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Fla. Senate Passes Tougher Sexual Predator Bills

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Senate wasted no time passing a package of bills that are designed to strengthen sexual predator laws. The laws passed on the first day of the legislature’s annual session.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the four bills passed unanimously and are designed to tighten loopholes in the Jimmy Ryce Act that allows the state to civilly commit the most dangerous sex offenders once they’ve finished their prison terms.

“We will have the strongest bills in America, the strongest laws in the country, protecting our children and punishing sexually violent predators,” said Senator President Don Gaetz, Republican from Destin.  “Good work senators, good work!”

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More offenders could be reviewed if the measures become laws, including people serving jail sentences for sex crimes. Right now, only people convicted of felonies can be reviewed for commitment.

Prosecutors and victim advocates would also be part of the review process.

Another bill will also create a 50-year mandatory sentence for people who rape children, the developmentally disabled and the elderly. The mandatory minimum for raping children is now 25 years.

The bills now will go to the Florida House were they are expected to pass, then on to the governor for his signature.

The 60 day session promises to be a busy one.  Other major bills include calls for a 500 million dollar tax cut, and discussion of allowing two “destination resort casinos” one in Miami-Dade, the other in Broward.

Lawmakers will consider decriminalizing a form of medical marijuana, expanding the private school voucher program, looking at calls to repeal red light camera programs and a proposal to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on some Florida highways.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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