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  • Session of squabbling produces little
  • Senate president relishes victory after bill passes
  • Rewriting of code stays on to-do list
  • Big winners in disabled crusade? Lawyers
  • Session reveals division in GOP
  • Winners & Losers
  • Cloud over Sunshine Law mostly dissipated

  • From the state wire

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  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
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  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
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    Winners & Losers

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 24, 2002


    WHAT PASSED

    The 2002 Legislature considered hundreds of bills. Most died, but 404 passed both chambers. Following are some that passed. The governor will sign many into law and might veto some. Others might become law without the governor's signature. To find out the status of a particular bill, call 1-800-342-1827 toll-free during business hours or visit the Web site, www.eog.state.fl.us, and click on Governor's Office, then on Laws, Executive Orders and Legislative Actions.

    BUDGET, TAXES

    BUSINESS TAXES: Incorporates federal tax law changes, including more than $200-million in cuts to stimulate business, into Florida's corporate income tax system.

    SALES TAX: Puts a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot to create a joint legislative committee to review all and possibly eliminate some sales tax exemptions. The Legislature could override its decisions.

    VETERANS' EXEMPTION: Increases the property tax exemption for certain disabled military veterans from $500 to $5,000.

    AGRICULTURE

    CITRUS CANKER: Allows the state to get countywide search warrants to find and destroy trees exposed to citrus canker.

    CHILDREN, FAMILIES

    FOSTER CHILDREN: Eliminates some state oversight of foster children reaching age 18 and provides them with financial help such as money for college.

    CIVIL RIGHTS

    FLAGS: Lets homeowners fly the U.S. flag in a respectful manner regardless of any rules or requirements of homeowner and condominium associations.

    CONSUMERS

    MOVERS: Regulates household moving companies, requiring estimates and disclosures to customers.

    SLIP AND FALL: Requires shoppers suing for damages after slipping on a banana or other substance at a store to prove management left it there too long.

    TELEPHONE BILLS: Lets the Public Service Commission raise rates for local telephone service in exchange for companies' lowering access fees they charge to long-distance carriers.

    COURTS

    JURY SELECTION: Requires regular checks on potential jury lists to weed out felons and reduce the number of no-shows for jury duty.

    CRIME, PUNISHMENT

    DRAG RACING: Makes off-track drag racing a crime instead of a traffic offense with fines up to $500, 60 days in jail and a one-year license suspension for first offenders.

    DRINKING DRIVERS: Requires motorists with two DUI convictions to install a device that won't let them start their car unless they pass a breath test for alcohol.

    "THREE STRIKES': Remedies 1999 legislation requiring judges to give maximum sentences to criminals for their third violent felony. (An appellate court had ruled that the original law had faulty wording.)

    DEVELOPMENT

    GROWTH MANAGEMENT: Requires local comprehensive plans for development to include schools.

    WATER AVAILABILITY: Requires local governments to better link growth decisions to available water supplies.

    EDUCATION

    ATHLETICS: Makes it a second-degree felony for sports agents to give false information, make false representations or pay students.

    PATRIOTIC STUDIES: Requires students to recite part of the Declaration of Independence daily during the last week of September, to be called Celebrate Freedom Week.

    ELECTIONS

    DISABLED VOTERS: Requires counties to provide ballots or voting machines in all polling places that let physically impaired voters cast ballots unassisted; requires all polling places to be wheelchair-accessible.

    FUNDRAISING DISCLOSURE: Requires any group raising more than $500 a year for political advocacy to fully disclose all funds raised and spent, the same as any political action committee or candidate.

    ENVIRONMENT

    EVERGLADES FUNDING: Allows bonding of up to $100-million a year to buy land for Everglades restoration. Also restricts the right of people not directly affected to challenge building projects on environmental grounds.

    GAMBLING

    RACETRACKS: Expands hours and raises maximum pots at racetrack card rooms; requires greyhound adoption booths at dog tracks.

    SCRATCH-OFF PRIZES: Increases scratch-off Florida Lottery prizes as an incentive to increase sales and raise more money for education.

    HEALTH CARE

    LUNG TRANSPLANTS: Extends Medicaid lung transplant coverage, now limited to children, to adults. NURSING: Creates a program to encourage nursing careers, recruit and retain nurses and help them pay off student loans.

    PUBLIC RECORDS

    SUNSHINE LAW EXEMPTIONS: Proposes a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to close public records and meetings.

