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2007 Legislative session: Passed and failed

By the Times staff
Published May 6, 2007


Each year, the St. Petersburg Times compiles a list of notable bills considered during the Florida legislative session and which ones passed or failed. Those that passed will go to the governor to be signed into law, vetoed, or allowed to become law without his signature. Many of those that failed will be back next year.

PASSED BILLS

Budget, taxes

State budget: A $71.9-billion budget, supported in part by an additional $545-million in local property taxes paid by homeowners and business owners.

Tax breaks: Exempts hurricane preparedness items such as flashlights and weather radios from sales tax, June 1-12. Exempts back-to-school supplies from sales tax, Aug. 4-13.

State investments: Requires state retirement funds to divest from companies doing business in Sudan's or Iran's energy sector.

Education

Differential tuition: Allows University of Florida, Florida State University and University of South Florida to charge incoming undergrads up to 40 percent more than the base tuition of the 11 public universities.

Physical education: Requires 30 minutes of physical education each day in Grades K-5.

Steroids: Creates a one-year pilot program to randomly test high school athletes in football, baseball and wrestling for anabolic steroids.

Teacher pay: Replaces controversial STAR plan with a $147.5-million merit pay plan for instructors and administrators, based on student performance and teacher evaluations.

The family

Adoption: Creates Office of Adoption and Child Protection to promote adoption and prevent child abuse; increases subsidies for families adopting foster children.

Children's Cabinet: Creates a 15-member cabinet to coordinate programs and funding for children's services.

Claims

Boot camp death: Pays $4.8-million to the family of Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old who died after a rough encounter with guards at Bay County boot camp in 2006.

Surgical negligence: Pays Minouche Noel, 19, and her family $8.5-million for botched back surgery when she was an infant.

Crime and punishment

Antimurder: Requires immediate incarceration and hearings for probation violators and stiffer penalties for violations for certain felons.

Juvenile sex offenders: Protects teens involved in consensual relationship cases from new federal requirements that juvenile sex offenders register on databases. The offender could not be more than four years older than the sexual partner. The partner would have to be at least 14 years old.

Online crimes: Requires sex offenders to register home and e-mail addresses and increases penalties for cyber-crimes against children.

Sex offenders: Driver's licenses and ID cards issued to sexual offenders and predators will bear markings to show their criminal history as part of the Jessica Lunsford Act. Clarifies fingerprinting and background check requirements for school contractors.

Sex offense victims: Requires a victim advocate be present at the request of a victim, and prohibits law enforcement from requiring the victim to take a polygraph test. Requires that accused sex offenders take an HIV test within 48 hours of a court order requested by the victim or victim's family.

Gambling

Instant bingo: Allows veterans groups and charities that hold bingo games to also sell lottery-like instant bingo tickets.

More slots: Expands hours of operation and number of slot machines at parimutuel facilities in Broward County, the only place where they are allowed in Florida outside American Indian reservations.

Elections and politics

Paper trail: Requires verifiable paper trail in elections.

Presidential primary: Moves Florida's next primary to Jan. 29, 2008.

Resign-to-run: Allows officeholders to run for any federal office without leaving current job.

Signature revocation: Voters who sign ballot initiative petitions have 150 days to revoke signatures.

Petitions: Allows businesses to prohibit citizen petition drives on their property.

Insurance

Citizens Property Insurance Corp.: Freezes the state-run insurer's rates until 2009 and lowers the entry threshold so more homeowners can move to Citizens for lower premiums.

Hurricane shutters: Homes insured at a value of $750, 000 located in wind debris zones, including all of Pinellas County, must get shutters or impact-resistant windows to have a Citizens policy or to pull a building permit for $50,000 worth of work next year.

Insurance glitches: Weakens 90-day pay requirement in current law, allowing insurers to pay only a "portion" of a claim and removes consumers' ability to sue if they don't get paid. Limits consumer advocate insurance report cards to residential property insurers, excluding condo and commercial policies.

DUI auto insurance: Requires those who plead guilty or no contest to driving under the influence to carry bodily injury auto insurance coverage.

Consumers

Cable TV: Creates statewide franchising of cable TV and makes it easier for phone firms to compete with cable. Allows cable companies to break local contracts and apply through state.

Lifeline enrollment: Allows easier enrollments of low-income customers in the telephone bill discount program.

