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Headed to the governor's desk

Today is the 59th day of the 60-day session.

The Senate voted unanimously to allow the Florida Lottery to boost scratch-off game prizes in an effort to increase the amount of money going to education. The bill (HB 2011) was unanimously passed earlier this week by the House. State economists estimate the measure could boost education funding by up to $57-million in coming years.

Vandalism against land, crops, agricultural buildings or equipment could bring penalties up to three times the value of the items damaged under a measure passed unanimously by the House. The bill (CS SB 1772) is aimed at "eco-terrorist" groups opposed to bioengineering in agriculture that have damaged properties where genetic engineering was being conducted. It expands a law that only applied to crops and allowed lawsuits for twice the value of the crops lost.

A bill designed to protect homeowners from predatory lenders cleared the Legislature on unanimous votes. The "Florida Fair Lending Act" (CS-SB 2262) would outlaw door-to-door sales of mortgages based on a customer's home equity rather than income, and would require lenders to give potential customers a notice spelling out the dangers of falling deeper into a cycle of debt that ends in the loss of their homes.

The House gave final passage to a measure (SB 496) to provide state-paid education for the children of any Floridians who die in Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation's war against terrorism. State universities are already free for children of Floridians who were killed in other wars going back to the Korean War.

_ ASSOCIATED PRESS

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