Becker & Poliakoff

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 2, March 13-17, 2023

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 2, March 13-17, 2023

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Committee Substitute for House Bill 111
Flooding and Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Studies by Representative Hunschofsky
Senate Bill 1170
Flooding and Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Studies by Senator Calatayud

  • CS/HB 111 by Representative Hunschofsky will expand the current provisions set forth by the legislature’s passage of SB 178 during the 202 legislative session regarding seal level impact projection studies prior to the commencement of a new building construction in at-risk areas. HB 111 provides a definition for ‘area at risk due to sea level rise’ and provides additional characteristics for determining if an area can be categorized as such. At-risk areas include those susceptible to property or infrastructure damage due to sea level rise. The bill authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a standard for conducting sea level impact projection studies by which a state-financed constructor must follow. HB 111 will also expand the Resilient Florida Grant Program to provide funding for counties and municipalities to conduct feasibility studies and cover the costs of finding solutions to reduce the impact of flooding and sea level rise. The expansion of the Program will also allocate funding to water management districts to support local government adaptation planning. HB 111 received unanimous support in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations subcommittee. Its Senate companion, SB 1170 by Senator Calatayud, received unanimous support in the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government on Tuesday, March 14. Neither bill has been placed on the calendar for a third committee hearing.

Senate Bill 1018
Flood Damage Prevention by Senator Trumbull
House Bill 859
Flood Damage Prevention by Representative Basabe

  • SB 1018 by Senator Trumbull seeks to address the adverse effects of flooding by developing a consistent, statewide approach to minimize flooding in the state to mitigate public and private property damage. SB 1018, also known as the Florida Damage Protection Act, provides definitions for freeboard and voluntary freeboard. For all new construction and substantial improvements to existing construction, whether residential, commercial, industrial, or nonresidential, SB 1018 will set the maximum freeboard at 4 feet. For voluntary freeboard construction, the maximum height for new construction and substantial improvements to existing conditions will be set at 9 feet. When calculating the maximum allowable height in the applicable zoning district for certain new and improved structures, the voluntary freeboard may not be used. SB 1018 will preempt local governments from adopting, by ordinance, minimum freeboard requirements or a maximum voluntary freeboard that exceeds the requirements outlined within the bill or the Florida Building Code. The bill also authorizes the Florida Building Commission to develop and adopt minimum freeboard requirements into the next edition of the Florida Building Code. SB 1018 received its first hearing in the Community Affairs committee where it received unanimous support. It will receive its next hearing in the Environment and Natural Resources committee. Its House companion, HB 859 by Representative Basabe, has been referenced to three committees but has not yet received its first hearing.

Community Affairs

Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 346
Public Construction by Senator DiCeglie
House Bill 383 
Public Construction by Representative Griffitts

  • CS/SB 346 by Senator DiCeglie intends to update Florida’s current statutes to ensure that project closeouts and payouts happen in a timely manner and to increase competitiveness among businesses on public construction projects. In the hearing on Wednesday, March 15, the committee adopted a substitute amendment that would remove permit application guidelines and preempt all local preferences including those for public work projects. SB 346 will also limit the ability of local governments to withhold certain amounts under the contract at 150% and requires that all good faith disputes be filed in writing. SB 346 received 6 Yeas and 3 Nays in the Community Affairs committee. It has not been scheduled for its next hearing. The House companion, HB 383 by Representative Griffitts, received its first hearing on February 22 where it received 14 Yeas and 4 Nays. It has not been scheduled for its final hearing in the State Affairs committee.

Criminal Justice

Committee Substitute for House Bill 269
Public Nuisances by Representative Caruso
Senate Bill 994
Public Nuisances by Senator Calatayud

  • CS/HB 269 by Representative Caruso sets provisions for violations related to littering, stalking, and hate crimes. Under HB 269, distribution of commercial/non-commercial pamphlets or flyers in a public space leading to the act of littering is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. The bill establishes that willful following, harassing, or interfering with an ‘individual’s quiet enjoyment’ based on religious, or ethnic group related, garments, in addition to the willful and malicious defacement of, or damage to, a religious cemetery or gravesite marker displaying a religious symbol will be classified as a third-degree felony and a hate crime. HB 269 will also create a new statute regarding trespassing; an individual who is not authorized, licensed, or invited may not enter a campus of the state university or Florida College System for the purpose of threatening or intimidating another person. Violation of this statute will result in the individual being charged with a misdemeanor in the first degree. The Senate companion, SB 994 by Senator Calatayud, includes intimidation, threat, or intent to harm as provisions related to the act of a hate crime.

