Pile of dead bills grows as Florida lawmakers enter final weeks of legislative session

The final stretch of the 2024 legislative session has commenced at the state Capitol, with several contentious bills facing uncertain fates in the remaining three weeks. That includes key GOP initiatives.

Among the bills facing likely demise protection of historical monuments which includes preventing local governments from removing Confederate statues. Critics have condemned the idea as protection of symbols of oppression, while supporters say theyre trying to preserve history.

“I think we should preserve all of our history,” state Rep. Dean Black, R-Jacksonville, said. “History is complicated. People are complicated.”

Other proposals in hospice care, a plan to ban the flying of Pride flags over government buildings, impose limits on personal pronoun usage, and reduce the age requirement for purchasing long guns to 18.

Despite these measures gaining traction in the House and being listed as priorities by the Florida GOP, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, has shown little interest, emphasizing the autonomy of the Legislature in lawmaking.

“Our bill process is not the Republican Party of Florida,” Passidomo said last week. “We are the Legislature. We make the laws. We review the laws.”

Rep. David Borrero’s, R-Miami, proposal for a total abortion ban, grounded protections after conception, also faces strong opposition and is unlikely to advance in either chamber.

However, Democrats remain vigilant, recognizing the potential for last-minute negotiations and bill resurrections in the session’s final weeks.

“We know that there’s a lot of horse trading that goes on back and forth between the House and Senate leadership,” House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said. “We know we’ve got a governor who is also in the mix who continues to try and make himself relevant now that he’s done running for president.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pledge to temporarily freeze taxes on homeowner’s insurance premiums is also facing hurdles. The idea could save Floridians around $431 million at a time when insurance is at record highs.

The idea has the backing of the Florida Senate, which announced its tax package on Monday. That’s as the House is expressing concerns about long-term revenue implications. While Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, acknowledged the importance of providing relief to homeowners, uncertainty looms over the inclusion of this initiative in the final budget.

“We don’t have opposition necessarily to finding a way to give homeowners probably homesteaders, a primary residence, a break,” Renner said last week. “It’s something we can look at as we go forward.”

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