Session Ups and Downs

Efforts to ban internet cafes in Florida were going nowhere until a criminal enterprise was uncovered. Then lawmakers showed how fast they could act.

Florida became the first state to ban law enforcement from using drones without a search warrant.

"I think it was a good idea to say here's the rules we're going to have in Florida on that," said Sen. Joe Negron.

Amy Datz spent the last 9 weeks trying to keep lawmakers from ending the state pension system as it is. She and others generated more than four thousand calls a week and they won.

"My mother is almost 90. I hope to live to 90 and I'm going to need my retirement," said Datz.

Florida will join 38 other states in banning texting while driving after drama filled effort to kill the bill.

Teachers will get raises. The Governor sought 2,500, but it's likely to be less after support personnel were included. State employees are also seeing a salary bump for the first time in seven years.

One reason there was a lot less rancor this year, because there was a lot more money."

Democrats joined Republicans for the first time in at least six years in voting for the largest state budget in history.

"If there's more good I vote yes. If there's more bad I vote no," said Rep. Joe Gibbons.

Legislation to let residents use school playgrounds for recreation stalled. Efforts to ban riders in the back of pickup trucks failed, as did the re-enactment of a ban on loud car stereos.

Perhaps the biggest issue of the session, adding one million working poor to the Medicaid roles also failed. Supporters are already calling for a special session this fall so the state can take advantage of federal money beginning in January 2014.


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