I mentioned back in January the effort in Florida to allow governors to replace a majority of the members of the state’s judicial nominating commissions. What made the provisions of HB 971 and the similar SB 1570 even more notable than the change to merit selection was their tying of the changes to changes in the state’s judicial retirement system, arguably to the advantage of judges recalled back into temporary service by the state’s chief justice.
Last Friday the House passed its version, a version that removed the tie between judicial retirement benefits and judicial nominating commission changes but added a new tie.
Under HB 971, as passed by the House, election qualifying fees for incumbent, unopposed circuit and county judges are now moved from the Elections Commission Trust Fund to the Florida Bar Foundation for scholarships for female and minority law students who attend a Florida law school and are interested in seeking judicial office in the future.
The focus now shifts to the Senate. SB 1570, which retains the tie to the judicial retirement system if there are changes to the judicial nominating commissions, has been dormant, having been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee January 25 and pending in the Senate Budget committee/subcommittee process.
The clock is ticking, with the legislature set to adjourn March 9