Unemployment, marijuana, social media and more on agenda for Florida lawmakers

The Florida Legislative Session begins on March 2, 2021 in Tallahassee.jpg
Posted at 5:48 AM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 11:57:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic, budget questions, anti-riot legislation, and an attempt to reign in large technology companies will be among issues Florida lawmakers will take up in their 60-day session that begins Tuesday.

There have been more than 2,500 bills filed ahead of the Legislative Session ranging from tweaking a law that makes it illegal to ride bicycles without seats to bills that would protect businesses and health care facilities from COVID-19 lawsuits.

One of the biggest priorities is finalizing the governor's $96.6 billion budget. The budget isn't the only bill lawmakers have to pass, but the financial hit caused by the pandemic will make that a challenging task and cuts to state programs are expected.

"I reject reductions in funding for K-12 education," Gov. Ron DeSantis said during Tuesday's "State of the State" address. "Florida is leading on education and we must continue to do so."


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers State of the State address

Minority Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Bobby Powell is looking to revamp the state's unemployment system with Senate Bill 592.

If passed, it would expand benefits by increasing the maximum weekly payment from $275 to $500. It would also extend the amount of time unemployed workers can collect benefits from 12 to 26 weeks, which is the national average.

On the Treasure Coast, State Sen. Gayle Harrell has proposed Senate Bill 260. It aims to help veterans by creating a program that provides referral services to veterans and their relatives for mental health and substance abuse issues.

State Rep. Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach, has proposed HJR 61 which seeks to increase the percentage of votes needed to make changes to the state's constitution from 60% to 66%.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-Pinellas, is trying to exclude some workers from the minimum wage pay hike voters passed in November. He’s pitching another constitutional amendment to amend the existing one that would exclude felons and people under 21 from the $15/hr rate.

Here are a few more bills under consideration. Click on the links for more information:

WPTV and The Associated Press contributed to this report.