TALLAHASSEE — Spring break is almost here for the Legislature, but not before members take votes today on guns, abortion, splicing the judiciary and sexting.
The Senate Rules Committee will vote on SB 234, a controversial bill that allows holders of concealed weapons permits to openly carry their guns. Sheriffs across Tampa Bay oppose the bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker. The committee will also hear a proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 1538) that would prohibit using public money for health insurance policies that include abortion coverage, which is already in effect in many cases.
The Senate Budget Committee will take expedited votes on bills reducing first-time penalties for minors who "sext" (SB 888) and imposing harsher penalties on adults who violate Florida's house party laws (SB 746). The committee should be the last stops for Sen. Jack Latvala's transportation bill (SB 1180), which contains panhandling restrictions for the entire state, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam's school lunch takeover (SB 1312).
The House is in session, and members will decide if they should give voters the chance to expand and divide the Supreme Court (HJR 7111) and repeal septic tank legislation (HB 283) they passed last year. They debated the measures Thursday.
Also on tap: limiting local regulation of fertilizer use. Part of HR 457 would prohibit sales bans of fertilizer, but there's a provision that grandfathers in existing ordinances, allowing a summer sales ban in Pinellas County to remain in place. Advocates of the bans say fertilizer runoff during the rainy season contributes to pollution of rivers, bays and other surface water.
The House Appropriations Committee will tackle bills on charter schools (HB 7195), distance learning (HB 7197), and giving free state park admission to parents of certain deceased military veterans, firefighters and law enforcement officers (HB 95).
The Senate leaves for a weeklong break in observance of Passover and Easter. The House will be back in session Wednesday and Thursday.
Times/Herald staff writer Janet Zink contributed to this report.