The 2024 Legislative Session commenced on Tuesday, January 9 with legislators gathering in Tallahassee to pass legislation and a balanced state budget. In her opening remarks, President Passidomo outlined her commitment to expanding the healthcare workforce but was emphatic in her refusal to relitigate Medicaid expansion. The Live Healthy package, a Senate priority, will expand the healthcare workforce, increase access to quality healthcare services, and incentivize innovation. In the House, Speaker Renner echoed the sentiments of President Passidomo regarding healthcare initiatives and outlined his goals for this year. These goals include but are not limited to, ensuring adequate funding for students with unique abilities, providing students with greater support in critical subject areas, committing new funding to improve Florida’s environmental infrastructure, and a commitment to keep Floridians safe.
Governor DeSantis delivered his State of the State address in a joint session where he emphasized Florida’s tremendous efforts to ensure freedom and safety for all. Governor DeSantis’ leadership on the historic passage of HB 1 – School Choice has led the nation in school voucher expansion, with nearly 1.5 million students enrolled full-time in various choice programs from private scholarships to choice options within school districts. The Governor also highlighted his commitment to increasing teacher pay which is underscored by the $1.25 billion allocation in his budget proposal. In addition, the Governor emphasized the expansion of Second Amendment rights, the enactment of a digital Bill of Rights, and the passage of the Moving Florida Forward initiative.
“Live Healthy” Package
SB 7016 – Healthcare by Health Policy and Senator Burton
SB 7018 – Healthcare Innovation by Health Policy and Senator Harrell
SB 7016 led by Senator Burton is a Senate priority package aimed at the expansion of the healthcare workforce with new opportunities for education, training, and retention. SB 7016 includes the enhancement of partnerships between colleges and universities with nursing education programs, residency slots, and loan repayment options that drive providers to underserved areas. The bill will fund provider increases that incentivize healthcare workers to continue working in fields related to mental health, labor and delivery, and assisting Floridians with disabilities. SB 7016 passed unanimously in its final committee of reference on Thursday, January 11th. Next, it will be heard on the Senate floor, however, it has not been placed on the calendar for a second reading.
SB 7018 led by Senator Harrell is another bill that is part of the Senate priority package aimed at expanding healthcare. It intends to promote collaboration between entrepreneurs, businesses, and other stakeholders to address challenges within the healthcare system. The bill also creates the Healthcare Innovation Council, a 15-member council within the Department of Health (DOH) to facilitate public meetings across the state to create best practice recommendations. In addition, the bill also creates a revolving loan program within the Department of Health to provide low-interest loans to applicants who implement one or more innovative technologies and workforce pathways. SB 7018 was passed unanimously by the Fiscal Policy Committee and has been placed on the calendar for 2nd reading.
SB 7000 – Deregulation of Public Schools/ Instructional, Administrative, and Support Personnel
SB 7002 – Deregulation of Public Schools/ School District Finance and Budgets, Facilities, and Administration and Oversight
SB 7004 – Deregulation of Public Schools/ Assessment and Accountability, Instruction, and Education Choice
The Learn Local initiative – SB 7000, SB 7002, and SB 7004 – are a comprehensive package of bills that identify different areas of what the Legislature has determined to be unnecessary state regulations that hinder public schools from being able to compete with other premier secondary schools. SB 7000 by Senator Calatayud is related to teacher certification and training, instructor contracts and salary schedules, collective bargaining, and more. SB 7002 by Senator Hutson makes substantial changes in three key areas of public school operation: financial requirements, management of facilities, and administrative processes. SB 7004 by Senator Simon aims to provide school districts with greater authority over determining student progression, implementing school improvement programs, providing instructional materials, and more. All three bills have been scaled back from their original versions as each sponsor was amenable to suggestions from stakeholders. On Wednesday, January 10, each bill passed unanimously and was immediately certified. The bill packet will now be voted on by members of the House. It has not yet scheduled a second reading.
HB 777 – Municipal Water or Sewer Utility Rates, Fees, and Charges by Representative Brackett
SB 1088 – Municipal Water or Sewer Utility Rates, Fees, and Charges by Senator Martin
HB 777 by Representative Brackett will require a municipality providing water or sewer service to customers outside the municipality’s boundaries to charge those customers rates that are equitable and are based on the same factors used in fixing the rates, fees, and charges for customers within the municipal boundaries. HB 777 will also eliminate the ability for municipalities to add a surcharge of up to 25% for customers outside of the municipal boundaries. The bill also requires that by January 1, 2027, and every 7 years after, each municipality conduct a rate study. The bill was heard in its first committee on Wednesday, January 10 where the sponsor faced a slew of questions regarding financial deficits for local governments who charge the surcharge fee. The bill passed favorably with a vote of 12 to 3. The Senate version, SB 1088 by Senator Martin, does not include the measure requiring municipalities to conduct rate studies by specified dates. SB 1088 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in its first committee.
Environment and Natural Resources
SB 30 – Boating Safety by Senator Garcia
SB 30 by Senator Garcia will require the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to issue an original, renewal, or replacement identification card or driver’s license with a lifetime boating safety identification symbol by January 1, 2025. The symbol shall be issued upon the applicant’s presentation of their boating safety ID card or the presentation of a confirmation receipt by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. SB 30 will also require an individual who has been convicted of boating under the influence, and one or more additional criminal boating safety violations to obtain and maintain an insurance policy. SB 30 passed unanimously in the Environment and Natural Resources committee on Wednesday, December 6. The second hearing has been temporarily postponed.
SB 30 does not have a House companion.
Real Estate and Housing
SB 278 – Estoppel Certificates by Senator Martin
HB 979 – Estoppel Certificates by Representative Persons- Mulicka
SB 278 by Senator Martin repeals the statutory authority of a condominium, cooperative, or homeowners association to charge a fee for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate. This bill would prohibit community associations from charging a fee for the production and delivery of estoppel certificates and requires an association to furnish the estoppel certificate within ten business days after a request is made. An estoppel certificate is loosely defined as a legal document that prohibits someone, usually a tenant, from later claiming different facts or terms regarding an agreement such as a lease. SB 278 passed favorably in its first committee, Judiciary, with a vote of 6 Yeas and 3 Nays. It is scheduled to be heard in its final committee, Fiscal Policy, on Thursday, January 18th at 1:30 pm.
The companion bill, HB 979 by Representative Persons-Mulicka, has been referred to two committees but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing