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14 posts from March 26, 2014

March 26, 2014

Florida Senate blesses biometrics ban

A proposal seeking to prevent school systems from collecting students' biometric data won the support of the Florida Senate Wednesday.

Biometric data includes the characteristics of fingerprints, hands, eyes and the voice. 

The proposal was a priority for Gov. Rick Scott, who was hoping to quell concerns about student data security during the transition to new national education standards.

The bill sponsor, Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, said she believed biometric data collection opened the door for identity theft. "We’ve been able to get kids through a lunch line for decades" without collecting sensitive information, she added.

The proposal (SB 188) gives some flexibility to the Pinellas district, which uses palm scanners to prevent backups in its lunch lines. The school system would have one year to phase out the program.

The measure passed with no debate on the floor.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, cast the lone vote in opposition.

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing on the House floor.

Senate approves Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act

By a unanimous vote Wednesday, the Florida Senate passed a bill creating tougher penalties for drivers who leave the scene of a fatal accident.

The proposal (SB 102) is called the Aaron Cohen Act Life Protection Act, in memory of a Miami cyclist killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2012. The driver, Michele Traverso, was sentenced to less than a year in jail.

Investigators found evidence that Traverso had been drinking before the accident. But because he took off, they were unable to know for sure.

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said the proposed legislation was necessary because there is an incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene of an accident.

"If you hit someone and kill them and leave, there is no minimum mandatory [sentence]," Diaz de la Portilla said. "If you hit someone and kill them and you are under the influence [of drugs or alcohol], there is a minimum mandatory [sentence]."

Diaz de la Portilla's bill creates mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of four years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. (That's the same mandatory minimum sentence for a person convicted of DUI manslaughter.)

The bill also imposes a minimum driver license revocation period of at least three years and driver education requirements for people who leave the scene of a crash.

The House version (HB 183) is awaiting a hearing in the Economic Affairs Committee. It has won unanimous support in its previous committee stops.

The bill is a top priority for the Miami-Dade legislative delegation, as well as Miami-Dade County and the city of South Miami. It has been prompted by a grassroots group of cyclists including Cohen's wife and close friends.

Jeb Bush, potential '16 contender, on the Truth-0-Meter

Mums the word about whether Florida’s former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush will run for president in 2016.

While he didn’t shed any light on that mystery in his March 21 speech to a Broward business group, Bush -- who was Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007 -- did make interesting statements about the Keystone XL Pipeline and state revenue.

Turn to PolitiFact to find out how we rated his claims.

Today in Tallahassee: Five Things to Know

Both the House and  the Senate will convene in session on Wednesday morning, "hump day" of the fourth week of session. And a House committee will spend the entire afternoon digging into the budget. Here's what to watch today:
 
Up for a vote on the Senate floor: a proposal to encourage private insurers to write flood policies (SB 542) and  the so-called "warning shots" bill that amends the state's self-defense laws (SB 448).
 
The full House will get a chance to debate a proposal ending the current moratorium on new nursing home beds; HB 287 is on second reading. Also on second reading is HB 9, which would require an earlier January start for the Legislature during even-numbered years.
 
Students from Florida's public universities will rally in support of in-state tuition for veterans and certain undocumented immigrants, as well as push for increased state funding for college construction projects.
 
The House has scheduled six hours for its Appropriations Committee to meet and review the proposed budget and other related bills.
 
The Senate's Transportation Committee will debate Sen. Jeff Brandes' proposal to repeal local government's authority to install red light cameras in intersections.