House passes jury duty exemptions for new moms

‘Strong and healthy families should be at the heart of our state’s policymaking.’

Of all the things new mothers need to worry about, jury duty shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s the spirit behind a bill (HB 461) that just cleared the House with uniform support. If approved in the Senate, women who have given birth within six months of a jury summons can request, and receive, exemption from the otherwise mandatory civic duty.

Republican Rep. Carolina Amesty of Windemere, the bill’s sponsor, repeated something of a mantra during its steady progress through the Legislature’s lower chamber: “Strong and health families should be at the heart of our state’s policymaking.”

Her lawmaking peers agreed Thursday, voting 114-0 in its favor.

Amesty’s bill and its house analogue (SB 452) by Vero Beach Republican Sen. Erin Grall also won praise from several interest groups, including the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers Association.

The measure comes at a time of increasing judicial system accommodation to mothers with newborns. In March, lawmakers gave uniform support to a bill requiring many courthouses across the state to provide free, clean and private lactation rooms.

Tampa Rep. Traci Koster, a marital and family law lawyer, noted during the first committee hearing on the bill last month that there is growing support for fathers’ rights in the state.

She asked whether there was an “appetite for including new dads that might be on paternity leave or just had a baby as well” in HB 461.

Amesty said then that she was “open to adding” such an accommodation to her bill but did not do so before it passed.

Of note, Florida law already allows, upon request, excusals for expectant mothers and parents who are not employed full-time and have custody of children under 6.

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

  • JD

    January 18, 2024 at 8:53 pm

    I’m glad there is some adulting in the legislation for a change.

    Can you guys actually do some good for a change?

Comments are closed.


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