The House Criminal Justice committee met on Thursday to workshop a sentencing reform bill. The package contains several provisions that both increase and decrease penalties for certain some criminal offenses. In its current form it increases penalties for those person who leave the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury, creates separate criminal offenses for the death or injury to an unborn child, attempts to divert non-violent felony offenders from prison sentences who score less than 44 sentence points unless the judge makes written findings that a non-state prison sanction would present a danger to the public, increases dollar threshold amounts for property crimes, enhances penalties for personal identification theft of person 60 years or older, enhances penalties for cruelty to animals, increases penalties for persons impersonating a law enforcement officer, and increases the weight requirements for trafficking in oxycodone and hydrocodone. With so many suggested changes to criminal penalties, it is not known at this time what the fiscal, if any, will be to the counties. However, FAC staff will continue to work the legislature to try to get a better grasp on the effects of the proposed legislation.
By far the most heart-wrenching testimony of the day, came from parents of children who suffer from certain seizure disorders who are advocating for the legalization of a strain of medical marijuana, known as Charlotte’s Web, that contains very small amounts of THC but helps lessen or alleviate such life-threatening seizures in some persons. Each parent’s testimony was met with a sweeping round of applause and a good amount of tears. Chairman Matt Gaetz, who was obviously moved by their pleas for help, committed to them and their children that such a provision will remain in the bill and be voted on by the committee.