Lawmakers Focus on Red Tide, Guns, Immigration



While Florida’s Legislative Session won’t officially begin until March, some of the region’s lawmakers already have legislation filed as they look to the new year.

State Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, made the environment the focus of his first bill. He wants state requirements for septic tank inspections to be put in place, something he hopes will prevent another red tide bloom on the scale seen along Southwest Florida’s coastline this year. His legislation would restore regulations stripped out of statutes in 2012.

“I heard about nothing else more than red tide during the course of the campaign,” Robinson said. Faulty septic tanks likely contribute to nutrients feeding red tide, he said, and regulating systems could cut down pollution feeding harmful algal blooms.

State Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, heads to Tallahassee for her first full term, but still feels close to an issue raised her first day of office after winning a special election in February. Good was sworn into the Legislature the same day as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting in Parkland, and she’s filed legislation this year regulating private sales of firearms. The bill would require individuals to work with licensed dealers when selling their own weapons in order to conduct criminal background checks, the same as take place at gun shops.

“This is common sense gun violence prevention that the overwhelming majority of Floridians are behind,” she said. Too many felons get their hands on guns through private sales, and this law would better enforce existing restrictions on who can purchase firearms, Good said.

And state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, focused his attention thus far on immigration. The new senator, who served previously in the state House, has filed two bills for the upcoming session. One would prohibit counties and municipalities from becoming “sanctuary” jurisdictions refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The other bill would regulate the reentry into Florida by individuals previously deported.

“One of my biggest issues is always immigration,” Gruters said.

Florida Capitol Complex

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