August 12, 2022

DeSantis ready to act on final stack of bills

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he expects to act quickly on the remaining bills from the 2022 regular legislative session.

With the state’s new fiscal year ready to start July 1, DeSantis had 52 bills remaining on his desk from 280 that were approved by lawmakers during the regular session and two subsequent special sessions.

The Legislature sent the final batch of bills to DeSantis on Friday. DeSantis can sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature.

Asked Monday about one of the remaining bills, a controversial measure that would change alimony laws (SB 1796), DeSantis did not say whether he would approve the proposal. He only said he expects to sign or veto all the remaining measures, possibly this week.

“We're going through our process. A lot of bills that get turned out, you know, they get dumped on my desk and I've got to look to see on all of them, we do our due diligence,” DeSantis said while at the Pig Bar-B-Q in Callahan. “We research them. We try to make the best decisions that we can, you know, for the people of the state of Florida. So, that process is ongoing. I think we've gotten through probably 80 (percent) to 90 percent of the bills already.”

Former Gov. Rick Scott twice vetoed proposed alimony overhauls.

This year’s bill would make a series of changes, including revising the process for modification of alimony when people who have been paying seek to retire. Ex-spouses who pay would have to give one year’s notice indicating they intend to retire and could stop payments upon retirement, except under certain circumstances.

The bill also would do away with permanent alimony and set maximum durations of payments. Spouses who have been married for less than three years would not be eligible for alimony and those who have been married 20 years or longer would be eligible to receive payments for up to 75 percent of the length of the marriage.

Another part of the bill would require judges to begin with a “presumption” that children should split their time equally between parents.

Critics argued that parts of the proposal, such as the changes dealing with retirement, could impoverish ex-spouses who have been homemakers and are dependent on alimony payments.

But Marc Johnson, chairman of the group Florida Family Fairness, which supports the bill, issued a statement Friday that said it is “time to modernize Florida’s family court laws, by making the process more equitable and predictable for all parties while reducing the cost of litigation.”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor, declined to address the alimony bill Monday. But she said DeSantis should veto a separate pending measure that could open the door to businesses filing lawsuits against cities and counties.

“It is important that local governments have the ability to do what is right for their communities. Fried told reporters at the Capitol. “If the people don't like the legislation, the ordinances they pass, then they vote them out of office. But for state government to come in and override those decisions and create this opportunity for businesses to sue, is the most egregious overstep of home rule that I have seen.”

Before the bill passed in March, House sponsor Lawrence McClure, R-Dover, said it would cause local governments to “pause” before they enact ordinances that would hurt businesses.

The bill (SB 620) would allow businesses to sue cities and counties if ordinances cause at least 15 percent losses of profits. It would apply to businesses that have been in operation for at least three years and allow them to file lawsuits seeking lost profits for seven years or the number of years the businesses have been in operation, whichever is less.

The regular legislativ

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