MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four bills aimed at strengthening laws dealing with sexual predators.

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, vowed to quickly pass the measures when the legislative session starts in March.

The Appropriations Committee approved SB 522, SB 524, SB 526 and SB 528, which puts the proposals in position to go to the full Senate on March 4, the first day of the legislative session.

Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who is sponsoring SB 526, said the goal is to make Florida’s laws dealing with sexual predators the “toughest in the nation.”

Broadly, the package of bills would lead to closer tracking of sexual predators, more severe punishment and closing loopholes that have allowed predators to commit more crimes.

The bills were crafted after reports in the South Florida Sun Sentinel that nearly 600 sexually violent predators had been released only to be convicted of new sex offenses.

Those offenses included more than 460 child molestations, 121 rapes and 14 murders.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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