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In Florida, You Can Lose Your Driver’s License For Jaywalking–Especially If You’re Black

| December 14, 2017

Sen. Jeff Brandes has repeatedly introduced measures that would prohibit driver’s license suspensions for non-driving offenses. But Clerks of court stand to lose $40 million annually if the law is modified.

In American First, Scott Signs Bill Providing for Birth Certificates In Cases of Miscarriage

| May 31, 2017

The bill, which easily cleared the Senate and House in early May, makes Florida the first state in the nation to issue birth certificates for miscarriages. The implications of the bill are unclear.

Proposal to Shift “Stand Your Ground” Burden of Proof to Prosecutors Advances

| January 24, 2017

The measure would shift the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors during pre-trial evidentiary hearings in “stand your ground” cases.

Despite Same-Sex Marriage Ruling, Gay Adoption Rights Remain Restricted in Florida

| August 19, 2015

While same-sex couples have long been able to adopt from private, gay-friendly adoption agencies, adopting children from the foster care system has proved more difficult in some states, among them Florida.

Sunburned Child at Flagler Camp Exposes a Florida Paradox: Paddling Is OK. Applying Sunscreen Is Not.

| August 10, 2015

The Palm Coast mother of a 5-year-old child who got sunburned while in care of Flagler camp counselors was surprised to find the strict limitations on school employees touching children.

Some of Your Privacy Rights Are Waived In Medical Malpractice Lawsuits, Court Rules

| July 21, 2015

The Florida court’s decision stemmed from a controversial 2013 law the Republican-controlled Legislature passed after a lobbying battle between groups such as doctors and plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Judge Halts Abortion Waiting Period Set to Start Wednesday, Pending ACLU Challenge

| June 30, 2015

But the appeal by Attorney General Pam Bondi triggered an automatic stay on Francis’ decision, which could allow the law to go into effect. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the initial case, immediately responded by asking for Francis to lift that stay.

ACLU and Women’s Health Center Sue Florida Over 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

| June 12, 2015

The lawsuit contends that for women — especially low-income women who must arrange for child care, time off work and overnight travel — the law can push them past the time it is legal to have abortions.

The War on Women, Cont’d: Enough with Mandatory Vaginal Exams, Florida

| June 10, 2015

It’s not enough that in 2011 our Legislature passed a draconian law forcing women to schedule, pay for, and look at an ultrasound of their fetus if they choose to exercise their right to an abortion.

Fifteen Years For Sex on the Beach? Seriously?

| May 10, 2015

Federal prisons are full of white collar criminals who won’t serve a day over five years, criminals who destroyed companies and bilked citizens out of their life savings. Yet Elissa Alvarez and Jose Caballero face 15 years for “lewd and lascivious” sex on the beach, a ridiculous excess, argues Nancy Smith.

More Secrecy, Harsher Punishment for Pregnant-Women Beaters, Parasailing Regulations: 32 New Laws Go In Effect

| September 28, 2014

A number of the new Florida laws going in effect Wednesday involve public-records exemptions, including one to allow some university boards to meet in private to discuss donors and research funding.

South Florida Appeals Court Rules Cremation Ashes Are Not “Property,” and May Not Be Divided

| May 22, 2014

In what could be a first-of-its-kind case in Florida, a state appeals court Wednesday weighed into a burial dispute and said the cremated remains of a man are not “property” under law, and may not be split between his divorced father and mother, so each could have some remains to bury.

Despite Parental Notification Law, Court Finds Room for Teens to Protect Privacy When Seeking Abortion

| April 16, 2014

Florida voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that requires parents to be notified before their minor daughters can have abortions. But an appeals court ruling released Friday shows how far teens can go to challenge the law–and preserve their privacy when seeking an abortion.

Stand Your Ground: Florida is Not My Castle. And It’s Not Yours, Either.

| February 11, 2014

The right to stand one’s ground against aggression in one’s home is unquestioned, but, argues Julie Delegal, in public, spaces must be shared, peacefully. The castle doctrine cannot be extended to cover the entire state, as Florida’s Stand Your Ground law does.

NRA-Backed Bill Would End Zero-Tolerance Punishment of Students Play-Acting Guns at School

| February 6, 2014

The NRA-backed measure by Florida House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would prevent children from being disciplined for simulating a gun while playing or wearing clothes that depict firearms.

Florida Lawmakers Would Stiffen Penalties On Insurers Discriminating Against Gun Owners

| February 5, 2014

Insurance companies could face tougher penalties if they impose higher rates, refuse to issue or cancel auto or homeowner policies due to gun ownership, under a measure backed by a House committee Tuesday.

