On March 19, during Military Appreciation Day, the Florida Senate met to salute the brave men and women who serve in the United State's Armed Forces.
A number of visiting military personnel, as well as senators, and staff veterans, were thanked for their unparalleled dedication, valor and sacrifice in protecting our country.
The Senate paid special tribute to those who served during the Vietnam War by unanimously declaring March 30 as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day."
The Senate moved a number of military-friendly bills - Senate Bills 118, 138 and 160 - through their second readings.
I sponsored Senate Bill 118, which makes knowingly engaging in a protest with the intent to interrupt or disturb a funeral or burial a first-degree misdemeanor.
The legislation ensures that safety measures will be taken to protect loved ones from emotional or physical harm caused by funeral or burial disruptions.
Senate Bill 138, filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) re-enacts provisions of law establishing and implementing the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children.
Approximately 31,000 Florida children in military families will have an easier time transitioning between schools throughout our state and the nation.
Finally, the Senate heard Senate Bill 160, sponsored by Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples), which addresses some of the obstacles that honorably discharged military veterans face after their military service concludes by waiving certain licensure fees.
Our Senate Republicans would again like to thank these courageous service members for protecting the liberties we enjoy every day.
Moving forward, we will continue to make Florida the most military-friendly state for our service men, women and families.
Elections reform passes first Senate committee
The Florida Senate's election reform legislation passed out of its first stop in the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on March 18.
Senate Bill 600, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-St. Petersburg), seeks to rectify a multitude of problems Florida faced during the 2012 elections by increasing flexibility for local administrators.
When crafting the bill, consideration was given to the suggestions from the Secretary of State and Florida's Supervisors of Elections, leading to a product that limits the length of constitutional amendments on the ballot, improves the absentee balloting process and provides additional early voting sites, days and hours.
Our Republican members are determined to pass elections reform focused on protecting and guaranteeing each Floridian's right to vote. Floridians should never again have to wait to vote for five, six or seven hours or wonder if their ballots will be counted properly.
Contact Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto at 1926 Victoria Ave., Second Floor, Fort Myers, FL 33901, or (239) 338-2570.