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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, May 10, 201712:00 PM EST

Legislature grants raises for judges, state lawyers

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Just a few hours after the state Legislature ended its 2017 business Monday, The Florida Bar published its review of what the lawmakers did — and didn’t do — as well as its analysis of the $82.4 billion budget that’s on its way to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

The Florida Bar points out that Scott will now contemplate “whether to veto any bills or, more importantly, the budget or any portions thereof.”

Here are the highlights from the session:

• The Legislature did not enact a proposed constitutional amendment that would have limited the terms in office of judges and state Supreme Court justices.

State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, proposed a constitutional amendment to limit appellate judges to two terms. Under Article XI, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution, a proposed amendment to the constitution must be passed by a three-fifths vote by the membership of both houses of the Legislature to be placed on the ballot.

In the House, that requires a vote of 72 members to pass. Its vote on the amendment was 73-46. The Senate’s version was withdrawn.

State Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, proposed a constitutional amendment that would have put in place a minimum age requirement of 50 years old for state Supreme Court justices and judges of the district courts of appeal.

It also would have limited justices to two full six-year terms while appellate judges would have been limited to three full terms.

The bill was never heard in Senate committee.

(The Florida Bar noted that it opposes term limits for judges at any level of the state court system.)

• Bills introduced by Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, and Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, would have amended the state constitution to provide for legislative review of judicial rulings when those rulings declared a legislative act void. Neither bill was heard in committee.

Raises included

The Florida Bar noted that for the first time in several years, the Legislature approved a budget that includes an increase in pay, effective Oct. 1:

• Supreme Court justices, from $162,200 to $178,420.

• District court of appeal judges, from $154,140 to $169,554.

• Circuit judges, from 146,080 to $160,688

• County judges, from $138,020 to $151,822.

• State attorneys and public defenders, from $154,140 to $169,554

The final budget also contains a provision that would allow an agency head, at his or her discretion, to pay for Florida Bar membership fees and CLE costs for employees who are required to be a member of the Bar a condition of employment.

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