INTRODUCTION TO THE REVIEW OF FLORIDA LEGISLATION MEETING THE NEEDS OF FLORIDA’S YOUNGEST CITIZENS
As we approach Florida’s 1998 legislative session, many issues will vie for the attention of lawmakers in our Capitol, including issues related to economic development, the environment, the elderly, and crime and punishment. One area guaranteed to see activity this session is legislation relating to the needs of Florida’s youngest citizens.
TOWARD A MORE JUST AND PREDICTABLE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM
George N. Meros, Jr.
Our tort system reflects the character and values of our society. Like any moral code, it strives to bring out the best in citizens while discouraging the worst. To achieve these goals, the system must be fair and comport with common sense; be predictable, so that citizens can conform their conduct to the requisite norms; and encourage productive behavior and demand personal accountability.
TORT REFORM 1997-98: PROFITS V. PEOPLE?
Kenneth D. Kranz
In 1997, the Florida Legislature saw a serious lobbying effort aimed at securing the enactment of wholesale revisions to Florida’s civil justice system. These reforms, if enacted, would substantially dilute important doctrines such as Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine, provide more defenses to escape liability, and create higher hurdles before plaintiffs can receive certain types of damages. Championed by the business community, the reforms would limit defendants’ liability at the cost of putting the safety of Florida’s citizens at risk.
THE NEW BURDENS OF PROOF IN AD VALOREM TAX VALUATION CASES
The Florida Constitution expressly preempts all forms of taxation to the state except ad valorem taxation of real property and tangible personal property. The authority to levy those taxes is reserved to the various counties, municipalities, local school districts, and special districts in the state. These governmental entities rely heavily on the revenue generated through ad valorem taxation to carry out their constitutional and statutory mandates. In fact, more than $11.6 billion was raised through ad valorem taxes in fiscal year 1995-96.4 The Florida Constitution also establishes the parameters for valuing property subject to ad valorem taxation. Specifically, article VII, section 4 directs the Legislature to prescribe regulations “which shall secure a just valuation of all property for ad valorem taxation.” Pursuant to this mandate, the Legislature has established the process by which county property appraisers are to assess all property subject to ad valorem taxation. An important component of this valuation process is the procedure that enables taxpayers to seek administrative and judicial review of the property appraiser’s assessment of their property. The purpose of this review is to ensure that the property appraiser’s assessment accurately reflects a “just valuation” of the taxpayer’s property.
HOW THE GLITCH STOLE CHRISTMAS: THE 1997 AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE ACT
Stephen T. Maher
It is conventional wisdom among lobbyists that “glitch bills” can be more controversial than the major legislation that preceded them. In theory, such bills are rather mundane housekeeping measures. In practice, they are a sore temptation for lobbyists whose proposals did not get adopted as part of the prior major legislation.
LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO LIMIT STATE REPRODUCTIVE PRIVACY RIGHTS
The right to decide without government interference whether and when to have children does not seem at all controversial when pregnancy prevention is the issue. However, when there is a “potential life” at stake, the relationship between the right to decide and the right of the government to intrude becomes far more emotional and complex. “Potential life” or “personhood” is somewhat arbitrarily defined. Depending on one’s religious or philosophic views, life may begin anywhere from conception to implantation to “quickening” to viability to survivability to birth.
FLORIDA’S EXPEDITED PERMIT REVIEW PROCESS: STREAMLINING THE DEVELOPMENT OF FLORIDA’S ECONOMY
In 1996, the Florida Legislature reorganized the state’s economic development structure by creating an expedited review process for state and regional agency permits. As part of an ongoing effort to encourage economic development and to create high value jobs for its citizens, the 1997 Legislature refined and expanded Florida’s ninety day permitting process by giving local governments the option to voluntarily participate in the expedited permit review process. This process will substantially expedite the review of all state, regional and, if they choose to participate, local government permit applications for qualified projects.
YOU CAN NEVER GO HOME AGAIN: THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE ADDS INCARCERATION TO THE LIST OF STATUTORY GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
Honorable Jean M. Johnson; Christa N. Flowers
Of all the roles one plays in life, that of being a parent is perhaps the most important. The role requires a huge commitment of time and emotional support. However, when a parent is unable to meet a child’s basic needs due to neglect or abuse, the best interests of the child may necessitate the revocation or termination of the parent’s right to custody of the child. In these crucial cases, a court, upon finding a parent to be unfit, may terminate the parent’s parental rights.
PROPERTY INSURANCE IN FLORIDA: THE 1997 LEGISLATIVE REFORM PACKAGE
During the 1997 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended significant aspects of Florida’s law regulating property insurance. This Article focuses on the latest modifications designed to make property insurance available through commercial and quasigovernmental mechanisms. It examines the policy rationale for modifying the existing laws, and the practical effect the changes will have on the insurance market.
FLORIDA WATER POLICY: A TWENTY-FIVE YEAR MID-COURSE CORRECTION
Frank E. Matthews; Gabriel E. Nieto
In addition to being an essential natural resource, water can also be a divisive political issue. The 1997 Legislature successfully negotiated a minefield of potentially divisive conflicts when it passed the Committee Substitute for House Bills 715, 1249, 1321, and 1339, collectively known as the “1997 Water Act.” These conflicts included water rich versus water poor areas, urban versus rural areas, public water supply versus agricultural use, and coastal versus inland concerns. This legislation marked Florida’s first major revision of its water law since the state adopted the Model Water Code in 1972. In light of the failures in 1995 and 1996 to pass similar, but far more limited reforms, the resulting legislation was all the more surprisingly broad in scope.
ESTABLISHING THE BIOLOGICAL RIGHTS DOCTRINE TO PROTECT UNWED FATHERS IN CONTESTED ADOPTIONS
Toni L. Craig
The United States Supreme Court has recognized that an unwed biological father has a liberty interest in establishing a parental relationship with his child. If the unwed father assumes responsibility for his child, his interest acquires substantial constitutional protection. The Court has not, however, addressed the issues presented by recent contested at-birth third-party adoptions. Specifically, the Court has not determined whether a biological connection alone is sufficiently fundamental to trigger full constitutional protection when, through no fault of his own, an unwed biological father has had no opportunity to take responsibility for his newborn child. This issue arises in two categories of cases: those involving a father who finds out about the birth and adoption of his child after adoption proceedings are filed, and those involving a father who knows the mother is pregnant with his child and attempts to assume parental responsibilities during the prenatal period.
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF FLORIDA’S DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT
Michael J. Kanotz
Marriage is one of the main building blocks in the structure of modern society. Many rights and benefits are bestowed upon those speaking the sacred vows: inheritance rights, evidentiary privileges, medical decision-making powers, social security benefits, and employer or state provided health benefits, to name a few.