Welcome to Becker’s End of Session Spotlight! As your trusted lobbyists we are proud to provide you with the latest developments in politics and policy in Tallahassee. As the 2022 Legislative Session comes to a close, here is what happened in Tallahassee during Week 9 (March 7 – March 11) and Monday, March 14.
- The 2022 Legislative Session finished, and adjourned sine die on Monday, March 14, at 1:03 p.m. after a one-day extension to vote on the budget. The following business was conducted:
- 3,735 Bills and Proposed Committee bills filed
- 1,896 Amendments filed
- 4,324 Votes Taken
- 39 Floor Sessions
- 285 Bills passed both chambers
- After a one-day session extension, the House and Senate returned to Tallahassee on Monday, March 14, to vote and approve the final budget, HB 5001 General Appropriations Act, and other conforming legislation. The $112 billion spending package is the largest ever in Florida. This spending package is a 10% increase from the $92 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year. It includes raises of at least 5% for government workers and no state worker will make less than $15 an hour. The budget also includes bonuses for teachers and a 7.5% increase in the state’s main school funding account. In addition, a fall gas-tax break for motorists was included as well as a hefty boost in spending on affordable housing programs. HB 5001 passed favorably in the Senate with a vote of 33 Yeas and 0 Nays. It passed favorably in the House with a vote of 105 Yeas and 3 Nays. The budget will now head to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has line-item veto power. The budget goes into effect July 1, 2022.
- Dr. Rosalind Osgood won the special election for Senate district 33. This seat was previously held by Senator Perry Thurston.
- Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds won the special election for House District 88. This seat was previously held by Representative Omari Hardy.
- SB 1702 Building Safety – Senator Jennifer Bradley - FAILED
HB 7069 Condominium and Cooperative Associations – Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee and Rep. Daniel Perez
This legislation to a broad measure that requires some condominium associations to make periodic studies related to required reserves for maintenance and repair to avoid catastrophic building failures. This legislation, along with nine other filed bills, is in response to the tragic collapse of the Surfside Towers in 2021 that claimed the lives of more than 90 people. On March 10, HB 7069 was substituted for SB 1702, read a third time, and passed the Senate with a vote of 38 Yeas and 0 Nays. Although this bill is the only one that moved forward out of the nine, in the end, it was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration. All of the condominium bills that were filed failed.
- HJR 1 Additional Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Specified Critical Public Service Workforce – Representative Josie Tomkow
HB 1563 Homestead Property Tax Exemptions for Classroom Teachers, Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians, Paramedics, Child Welfare Professionals, and Servicemembers – Representative Josie Tomkow – PASSED
This legislation authorizes the legislature to grant an additional homestead property tax exemption of $50,000. Homestead property must be owned by classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare professionals, and servicemembers. The House companion, HB 1563, also passed the Legislature and will be effective if HJR 1 is approved by the voters. HB 1563 was read a second and third time on March 10 where it passed favorably in the Senate with a vote of 37 Yeas and 1 Nay. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- S/B 510 Financial Disclosures for Local Officers – Senator Jason Brodeur – FAILED
HB 301 Financial Disclosures – Representative Spencer Roach
This legislation was proposed to increase transparency between constituents and their local government officials by requiring Mayors, City Commissioners, elected members of a City Council, and City Managers to file a Form 6 through the Florida Commission on Ethics. The commission would be required to accept federal income tax returns, financial statements, and other forms or attachments showing sources of income, for the purpose of reporting on an elected official’s financial status. This bill will become effective on January 1, 2023. SB 510 was read a third time and immediately certified by the Senate on Wednesday, February 23, with 30 Yeas and 7 Nays. However, on March 12, the bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
- SB 974 Sovereign Immunity – Senator Joe Gruters – FAILED
HB 985 Sovereign Immunity – Representative Mike Beltran
This legislation seeks to increase the limits of the state’s waiver of sovereign immunity for individual and collective suits. Current law for sovereign immunity provides $200,000 per injured person and $300,000 per incident. However, under SB 974 claim limits would increase to a minimum of $1 million per injured person and $3 million per incident, a provision that was not originally included in the first version of the bill. The $1 million claim limit will be adjusted annually to align with the increase in inflation. Senator Travis Hutson filed multiple amendments to SB 974, one of which would create a tiered system that would adjust claim amounts according to the size of a county’s population. This bill was withdrawn from consideration and subsequently died in the Appropriations Committee.
