During the past session, both chambers of Florida’s Legislature failed to address top-priority votes, including the constitutionally-mandated vote on a budget. Given these failures, Florida’s Legislature will be voting on several laws when the next session begins on January 12th, 2016. Among these laws is a new gun law that is being lauded by critics and the public.
The first is a water policy bill that rewrites rules for cleaning up springs and is intended to unify and standardize water policy in Central Florida. Currently, this is split between several water management districts, which creates a lack of uniformity and easily causes confusion.
The second bill aims to set up a financial literacy program for the developmentally disabled, as well as providing the developmentally disabled with job training and education on topics like money management. The third bill also focuses on the developmentally disabled and would establish the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities at the University of Central Florida. The center would oversee a statewide program to help match the developmentally disabled with suitable job programs. It would also create related scholarship programs.
Finally, the fourth bill (which will be up for a vote in both Houses) aims to make it illegal to fire a gun in a residential area. The proposed bill would make firing a gun outdoors in an area with more than one home per acre illegal, unless in self-defense or if there is “reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property.”
Gun laws have become a point of stress and contention in Florida and across the country recently. Following the national stories of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the many violent shootings that have been taking place over the past year in the United States, guns and gun-related legislation has been front and center in the public eye.
The debate isn’t one-sided, either. To rival the previously proposed gun law, there is another bill hitting the House during the next session that would allow guns on college and university campuses in Florida. It will be interesting to watch how this issue influences the 2016 U.S. Presidential race as well.
Beyond these 4 bills, there will be a total of 33 bills that should see some attention on January 12th.