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Legislature 2004

Senate supports parental notice

Today is the 46th day of the 60-day session.

By Times staff writers, Associated Press
Published April 16, 2004

The Senate narrowly passed a measure Thursday asking voters to require parental notification before minors get abortions.

The 27-13 vote sends the proposed constitutional amendment to the House with a provision allowing judges to make exceptions for some minors. The House already has rejected such exceptions in a similar bill.

Thursday's Senate vote came after more than an hour of tense debate, during which proponents told horrific stories of back-alley abortions and fathers raping daughters. Opponents say the legislation would be unconstitutional because it does not allow enough protection for minors.

The only Democrat who voted for the bill was Sen. Larcenia Bullard of Miami, who said she had been sexually abused by her father and turned to her mother for help.

"No matter what, a mother understands," Bullard said. "Let's stop taking away parental rights."


Byrd keeps Miccosukee hopes alive

A House committee Thursday was poised to kill a bill that would eliminate state law enforcement jurisdiction on Miccosukee Indian reservations but was blocked by Speaker Johnnie Byrd.

Byrd and Senate President Jim King support the measure, which is strongly opposed by state law enforcement.

The bill would shift all prosecutions to the tribe or federal authorities. Critics say federal authorities do not have the resources for that. The tribe has hired 17 lobbyists and a public relations agent and has spent more than $500,000 on legislative campaigns in a three-year bid to pass the bill. But the tribe angered House members when Chief Billy Cypress supported a candidate against Rep. Juan Zapata, R-Miami.

In response, Hispanic members of the Legislature then joined forces to kill the bill.

Byrd asked that the measure be left pending, so the House can vote on it if it clears the Senate.

"It's a tough fight with a lot of controversy," said John Van Gieson, spokesman for the tribe. "But this keeps us alive."

Panel: No executions for 17-year-olds

A House committee on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected a move to allow the execution of 17-year-olds, approving instead a measure to prohibit the execution of anyone under 18.

If 17-year-olds can't vote, buy cigarettes, join the Army or be jurors, they should not be executed, argued Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors. Rep. Phillip Brutus, D-North Miami, the bill's sponsor, said it has a good chance of becoming law. A similar bill has been approved by a Senate committee and is awaiting floor action.

10-day hiatus doesn't worry governor

Gov. Jeb Bush won't challenge the Legislature's apparent procedural error when it left town for 10 days.

Constitutional experts say anything lawmakers pass in the final three weeks of the session is jeopardized because the House adjourned without passing the appropriate resolution. The Florida Constitution requires lawmakers to adopt a concurrent resolution when they adjourn for more than 72 hours.

Democratic lawmakers urged the governor to seek an opinion from the Florida Supreme Court or call a special session to resolve the dispute.

But in a letter to attorneys for both houses Thursday, Bush general counsel Raquel A. Rodriguez said the governor "accepts the Legislature's interpretation as dispositive."

In other words, case closed.


Water compromise may not wash

A hard-fought legislative compromise between Florida developers and environmentalists over how to reserve water for future environmental projects appeared to be in jeopardy Thursday, potentially threatening Everglades restoration.

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, whose office oversees agricultural water policy, signaled he may object to a change to state law that would spell out when regional water management districts can reserve water for natural systems and how landowners can challenge such plans.

Environmental groups, the Association of Florida Community Developers and the Department of Environmental Protection proposed the change as a compromise to address the association's legal challenge over a DEP water reservation rule. The challenge, if it goes forward, threatens to delay water reservations for the Everglades.

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, said she will await word from Bronson. "All parties have to agree before I go forward," Dockery said.


Marlins' tax break rounds a base

The Florida Marlins' hopes of receiving state money to help build a new stadium received a boost from a House panel Thursday, but the Senate president remained firm that no deal to help the World Series champions will be made.

The House Finance and Tax Committee voted 17-6 for an amended revenue bill that includes a $60-million subsidy for the team. But it's doubtful the plan can advance without Senate President Jim King's backing - and he reiterated that won't come before the session ends April 30.

"Rich people getting richer off of taxpayer dollars," King said. "I don't want to be a part of that."

Gov. Jeb Bush, who backs the subsidy, was hopeful King might relent. "In the last couple of weeks anything can happen," Bush said.

Spending cap passes House

A plan to enable voters to impose a spending limit on lawmakers passed the House Thursday, amid continuing indications the Senate will not seriously consider the proposal.

The bill (HJR 385), sponsored by Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, passed 74-43.

The measure asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment limiting annual growth in state spending to the growth in average household income. Lawmakers could exceed the cap for emergencies but only by a two-thirds majority.

To get on the ballot, the proposal needs 60 percent support in both the House and Senate. But the Senate version has not been heard in committee, and President Jim King has declared it dead.


[Last modified April 16, 2004, 01:05:40]

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