TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida lawmakers are expected to gavel their session to a close on Friday — if they can produce a state budget by Tuesday — but return to the state Capitol two weeks later for a special session to consider a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
At the very top of the agenda is finalizing the state budget, which must be decided by Tuesday. While sticking points remain in budget negotiations, lawmakers seem poised to meet their budget deadline. The state budget is expected to be about $100 billion, although the specific amount is still under negotiation.
Even after it is finalized, there are other items to tackle, including both parties trying to find common ground on a data privacy bill that would impose restrictions on companies that collect, use and sell consumers' personal data.
Both versions of the bill would give people the option to keep that personal information from being archived in databases. However, the House version allows someone to sue if that guideline is violated but the Senate version took that part of the bill out.
Also on the to-do list is the election reform bill that could make it tougher for some to vote. If passed, the bill would limit the use of ballot drop boxes, make it more difficult for those who don’t have a state-issued ID to register to vote, and it would also require voters to request a mail-in ballot every two years.
Another bill many people are watching has to do with possibly raising unemployment benefits. The Senate has voted to raise benefits from the current $275 a week for up to 12 weeks to $375 a week, raising the eligibility period to 14 weeks.
Every senator from both parties voted to pass the bill, however, a handful have voiced their objections -- one of which is Governor Ron DeSantis.
"Increase benefits?" the governor previously said. "Look, no. I think we’re getting people back to work."
One of the concerns with this bill has to do with the unemployment trust fund, which has dwindled. To boost the fund, lawmakers passed a bill requiring sales tax collection on all online purchases, but there’s still a chance that companies could face a tax hike too.