BECKER UPDATE: 2021 Florida Legislative Session, Week #7 & Week #8

BECKER UPDATE: 2021 Florida Legislative Session, Week #7 & Week #8

Florida Capital BuildingHEADLINES

Budget. After a week of budget conferencing, the House and Senate appear to be nearing agreement on the state budget for the fiscal year.

On Friday night, House and Senate budget chiefs publicly accepted compromises regarding health care, education and prisons expenditures. Some of the key decisions included backing off proposed Medicaid cuts for hospitals and nursing homes that have spent the past year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House and Senate initially proposed slashing base Medicaid payment rates for all hospitals, along with money for a so-called “critical care fund” that delivered enhanced payments to 28 hospitals providing the most charity care in the state. The House had also proposed reducing Medicaid funding for nursing homes. But, ultimately, negotiators agreed on a spending plan that kept payments intact for hospitals and nursing homes.

Additionally, the House and Senate agreed to spend $240M to fund a top priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls – extending Medicaid postpartum benefits from the currently allowable two months to one year.

Lawmakers reached an accord on prison spending after Senate Republicans initially pitched a plan to shut down and demolish four prisons due to a reduction in prison admissions.

Legislative leaders reached agreement on more than $22B in school spending, including a bump in allocations for teacher salaries, as well as $1,000 bonuses for teachers and principals. This had been pitched by Gov. Ron DeSantis as a way to reward educators who helped reopen schools.

Federal Relief. While there are still matters yet to be settled, the House and Senate have come to some agreement as to how the anticipated COVID relief funds from the federal government should be spent. Namely, $100M for mitigation and cleanup at Piney Point, $300M for the Florida Forever Wildlife Corridor, $263M for Higher Education Construction (PECO), $500M for Septic-to-Sewer, and $2B to the State Transportation Trust Fund.

Protest. On April 19, Governor DeSantis signed HB 1 into law. The measure, a top priority of his, creates a new crime of “mob intimidation” and enhances penalties on existing riot-related offenses.

Gambling. Gov. DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe finalized a 30-year gambling agreement on Friday, inking a deal that would deliver at least $2.5B to Florida over the next five years in exchange for giving the tribe control over statewide sports betting. DeSantis noted Friday that the agreement, which requires approval by the Legislature, would allow the state to capitalize on online sport betting.

Under the proposed compact, the Seminoles would serve as the state’s hub for online sports betting, with pari-mutuel operators contracting with the tribe. The deal would allow pari-mutuels that contract with the Seminoles to keep 60% of sports-betting revenue, with 40% going to the tribe. The tribe would pay to the state 10% of pari-mutuel operators’ net winnings and 13.75% of the tribe’s own sports-betting net revenues.

TALLAHASSEE NEWS & UPDATES

No-Fault Repeal. SB 54 by Senator Burgess would eliminate the requirement that motorists carry personal-injury protection, or PIP, coverage, and replace it with a requirement that they have bodily-injury coverage. The Senate already approved the bill, but the proposal will have to bounce back to the Senate if it is backed by the House due to amendments made to the legislation by the House on Friday.

Insurance. HB 305 by Representative Rommel passed its last committee stop on Friday by a favorable vote of 14-8 before the House Commerce Committee. This legislation sets new guidelines and restrictions on certain practices of contractors, including reopened claims under property insurance policies. Its companion in the Senate, SB 76 by Senator Boyd, contains troublesome language that would reduce the potential reimbursement for those with damaged roofs.

PACE Program. HB 387 by Representative Fine, which deals with added consumer protections for those participating in the PACE program, passed the House Commerce Committee on Monday by a vote of 18-5 and was subsequently added to the Second Reading Calendar.

The Senate companion for the legislation, SB 1208, which includes the added consumer protections as well as the qualified improvements expansion for septic-to-sewer, awaits a place on the agenda of the Senate Appropriations Committee before being sent to the floor.

PREEMPTION

Seaports. SB 426 State Preemption of Seaport Regulations by Senator Boyd passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 25-14. The bill has now been placed on the Special Order calendar on Monday, April 26. The legislation’s companion in the House is on the Second Reading Calendar. The bill, if signed into law, would essentially undo the referenda passed by Key West voters last year that limited the size and kind of cruise ships allowed in their ports. The legislation is written such that only the City of Key West will be affected by the language that preempts control of their seaport in certain categories to the state.

Building Design. HB 55 Building Design by Representative Overdorf would preempt municipalities from imposing certain building design standards. The bill includes carveouts for historical areas, planned unit developments and dwellings in CRA areas. The legislation will be considered for final passage before the House on April 26th. The Senate version, SB 284, awaits a hearing in its last committee of reference.

Local Occupational Licensing. SB 268 Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing by Senator Perry, which would preempt licensing of occupations to the state and prohibit local governments from imposing additional licensing requirements or modifying licensing, was placed on the Special-Order Calendar in the Senate for April 26. Its House companion, HB 735, passed the House earlier this month.

Home-Based Businesses. SB 266 Home-Based Businesses preempts a local government from regulating or banning businesses from being run in a residential zone and sets forth certain restrictions, and has been placed on the calendar for 2nd reading. Its companion in the House, HB 403 by Representative Giallombardo, passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 78-38.

Vacation Rentals. SB 522 Vacation Rentals by Senator Diaz, which would preempt regulation of vacation rentals from localities to the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, was temporarily postponed in its last committee stop on Tuesday. Its companion in the House, HB 219 by Representative Fischer, was temporarily postponed in its second of three committee stops and has not yet been rescheduled for a hearing.

Cottage Food Operations. SB 1294 Cottage Food Operations by Senator Brodeur deals with the regulation of “cottage food” operations which encompasses any person or entity that produces or packages certain foods at their residence intended to be sold. The bill increases the current sales cap on cottage food operations from $50,000 to $250,000 and it also preempts cottage food operations to the state prohibiting local governments from regulating the operations. The bill has been placed on the Special-Order calendar for April 26. Its House companion, HB 663 passed the House on third reading in a vote of 91-24.

Preemption of Fuel Retailers. SB 856 Preemption of Fuel Retailers & Related Transportation Infrastructure by Senator Hutson, which would preempt local governments from taking action in jurisdiction-wide bans on gas stations or transportation infrastructure necessary to provide fuel to gas stations, was read a second time and substituted for its House companion, HB 839. On Monday, April 26, the Senate passed HB 839 with a vote of 26-12.

Impact Fees. SB 750 Impact Fees by Senator Gruters, which would prohibit local governments from collecting impact fees earlier than the date the building permit is issued, was read a second time substituted for its House companion, HB 337. On Monday, April 26, the Senate passed HB 337 with a vote of 28-12.

Preemption Over Restriction of Utility Services. SB 1128 Preemption Over Restriction of Utility Services by Senator Hutson would prohibit a local government from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that restricts or prohibits, or has the effect of restricting or prohibiting, a property owner, tenant, or utility service customer from choosing his or her electric utility service regardless of energy sources. The bill was read a second time and substituted for the house companion, HB 919. On Monday, April 26th, the Senate passed HB 919 with a vote of 27-13.

Becker’s State Legislative Lobbying Team will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve and will share with you as soon as information becomes available.