Abortion, nude beaches, bears on legislative plate

ron desantis
No bills have been sent to Ron DeSantis' desk yet this Session. That's likely to change.

Wondering how many bills the Florida Legislature has sent to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in the first three weeks of its annual 60-day Session?

The answer is zero. None. Zippo. Nada. Zilch.

But one of the first bills expected to hit the governor’s desk is a measure that will require girls under the age of 18 to get a parent’s permission before having an abortion. The Senate is expected to pass the bill in the upcoming week, sending it to the House, which has made the legislation a priority.

It expands a law that requires parents of minors to be notified if their daughters get an abortion. But right now, parents don’t have a say in the decision. Similar to current law, girls would be able to petition a court to get a waiver from the requirement if they are victims of abuse or incest, or if they can convince a judge that getting their parent’s permission would cause them harm.

While that’s been one of the most talked-about bills this session, there are hundreds more being considered by lawmakers.

A bill aimed at illegal bear hunting will hit the House floor in the week ahead, while a similar bill moves through Senate committees.

While Florida allowed a limited bear hunt in 2015, killing the large mammals remains illegal. The Florida black bear population has bounced back in recent years and they now number about 4,000 around the state.

But Republican Rep. David Smith doesn’t think it’s right that the penalties for illegally killing bears isn’t as harsh as they are for killing deer or wild turkey out of season. His bill would increase fines and penalties for killing a bear, or for being in possession of or selling a dead bear.

Another bill coming up would raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The measure also would add new restrictions to smoking near schools, require anyone under the age of 30 to be carded before they can buy tobacco and would only allow cigarette vending machines in places that deny access to anyone under 21.

A bill making its second House committee stop would allow city and county commissioners and school board members to carry guns to meetings if they have a concealed weapons permit. Guns are now banned at government meetings, but supporters point to shootings around the country and say meetings can sometimes get contentious.

An ethics bill to ban politicians from donating leftover campaign money to a charity where they’re employed is heading to the full House, while a similar measure is moving through Senate committees.

And there are a bunch of bills to add to the hundred-plus specialty license plates Florida already has, including plates recognizing beekeepers, the Highwaymen artists known for their vivid Florida landscapes, and gopher tortoises, to name just a few.

Finally, a Senate committee is taking up a bill that would make clear in state law that it’s OK to be naked on a nude beach.

It’s illegal to expose sexual organs in public, but Florida has a number of clothing-optional beaches and a legislative analysis of the bill says nude tourism is a multibillion industry. Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo wants to make sure people who enjoy Florida’s nude beaches aren’t charged with a crime.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Brendan Farrington


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