Six Gay Couples and Equality Florida File Lawsuit in State Court Seeking Freedom to Marry

| January 21, 2014

The lawsuit argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides.

Senate Wants to Make Florida “Scorched Earth” For Violent Sexual Offenders

| December 17, 2013

The proposed bills would “widen the net” to apprehend, punish and monitor sexually violent predators anywhere in Florida. The proposals have bipartisan support and the Senate and House are speeding toward a comprehensive effort in both chambers.

Harsh Outlier: Florida’s Sentencing Laws Still Lock Up More Juveniles Than Any Other State

| October 17, 2013

As state legislators have tried and failed to craft a juvenile-sentencing law that conforms to landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings, a national advocacy group is calling Florida a “clear outlier” among states for its hard-line approach to trying juveniles as adults.

Bill Would Grant Immunity From Harsh Sentences for Firing Warning Shots

| September 27, 2013

A bill filed by a Polk County lawmaker is intended to address what he called “the negative, unintended consequences” of Florida’s 10-20-Life sentencing law by granting immunity to people who fire warning shots to protect themselves and others. The new bill was filed on the same day that the 1st District Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman sentenced to a mandatory 20 years in prison for a shot fired during a domestic dispute in her home.

Appeal Court Orders New Trial for Marissa Alexander, But No Redo on Stand Your Ground

| September 26, 2013

Marissa Alexander, a 32-year-old mother of three, was convicted on improper self-defense instructions to the jury, the court ruled. Alexander was serving a 20-year sentence for shooting a gun during an argument with her abusive husband, against whom she had a restraining order.

Florida Supreme Court’s New Term: Death Penalty, Utility Rates, Red-Light Cameras

| August 26, 2013

The court faces high-profile cases that deal with issues such as medical malpractice, red-light cameras, utility rates and the death penalty. In some of the cases, justices have already heard arguments and could rule any week. In others, the cases still are percolating and have not gone to arguments.

Cabinet Passes, for Now, on Pardoning Marissa Alexander, Pending Stand Your Ground Appeal

| August 7, 2013

Alexander, a 32-year-old mother of three, was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year after firing a shot into a wall during a dispute with her abusive husband, a case that stands in sharp contrast with George Zimmerman’s not-guilty verdict after he shot and killed an unarmed teen.

Middle School Boy Invokes Stand Your Ground in School Bus Fight With Girl, and Court Agrees

| July 17, 2013

Showing the breadth of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, an appeals court Wednesday said the controversial legal defense can be used by a boy involved in a fight with a girl on a school bus. No weapons were involved. The boy making the stand your ground claim was arrested on a battery charge.

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Scott’s Drug-Testing of State Workers as Too Broad

| May 29, 2013

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals declared an executive order by Riock Scott to drug-test 85,000 state employees and all job applicants as mostly unconstitutional, but left room for a lower court decision to be rewritten to allow for certain employees in certain categories to be drug tested–essentially restoring Florida’s drug-testing standard to what it was before the governor’s executive order.

Gov. Scott Vetoes Bill Ending Permanent Alimony After Fierce Backlash

| May 1, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have ended permanent alimony and limited alimony payments based on income and the length of marriage, a victory for thousands of constituents who’d urged the governor to do just that.

Police Drones Are Banned from Florida Skies Absent a Warrant or Other Exceptions

| April 17, 2013

The bill (SB 92) prevents law enforcement use of drones unless a judge has issued a warrant, or in cases where there is a “high risk of terrorist attack,” or a case of imminent danger, such as in a missing person case where the person is thought to be in immediate danger.

Duping Court Ruling, Florida Replacing Life Juvenile Sentencing With 50-Year Minimum

| April 17, 2013

Legislation aimed at putting Florida in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ban on automatic life sentences for juvenile murderers cleared a House panel Tuesday, but with a 50 year minimum sentence that opponents say may keep the state’s law at odds with the court’s aim.

Revenge Porn: Florida Lawmakers Take National Lead in Battling Bullying’s New Virus

| April 16, 2013

In a more lurid consequence of sexting, Florida women and girls have been targeted by revenge porn–the online posting of nude images without the victim’s consent–in several documented instances, leading the Legislature to seek to criminalize the practice as a second or third-degree felony.

“Mental Retardation” and “Retarded”
Will Be Excised from All Florida Laws

| April 11, 2013

Florida lawmakers are moving toward erasing the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from myriad state laws, as the word “retarded” has become widely viewed as offensive to people with disabilities.

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