Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 2, January 17-21, 2022

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 2, January 17-21, 2022

HEADLINES

  • SB 102 by Sen. Ray Rodrigues passed on Thursday, January 20, 2022 and created new political maps for congressional districts and state Senate. The congressional map proposal passed with a vote of 31-4 and the state Senate district map (SB 100 by Sen. Ray Rodrigues) passed 34-3. This vote comes two days after State Senator Shevrin Jones filed a 108-page amendment to correct the proposed congressional maps from splitting the City of Miami Gardens between two districts. Through his advocacy, Senator Jones’s amendment and proposed congressional map were unanimously approved by his colleagues in a bi-partisan vote keeping Miami Gardens whole and in one Congressional district. The maps are now in the House awaiting approval. HB 7501 Joint Resolution of Apportionment filed by Chair Cord Byrd reapportions the resident population of Florida into 120 State House districts and 40 Senate districts. Based upon the results of the 2020 U.S. Census, Florida gained a new congressional district, changing the total from 27 districts to 28 districts. HB 7501 is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at 1:00 pm.
  • Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality. HB 5 by Rep. Erin Grall was heard by the House Professions and Public Health Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. The controversial abortion bill is considered a House priority for the 2022 legislative session and would ban abortions after 15 weeks and revamp legal definitions of gestation in Florida. The bill does not give exceptions for rape or incest but would only allow for abortions in extreme cases of serious medical emergencies affecting the mother, or if fatal fetal abnormalities are present. The bill passed favorably with a vote of 12 Yeas, 6 Nays and is now headed to Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. A related companion bill, SB 146 by Senator Kelli Stargel has been referenced to Health Policy and Appropriations, and currently has not been heard in either committee. This filed legislation stems from abortion-ban bills that passed in both Texas and Mississippi and are currently awaiting court approval.
  • Critical Race Theory. SB 148 by Senator Manny Diaz was heard by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. The bill, backed by Governor Ron DeSantis, would essentially ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools and workplaces. The bill passed favorably in a 6-3 vote along party lines. The bill is now in its last committee of reference, Rules, awaiting a hearing. The House companion, HB 7, filed by Representative Bryan Avila is scheduled to be heard in its first committee of reference, Judiciary, on Wednesday, January 26, 2022, at 8:00 am.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

  • Local Ordinances. CS/CS/SB 280 by Senator Travis Hutsonand HB 403 by Representative Mike Giallombardo made some progress this week. CS/CS/SB 280 was heard in the Senate Rules Committee and passed favorably with a 14-2 vote on Thursday, January 20, 2022. This legislation authorizes courts to assess and award reasonable attorney fees and costs and damages in certain civil actions where individuals sue local governments over ordinances that override state and federal law or are ‘arbitrary or unreasonable’. It also requires local governments to prepare a business impact estimate before the enactment of a proposed ordinance. A filed amendment by the bill’s sponsor will allow local governments to contract out to develop their fiscal impact estimate as opposed to requiring a current employee to develop it. The amendment also lists exempted ordinances to include growth management ordinances, emergency ordinances, and budget relief ordinances. CS/CS/SB 280 is now headed to the Senate Floor for a second reading; however, it has not been scheduled. The House companion, HB 403 by Representative Giallombardo is still awaiting a hearing in its second committee reference. Both bills will become effective on October 1, 2022.
  • Business Damages Caused by Local Government. CS/SB 620 by Senator Travis Hutsonand HB 569 by Representative Lawrence McClure made some progress this week.On Thursday, January 20, 2022, CS/SB 620, was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee and passed favorably with a 11-7 vote.CS/SB 620 provides a mechanism for a Florida business to sue local governments for lost profits when a local ordinance hurts their businesses. In the wake of the criticism received by local officials, Senator Hutson introduced an amendment that limits the liability of a county or municipality for business damages to seven years of loss profit. The amendment further clarifies the 15% criteria, ultimately revising it to be calculated per location within the offending jurisdiction to allow local governments to grandfather in businesses. Additionally, the filed amendment exempts specific ordinances including those regarding land development, fire codes, building codes, debt financing, etc. Finally, the filed amendment allows local governments to rectify claims by amending or repealing the act that caused the related damages. HB 569 by Representative McClure is currently awaiting a hearing in the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, however it has not been scheduled. Both pieces of legislation will become effective on July 1, 2022.
  • Sovereign Immunity. HB 985 by Representative Mike Beltran and SB 974 by Senator Joe Gruters would raise the sovereign immunity threshold for tort claims against local governments from $200,000 to $1 million was heard in the House Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. HB 985 passed favorably with 16 Yeas and 1 Nay and needs to clear two more committees of reference before a full House vote. A similar bill, SB 974, was referenced in three committees, but has yet to be heard in either. Both pieces of legislation will become effective on July 1, 2022.