Committee Substitute for House Bill 365
Controlled Substances by Representative Plakon
Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 280
Controlled Substances by Senator Brodeur

  • CS/HB 365 by Representative Plakon will amend current statutes to classify the supply of a substance or mixture that is proven to have caused, or is proven to be, a substantial factor in the death or serious injury of an individual. HB 365 defines ‘substantial factor’ as the use of a substance or mixture [of substances] alone is sufficient to cause death, regardless of whether any other substance or mixture used is also sufficient to cause death. Under the changes made by the bill, individuals guilty of distribution will have committed a felony in the second degree. Repeat offenders found guilty of the same crime will have committed a felony in the first degree. Additionally, HB 365 classifies the distribution of controlled substances resulting in an overdose or serious bodily harm as a felony in the second degree. Opponents of the bill were concerned about the reduction to the standard of proof of proximate cause, stating that a ‘substantial factor causing death’ may be too vague in nature and can unintentionally target drug users. HB 365 received 11 Yeas and 4 Nays in the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 15. Its final committee hearing in the Judiciary Committee has not been scheduled. The Senate companion, CS/SB 280 by Senator Brodeur, includes language regarding the unlawful distribution, delivery, sale or dispensing of a substance – or mixture of a substance – that was provided directly or indirectly leading to injury or overdose. SB 280 received 6 Yeas and 2 Nays in its first committee hearing. It will be heard in the Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice on Tuesday, March 21 at 11:00 AM.


House Bill 657
Enforcement of School Zone Speed Limits by Representative Koster
Senate Bill 588
Enforcement of School Zone Speed Limits by Senator Rodriguez

  • HB 657 by Representative Koster seeks to address community concerns regarding speeding in school zones often leading to serious bodily harm or death of school aged children in Florida. HB 657 will permit a county or municipality to enter into a contractual agreement regarding the use of a speed detection system and implement and enforce speed limits on roads maintained as school zones, throughout the duration of a regularly scheduled school session and 30 minutes before regularly scheduled breakfast programs and school sessions and within 30 minutes after the end of a regularly scheduled school day. The bill provides a definition of a ‘speed detection system’ which will include the use of a speed radar and photographic and videographic use in determining speeding violations. If a speed detection system has never been implemented in a county or municipality, a local government must make a public announcement and conduct a public awareness campaign on the proposed system prior to the commencement and must post signage informing citizens of its use. The enforcing county or municipality must require local law enforcement agencies to use funds provided in their speeding fine program to recruit and retain crossing guards for K-12 public and charter schools. For each violation in excess of 10 miles per hour over the posted school zone speed limit, an individual will receive a citation amounting to $100. The bill’s sponsor explained that the implementation of speed detection systems will reduce the fiscal impact of having physical law enforcement officers on site. HB 657 received unanimous support in the Transportation and Modals Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 15. Its Senate companion, SB 588 by Senator Rodriguez, will receive its first committee hearing on Tuesday, March 21 at 8:30 AM.

HB 477
Term Limits for District School Board Members by Representative Rizo
Senate Bill 110
Term Limits by Senator Ingoglia

  • House Bill 477 by Representative Rizo will revise term limits for district school board members from 12 consecutive years to 8. In the 2022 legislative session, the legislature passed CS/HB 1467 establishing term limits of 12 years for school board members. Under CS/HB 1467, individuals may not appear on the ballot for reelection if they have served in that current position for 12 consecutive years, however, to align school districts with state legislative terms, Representative Rizo has concluded that this legislation is necessary. According to the bill’s sponsor, there are a myriad of benefits yielded from lowering term limits. These benefits include creating encouraging spaces of independence among school boards that are conducive to growing ideas, introducing new faces and mandating rotation to address community needs. HB 477 was read a second time on Thursday, March 16. It is on the Special-Order calendar to be read a third time on Friday, March 17. Its Senate companion, SB 1110 by Senator Ingoglia, will receive its first committee hearing in Ethics and Elections on Tuesday, March 21 at 2:30 PM.

Committee Substitute for House Bill 1
School Choice by Representative Tuck
Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 202
K-12 Education by Senator Simon

  • CS/CS/CS/CS/HB 1 by Representative Tuck is a comprehensive education package intended to expand the Florida Tax Credit and Florida Empowerment Scholarship programs and reduce state regulation of Florida’s public schools. The expansion of school choice vouchers will allow for an increase in the number of eligible students for state scholarships by allowing all students, regardless of their family income, to apply for and receive school choice vouchers totaling $8,000. The Senate companion, CS/SB 202 by Senator Simon, was the first of the two to include language to streamline transportation and allow more discretion in the increase of teacher salaries; HB 1 eventually adopted the language. Concerns regarding the lack of accountability for private schools, the ultimate cost to taxpayers, and the decrease in funding to Florida’s public schools were echoed in every committee hearing and on the House floor during HB 1’s second reading. Both Representative Tuck and Senator Simon were adamant that the fiscal impact would not be detrimental to Floridians as they do not anticipate that every parent will take advantage of the scholarship expansion. HB 1 will be read a third time on Friday, March 17. SB 202 received 12 Yeas and 6 Nays in its final hearing in the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, March 16. It will head to the Senate floor for debate but has not been placed on the Special-Order calendar.

