Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 3, January 24-28, 2022

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 3, January 24-28, 2022

Becker Weekly Spotlight: Week 3, January 24-28

Welcome to Becker’s Weekly Spotlight! As your trusted lobbyists we are proud to provide you with the latest developments in politics and policy in Tallahassee. Here is what happened in Tallahassee during Week 3 (January 24-28) of the 2022 Legislative Session.

HEADLINES

  • Local Ordinances. SB 280 by Senator Travis Hutson and HB 403 by Mike Giallombardo, referred to as the “mother of all preemption bills” passed the Senate on Thursday, January 27. The bill will attempt to crack down on onerous ordinances from local governments. Republican leadership filed the pair of bills to limit the number of times lawmakers seek to pass preemption bills. The measure passed, and immediately certified, with a favorable vote of 28 Yeas and 8 Nays. This legislation requires the county commissioners to prepare a business impact estimate prior to enacting a local ordinance or charter provision. Local governments will be required to post this estimate on their official website no later than the date of which the notice of the proposed ordinance or charter provision is published. This estimate must include the public purpose, an estimate of the direct economic impact of the ordinance on a private, for-profit business, a “good-faith” estimate of the number of local businesses that may be affected, and an estimate of direct compliance costs if applicable. Counties and municipalities are required, under SB 280, to suspend the enforcement of an ordinance that is subject to an action, including an appeal, that challenges its validity. Local governments are expected to face an indeterminate economic impact. The legislation would take effect October 1.
  • Business Damages Caused by Local Government (also known as the “Local Business Protection Act”). SB 620 by Senator Travis Hutson, also was read a third time, passed, and immediately certified with a favorable vote of 22 Yeas and 14 Nays. This legislation would create a cause of action for businesses at least three years old that can prove a new law resulted in a 15% loss of income. Local governments are given the opportunity to rectify suits within 120-day time frame by accepting a business’s settlement offer, or by making a counteroffer. Should a local government deny the settlement offer and lose the suit, they will be required to pay business damages. These damages will include the difference between the final judgement and the last written offer made by the county or municipality and attorney’s fees. Attorney fees are assessed through the consideration of the courts by the novelty, difficulty, and importance of the questions asked, the skills employed by the conducting attorney, the amount of money involved, and the responsibility incurred and fulfilled by the attorney. Under SB 620, the plaintiff is the only party entitled to benefits. This legislation will take effect immediately upon becoming law. 
  • H8013 proposed new map for the state’s 120 House districts on Wednesday, January 26. The new proposal is the fourth map that has been drafted by the House Redistricting Committee making several of the House Districts more compact. Democrats have been frustrated with the process and have expressed their concerns about not having enough time to review the new map proposal, the failure to involve enough public input, the lack of not properly accounting for growth in minority populations over the prior decades and how quickly the process is moving. Republican Chair Tom Leek disagreed with the Democrats concerns and has advised that the swiftness in the process is justified to allow the Supreme court 30 days to review the maps once the Legislature approves a proposal. Should the courts identify problems, the Legislature will have an opportunity to address problems without extending the Session. HB 7501 has been placed on the calendar for second reading but has not been scheduled yet. For your convenience, please find the following link to review the current maps as well as the maps over the decades Florida State Legislative & Congressional Maps Through the Decades. Also, please find the link to the new map proposal H8013.

 LOCAL GOVERNMENT

  • Vacation Rentals. HB 325 by Representative Jason Fischer and SB 512 by Senator Danny Burgees were brought forth to strike a balance between private property rights and local governmental control. Under HB 325, regulation of vacation rentals will be granted to local governments, however it limits the information that they may require for a vacation rental registration and expedites the registration process by requiring local governments to approve or deny a vacation rental application within 15 days of receipt. Furthermore, a newly adopted amendment will allow local governments to adopt a local vacation rental registration program and impose a fine for failure to register. Local governments are permitted to waive fines if the vacation rental becomes registered within 30 days after receiving notice of deficiency and are permitted to terminate a registration if it is out of compliance with the current vacation rental regulations. Local governments are prohibited from charging a registration fee except for those counties or municipalities that adopted vacation registration fees on or before the effective date of this act. HB 325 passed favorably in its first committee of reference, Regulatory Reform Subcommittee, on Thursday, January 27 with 10 Yeas and 6 Nays. A committee substitute was filed on Friday, January 28. HB 325 has two more committee stops before it reaches the House floor. Its Senate companion, SB 512 by Senator Burgess is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, February 2 in its second committee of reference, Community Affairs.
  • Preemption of Local Government Wage Mandates. HB 943 by Representative Joe Hardingand SB 1124 by Senator Joe Gruters will preempt political subdivisions from mandating employers to pay their employees a wage rate or provide employment benefits that are not required under federal or state law. To remain competitive and attract and retain employees of the highest caliber, the bill’s sponsor believes that private employers should be allowed to function in a uniform environment. However, he contends that a legislative wage mandate would cause a disparity in political subdivisions, and subsequently create an anticompetitive marketplace that fosters job and business relocation. HB 943 does not apply to collective bargaining agreements, nor will it limit any prevailing wages under state law. This bill will take effect upon becoming law. HB 943 was heard on Tuesday, January 25, in the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee where it received a vote of 10 Yeas and 7 Nays. Its next committee stop is the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee, where it awaits scheduling. It’s companion bill, SB 1124, was temporarily postponed on Tuesday. The bill was scheduled to be heard in its first committee of reference, Community Affairs, on Wednesday, February 2 at 8:30 am.
  • Local Tax Referendum. HB 777 by Representative William Cloud “Will” Robinsonand SB 1194 by Senator Jim Boyd would allow local governments, including school boards, to place referenda on the agenda during the general election to approve specific taxes in a political subdivision. The applicable taxes for referenda include, but are not limited to, tourist development taxes, local option fuel taxes, and school district millages. HB 777 may lead to a reduction in local government expenditures due to the expended funds to call a special election solely for the approval of such local option taxes. The legislation further preempts local governments from enacting any local ordinances or charter provisions until it is approved by voters at the general election. This legislation does not relate to sales taxes. After being heard in the Ways and Means committee on Monday, January 24, it received 17 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now expected to be heard in the State Affairs committee, but it has not been scheduled for a hearing. Its companion bill, SB 1194, passed favorably in its second committee of reference, Finance and Tax, with a unanimous vote of 8-0. It has one more committee of reference before moving to the Senate floor.

