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Thread: Liberty First Florida Releases First Legislative Update

  1. #1

    Liberty First Florida Releases First Legislative Update

    Found this. A good read to see what's going to be introduced in the next session of Legislature.

    Since the election and the swearing in, Legislators have been filing bills and Committee’s will begin meeting on January 5th to debate bills. To date, there have been 165 bills filed between the House and the Senate. We have been reading the bills filed and wanted to keep you up to date on the bills we will be supporting or opposing. It is important to note that we may initially support a bill, but based on amendment changes as the bill travels through committee’s may cause us to oppose.

    HB4005/SB176 Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms

    HB4005 was filed by Representative Greg Steube, R-Sarasota and would allow people with Concealed Weapons Permit to carry a firearm on college and University campuses. HB4005 would delete a provision in current law that prohibits carrying handguns on campus, including anyone with a concealed weapons permit. Senator Greg Evers, R-Pensacola has filed an identical bill (SB176) in the Senate. The recent shooting tragedy at Florida State University clearly demonstrates that “gun free zones” only disarms law-abiding citizens and violates their right to protect themselves as well as the opportunity to stop a criminal and save lives.

    HB19/SB180 School Safety

    HB19 was filed by Representative Greg Steube, R-Sarasota and would give Florida superintendents the option of hiring armed school safety employees on K-12 campuses, following school board approval. The school safety employee must have worked for law enforcement or military and must be licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. Senator Greg Evers, R-Pensacola has filed a similar bill (SB180) in the Senate. Representative Steube has filed similar bills the last two sessions. Of course the reason to support this bill is the same as above, “gun-free” zones only create incentives to those with intent to cause violent harm to target schools.

    HB107/SB186 Malt Beverages

    HB107 filed by Representative Greg Stuebe has some very positive aspects to it. This legislation would allow for the 64oz growlers that are the industry standard and has been otherwise banned in the state of Florida. It would allow for brewers to self-distribute up to 10,000 kegs of their own product each calendar year and would allow for brewers to obtain a food license for their taproom and tasting rooms. This legislation also has some negative aspects. The brewers will have a much harder time canceling or renegotiating their contracts with a distributor. There are several different licensing options that seem unnecessary and the regulation on where a brewer’s taproom or tasting room is located seems over burdensome. This legislation will be one to watch this session and with the right amendments could be a positive change for the brewery industry. SB186 filed by Senator Jack Latvala is a very straightforward piece of legislation that allows for the sale of a 64oz growler with minor regulations on labeling and sealing of the container.

    HB1-Texting while Driving and SB192- Wireless Communications Devices

    HB1 filed by Representative Richard Stark D-Weston would make texting while driving a “primary offense”. It is currently a secondary offense, meaning a law enforcement officer cannot make a traffic stop solely upon someone appearing to be texting while driving. Senator Thad Altman, R-Cape Canaveral has filed a comparable bill (SB192) in the Senate. We can all agree that texting while driving is a bad idea, but this bill is totally unnecessary. Anyone that has been around a driver doing so can see the end result very easily- such as the vehicle weaving. Our law enforcement officers are trained to spot unsafe drivers, and those texting while driving operate in a similar manner to impaired (DUI) drivers. If a vehicle is weaving in and out of a lane, there is already a law to prohibit this activity, and a lawful traffic stop can be made with cause. The problem with making texting while driving a primary offense means anyone looking away from the road momentarily could be assumed to be texting and stopped, even though they may be doing something else such as putting a CD into their stereo- which is legal so long as no other unsafe driving takes place.

    With the elections being over, it is now the time our elected officials will be going to Tallahassee for the next legislative session. Do you have the legislative knowledge to hold them accountable? One of our experts will come to your group and help you. Email to schedule your group or organization before the legislative session begins.

    Join the Liberty First Network today and become a member. Your monthly support will ensure we can bring your voice directly to Tallahassee.

    Make a one time individual donation today to get us to our budgeting goal. Your contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more will continue to keep our organization fighting for you.


    The Liberty First Network Team

    John Hallman, Danielle Alexandre, Paul Henry and Adrian Wyllie ~ Lobbyists

    Alex Snitker ~ President

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  3. #2
    Update for 1-7-2015

    The Liberty First Network made their first trip up to Tallahassee for the 2015 Legislative Session. John Hallman and Danielle Alexandre went up for this first week of committees in the capital. While there they worked on a bill to limit the scope of Regional Planning Councils, Campaign Finance Reform and the implementation of the new Amendment 1 ballot initiative passed by the voters of Florida.

    There was some very productive meetings about Regional Planning Councils an a piece of legislation that would allow for counties to “opt-out” of the membership and dues. It would also limit the scope of the council to consulting between counties instead of setting policy for counties. We feel this will be a positive change and give the county and the people back their voice in planning for the future of their community.

