Bill excusing new mothers from jury duty heads to House floor
Newborn baby holding mother's hand.

Newborn baby holding mother's hand.
‘In the Sunshine State, we’re committed to helping women bond with their babies during these invaluable early moments.’

Legislation that would allow new mothers to skip jury duty is heading to the House floor after receiving uniform support from lawmakers and the public in its two committee stops.

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance the bill (HB 461), which would excuse women from jury service if they gave birth within six months and ask for an exemption.

Florida law already allows excusals, upon request, for expectant mothers and any parent who is not employed full-time and has custody of a child under 6.

“This bill is important,” said Windermere Republican Rep. Carolina Amesty, the measure’s sponsor. “Strong and healthy families should be at the heart of our state’s policymaking. In the Sunshine State, we’re committed to helping women bond with their babies during these invaluable early moments.”

Amesty’s bill and a similar measure (SB 462) Vero Beach Republican Sen. Erin Grall is carrying have won praise from officials and interest groups on both sides of the political aisle. Jefferson County Clerk Jason Welty, lobbyist Barney Bishop and Morgan Parish of the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers Association added their names to the list Monday.

Last month, during the bill’s first committee hearing, Tampa Rep. Traci Koster noted there is growing support for fathers’ rights in Florida and asked whether there was “an appetite for including new dads that might be on paternity leave or just had a baby as well.”

Amesty said that while her bill focuses only on women, she “more than happy” to look into extending the jury duty exemption to fathers too.

An amendment Amesty made to her bill Monday did not include such an exemption. Instead, it deleted the word “written” as a descriptor of the excusal request because Clerk communications come electronically.

The amendment also nixed a requirement that mothers submit their baby’s birth certificate as proof of their new parenthood, since doing so would run afoul of Florida’s confidentiality laws.

HB 461 will next go to a House floor vote. SB 462, meanwhile, awaits a hearing before the Senate Health Policy Committee, the second of three panels to which Senate President Kathleen Passidomo referred it last year.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • a

    January 10, 2024 at 11:25 am

    This is silly. What is not covered between “expectant mother” and “parent not employed full time with child under 6”? This seems like a waste of time to essentially re-state the same thing. I must be missing something.

Comments are closed.


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