State Politics

Bills that passed

Legislation that passed in the 2009 session of the Florida Legislature, which ended regulation time Friday, would:


n Negate a Florida Supreme Court ruling and restore a cap on lawyer fees for employees making claims in workers’ compensation cases.

n Require businesses that pay customers for precious metals and jewelry sent in by mail to register with the state, keep detailed records of transactions and take photographs of all items, providing them online to law enforcement agencies to determine if any have been stolen.


n Require police to adopt policies protecting confidential informants through a bill named for Rachel Hoffman, who was murdered while acting as such an informant for Tallahassee police.

n Make smuggling illegal immigrants into Florida a state crime, which will let state and local law enforcement officers arrest suspects who now often get away while waiting for federal authorities.

n Authorize state tracking of prescription drugs dispensed by pharmacies and clinics to crack down on abuse.

n Require suspects arrested on felony charges ranging from burglary to murder to provide DNA samples for a state database even if they are not convicted.

n Require that police notify rape victims of their legal rights and remedies and offer other aid including help in obtaining medical treatment, forensic exams and crisis-intervention services.

n Give law enforcement officers under investigation for misconduct an opportunity to review evidence and witness statements before being questioned about the allegations.


n Allow each of Florida’s 11 public universities to raise tuition, now among the nation’s lowest, by up to 15 percent a year, including systemwide increases ordered by the Legislature, until the rate reaches the national average.

n Strengthen a private school voucher program for children from low-income families by giving insurance companies dollar-for-dollar credits against premium taxes for donations to the program, now supported solely through similar corporation income tax credits.

n Require public school students who lose or damage textbooks to pay 100 percent of replacement costs instead of 50 percent to 75 percent under present law.

n Include all Florida schools in an experimental federal school grading program that now applies only to those with high percentages of low-income students.

n Permit state universities to build on-campus columbariums for the ashes of deceased alumni.

n Loosen schools’ zero-tolerance policies so they no longer call police for insignificant violations such as petty theft and vandalism and minor fights.

n Award high school diplomas to Vietnam veterans who left school to serve in the military.


n Put on the 2010 ballot a proposed state constitutional amendment that would repeal public financing of statewide election campaigns for governor and the three Florida Cabinet positions.


n Remove the word “shylock,” a term considered offensive to Jews, from state law.

n Require high-level employees and elected officials covered by the state retirement system to stay in retirement for six months before returning to the same or another job covered by the plan. Current law requires only a one-month delay before such double-dipping can begin.

Growth Management

n Exempts heavily populated areas from transportation requirements in Florida’s growth management laws that had the unintended consequence of encouraging sprawl.

Health Care

n Provide greater access to medical insurance coverage needed to get on waiting lists for kidney transplants for patients under 65 with end-stage renal disease through a bill named for former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.

n Shorten the times families must wait before switching to the state-backed KidCare program after they’ve lost private insurance coverage for their children and to reapply if they have been kicked out of the program for failing to pay premiums.


n Increase premiums by up to an average of 10 percent for customers of the state-back Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s largest provider of homeowner coverage, to strengthen its ability to pay hurricane claims.

n Give homeowners the choice of paying higher, unregulated insurance premiums for hurricane and other property coverage in a bid to attract larger, more financially robust insurers to Florida.


n Bar museums, with certain exemptions, from displaying human bodies unless they can show they were obtained from donors or the donors’ families and that the person knew he or she would be preserved and displayed.


n Permit police to ticket motorists for failing to buckle up as a primary offense instead of only if stopped for another violation.

n Let airport employees use any means necessary to get rid of birds and animals that could endanger safety and exempt them from prosecution if they accidentally kill endangered or threatened species.

n Ban local governments from charging people who cause car accidents for emergency response services.

Social services

n Give adoptive and foster parents access to state records of the children under their care and let officials release abuse reports if they remove information that would identify the victims.


n Put on the 2010 ballot a proposed state constitutional amendment to lower the cap on annual assessment increases from 10 percent to 5 percent for properties other than primary homes (they have a 3 percent cap), and offer an additional exemption of 25 percent up to a maximum of $100,000 to buyers of primary homes who haven’t owned one for the previous eight years.

n Put on the 2010 ballot a proposed state constitutional amendment that would give military personnel deployed overseas an additional tax break on their primary homes.

n Close a loophole that allows corporations to avoid taxes on real estate transactions.

n Fix a glitch in the law passed annually to “piggyback” Florida’s corporate income tax code to changes in federal law, which inadvertently would have increased the state taxes of businesses if they had taken a federal depreciation bonus.

n Make it easier for taxpayers to challenge property tax assessments.

Unemployment Compensation

n Give about 250,000 out-of-work Floridians up to 20 weeks of extra unemployment benefits by drawing down more than $400 million in federal stimulus aid for states with high unemployment rates, although lawmakers declined to make changes in state jobless rules that would have netted another $444 million.