    While we spoke to a few legislators about our plans for campaign finance reform, the biggest item of the day was the Florida Senate committee meeting on the implementation of Amendment 1.

    The Committee for Environmental Preservation and Conservation has changed this year and the changes were positive ones for this committee.

    Amendment 1 required that 33% of the revenue that comes in from Doc Stamps must be spent on environmental land acquisition and rehabilitation. This would be a total of $757 million for this fiscal year. Currently the state is spending over $400 million from Doc Stamp revenue that would qualify under Amendment 1 and over $500 million from the general revenue fund for projects that would qualify under Amendment 1.

    Senator Simpson did bring up the point that there was already spending in this area for more than the amount required just not from the correct fund.

    Senator Hays and Senator Evers were focused on expending money more in the way of rehabilitating land already owned by the state as opposed to acquiring more. Senator Soto and Senator Simmons had questions and issues surrounding the use of the money for waste-water and sewage issues, with Senator Soto being against those projects and Senator Simmons in favor.

    Senator Thad Altman was the one to make the biggest grand stand of the day with his ascertain that Amendment 1 was only for acquisition and the state should be using it to buy more and more land with no regard for maintenance of this land. He would essentially be in favor of a land buying shopping spree with the tax payers of Florida’ credit card.

    The Liberty First Network was opposed to Amendment 1 but we recognize that it is here now and must be dealt with. We feel that the right course of action would be to stop all land buying until the land currently owned by the state is completely rehabilitated and maintained. This would be the best way to comply with the wording of Amendment 1.

    This will be a long process this session. Nothing was being decided today but we will be diligent on the issue.

    These trips to Tallahassee cost money. Help the Liberty First Network continue to bring your voice to the capital. Join the Liberty First Network today and become a member. Your monthly support will ensure we can bring your voice directly to Tallahassee.

    Make a one time individual donation today to get us to our budgeting goal. Your contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more will continue to keep our organization fighting for you.

  4. #3
    Legislative Update for 1-21-15

    First Up: John Hallman

    Paul Henry:

    Danielle Alexandre:

  5. #4


    Regional Planning Councils:

    What Are Regional Planning Councils?

    In the 1960’s Florida’s 67 counties were divided into 11 regions and Regional Planning Councils were created. The original purpose was to apply for and distribute federal funds to help with building roads and bridges between the counties in the region. Unfortunately, the 11 Florida Regional Planning Councils have become a de facto agency of the federal government to promote “Smart Growth” and “Sustainable Living” at the expense of local control of land use decisions and private property rights. Regional Planning Councils receive funding from the federal government to bypass our local and state representatives. Counties are required by statute to participate in membership in these Regional Planning Councils and pay large membership dues with your tax dollars.

    Do We Need a 4th Level of Government?

    These regional special districts and councils comprise a fourth layer of government between the local city /county and the state government. This new layer of government diminishes the local control and authority of city and county governments for self-government through “home rule” as provided for in the Florida Constitution. The whole point of local control and self-governance is that local elected representatives can be held accountable by the voter-Taxpayer.

    Are “one-size-fits-all” Growth Management Plans Good For All Counties?

    “Smart Growth” (such as 7/50 in south Florida) strip away our property rights, by pushing us into higher density urban centers, forcing us to give up our cars, use bikes, transit or walk to work and shop.High density urban centers may be a sound plan for some counties but it would not be warranted in some of Florida’s more rural counties. Regional boards may directly overrule local official’s authority, or partner with groups like transportation authorities to sway officials to vote their way using their control of millions of dollars. In situations like these, local officials surrender much of their authority and community members find themselves with no place to go for representation.

    What is Happening this Session

    We reported last week that Senator Wilton Simpson (R-New Port Richey) had filed SB 484 to eliminate Regional Planning Councils and now we are excited to report that Representative Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach) has filed the House companion bill HB 873.

    Now that we have definitive bills filed, the tough work begins to pass this critical legislation. We need to call and e-mail both Senator Simpson and Representative Mayfield and thank them for filing the legislation and let them know we will be supporting their fight.


    It will not be easy to pass this crucial legislation, many special interest groups have been using the federal grant money and will not want to see it go away. We need to let Senator Simpson and Representative Mayfield know that we will be behind him and supporting his fight to eliminate Regional Planning Councils.

    Call and e-mail Senator Simpson and thank him for filing SB 484.

    Senator Wilton Simpson

    Capitol PH: (850) 487-5018

    District PH: (727) 816-1120


    Call your district Senator and ask them to co-sponsor SB 484.

    If you do not know your state Senator, click here.

