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    Vision testing for older drivers clears panel

    Today is the 22nd day of the 60-day session.

    Compiled from Times wires
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 26, 2003

    A bill to require drivers 80 and older to have their vision tested when they renew their licenses won unanimous approval Tuesday from the Senate Health Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.

    The bill (SB 52), sponsored by Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, still needs approval from two more Senate committees. A similar measure (HB 633) is winding through the committee process in the House.

    Similar legislation has faltered in past years, but its chances were boosted when the AARP announced support after sponsors agreed to provide for a council to study ways of helping elderly drivers and finding alternative transportation for those who can no longer drive.

    Senate panel approves banning teen executions

    Florida's death penalty would be reserved for adult killers under legislation approved by a Senate panel.

    The Criminal Justice Committee voted 7-1 for a bill (SB 1070) to make killers who murder before their 18th birthday ineligible for capital punishment. They could be sentenced only to life in prison without parole, which is currently the only sentencing alternative in all first-degree murder cases.

    There's no similar House bill.

    Senate would have role in judicial appointments

    The Senate would have a role in judicial nominations under a proposal the Judiciary Committee approved 7-2.

    Currently, the governor makes appointments to the Florida Supreme Court and the state's five mid-level appeal courts from a list of nominees submitted by panels called Judicial Nominating Commissions.

    The proposed constitutional amendment moving in the Senate would do away with the nominating panels. The governor would instead nominate a single candidate for the judicial opening, and that nominee would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

    Bill requires preschool for kids in state care

    A House committee approved a bill that would require that children in state care attend preschool and unexcused absences to be reported to the Department of Children and Families.

    The bill (HB 1177), called the Rilya Wilson Act, is designed to help detect missing children and will also prepare foster children for school, said Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, sponsor.

    DCF would have to investigate any two consecutive unexcused absences from preschool.

    In April 2002, the state learned that 5-year-old Rilya had been missing from state care for 15 months. She has not been found.

    The House Subcommittee on Children's Services unanimously approved the bill, which has three more committee stops. An identical bill (SB 1318) is in the Senate.

    -- For information about legislation, call 1-800-342-1827 or 1-850-488-4371 toll-free during business hours.

    -- The Legislature's official Web site:

    -- Capitol Update, a half-hour TV program on the day's legislative highlights, airs at 11 p.m. weekdays on public stations. Some government access channels offer live daytime coverage of some floor sessions and committee meetings. Check TV Times for schedules.

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