EDUCATION

  • Individual Freedoms. HB 7 by Representative Bryan Avila and SB 148 by Senator Manny Diazare a response to the Governor’s promise to “keep Florida free.” Critics of the proposal contend that the bill was brought forth to absolve some guilt, and censor others from conversations surrounding race relations and gender studies in both the education and workplace. HB 7 will require training and instruction to be given in an “objective” manner without endorsement of a concept, eliminate any practices that will make a person feel “guilt, discomfort, or anguish,” or “indoctrinate or persuade” a student with a viewpoint that is inconsistent with the academic standards of the state. The bill further amends current state statutes by removing the words “ethnicity” and “gender” and instead using the words “color” and “sex.” It was heard in the House Judiciary committee where it received 14 Yeas and 7 Nays. HB 7 is scheduled to be heard in its second committee of reference, State Affairs, on Tuesday, February 1 at 9:00 am. Its companion bill, SB 148, is in its final committee of reference, Rules, before it reaches the Senate floor. It is currently awaiting a hearing.
  • Student Assessments and Assessments and Accountability. SB 1048 by Senator Manny Diazand HB 1193 K-12 by Representative Rene Plasencia would modify the Florida Statewide Assessment Program to remove the Florida Standardized Assessment (FSA) and establishes a comprehensive coordinated screening and progress monitoring system (CSPM) tool to identify students with substantial deficiencies in the subject areas of English, Language Arts, and Math beginning in the 2022-23 school year. To create a more adaptive testing system, the CSPM will be specifically administered through tech to not only allow “real time results,” but to assist in cutting down testing time and improving the testing mechanisms throughout the state. New testing requirements will include two benchmark assessments at the beginning and middle of the school year, as well as an end of the year comprehensive assessment to measure the students’ educational growth. This bill will take effect on July 1, 2022. SB 1048 was heard on Wednesday, January 26, in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and received unanimous approval in a vote of 8-0. It is currently waiting to be scheduled in the Senate Appropriations committee. Its companion bill HB 1193 is waiting to be heard in its first committee of reference, Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee.
  • Education and Charter Schools. SB 758 by Senator Manny Diazand HB 865 by Representative Alex Rizo would establish the Charter School Review Commission (CSRC) to review and approve charter school applications in a school district. The initial need for this bill, according to its sponsor, was to assist school boards that may be struggling with the review and acceptance process. Under SB 758 consist of 7 members who will be selected by the Department of Education (DOE) and confirmed by the state Senate. If the CSRC approves the application, the presiding school district will become the sponsor supervisors of the school; applications can only be denied based on a failure to meet certain criteria. The bill received slight critique from some committee members as there are no professional requirements for the members who serve on the CSRC. If approved, this bill will take effect on July 1, 2022. After receiving a favorable vote of 6 Yeas and 2 Nays, SB 758 is on its way to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, but a date has not been set. Its companion bill, HB 865, also passed favorably in its first committee of reference, Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee, with a vote of 13 Yeas and 2 Nays. It must go through three more committees before reaching the House floor.

 HEALTHCARE 

  • Telehealth Practice Standards. HB 17 by Representatives Tom Fabricio and Mike Giallombardo and SB 312 by Senator Manny Diaz would allow doctors to administer Schedule III, IV, and V drugs through telehealth consultations based on the standards of care. Current law only authorizes medical practitioners to administer Schedule II drugs, however there is an eminent need for a statewide revision. HB 17 is expected to increase the likelihood of patients maintaining their scheduled appointments, as well as staying on top of their prescribed medications. HB 17 does not require physicians to have the original copy of the prescription. HB 17 has been placed on the special calendar to be read a second time while its Senate companion, SB 312, was read a third time and immediately certified on Thursday, January 27. This law will be enacted on July 1, 2022.