    Call and e-mail Representative Debbie Mayfield and thank her for filing HB 873.

    Representative Debbie Mayfield

    Capitol PH: (850) 717-5054

    District PH: (772) 778-5077


    Call your district Representative and ask them to co-sponsor HB 873.

    If you do not know your state Representative, click here.
    Common Core:
    Does Florida have Common Core?

    In 2013, the State of Florida adopted Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, replacing the Sunshine State Standards, that had previously been used. The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards were defined to include Common Core in mathematics and language arts.

    After receiving widespread pressure from parents around the state the Florida Legislature took out all references to Common Core in the statutes in 2014 and placed in provisions for school districts to choose their own curriculum and educational materials. However, this was another false choice.

    Today, our legislators will call the standards in our state “Florida Standards”, while the term of Next Generation Sunshine State Standards is still what it is referred to in our statutes. The school funding and teacher salary is largely tied to the students performance on the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) test. Student promotion to the next grade is also tied to these score, thus the commonly used term “high stakes testing.” While school districts do have a choice of curriculum and educational materials, their funding and salaries still rely on the FSA which does comply with the federal Common Core Standards.

    How Can We Eliminate Common Core?

    The elimination of Common Core is going to be a multifaceted process. Some of the larger issues is the Title I and Title II funding coming from the federal government to the state and counties directly being tied to the results of the standardized tests. This would be a significant loss of revenue to the education budgets of Florida counties. These cuts would come in transportation, school lunch and other critical programs. School districts will be forced to cut these programs or raise taxes on residents. This will be something to be fought on the federal level.

    There are steps we can take to protect our children with the state legislature. This will pertain mainly to the implementation of the standardized test, high stakes tests. Florida can decide on the test used and how it relates to teacher evaluations and salaries. The state can also decide to not use the test as a means of promotion for our students and end a separate Florida statute that requires “end-of-course” exams in grades not subject to the standardized tests.

    That is why we feel that focusing on the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), the end-of-course exams and the high stakes nature of these tests relate to teachers and students is the best way to fight Common Core at this time.

    What Can We Expect from the Florida Senate?

    There are currently three pieces of legislation in the Florida Senate.

    SB 100 Student Assessment (Senator Bean)

    • This legislation would limit the amount of days used for standardized statewide assessments to no more than 10 school days per school year unless approved by the school district.

    SB 616 Education Accountability (Senator Legg)

    • This legislation would suspend the negative consequences for the 2014-2015 school year for the Florida Standards Assessments.
    • It would remove the “end-of-course” exams in grades not subject to the FSA but would require teachers to use a district approved test to still be eligible for performance pay adjustments.
    • Restructures student assessment portion of teacher evaluations from 50% to 40% and student learning growth from 40% to 30%. Instructional practice and professional job responsibilities would be no less than 30% of teacher evaluations.
    • Limits class time used for state and local required testing to be no more than 5% of classroom time.
    • School districts struggling with the implementation of the FSA during the 2014-2015 year can opt for a one time baseline or diagnostic classification for their student’s test scores with a supermajority vote of the local school board. If this option is taken the school district forfeits school recognition funding and designation as a “high performing” school district.

    SB 774 Education Accountability (Senator Montford)

    • This legislation would suspend the negative consequences for the Florida Standards Assessments until the 2016-2017 school year.
    • Completely eliminates “end-of-course” exams for every grade level and removes the PERT assessment for 11th grade students.
    • Restructures student assessment portion of teacher evaluations from 50% to 30% and gives school districts flexibility in structuring teacher evaluations for other areas.
    • Requires state and local assessment to use minimal amount of classroom time.
    • Requires the Commissioner of Education to provide an alternate, nonelectronic option for the administration of standardized tests in districts whose infrastructure is not suitable for technology based assessments.

    The Liberty First Network is supportive of SB 774 Education Accountability by Senator Montford. This legislation will eliminate “end-of-course” exams and give the most flexibility to school districts in teacher evaluations with none of the financial consequences seen in other legislation. This is a good step in the right direction.

    Take Action

    The Senate Education Pre-K thru 12 Committee will be considering these 3 pieces of legislation and may combine wording from each one to submit a piece of legislation directly from the committee.

    1. Call and e-mail Senator Montford and thank him for filing SB 774.

    Senator Montford

    Capitol PH: (850) 487-5003

    District PH: (850) 627-9100


    2. Call and email the Senate Education Committee and let them know you support SB 774 and will not allow our teachers and students to be punished financially as the local school districts make their educational choices.

    Amendment One:
    Amendment 1

    Amendment One, The Florida Water and Land Conservation Act, which was passed in the November general election, requires that 33% of revenue from the Documentary Stamp tax must be allocated for conservation purposes to: “acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands.” Technically Amendment 1 requires 33% of Documentary Stamps go to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF). The LATF is used to acquire and maintain conservation land. Amendment 1 did not specify or require how much would have to be used to purchase conservation land or how much would be allocated for maintenance of conservation land and left that to the discretion of the legislature.

    Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF)

    The Land Acquisition Trust Fund was created in 1963 by the Florida Legislature to acquire and improve conservation land and easements, wildlife management areas, wetlands, forests, fish and wildlife habitats, beaches and shores, recreational trails and parks, urban open space, rural landscapes, working farms and ranches, historical and geological sites, lands protecting water and drinking water resources and lands in the Everglades Agricultural Areas and the Everglades Protection Area.

    What are Trust Funds?

    A significant component of the state budget is appropriation from state trust funds. In Fiscal Year 2013-2014, $21.1 billion or 28.5 percent of funding was appropriated for various state agency programs from 160 state trust funds. Trust funds are typically established for special purposes from specified revenue sources that may be fees or revenues associated with the program activities being funded. The uses of these funds are limited by statutory provisions authorizing specific uses for expenditure from the fund. For example, the state tax on each gallon of fuel we purchase goes to the Transportation Trust Fund.

    Senate Action on Amendment 1

    Senator Charlie Dean, Chairman of the Senate Environmental and Conservation Preservation Committee has filed six bills (SB 576, SB 578, SB 580, SB 582, SB 584 and S.B. 586) terminating some trust funds and creating LATF’s within the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of State and the Department of Transportation. Establishing the allocation of funds to these new LATF’s is the first step of dealing with Amendment 1. The next step to be debated will be how much money is allocated to each conservation project and which projects fall under the criteria set by Amendment 1.

    House Action on Amendment 1

    The House committees will also be taking up the issue of establishing Trust Funds for Amendment 1 funds similar to Senator Dean’s bills. House Leadership has told us that their trust fund language will be somewhat different than Senator Deans and much simpler, which we liked. The House will follow the same track as the Senate, after the House finalizes their Trust Fund legislation, they also will move to allocating money to specific conservation projects. In our discussions with leadership, they seemed committed to spending money on clean-up, restoration and maintenance and not on purchasing new land.

    What can we expect for this Session?

    We will eventually have three budget plans for how to spend Amendment 1 money, the House, the Senate and the Governor. Governor Scott has already presented his budget and includes:

    • $150 million for Everglades’ projects.
    • $50 million for spring’s restoration.
    • $150 million for conservation land acquisition and management.
    • $177 million would pay off debt obligations from previous conservation work.

    Over the next couple of weeks, the House and the Senate will debate and create their version of the budget and then negotiations will begin to reconcile the differences probably in joint conference toward the end of session on May 1st.

    The debate on the allocation of Amendment 1 funds will be centered on what environmental projects and programs will be funded. For example, Governor Scott’s Amendment 1 budget includes $17.5 million for a wastewater treatment project in the Florida Keys. Environmental groups have already objected by saying Amendment 1 funds are for buying land and funding water protection projects with the money, not funding sewer upgrades that can be paid for by other means. Others would argue that fixing faulty sewer systems does fall under “water protection projects” in Amendment 1. Our objection of Governor Scott’s Amendment 1 budget is the $150 million for land acquisition and management.
    Red Light Camera's:
    Last week Paul Henry met with city officials in Tallahassee as a follow up from when he spoke to the commission in January. He presented his analysis of their red light camera program. He discussed among other issues the huge financial loss and will be able to re-address the entire commission in March when staff presents camera program data. Paul is optimistic the city will not renew their contract, which expires in August 2015.

    A red light camera repeal bill has been filed in the house, but there is no companion bill in the Senate and the outlook is bleak for a full repeal. Paul continues to work on crafting amendment language that can be added to existing bills so as to protect our rights from upside-down justice.

    The LFN is supporting HB 571, which contains very necessary privacy protection provisions due to increased technology. These include protection from automated license plate readers and electronic tracking, DNA, and fingerprint collection (for citizens) in driver license applications. Paul and others are working to find a Senate sponsor for this bill. We will send out an action alert soon for public support. This bill faces an uphill battle, but it affects everyone equally regardless of political ideologies.

    Finally, Paul wrote a brief summary of Winter Park’s red light camera program, as it is up for renewal this year. The city commission there was trying to slip it under the radar by making it a consent item. Thanks to local activists in the Orlando area, several people have emailed the mayor and city commissioners asking that this item be heard before the commission and citizen input accepted. While this is no guarantee the commission will heed the demands of the public, which has historically voted against photo enforcement about 90% of the time, it is certainly better than having the commission rubber-stamp a new contract.

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