Florida's legislative session will get an early start in 2018, just like this year.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill today that moves the 2018 session's start to Jan. 9.
The Florida Constitution allows the Legislature to start session early in even-numbered years. Otherwise, session begins on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. (The 2017 session will start March 7.)
Lawmakers were divided in moving the session date up for 2018. SB 7076 passed the Senate by a 27-11 vote and the House by a 89-28 vote.
During Senate debate, some senators questioned the cost and need for having an earlier session. Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, responded at the time: "When you’re on spring break with your kids this year, you’ll understand the significance of it."
Scott also signed 16 other bills into law today, including one that helps the families of law enforcement and first responders who are killed on the job.
SB 7012 -- sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, and Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers -- provides the deceased individual's monthly salary to their beneficiaries for their lifetime.
The expanded benefit applies to law enforcement officers, firefighters, corrections officers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and probation officers. The benefit takes effect July 1 and retroactively applies to eligible individuals who were killed in the line of duty on or after July 1, 2013.
"This legislation will ensure that these brave Floridians have the peace of mind knowing that their family will have financial support if the unthinkable were to ever happen," Scott said in a statement today.
Here were all of the new laws Scott approved today. He still has 26 bills pending on his desk from the 2016 session.