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12 posts from April 19, 2013

April 19, 2013

The alimony bill is headed to Gov. Scott

Former spouses saddled with perpetual alimony payments, rejoice.

The Florida Legislature is here to help.

On Thursday, the House passed a contentious bill that would end permanent alimony payments, and enable the courts to modify some existing arrangements between ex-spouses. The proposal would also require judges to give divorced parents equal custody of their children, unless there were extraordinary circumstances.

Gov. Rick Scott has not indicated if he will sign the bill, which would not eliminate alimony but put limits on it. The bill passed the Senate by a 29-11 vote earlier this month.

But the governor is certain to hear from alimony payers and recipients, many of whom lent their pointed opinions and personal stories to one of the session’s most emotional debates.

“Signing this bill is the right thing to do,” said Alan Frisher, who co-founded a non-profit organization called Family Law Reform after his divorce a decade ago. “It is going to bring predictability to the law and help families.”

Family lawyers, however, plan to ask for a veto.

“We don’t consider this legislation in the best interest of children and families,” said Carin Porras, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who chairs the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. “People have made financial decisions presuming that they would receive alimony. To change that would be unfair.”

Read more here.

Five Things To Know for Friday's Legislative Session

It's a mostly quiet Friday at the Capitol, with the exception being a House panel's examination of CorcoranCare.

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to debate HB 7169, which aims to help a segment of Florida's 1.1 million uninsured get health insurance. The plan, advanced by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, rejects federal assistance and offers state subsidies to certain individuals to get private health insurance. The House says its proposal, which is not favored by Gov. Rick Scott, will help cover 130,000 people by 2023 at a cost to state taxpayers of $2 billion.

Leaders carved out some time for budget negotiations. The House and Senate decided on Thursday how much money will go to different areas in the budget, such as education, criminal justice, transportation and economic development. Now they have to drill down and agree on how to spend it.

Looking for a good time? State economists will meet to determine the fiscal impact of a few bills, including Gov. Rick Scott's push to eliminate sales taxes on manufacturing equipment (HB 391/SB 518) and another about county Medicaid contributions (HB 7156).

There's also the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Earth Day celebration at the Capitol. (Okay, we're done.)

- Katie Sanders (Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau)