© St. Petersburg Times, published April 18, 2001
Today is the 44th day of the 60-day session.
Companies with a history of polluting should have a harder time getting permits, the state's top environmental regulator told the Senate Natural Resources Committee Tuesday.
But a bill creating a pollution penalty point system for permitting -- similar to traffic violation points assessed against drivers' licenses -- died, despite backing from David Struhs, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.
"This is an opportunity to offer short-form, expedited permitting for Florida's good performers . . . and to inject some common sense" into the permitting process, Struhs told the committee.
Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, sponsored the bill at Struhs' request. Smith said that, as a former prosecutor, he took a criminal's history into account when considering his case. He said companies with records of pollution should be given similar scrutiny.
But opponents of the bill said companies with a lot of permits will naturally have more violation points than companies that don't do as much business.
Smith pulled the bill from consideration.
People who send child pornography into Florida via the Internet could be prosecuted under a bill the Senate Judiciary Committee approved unanimously.
The legislation has one more committee to go before reaching the Senate floor.
Possession of child pornography is already outlawed in Florida. The bill updates the law for the Internet age.
Last year, U.S. Customs handled about 300 cases of child pornography transported across borders, according to a staff analysis of the legislation. And the FBI handled nearly 3,000 cases of "online pedophilia," such as posting child pornography or trying to lure children into meetings.
The bill would make sending child pornography over the Internet a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
A similar bill has reached the House floor.
Children on motorized scooters would have to wear helmets and generally stay off sidewalks and streets under a bill that cleared the Senate Comprehensive Planning, Local and Military Affairs Committee. It now goes to the full Senate.
The measure sponsored by Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, applies to children under 16. It doesn't apply to scooters without motors.
Riding the powered scooters on streets would be permitted if a community specifically allowed it.
A similar bill is under consideration in the House.
Electrologists say many of them will be put out of business if they can't do laser hair removal without a doctor's direct supervision. Dermatologists say it could be dangerous if they do.
The Senate Health, Aging, and Long-term Care Committee sided with the dermatologists, rejecting by a 5-2 vote a bill that would have allowed professional, regulated electrologists to perform laser electrolysis with only indirect supervision from doctors.
A similar bill is still alive in the House.
Rules for electrolysis are currently made by the Board of Medicine, which supports the ability of trained electrologists to use lasers for the procedure with only indirect supervision by doctors.