The Florida House unanimously passed four bills Wednesday to strengthen laws protecting children from violent sexual predators, to include establishing a mandatory 50 year sentence for dangerous sexual felony offenders.
The legislation consisted of three Senate bills that passed that chamber on opening day, plus an amended version of a Senate bill that must go back for a vote, the Miami Herald reported.
“This will make Florida the safest state in America to raise a family,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, told the Herald. “And the worst state for violent sexual predators.”
The approved bills are part of the Legislature’s Work Plan 2014 “Protecting Florida’s Vulnerable” initiative, announced in January by House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz.
“The House took an important step today to make Florida the most unfriendly state in the nation for sexually violent predators,” Speaker Weatherford said in a released statement. “With these reforms, law enforcement will be better able to keep predators off our streets and away from our children.”
In addition to the measure imposing a 50 year mandatory sentence, the Miami Herald breaks down the other three bills:
• SB 522 by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, which was taken up by the House sponsor, Rep. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast. It adds more notification requirements when an offender is in custody or released from the Florida Civil Commitment Center, the treatment center in Arcadia that offenders must go to after completing their prison terms.
• SB 524 by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, that was taken up by the House sponsor, Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart. It requires colleges and universities to notify students about the presence of sexual predators on campuses.
• SB 528 by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, that was taken up by Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral. The bill requires registered sex offenders to provide personal information, such as Internet user names, vehicle tag numbers and passport numbers to law enforcement. Eagle amended the bill Wednesday to include a requirement that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles monitor the records of any sexual predator or offender whose name it receives from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. That amendment must still be approved by the Senate.
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