It’s almost halfway through the Regular Session, but a series of notable bills are either dead or on life support.
Many of the bills never gained traction in the first place. House subcommittees — except for budget subcommittees — will stop meeting for the Session after this week. With House rules barring bills that haven’t moved through one committee being brought up on the floor, most of them are essentially dead.
That means bills to ban nearly all abortions and to allow open carry of guns in public, which never received a hearing, are done for this year. Other bills that may have passed one committee but still have a subcommittee reference in the House might technically have a chance, but face a difficult road to make it to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.
Also, the hope for bills without a House or Senate companion that haven’t moved has likely been squelched.
Of course, House Speaker Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, can call a meeting of a committee at any time during the Session to revive a bill that hasn’t moved, but that is unlikely, barring some emergency or newfound political urgency for a particular bill.
Here’s a look at some of the bills that got attention, but not momentum this year:
— SB 1192, HB 1139: This bill from Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican, was dubbed the “Kamala Harris Truth in Slavery Teaching Act” that would have added a line to state laws requiring instruction on the history of slavery in the United States to include “which political parties supported slavery by adopting pro-slavery tenets to their party platform.” The bill was a dig at the Democratic Party, which supported slavery before the Civil War and Jim Crow laws until the 1960s. More recently, though, Republicans in Florida have pushed to stop statues and monuments of those Democrats from being taken down.
— SB 1752, HB 359, HB 1669: Three different elections bills aimed at banning foreign-owned, operated or produced voting machines, severely restricting mail ballots and allowing more poll watchers. None of them have received a hearing.
— HB 1519: This bill from Rep. David Borrero, a Sweetwater Republican, would have banned nearly all abortions in Florida. It removed exceptions for abortions for pregnancies that were the result of rape or incest, allowing the procedure only to save the life of the mother. Performing an abortion would have been a third-degree felony punishable with 10 years in jail and/or a $100,000 fine. There was no Senate companion measure and it never received a hearing.
— HB 1619: Republican lawmakers have rolled back many gun law restrictions, but despite pleas from firearm activists, legislation to allow the open carrying of guns in public hasn’t gained traction. This year’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Beltran, a Riverview Republican, didn’t have a Senate companion and never received a hearing.
— HB 1605, HB 1607: This pair of bills sought to address a ruling from the Florida Supreme Court in November that found police officers who use deadly force while on duty can’t cite Marsy’s Law — a constitutional provision granting certain rights to crime victims approved by voters in 2018 — to have their names hidden from the public. The bills would have defined law enforcement officers responding to an incident as crime victims who can have their names and other identifying information that could be used to harass or intimidate them shielded from the public. There were no Senate companion measures and they never received a hearing.
— SJR 582: Another proposal from Ingoglia would have placed a measure on the November ballot asking voters to ban the payment of reparations to the descendants of slaves by any government entity within the state. It didn’t have a House companion measure and never received a hearing.