10 Florida bills you’ll probably never hear of, except here

It’s not all about budgets, taxes, Medicaid, education and pensions for Florida lawmakers.

Nope, these folks know there’s so much more to Florida than those issues, and they’re getting ready to debate some of the more pressing issues in advance of the 2014 legislative session.

State senators have filed 279 bills and state representatives have filed another 239 proposed laws, most of which will never see the light of day outside the halls of the Florida Capitol.

But some of those bills, indeed, deserve attention. Here are 10 of our favorites awaiting lawmakers’ action.

Sharks: A Central Florida lawmaker wants to make possessing, selling and even bartering in shark fins a crime, punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Gender-specific schools: This bill requires the Florida Department of Education to select five lucky school districts to participate in an experimental program where some elementary schools would be divided into boys-only and girls-only classes.

Needle and syringe program: It’s not a legalization effort, but under this would-be law the Florida Department of Health would administer a free needle exchange program to drug addicts in Miami-Dade County.

Aerosol spray paint: Spray paint soon may land on store shelves next to cigarettes, chewing tobacco and other items prohibited for sale to minors. Yes, spray paint.

Disclosure of sexually explicit images: It’s called “revenge porn.” Awful as it sounds, it’s a real thing, and it’s legal right now. This bill would make online disclosures of sensitive images and videos of former sexual partners a felony.

Patient lifting: As if the goal were to create a law for everything, this proposed legislation calls for a committee to standardize how hospitals should physically lift patients. Because, you know, hospital employees need to know the legal way to do it.

Jury duty: Thanks to state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, mothers nursing newborns might not have to server on juries. As it stands, breastfeeding doesn’t qualify as an exemption, even though other excuses such as pre-paid vacations, night jobs and a simple claim of bias will send you on your way.

Animal experiments: If you’re in the business of conducting experiments on animals, state Sen. Charlie Dean‘s got your back. If passed, SB 414 would exempt public records requests from revealing any identifying information of animal researchers as long as they’re working for the government.

Lewd and lascivious behavior: Despite the official sounding title, this bill actually repeals a law making it illegal for unmarried couples to engage in intimate behavior while living together.

Tourism Hall of Fame: If there’s one thing Florida probably could live without, it’s a state sanctioned Tourism Hall of Fame. It is the Sunshine State‘s top industry, but do we need the government to make it official? And who would be nominated?

Lawmakers will have until the end of February to submit legislation for the 2014 legislative session that begins March 4.

Contact William Patrick at wpatrick@watchdog.org


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