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Legislative roundup: Slew of Republican bills introduced Thursday

State lawmakers are in Tallahassee for the fourth time this year to amend Senate maps found by courts to contain improper political bias.

With little committee action on the calendar Thursday, several majority-party legislators got to work on their priorities ahead of the 2016 Legislative Session, which begins in January.

Here’s a quick look at some of the proposals.

Insurance torts

Sen. Garrett Richter filed a Senate companion bill to a Rep. Mike Hill-sponsored bill to require a “written notice of loss” to insurance companies before taking them to court for a “bad faith” action against an insurer.

The Florida Justice Association has said the bills – SB 632 and HB 5 – unfairly limit access to the courts, and will actively oppose them next year, setting up yet another legislative fight between lawyers and the insurance companies over the so-called bad faith issue.

Scope of practice and prescription powers

In another move dealing with a long-running legislative turf war, Sebring Rep. Cary Pigman – himself a medical doctor – filed a bill that would allow nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants to prescribe certain drugs that currently only doctors can legally prescribe. It would also allow certain non-physicians to operate autonomously without a practice agreement with a physician.

The Florida Medical Association and groups representing PAs and nurses will face off again this year on the scope of the latter’s practice.

Physicians say it puts patients at risk of substandard health care, while advocates for the bills say it expands access to primary care.

A handful of other states have made similar expansions, including Colorado and Nebraska.

Lottery, scratch-off tickets 

Florida Keys Rep. Holly Raschein introduced  a House companion bill Thursday to a measure by Sen. Garrett Richter allowing retailers to sell lottery and other game tickets to buyers using credit and debit cards.

Current law restricts lottery sales to cash transactions only, on the basis that it prevents irresponsible purchases and fraud.

Congressional term limits

Despite a general consensus among Capitol-watchers that term limits hinder institutional knowledge in the Legislature and strengthen the influence of lobbyists, the idea of term limits for Congress remains popular in Tallahassee and among Florida voters.

A pair of Republicans, Rep. Larry Metz of Groveland and Sen. Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach, have introduced bills that call on Congress to convene in a special Session for the purpose of imposing term limits on themselves.

The bills – HM 417 and SM 630 respectively – would only go into effect if two-thirds of state legislatures in the U.S. pass a similar call.

Consumer credit for veterans

Former Senate President Don Gaetz also filed a bill Thursday to penalize any lender who violates the Military Lending Act, a law that affords veterans protections against high rates and charges when borrowing money from financial institutions.

Under Gaetz’s just-filed SB 626 state regulators would be authorized to discipline or deny licenses to any lender who does not abide by the federal law. Under current law, violators can only be civilly sued or disciplined by federal regulators.

Written By

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at

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