Bipartisan bills address environment, education, robocalls and more

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Florida lawmakers introduced more than 3,000 bills in the 2021 legislative sessions, with about 8 percent of them being signed into law. Among them were bills with robust support from both Republican and Democrats. 

These include everything from making improvements to early education to protecting the environment and putting restrictions on telephone solicitations. 

State Rep. Andrew Learned, a Democrat who represents the Brandon area, talked about the bipartisan successes July 21 on MidPoint. 

“I passed the most bills of any Democrat and most Republicans this year because … we put our differences aside, and we worked together,” Learned said.  “It’s fine to talk about things that are so divisive but this really helps the people in Florida.”

You can listen to the entire broadcast here

One of the most significant bipartisan bills that Learned co-sponsored created the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, which also came with $300 million in funding to protect a swath of land that stretches from the Alabama border to the Florida Keys. 

A bipartisan bill targeting telephone solicitation and robocalls allows people who feel the law has been violated to sue for damages of at least $500. 

A bi-partisan early learning bill sets standards for Voluntary Pre-K programming, requiring that children be evaluated and providing for intensive training to address deficiencies. 

Both sides of the aisle also supported a bill sponsored by state Rep. Fentrice Driskell that creates the Task Force on Abandoned African American Cemeteries that will study how many of those cemeteries exist in the state and develop strategies for recording them. 

“Finding these areas of common ground when it comes to civics education, making sure that we don’t forget our history … Juneteenth becoming a national holiday and recognizing the race massacre in Tulsa. This bill falls straight in line with that. It’s about making sure we don’t forget about the people we’ve literally trampled over for decades and hundreds of years in this dark history that we have,” Learned said. “This is a great bill and I am glad we were able to put our differences aside and get it across the finish line.” 

A bill that creates a public records exemption for aquaculture is intended to protect the Cedar Key clam industry, which is the nation’s third largest producer of clams, behind Virginia and Washington. The industry developed after Florida banned net fishing in 1995, which shuttered many commercial fishing businesses. The state provided training and made submerged lands available for rent for clam farming.