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Five bills to know about in the legislative session

The Florida legislative session opened on Wednesday. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are looking at bills that would directly affect college students. Here are five that students should be aware of as the session continues.


House Bill 509: Postsecondary Fee Waivers


This bill, proposed by House Representative Mel Ponder (R), would allow for universities to waive any portion of the Activity and Service fee, the Financial Aid fee, the Technology fee, the Capital Improvement fee and any other fees for a person who is an active duty member. Each college system would report to the State Board of Education the number and value of all fee wavers granted. If passed, the bill would take effect July 1.


Senate Bill 144: Use of Wireless Communications Devices While Driving


This bill, proposed by Communications, Energy and Public Utilities, would allow law enforcement officers to issue citations to people texting while driving. The main difference between this and what’s already a law is that the bill allows officers to pull people over for driving rather than it having to be in addition to another violation. It also states that all proceeds collected through the citations would go to the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund of the Department of Health.


House Bill 575: Threats to Kill or Do Bodily Injury


This bill, proposed by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, clarifies a pre-existing law that makes it a felony to “write or record, including an electronic record” that threatens bodily injury or death to another person. It also clearly defines that it needs to be a message or recording that “would allow another person to view the threat.”


Senate Bill 624: Body Cameras


This bill, proposed by Sen. Greg Steube (R), would require law enforcement agencies that use body cameras to establish policies and procedures that would include allowing the officer to review footage before taking certain actions. These actions include writing a report or providing a statement regarding an event except when the officer provides information at the scene of an incident “for the sole purposes of identifying and preserving the crime scene and identifying witnesses and suspects.”


House Bill 6005: Campus Carry


This bill, proposed by Sen. Greg Steube (R), would allow for those who have a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm on college or university facilities. Currently, only law enforcement is allowed to carry on campus for defense purposes. A similar bill was reviewed in last year’s legislative session and failed.