Florida Legislation Watch - Session Ends Friday May 5, 2023


We're watching the Florida Legislative Session steam towards it's scheduled end date of Friday May 5, 2023.  There is still a lot of unfinished business on the docket.  Here's a quick recap of what's left for the upcoming week.

  • They need to pass a budget.  
  • They're working on a bill that would exempt a sitting Florida lawmaker from having to resign to run for President.  Tidings Media OPPOSES that bill (that will likely pass through the Republican controlled Florida House and Senate).  
  • There's a bill proposed to create year round school in Florida.  Year-round schooling, also known as a balanced calendar, is a scheduling system that reorganizes the traditional 180-day school year into shorter instructional periods with frequent breaks.  This bill is unlikely to pass, and Tidings Media OPPOSES that bill.  It would establish an optional pilot program for year round school.
  • There are a couple more education bills waiting in the wings including a bill with a provision that would eliminate a series of in-state tuition rates for undocumented college students
  • A bill being debated seeks to regulate hemp extract as a food item that would lower the dosage amount allowed in some CBD products.  Tidings Media is OPPOSED to this bill.  Floridians have expressed public support for legalizing marijuana, and this bill puts more restrictions on hemp extracts.  
  • There's a bill favored by the DeSantis administration that would alter the state's defamation laws, expanding the ability to sue media companies.  We were originally in opposition (as we're a media company) but after watching the Tampa Bay Times continued assault on conservatives using supposed news stories as editorials, we're now not only in favor of the bill, but may become one of the first litigants to use the bill if it passes.  HB991 Provides that journalist’s privilege does not apply to defamation claims when defendant is professional journalist or media entity, and provides certain allegations are defamatory per se; provides statutory damages to prevailing plaintiffs who are subject of such allegations; creates presumption that statement by anonymous source is presumptively false; provides public figure does not need to show actual malice to prevail in defamation action.  Tidings now SUPPORTS the bill.  The part about anonymous sources is a significant overreach and fundamentally violates the spirit of the First Amendment, but we will take the bill overall.  

Tidings Media subscribes to journalism's professional "code of ethics" and the "canons of journalism".  We have never and would never knowingly print anything false, defamatory or libelous.  As a result, tightening scrutiny for media integrity is a good thing.  The full context of what the State of Florida is likely to pass in the bill called Defamation, False Light, and Unauthorized Publication of Name or Likenesses can be seen here.  

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