- HB 399 Motor Vehicle and Vessel Law Enforcement – Representative Anthony Rodriguez
SB 876 Stunt Driving on Highways – Senator Jason Pizzo – PASSED
This legislation prohibits an individual driving a motor vehicle from engaging in any “street takeovers” or stunt driving and/or racing on a highway, roadway, or residential neighborhood. An individual who is found in violation of HB 399 is committing a misdemeanor of the first degree and will be subjected to a fine between $500 and $1,000, and one-year suspension of their license. HB 399 was substituted for SB 876 and passed favorably in the Senate with a vote of 39 Yeas and 0 Nays. The bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- SB 1260 Independent Hospital Districts – Senator Joe Gruters – PASSED
HB 897 Independent Hospital Districts – Adam Botana
This legislation authorizes a governing body of an independent hospital district to elect to evaluate the potential conversion of the district to a nonprofit entity. As of January 20, 2022, the legislature found that there are 31 active independent special districts, which allows members to serve independently from other governmental agencies. The Senate passed an amendment that exempted hospital districts that have not “levied, collected, or received ad valorem taxes” in the current fiscal year or any of the last 5 fiscal years from the requirement to have a referendum agreement on the conversion. Upon final approval of all entities, including the Board of Commissioners, the agreement will go into effect. This bill will likely take effect on July 1. The bill received 38 Yeas and 0 Nays on March 8. It heads to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
- SB 226 Care for Retired Law Police Dogs – Senator Bobby Powell – PASSED
HB 25 Care for Retired Law Enforcement Dogs – Representative Sam Killebrew
The legislation establishes the “Care for Retired Police Dogs Program” within the Department of Law Enforcement (DOLE) to provide a stable funding source for veterinary care of retired police dogs. The DOLE may contract with a nonprofit corporation with a dedication to the protection and care of retired dogs. Funds will be dispersed to the former handler and/or adopter for the dog that served for five or more years upon receipt of documentation substantiating the claims of service, as well as a valid invoice for veterinary care. Annual disbursements may not exceed $1,500 per dog. Beginning in the 2022-23 fiscal year, and every year thereafter, the legislature will allocate $300,000 to the DOLE. This bill was received unanimous support in both chambers and will take effect on July 1, 2022. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- SB 882 Inventories of Critical Wetlands – Senator Jason Brodeur – PASSED
HB 761 Inventories of Critical Wetlands – Representative Keith L. Truenow
This legislation requires that each water management district’s governing board, in cooperation with local governments, develop a list of critical wetlands to be acquired using designated funds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. When considering the designation of a wetland, governing members will be asked to consider the ecological value of the wetland, the effect of the wetland on water quality and flood mitigation, the ecosystem restoration value, and the inherent susceptibility of the wetland development. The House version was amended to bring into conformity with the Senate version. SB 882 was debated on the House floor on Monday, March 7, where it received 111 Yeas and 2 Nays. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- HB 741 Net Metering – Representative Lawrence McClure - PASSED
SB 1024 Renewable Energy Generation – Senator Jennifer Bradley
The legislation is designed to end net metering in Florida. The bill would phase out some financial incentives for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels starting in 2028. Under the current “net metering” system, homeowners with solar panels sell excess energy back to the utility customers. The bill requires that the Florida Public Service Commission revise current net metering rules to include provisions that if PSC finds that the penetration rate of customer-owned or leased renewable generation across the state exceeds a certain threshold by January 1, 2023. HB 741 passed favorably in the Senate on Monday, March 7, with a vote of 24 Yeas and 15 Nays. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- SB 1048 Student Assessments – Senator Manny Diaz – PASSED
HB 1193 K-12 Assessments and Accountability – Representative Rene Plasencia
This legislation significantly modifies the Florida Statewide Assessment Program to remove the Florida Standardized Assessment (FSA) and establishes a comprehensive, computer-based, coordinated screening and progress monitoring system (CSPM) tool to monitor student progress in subject areas of English, Language Arts, and Math beginning in the 2022-23 school year. This bill will take effect on July 1, 2022. SB 1048 was debated on the Senate floor and received 38 Yeas and 0 Nays. On the House floor, SB 1048 received 83 Yeas and 31 Nays. On March 15, SB 1048 was approved by Governor DeSantis.
- HB 1467 K-12 Education – Representative Sam Garrison – PASSED
SB 1300 School Boards – Senator Joe Gruters
This legislation will repeal school board members’ salaries. However, HB 1467 was amended to allow for $200 per-meeting payment and a maximum of $4,800 per year payment for each school board member. Effective January 1, 2025, the authority for school board members to receive a salary will be removed, however members are permitted to retain their salaries through the end of their term. Additionally, beginning August 1, 2022, newly elected or re-elected members may not receive a salary. HB 1467 will also place term limits like the limit rules for state legislators, a maximum of eight consecutive years. The bill received 79 Yeas and 41 Nays in the House on Thursday, March 10. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- CS/SB 7044 Postsecondary Education – Education Committee and Senator Manny Diaz – PASSED
HB 7051 Postsecondary Education – Post-Secondary and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee and Representative Amber Mariano
This legislation will require state colleges and universities to display course information, including required textbooks, on the college or university’s website in a manner that is “clear and easy to read.” SB 7044 will also require state colleges and universities to find another accrediting agency other than the Southern Association of Colleges that they currently use. SB 7044 passed favorably in the House on March 9, with a vote of 77 Yeas and 40 Nays. The bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- SB 1728 Property Insurance – Sen. Jim Boyd – FAILED
This legislation addresses contractor solicitations related to property insurance roof claims, the application of a separate roof deductible for roof losses to residential property, and various aspects of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens or corporation). This bill passed favorably in the Senate with a vote of 28 Yays and 11 Nays. Unfortunately, the bill failed as it was never taken up by the House for a vote. Other legislation focusing on insurance also died this session leaving another year where the property insurance crisis was not addressed.