HEALTHCARE

  • Drug-related Overdose Prevention. SB 544 by Senator Jim Boyd and HB 403by Representative Mike Caruso made progress this week. On Tuesday, January 19, 2022, SB 544, was heard in the Appropriations Subcommittee of Health and Human Services and passed unanimously with a vote 9-0. This legislation expands current access to emergency opioid antagonists to reduce opioid related overdoses in the state. This bill requires that both the Florida Public Health Institute and the Department of Health, in alignment with current health awareness campaigns, educate the public on the use of emergency antagonists in instances of suspected overdoses. SB 544 also expands the persons authorized to possess, store, and administer emergency antagonists to include Child Protective Investigators and Correctional Probation Officers, and further resolves them of any civil or criminal liabilities. Furthermore, this legislation will require any hospital or urgent care facility to report to the DOH whether the patient was transported using any non-emergency medical transportation within 120 hours (5 days) of the incident. Reports must be filed using the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program. The DOH will incur all costs for ‘ongoing maintenance, additional storage, and software licensing’ following the enactment of this legislation. It awaits its third and final committee hearing in the Appropriations committee. HB 731 passed its first committee unanimously on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. It has not been scheduled. Both bills will become effective on July 1, 2022.
  • Newborn Screenings. SB 292 by Senators Tina Polsky and Lauren Bookand HB 1073 by Representative Vince Aloupis Jr.made progress this week. On Tuesday, January 19, 2022, SB 292, was heard in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and passed unanimously with a vote 9-0. This legislation amends current Florida statutes to require each newborn be tested for cytomegalovirus (CMV) to circumvent and reduce any potential long-term health concerns such as hearing loss, or a delay in speech, language, and/or cognitive development. SB 292 further requires the development of a statewide comprehensive and coordinated interdisciplinary program of early hearing impairment, screening, identification, and follow-up care for newborns. The bill also requires that, if a newborn fails a hearing screening, the hospital or state licensed birthing facility administer a urine polymerase chain reaction test, or any other diagnostically equivalent test on the newborn to screen for Congenital CMV. The Department of Health estimates that the fiscal impact is somewhere between $286,037 and $19,603,864. HB 1073 has been referred to three committees, but it has not yet been scheduled. Both bills will take effect on July 1, 2022.
  • COVID-19 Related Claims Against Health Care Providers. SB 7014 was read for a second and third time on the Senate Floor where it passed favorably with a vote 22-13 on Tuesday, January 19, 2022. This legislation extends the length of time that a health care provider can receive liability protections related to COVID-19 claims by 14 months. During the 2021 Legislative Session, claims filed because of COVID-19 had to have been filed within 1 year after the effective date, March 29, 2022. However, this bill will extend the filing date to June 1, 2023. SB 7014 requires that a plaintiff, among other things, provide evidence that a healthcare provider was ‘grossly’ negligent and ‘engaged in intentional misconduct’. The fiscal impact on the private sector has proven to be indeterminate, however, a negative impact may only be incurred by injured parties. This will become effective upon becoming law.