    REDISTRICTING

    CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS: Creates new maps for Florida House and Senate and U.S. House districts. The state gained two U.S. House seats for a total of 25.

    SECURITY

    DRIVERS' LICENSES: Florida drivers' licenses held by foreign nationals will be valid for no longer than four years, instead of the standard six, unless renewed before then; foreign nationals also must disclose their country of birth and renew licenses in person.

    SEAPORTS: Provides extra money for improved security at Florida's 14 seaports.

    SENSITIVE RECORDS: Denies public access to blueprints of government buildings.

    VEHICLES

    BREAST CANCER TAG: Creates a specialty auto license tag to help fund breast cancer research.

    CELL PHONES: Prohibits local governments from regulating cell phone use in vehicles; directs the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to report on accidents caused by driver distraction.

    GOLF TAG: Creates a specialty auto license tag to help fund a golf program for underprivileged kids.

    WHALE TAG: Creates a specialty auto license tag to help pay for whale research, rehabilitation and education programs.

    WILDLIFE

    MANATEES: Creates local panels to comment on manatee rules; requires the state to develop criteria to determine when the manatee population has "recovered."

    WORKERS

    POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS: Increases benefits for families of police officers and firefighters killed on the job and extends free state university tuition to spouses.

    WHAT FAILED

    These are some of the measures that did not pass.

    ABORTION CLINICS: Required abortion clinics to meet the same staffing and emergency equipment standards as outpatient surgery centers.

    ALZHEIMER'S CENTER: Appropriated $20-million for a new Florida Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida.

    ANESTHESIOLOGISTS: Allowed for training and licensing of assistants without nursing degrees to help anesthesiologists.

    BUDGET: The House and Senate still must agree on the details of a roughly $49-billion budget and will return to the task this spring in a special session.

    CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER: Legislators failed to agree on how much direct authority the new elective Cabinet position will have in regulating banking and insurance, and a special session to deal with it is expected.

    CLOSED MEETINGS: Allowed city, county and state elected officials to close meetings in which purchase contracts are negotiated.

    CROP DUSTERS: Exempted from public records the names and addresses of people who spray pesticides from planes.

    DAY CARE: Required that church-run day care centers meet the same health and safety standards as state-licensed ones.

    DEATH PENALTY FOR TEENAGERS: Barred the execution of teen killers who committed the crime before their 18th birthday.

    DOCTORS' MISTAKES: Sealed a state list of physician mistakes from public view. Another proposal required all pharmacists' mistakes to be reported to the state but closed the records to the public.

    EDUCATION CODE: The task of rewriting the state's education laws was left unfinished. The governor said he will call a special session April 2 to complete it.

    ELECTIONS SUPERVISORS: Made the office of county supervisor of elections nonpartisan.

    "GRANNY CAMS': Created a pilot program to install cameras to monitor the care and treatment of patients in nursing homes.

    HEALTH INSURANCE: Gave employers a choice of buying flexible employee health plans at lower cost.

    HUMAN CLONING: Banned the cloning of human cells in Florida.

    INSTANT BINGO: Let charities sell pull-tab or scratch-off instant bingo games if they already offered regular bingo.

    JUDICIAL RETENTION: Proposed a constitutional amendment for the November ballot to eliminate merit retention elections in which voters decide whether appointed Supreme Court justices remain in office. It would have left the decision solely to the governor.

    JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS COMMISSION: Asked voters to approve an amendment to open all complaints of wrongdoing against Florida judges made during the past 35 years.

    LIBRARY COMPUTERS: Required county or municipal libraries that provide computers used by children to install filters to block Internet pornography.

    MICCOSUKEES: Let tribal or federal authorities handle Indian-on-Indian crimes on Miccosukee reservations, removing state law enforcement jurisdiction.

    NURSING HOME WORKERS: Required nursing homes to use some Medicaid funds to give caregivers raises. SALES TAX HOLIDAY: Scheduled a fifth annual state sales tax holiday of several days aimed at back-to-school shoppers.

    SCHOOL BOARD SALARIES: Prohibited school board salaries from exceeding those for beginning teachers.

    SCHOOL PRAYER: Permitted school boards to adopt resolutions allowing prayer, invocations or benedictions at nonmandatory assemblies.

    TERM LIMITS: Placed before voters a proposed amendment to the Constitution permitting legislators to serve up to 12 years in the same office instead of the present limit of eight.

    VIDEO SLOT MACHINES: Allowed video slot machines at racetracks and jai alai frontons.

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