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56 bills waiting for Rick Scott to sign, veto or become law without signature

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Gov. Rick Scott has a Wednesday deadline to either act on nearly 60 bills or allow them to become law without his signature.

The 56 bills awaiting Scott’s signature or veto include a contentious measure that requires a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions and a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to try experimental treatments.

Scott must also act on a series of reforms for the Florida Public Service Commission that arose out of frustrations with Duke Energy Florida, the state’s second largest electric utility.

The PSC measure (HB 7109) establishes term limits for commissioners, puts additional limits on ex parte communication and requires anyone lobbying the PSC nominating council to register.

But the legislation also includes a provision sought by Duke that would allow the utility to issue bonds to borrow money that would help with the early retirement of Duke’s shuttered Crystal River nuclear power plant. Duke officials estimate this would save as much as $600 million to ratepayers. The bill also places restrictions on utilities seeking to extend their billing cycle.

The Republican governor has previously signed into law measures sought by anti-abortion advocates and is expected to sign the waiting period bill (HB 633) into law.

Last week the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida as well as the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates delivered nearly 14,000 petition signatures to Scott asking him to veto the bill.

ACLU of Florida Director of Public Policy Michelle Richardson in an email to Scott said the legislation did not offer any health benefits and would instead “result in increased expenses, travel difficulties, and medical risks.”

The number of abortions performed in Florida dropped by 10 percent between 2010 and 2014, but the decrease is less than in other Republican-led states that have more aggressive restrictions on the procedure.

Roughly 72,100 abortions were performed in Florida in 2014, a 9.7 percent dip from about 79,900 in 2010, according to state health records. The number of abortion clinics has remained steady at about 70 during the time period.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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