Florida April 2019 Legislative Update: Wireless Devices In Florida
Below, we discuss two important legislative updates in Florida: One that involves interfering with Amendment 4 by forcing ex-felons to pay fees before having their voting rights restored, and the other which criminalizes certain activities involving wireless devices in certain areas of Florida.
House Passes Legislation Effectively Disenfranchising Ex-Felons in Spite of Amendment 4
The Florida House took additional steps to finalize its March 19 legislation and interfere with the voting rights of felons by passing a bill in late April that would only restore these voting rights pursuant to Amendment 4 on the condition that they first to pay all fees, fines, and court costs before getting these rights back.
While those in support of the legislation claim that the fees are part of completing the ex-felons sentences, those opposed argue that it effectively disenfranchises felons and blatantly ignores the will of the millions of Floridians who voted in favor of Amendment 4. Amendment 4 allowed certain convicted ex-felons who had completed their sentences to vote; with the exception of anyone convicted of a felony sex offense or murder. The House bill effectively adds a payment of all fines, fees, and court costs onto the definition of completing their sentences.
A companion bill has already been approved by the Senate Rules Committee in the Florida Senate, but has not yet been brought to a vote in front of the full Florida Senate. It also makes the restoration of voting rights to ex-felons conditional on full payment of restitution. The Florida legislative session ends on May 3, providing a little more than a week for the Florida Senate to vote on the companion bill.
Florida Senate Criminalizes Using Wireless Devices in Certain Areas of FloridaMeanwhile, also in late April, the Senate passed legislation banning the use of any wireless devices in school and work zones. This is the closest that Florida has come to effectively allowing police to pull people over for using wireless devices while they are driving. Currently, officers can only cite drivers for this offense if they have already pulled them over for another reason, such as speeding.
If the bill passes the Florida House and is signed by the Governor, it will go into effect as of July 1. It is difficult to anticipate how the House will react to the Senate’s watered down version of its bill, as, also in late April, it passed much stronger legislation that criminalizes texting while driving everywhere in Florida; making it a primary offense.
Contact Our Florida Civil Rights Attorneys to Find Out More
If you live in Florida and your civil rights have been blatantly violated, contact our Orlando civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.