House Bill 1019
Educational Grants by Representative McClain
Senate Bill 1272
Educational Grants by Senator Simon

  • HB 1019 by Representative McClain seeks to restore choice to Florida’s private college students and ensure consistency in Florida’s financial aid system. HB 1019 was amended to consider the potential long-term implications private colleges may face and to reduce the vagueness of the original bill. HB 1019 will permit the Department of Education to issue a grant pursuant to the EASE scholarship program to any full-time degree seeking undergraduate student who is registered at an independent non-profit college or university that meets the criteria outlined in the bill; eligible colleges may not be a state university or apart of the Florida College System. HB 1019 received unanimous support in its first committee hearing and the next committee stop will be in Education and Employment. A date has not been set. The Senate companion, SB 1272 by Senator Simon, includes additional criteria for colleges to be deemed eligible for the educational grant but remains similar in nature to HB 1019. In the Education Postsecondary committee, SB 1272 received unanimous support and will be heard in the Appropriations Committee on Education next.

Health Care

Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 230
Health Care Practitioner Titles and Designations by Senator Harrell
House Bill 583
Health Care Practitioner Titles and Abbreviations by Representative Massullo

  • CS/CS/SB 230 by Senator Harrell creates a new statute to provide the definitions for the following words: ‘advertisement’, ‘educational degree’, ‘misleading deceptive, or fraudulent representation’ and ‘profession’. SB 230 provides that if an individual may not use the term doctor, or its corresponding abbreviation, in a clinical setting or an advertisement unless they are a physician. The bill authorizes that a licensed practitioner may use any name or title of his or her profession, and any corresponding designation or initials, authorized under their practice act to describe themselves or their practice. Senator Harrell explained that SB 230 is intended to increase transparency in clinical settings. CS/CS/SB 230 received unanimous support on the Senate floor on Wednesday, March 15. The House companion, HB 583 by Representative Massullo, has been referred to three committees but has not been scheduled.

Local Governments

Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 714
Vacation Rentals by Senator Nick DiCeglie
House Bill 833
Vacation Rentals by Representative Duggan

  • CS/SB 714 by Senator DiCeglie will make substantial changes to state statutes regarding vacation rentals and seeks to limit vacation rental regulations imposed by local governments and make any regulations, ordinances, etc. implemented on or before June 6, 2011, less restrictive. Local governments will still have the authority to require individuals, or collective vacation rental organizations, to register but are prohibited from imposing fees greater than $50 for individual applicants and no more than $100 for organizations. Local governments may not require a renewal application for more than once per calendar year unless a change in ownership occurs. Applications must be approved or denied within 15 days of submission; failure to approve or deny an application will result in automatic approval. If an application is denied, the local government must inform the applicant of the reason and allow them to reapply with the correct changes; local governments are required to approve the application if the changes have been made. SB 714 provides a robust definition of the term ‘advertising platform’ and includes guidelines for advertising platforms to abide by when divulging or promoting a vacation rental property. SB 714 received 5 Yeas and 2 Nays in the Regulated Industries committee. The House companion, HB 833 by Representative Duggan, was discussed during a Revenue Estimating Impact Conference on March 3 but has not been heard in any of its 3 committees of reference.

Committee Substitute for House Bill 401
Sovereign Immunity by Representative Mike Beltran
Senate Bill 604
Sovereign Immunity by Senator Gruters

  • CS/HB 401 by Representative Beltran will increase the sovereign immunity caps for tort damages against a state or local government entity to $2.5 million per individual and $5 million per incident. CS/HB 401 will eliminate any statute of limitations for filing a claim against a state or local government entity related to sexual battery involving an individual under the age of 16 at the time of the incident. The bill will also increase the time limitation from 3 years to 4 and reduce the pre-suit statutory time period for a local government from 6 months to 3. The bill will only apply to claims received on or after October 1, 2024. The bill’s sponsor estimates that state and local governments will face a significant negative fiscal impact, however the amount is indeterminate subject to claims brought forth. In its first committee stop, CS/HB 401 received 13 Yeas and 4 Nays. It was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, March 15 in the Appropriations Committee but was temporarily postponed. Its Senate companion, SB 604 by Senator Gruters, was referred to three committees but not scheduled for a hearing.