Female lawmakers say Fla. Senate killing their priorities

Women in Florida's House say the Senate is intentionally killing their priorities, including human trafficking, distracted driving laws, and sexual harassment protections.

TAMPA -- State Rep. Jackie Toledo gathered the 27 female state representatives for an emergency meeting of the House Women's Caucus in Tallahassee Thursday morning, in an effort to end Senate roadblocks on a number of bills considered priorities of the caucus.

Toledo, R-Tampa, said the Senate refuses to give final hearings to popular bills related to human trafficking, sexual harassment, and texting while driving. Without bringing the bills to the Senate floor, the proposed legislation will die in the final days of the session this week.

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The caucus sent a letter to Senate President Joe Negron's office, urging the president to allow a floor vote on the bills.

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A bill that would require hotels and restaurants to be proactive in reporting human trafficking died a mysterious death last week.

A bill that would require government entities to establish formal sexual harassment policies passed the House, but in the Senate, where sexual harassment scandals cost multiple members their jobs last year, the bill stalled out.

And Toledo's distracted driving bill, which she co-sponsored with Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, cruised through all of its Senate committee votes before it was yanked from consideration last week with little explanation.

Texting behind the wheel, which one government estimate suggests costs dozens of Floridians their lives each month, remains just a secondary offense in Florida. Only four states have looser texting & driving regulations and only one state Senator has come out against the bill; yet the Senate President refuses to bring the item up for a vote.

10News reached out to Negron's office Thursday morning but has not yet heard back.

Thursday is International Women's Day.

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