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Ritch Workman’

Florida bans drones to keep cops from spying on citizens

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Rep. Ritch Workman, Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Joe Negron

Police, sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies won’t be able to use drones to spy on Floridians except in special emergencies under a new law that goes into effect on July 1.

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” today as the bill’s sponsors – Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne – looked on. The new law goes into effect on July 1.

Negron, the powerful Senate budget chief and a professed libertarian, said the prohibition is necessary to protect Floridians’ privacy.

“A lot of times legislators react to events rather than set ground rules before the events occur,” Negron told reporters. “There’s an industry that wants to sell hundreds of thousands of these drones all over the country. Before they’re up in the sky hovering around monitoring people in their cars and their backyards, I think it was a good idea to say here’s the rules we’re going to have in Florida on that. I think that we’re right on time to make sure that we protect people’s privacy.”

When asked if the law is necessary, Scott said: “The real need for this is the fact that we want our own privacy. We believe in the Fourth Amendment.”

The bill includes exceptions allowing the use if:
_ The secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security decides a high risk of a terrorist attack exists;
_ Sheriffs, police or other law enforcement agencies first obtain a search warrant;
_ A law enforcement agency has reasonable suspicion that swift action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, such as to search for a missing child or stop the escape of a suspect.

The state’s sheriffs wanted to allow the drones to be used to monitor large-scale public events such as the Super Bowl. But Negron refused to budge on the issue.

“There’s exceptions. The House and Senate worked with law enforcement to make sure we can do the right thing in times of emergency, if there’s safety, things like that. But look, I believe in privacy,” Scott said.

Alimony bill sponsors urge Scott to sign bill into law

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by Dara Kam

Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, and Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, publicly urged Gov. Rick Scott to sign into law a bill (SB 718) revamping the state’s alimony laws.

“You have to be able to move on. Divorce sucks anyway. And Florida law shouldn’t make it suck worse,” Workman told reporters at a press conference this morning.

Workman said Scott is expected to receive the bill today. Scott will have seven days to act on the bill, which would become law without his signature if he does not veto it before then.

Groups on both sides of the issue – the Family Law section of the Florida Bar and Florida Alimony Reform – have launched dueling petitions asking Scott to veto or sign the bill. The Family Law section opposes the measure, saying it puts women – who are more likely to receive alimony – at a disadvantage. The alimony reform proponents have been trying for years to get the law changed because they say current law is unfair and forces some spouses to pay alimony for life to their exes even if they have been married a short time. More than 2,200 people have signed online petitions asking for the veto compared to about 6,000 in favor.

Workman said he is not concerned that Scott will veto the bill but “want to make sure this bill has a fair shot of being signed” and that the governor reads nearly 6,000 stories sent to him from families supporting the changes.

“I hope he can see that laws need to be updated. They need to be gender-neutral. They need to be blind to the sex of the individual and they need to be fair and just,” he said.

Stargel, who said she has been married for 29 years, said she sponsored the bill because she saw “a system that was abusive” to both spouses.

“What we’ve done is put in a framework that makes it fair for everybody,” she said.

The measure effectively does away with permanent alimony and eliminates alimony for people married less than 11 years. Florida Department of Health statistics for the past five years show that the average length of marriage in Florida that end in divorce last less than 10.5 years.

The measure would also:
_ Generally prevent alimony payments from lasting longer than one-half the length of the marriage.
_ Set a formula for alimony payments based on the income of the payer and the length of the marriage.
_ Allow ex-spouses who retire to end or reduce alimony.
_ Give judges now responsible for determining the amount of alimony discretion only in special circumstances.

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