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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The Florida Senate will kick off the 2017 legislative session with a busy first week, it has three major bills scheduled to hit the floor.

On Wednesday, the Senate will take up Senate President Joe Negron’s higher-education initiative which would expand the Bright Futures merit scholarship program and create higher performance standards for state universities and colleges. Similar House legislation has yet to be heard in a House committee.

On Thursday, the Senate will take up a bill, sponsored by Criminal Justice Chairman Randolph Bracy, that would require unanimous jury recommendations before defendants can be sentenced to death. The legislation is a response to the Florida Supreme Court invalidating a previous law that only required a 10-2 jury recommendation in death cases. A similar House bill is expected to be taken by the House in the first week of the 60-day session.

Also on Thursday, the Senate will also take up a bill from Sen. Rob Bradley that would shift a burden of proof to prosecutors in “stand your ground” self-defense cases. The House has a similar bill pending in the Judiciary Committee.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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