Gift certificates: Eliminates expiration dates and dormancy fees for some gift cards sold in Florida .

Rental agreements: Increases fees to renters who break their leases.

Environment, growth

Energy: Creates Energy Policy Task Force, increases sales tax exemptions for ethanol fuel and biodiesel distribution, establishes incentives for selling biofuel, requires state buildings to meet certain energy-efficient standards.

Growth management: Allows larger counties and cities to participate in pilot program that allows expedited, limited state review of land use changes.

Pets: Allow state wildlife officials to require people with non-native reptiles, such as pythons, to pay up to $100 for a license.

Transportation

Designated driver: Prohibits bars from requiring people to buy drinks if they are designated drivers.

Private toll roads: Allows private companies to lease Florida's toll roads and increase tolls with inflation.

Specialty tags: Creates license plates including "Support Our Troops, " "Trees Are Cool, " "Protect Florida Springs" and "NASCAR." Eliminates Girl Scouts license plate.

Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority: Creates 16-member board to plan and build a network of toll roads, rail lines and express buses across seven counties.

Health and safety

Pet burials: Allows "internment or entombment" of human remains with the urn of a cremated animal as long as the human and animal remains are not mixed together.

Suicide prevention: Creates state suicide prevention office.

Tobacco prevention: Implements 2006 voter-approved tobacco prevention ad campaign.

FAILED BILLS

Crime and punishment

Wrongful incarceration: Would have paid Alan Crotzer, formerly of St. Petersburg, $50, 000 for each of the 24 years he spent in prison on a wrongful conviction.

Civil rights pardons: Would have created "Rosa Parks Act" to pardon people with convictions tied to civil rights protests.

Death penalty: Would have followed the Florida Supreme Court's advice to undo the privatization of death row appeals in northern Florida.

Education

Elected educator: Would have re-established the commissioner of education as an elected Cabinet position.

Vouchers: Would have created a separate trust fund to collect corporate tax credits to support private school vouchers, to get around a state Supreme Court decision against using generals funds.

Jeb Bush honors: Would have named the University of Florida's college of education after the former governor.

School year: Would have allowed school boards to start fall classes more than two weeks before Labor Day.

School athletics: Would have created a governing organization for high school athletics among private schools, which are run along with public schools by the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Consumer

Telemarketing: Would have banned political groups from making automated calls to consumers on federal or state do-not-call lists.

Consumer Advocate: Would have strengthened powers of the consumer advocate under the chief financial officer.

Elections and politics

Sworn testimony: Would have required lobbyists, lawmakers and legislative staffers speaking before legislators to take an oath, subjecting them to felony perjury charges if caught lying.

Voting: Would have given voters an "I choose not to vote" option on ballots for individual races.

Blind trusts: Would have required governor, lieutenant governor and Cabinet officers to place assets in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.

Immigration

Immigration: Would have penalized businesses that knowingly hired illegal immigrants.

Sports, entertainment

Adult entertainment: Would have made it a third-degree felony if the owner or operator of an adult business knew or should have known the site was used for prostitution.

Lightning: Would have provided Tampa Bay Lightning and other pro sports teams either $2-million a year in sales tax rebates or a one-time payment of $32-million for stadium improvements.

Insurance

No-fault insurance: Would have extended or rewritten the law requiring motorists to carry a minimum $10, 000 policy to cover injury no matter who is at fault.

Cell phone insurance: Would have allowed cell phone companies to embed insurance in sales contracts.

Health insurance: Would have made it easier to enroll children in KidCare, the state's subsidized insurance program.

Transportation

Text messages: Would have prohibited use of cell phones and text messaging while driving.

Traffic cameras: Would have allowed cities and counties to install cameras at intersections to record traffic violations.

Health

Cervical vaccine: Would have added a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer to the list of immunizations for girls in public and private middle schools, with an option for students to decline.

Pregnant minors: Would have required health care workers to notify law enforcement and collect DNA evidence when they believe a minor is pregnant and/or seeking abortion.

Abortion notice: Would have limited the discretion of judges considering whether to allow a young woman to get an abortion without notifying her parents. Also would have required a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could get an abortion after first having an ultrasound.

Stem cell: Would have given $20-million in adult stem cell research grants.

Guns at work

Guns at work: Would have allowed employees to keep firearms in the cars they park at workplaces.