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    Legislature 2001

    By Times staff and wire reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 13, 2001

    Growth management bill revived

    Legislation linking growth management and school planning, one of Gov. Jeb Bush's priorities, was back on track Thursday after a House committee nearly killed it a week earlier.

    This time, the Local Government and Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill sponsored by Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland.

    It seemed bad last week for Bush and others who favor the school planning element. The committee appeared ready to bow to lobbying from developers. It voted for an amendment to strip the school provision from the bill. But it reconsidered and the amendment was withdrawn.

    It was a different story Thursday.

    "For the first time in Florida's history, school boards and county commissions will be required to work together to address school overcrowding in our communities," a pleased Bush said in a statement issued by his office after the committee vote.

    Senate passes gun lawsuits ban

    Cities could not sue gunmakers under a bill the Senate passed 27-12. A similar bill awaits action by the full House.

    The Senate sponsor said the ban was needed even though courts have turned back all such lawsuits by cities.

    "They're using taxpayer dollars to file these lawsuits because individuals and groups in this country and this state who don't like the idea of firearms have asked them to," said Charlie Bronson, R-Indian Harbor Beach.

    In 1999 a judge in Miami threw out a lawsuit by Miami-Dade County against gunmakers, saying it has no standing because it hasn't suffered direct injuries from guns. The lawsuit alleged that manufacturers negligently design unsafe guns.

    High court asked to block hearing

    Lawyers for the Legislature on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to call off a contempt hearing set next Thursday for legislators to explain why they ignored a judge's order not to meet.

    The motions said Circuit Judge Ralph "Bubba" Smith's order barring a legislative committee from meeting last week to discuss state labor talks -- and a subsequent order asking legislators to tell him why he shouldn't find them in contempt for meeting anyway -- violated the separation-of-powers provision in the state Constitution.

    Lawyer Barry Richard also said Smith's orders violated lawmakers' First Amendment rights.

    Attorney General Bob Butterworth filed his own motion to quash the contempt hearing.

    Divorce fee would double to $36

    By voice vote, the Senate voted to double an $18 fee collected when couples file for divorce to $36. The fee helps fund domestic violence centers.

    The vote was on an amendment to a bill dealing with domestic violence. The Senate did not vote the full bill but moved it to the list of measures ready for a final vote.

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