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Legislative session ’18: ‘Bold initiatives’ lie ahead

By Staff | Jan 11, 2018

The 2018 State Legislative session opened Tuesday.

For the next two months, legislators will consider bills and, most importantly, create a state budget for the coming fiscal year.

State Rep. Dane Eagle, whose district includes much of Cape Coral, will serve this legislative session as the Majority Whip, a position designed to Republican members of the House stand together on issues.

On the first day of the legislative session, Eagle filed bills aimed at improving the criminal justice system and providing tax relief to homeowners affected by Hurricane Irma.

One of Eagle’s bills (HB 1065) would legislate that persons receiving a not guilty verdict for certain crimes be eligible to have their criminal record expunged if they went to trial and were found not guilty.

Those who go to trial currently don’t have the opportunity to have all evidence of a charge dropped while those who do not, in similar circumstances, do. Eagle said this would help individuals find employment more easily without the specter of a charge hanging over them for which they were acquitted.

“It’s like punishing people who use their constitutional right to go to trial. This expands that opportunity to those found not guilty for certain charges,” Eagle said. “People looking for work can have the arrest wiped clean, so they don’t have to have that awkward discussion.”

Eagle also filed The Hurricane Irma Tax Relief Act (HB 1375) which would authorize property appraisers to abate property taxes on Homestead properties rendered uninhabitable by the storm.

“This bill will allow them to apply for a tax abatement for the days their home was rendered uninhabitable,” Eagle said. “It gives relief to those rather than add insult to injury. They’re not in their homes and then they get a tax bill. This way they can put the money toward rebuilding their home.”

Eagle has also filed bills (HB 39) which would reduce the penalty for the unintentional display of a concealed firearm, and (HB 751) to make revisions to Florida’s welfare program to encourage work and focus aid to what he said are the truly needy by strengthening eligibility and reduce waste, fraud and abuse.

“People who accidentally, show their concealed gun could face charges. This will would lessen the charge and instead of facing criminal charges and jail time, it would be a civil citation and a fine,” Eagle said.

If the legislature does nothing else, it is required to pass a budget. Eagle said the mood in good on both sides and that they’re ready for a productive session.

“We have a lot of bold initiatives we’re trying to get done, communications are strong. We’ll have our differences in some areas, but there is a lot of common ground we can establish,” Eagle said. “We’ll have tax cuts, we’ll get the budget done and things done for the people.”