the proposal tried to have his colleagues take up the House-passed version (HB 351), but his motion fell one vote short on the next-to-last day of the Legislature's 60-day session.

The vote on the motion was 25-14; a super-majority is needed to bring up the House's rendition.

The procedural setback stalled the bill, putting its fate in doubt as lawmakers deal with stacks of bills before wrapping up their session Friday. The Republican-led House passed the legislation on a 79-39 vote last month.

Republican Sen. Alan Hays framed the issue as one of protecting basic rights in Florida courts.

"We want this bill to assure everyone in a Florida court that your constitutional rights will be protected, regardless of any other influence," Hays said Thursday in defending his proposal.

Bill seeks to prevent identity theft

It will be illegal to possess without permission other people's personal information like social security numbers and credit cards if Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill that passed the Legislature.

The House unanimously passed the bill (HB 691) on Thursday. The Senate unanimously passed it two weeks ago.

The measure would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to possess other people's Social Security numbers, driver's licenses, medical records, passports, bank account numbers, credit cards and Medicaid or food assistance account numbers unless they have authorization. Violators could face a year in jail.

It would be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison to possess personal information from more than five people.

Bill promotes use of natural gas fuel for vehicles

A bill that encourages the use of natural gas fuel for vehicles is heading to Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

The House passed the measure (HB 579) Thursday on a 116-2 vote.

It would ensure state taxes won't be charged on the fuel for five years and it sets aside $6 million for a rebate program.

Private companies and government agencies that purchase three or more natural gas fueled vehicles would get a rebate of up to $25,000 per vehicle, up to a maximum $250,000 rebate.

Gov. signs bill on unclaimed property requests

Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law a bill that fully automates certain filing claims to the state for unclaimed property.

The governor signed the bill (SB 464) on Thursday.

The automatic process applies to property with a value of less than $1,000.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater says his office is holding more than $1 billion of unclaimed property.

Much of that is money in dormant bank accounts and from utility companies. But it also includes items from abandoned safe deposit boxes.

To check for unclaimed property, visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org or call 88-VALUABLE or 850-413-5555.

-- Associated Press

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