News Service of Florida

Amid concerns about the constitutionality of a bill that would restrict the use of social media by minors in Florida, a key Senate panel this week backed changes to the measure that one supporter said are “about the features” of the platforms.

Members of the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee revamped a bill (HB 1) that has been a major priority of House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, after questions about the proposal have surfaced — including from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The House overwhelmingly passed the initial version of the bill last month. It would prevent children under 16 from creating accounts on at least some social-media platforms; require platforms to terminate existing accounts that they know or have “reason to believe” are held by minors younger than 16; and allow parents to request that minors’ accounts be terminated.
The newly revised version does not change the basic components, and Renner supported tweaks to the bill that were backed in the Senate this week.
Changes to the bill adopted by the Senate committee Thursday included adding criteria for determining which platforms would be subject to the restrictions. The criteria would include issues related to algorithms, “addictive features” and allowing users to view the content or activities of other users.
“I believe that we have to do something to protect our kids,” Sen. Rosalind Osgood, D-Fort Lauderdale, said before the committee voted 12-5 to back the bill. “I believe we were wrong to just turn our kids over to social media.”
As an example, the criteria approved Thursday would include platforms that have “10 percent or more of daily active users younger than 16 years of age spending, on average, 2 hours per day on the online forum, website, or application.”
Senate bill sponsor Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, said she didn’t know how many platforms could be affected by the proposal. But she said the bill is “content neutral” and focuses on the features of platforms.
“It is about the features,” Grall said. “It is the way the features are deployed to monetize our children and make them addicts.”
Tech industry organizations and First Amendment groups have fought the social-media restrictions, arguing that they would censor speech and be unconstitutional. DeSantis also has raised concerns about the constitutionality of restrictions.
Meanwhile, as Republicans have stressed the importance of parental rights in recent years on a litany of other issues, multiple GOP lawmakers on the Senate panel raised similar concerns about the bill.
Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, and Sen. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, voted for the bill Thursday but said they were struggling with the possibility of infringing on the rights of parents to make decisions.


Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee this week appeared to want to pump the brakes on a proposal that would boost the pay of future governors, state Cabinet members and judges.
The committee voted unanimously to position a House bill (HB 5007) that includes the salary issue for upcoming budget negotiations.
But several senators voiced opposition to raising the pay of the governor, lieutenant governor, Cabinet members and appellate, circuit and county judges to amounts on par or similar to state Supreme Court justices starting in the 2027-2028 fiscal year.
“If it comes out like this, I would just be a hard ‘no’ on the floor,” Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, told his fellow members of the panel.
Ingoglia also said the proposal could lead to executive pay higher than the current $251,414 a year of state Supreme Court justices. Under the House proposal, the governor’s pay would be at least even with Supreme Court justices.
DeSantis reported receiving $141,400 in 2022 as part of his annual financial-disclosure report released last June.
Under the bill, the lieutenant governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and state chief financial officer would see their salaries set at 95 percent of the governor’s annual pay. District court of appeal judges would be paid at least 90 percent of the Supreme Court salary rate, with circuit-judge pay set at least 80 percent and county-judge pay at least 75 percent.
Meanwhile Thursday, some senators said the House proposal should include a study of the pay of lawmakers, who get paid about $30,000 a year and per-diem amounts, with relatively little change since 2010.
“I believe that there’s a study by that says the persistently low salaries of state legislators often discourages citizens from serving in public office, especially as lawmakers face heavier workloads and greater demands on their time,” said Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat who is leaving the Senate this year and is running for a Palm Beach County Commission seat.


DeSantis on Thursday supported a House proposal that he said is designed to limit “bad-faith objections” to school-library books and instructional materials.
The issue of school-book scrutiny has been a political battleground in Florida in recent years. The Legislature and DeSantis since 2022 have approved measures that eased the process for people to object to books and other materials.
A House bill (HB 7025) includes imposing $100 “processing” fees for unsuccessful book objections. The proposed fees would apply to people who do “not have a student enrolled in the school where the material is located” and have “unsuccessfully objected to five materials during the calendar year.”
The governor also appeared to endorse the part of the bill that would exempt from the potential fees parents of students in schools where books face objections.
“If you have a kid in school, OK. But if you’re somebody who doesn’t have a kid in schools and you’re going to object to 100 books — no, I don’t think that that’s appropriate,” DeSantis said.
The bill, which also deals with other education issues, is positioned to go before the full House after getting approval from three panels.

STORY OF THE WEEK: The Florida Senate on Thursday revamped a bill aimed at keeping children under age 16 off social media, as a debate continued about the proposal’s constitutionality and whether it would infringe on parental rights.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’ve watched everybody else get an increase, and I was happy for them. But at some point, my gas goes up too. My light bill went up. My water went up. My insurance on my house went up. The cost to be a legislator outweighs, at some point, it outweighs the benefit.” — Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, on state lawmakers’ $30,000 annual salary.