NewsPoliticalTo the Point


Update from Florida lawmakers halfway through legislative session

Posted at 9:55 AM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-28 09:55:43-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Florida lawmakers have just over one month left in the legislative session. One of the most talked about bills is one that addresses elections in our state. It has passed two committees in the Florida senate.

State Representative Gayle Harrell from Stuart told Michael Williams on To the Point the reform bill will ensure safe elections in Florida for years to come.

Sen. Gayle Harrell gives an update on the latest activity in Tallahassee

"We have been so successful in Florida since 2000," Harrell said, "This is another incremental improvement so we continue to be in the forefront."

Representative Harrell says she supports the change in requesting mail-in ballots every election as a way to correctly verify signatures. She says as people get older and their signatures change so requiring new requests for mail-in ballots is essential in protecting votes.

Democrats oppose the bill arguing it suppresses votes.

Another controversial bill addresses protests in Florida. Democratic State Senator Bobby Powell represents parts of Palm Beach County. He opposes the bill saying it could could cause harm to people lawfully exercising their first amendment right.

"Any time you have legislation that says that three or more people get involved or a protest and if anything happens, it doesn't necessarily have to be from the people who organized it, you are going to penalize people by giving them felonies for something they didn't cause, that is the problem," Senator Powell said.

Representative Harrell and Senator Powell are also looking to push ahead other bills.

"Some of the things I've focused on have been prosecution of children as adults, said Senator Powell. "It amends the Florida statute to provide that children who are treated as adults, for the purpose of prosecution in a criminal trial, may not be housed among adults."

Sen. Bobby Powell gives an update on the latest activity in Tallahassee

Senator Powell says the bill is intended to protect children in the criminal justice system. He says he expects the bill to face some push back depending how much it affects the state budget.

Representative Harrell says she continues advocate for doing things in an environmentally safe way and that means opposing a plan to create three new turnpikes in Florida.

"How do we rebuild, redo, and expand our existing road system rather than going through pristine areas and establishing new major turnpikes that might divide communities and might divide sections of large counties that have a significant environmental impact," Representative Harrell said.

The last day of the Florida legislative session is April 30.

Closing comments with Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancuso

Send questions, comments about 'To The Point'