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Legislature

Organ donors' decisions final

Today is the 59th day of the 60-day session.

By Associated Press
Published May 1, 2003

Family members must abide by the wishes of organ donors under a bill passed 91-24 Wednesday night by the House and sent to Gov. Jeb Bush.

The measure (SB 530) clarifies that an anatomical gift is not revocable except by the donor.

Opponents of the measure, led by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, a funeral director, had argued that the bill cuts families out of what should be a consensus decision. They said families are often shocked to find out that a deceased loved one had donated his or her organs and tissue, which would make an open-casket funeral impossible.

Gap closing on smoking ban

The Senate moved closer to the House Wednesday on how to put into law the smoking ban voters approved in November.

The House passed a bill in early April that would outlaw smoking in all bars. A Senate bill (SB 742) would have allowed smoking in businesses if food sales totaled 25 percent or less of all sales.

On Wednesday, the Senate took up the House bill (HB 1757), but amended it to allow smoking in businesses with food sales of 12 percent or less. Other changes would allow smoking at veterans halls and would increase penalties for violations to $500 to $1,000 for a first violation and $2,500 for subsequent ones. The Senate may vote on the bill today. However, House action on the Senate's changes probably will have to wait till the special session.

Bright Futures cap advances

Bright Futures scholarships would be capped for a year even if tuition goes up under a measure the House passed over the objections of lawmakers who said it went back on a promise to Florida's students.

The bill (HB 1745) passed 75-41 and goes to the Senate, where its prospects are dim.

The scholarships are based on a percentage of tuition, which lawmakers are allowing universities to raise as much 12.5 percent.

Curb on amendments dead

The Senate killed a bill that would have made it more difficult for citizens to change the state Constitution by petition.

It voted 21-17 against the bill (SJR 1172), which would prohibit changes to the Constitution by citizen initiatives unless they amend or repeal an existing constitutional provision, involve a fundamental right or change the basic structure of government.

Sen. Anna Cowin, R-Leesburg, sponsored the proposed restrictions after the recent passage of amendments banning the confinement of pregnant pigs and ordering a reduction in public school class sizes and construction of a high-speed rail system.

- ASSOCIATED PRESS

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: www.leg.state.fl.us Capitol Update, a half-hour TV program on the day's legislative highlights, airs at 11 p.m. weekdays on public stations.

[Last modified May 1, 2003, 04:06:34]


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