A man who spent 21 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of killing his seven children might be compensated by the state more than 40 years later under a bill passed by the Legislature.
The Senate voted unanimously late Friday for a bill that changes a law that compensates wrongfully incarcerated prisoners so that James Richardson can be paid more than $1 million. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.
Bill sponsor Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando said the now-78-year-old Richardson wants to build a church with the money.
Richardson was convicted in 1968 of poisoning the lunch of his children with an insecticide. But the conviction was set aside after it was reinvestigated by then-Miami-Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno.
Sales tax holidays
Shoppers buying clothes and school supplies will get a three-day tax holiday in August.
The Florida Legislature on Friday approved a tax cut package and sent it to the governor.
The $105 million tax cut package includes a back-to-school sales tax holiday on Aug. 1-3.
Under the bill (HB 5601), shoppers would not have to pay sales taxes on any clothes worth $100 or less. Shoppers would not have to pay taxes on school supplies worth $15 or less or on the first $750 of a personal computer.
The bill also includes a three-day sales tax holiday in September on the purchase of energy efficient appliances. It also includes a nine-day sales tax holiday on the sale of hurricane preparation supplies such as batteries and generators.
Early 2016 session
The House gave final approval Friday to a bill (HB 9) that would move up the starting date of the 2016 legislative session from March to January.
Sessions typically last from early March to early May, except in redistricting years. But the bill calls for a one-time change to start the 2016 session on Jan. 12. Supporters of the change have said that, in part, it will allow lawmakers to be home with their families for such things as spring break. House members voted 93-22 to approve the bill, which passed the Senate on Thursday. It now goes to the governor.
Life term changes
The Legislature passed a bill that reworks mandatory life sentences for juveniles.
The bill passed the House 115-0 Friday and passed the Senate 36-0 last week. It now awaits the governor.
The bill (HB 7035) would bring Florida law in line with a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said life terms without parole for juveniles violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, leaving Florida law in need of an update. The bill leaves the mandatory minimum for first-degree murder, creates judicial sentencing reviews and denies those reviews for those previously convicted of violent felonies before committing first-degree murder.
Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.