Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

There will be no Florida alimony reform bill in 2014

TALLAHASSEE — Remember the controversial alimony reform bill that Gov. Rick Scott vetoed last session?

It won't be back this year.

The organization behind the proposal announced Thursday that there will be no new legislation filed during the 2014 session.

"I am beyond saddened that this bill will not become a reality," Family Law Reform President Alan Frisher wrote in a statement. "Our proposed bill was good legislation. It protected our citizens and corrected inconsistencies in Florida law."

In January, Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, told the Times/Herald that he was working on a proposal similar to the alimony bill he sponsored last year. The 2013 bill sought to eliminate permanent alimony, and capped payments based on salary and length of marriage.

But according to a news release issued Thursday, he and Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel have decided to focus instead on tax cuts.

"The Legislature is dedicated to creating a broad based $500 million tax cut for Floridians this session," Workman said. "Such expansive efforts tend to consume a session. Hence, I feel this is not the year for in depth reform."

The bill likely fell victim to election-year politics.

Its passage in the House and Senate infuriated women's groups in 2013. Observers at the time speculated that Scott's veto was an attempt to win over female voters. The governor still needs their support heading into November.

At least one group welcomed the news: the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar.

The group fought the proposal last year.

"We will remain consistent in our advocacy for a system of alimony laws that is sensitive to the unique qualities of every family situation and to resist any push toward a one-size-fits-all system with little or no judicial discretion," said the chair, Elisha D. Roy.

Barbara DeVane, of the National Organization of Women, said she, too, was delighted.

"I'm very pleased that Ritch Workman finally saw the light," she said.

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