SB 248 – Medical Negligence by Senator Yarborough
SB 248 by Senator Yarborough proposes changes to the Florida Wrongful Death Act. The act currently allows families to seek compensation for non-economic damages if the Department of Health (DOH) or the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) concludes that a facility or practitioner violated the standard of care, resulting in the death of a patient. This bill aims to clarify that medical expenses resulting from medical negligence may be recovered by a personal representative or waived by a court. It also broadens the class of survivors who can receive non-economic damages in cases of wrongful death caused by medical malpractice. However, such damages are subject to specific findings or determinations by the Agency for Health Care Administration or the Department of Health. In addition, the bill requires the Office of Insurance Regulation to review medical malpractice premium rates. It mandates the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to evaluate the effectiveness of limits on non-economic damages. The bill has passed its first reference committee with a favorable vote of 8 Yeas and 2 Nays. It is now awaiting scheduling for its second committee of reference, Fiscal Policy.
HB 885 – Coverage for Biomarker Testing by Representative Gonzalez Pittman
SB 964 – Coverage of Biomarker Testing by Senator Calatayud
HB 885 by Representative Gonzalez Pittman is an accessibility bill that expands biomarker testing to be covered by Medicaid and Florida Blue. “Biomarker” is a characteristic measured as an indicator of normal biological processes, pathogenic processes, or responses to an exposure or intervention, including therapeutic interventions. “Biomarker testing” is defined as an analysis of a patient’s tissue, blood, or other biospecimen for the presence of a biomarker. A recipient must have access to a transparent and convenient process to request authorization for biomarker testing through an accessible insurance company website. It has passed favorably in its first reference committee with a vote of 15 Yeas and 0 Nays and has yet to be scheduled for its second committee of reference, Appropriations. Its Senate companion, SB 964 by Senator Calatayud, was referred to three committees and has yet to be heard.
SB 1178 – Condominium and Cooperative Associations by Senator Bradley
HB 1021- Community Associations by Representative V. Lopez
SB 1178 by Senator Bradley proposes new regulations for community association managers (CAMs) and management firms. If the contract is terminated, they must return all community association records within 20 days. These firms must disclose conflict of interest forms and establish a protocol for CAMs to follow in case of a conflict of interest. Failure to disclose a conflict of interest may result in disciplinary action. The bill also includes guidelines for criminal penalties for high-ranking officials who unlawfully solicit or accept a kickback or service of value. Furthermore, the bill defines “hurricane protection” to allow for specific hurricane protection specifications. The bill passed favorably in its first committee with a vote of 5 Yeas and 0 Nays, but it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in its second committee, Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. Its House companion, HB 1021 by Representative V. Lopez, was referred to three committees and has yet to be heard.
HB 1195 – Millage Rates by Representative Garrison
SB 1322 – Millage Rates by Senator Ingoglia
HB 1195 by Representative Garrison restricts specific increases in millage rates unless approved by a two-thirds vote of a governing body of a county, municipality, or independent special district unless circumstances allow for it. The bill passed favorably in its first committee of reference with a vote of 15 Yeas and 7 Nays. It is scheduled to be heard in the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 31, at 2:00 pm. Its Senate Companion, SB 1322 passed its first committee of reference and is now waiting to be heard in its second committee, Finance and Tax.
SB 812 – Expedited Approval of Residential Building Permits by Senator Ingoglia
HB 665- Expedited Approval of Residential Building Permits by Representative McClain
SB 812 by Senator Ingoglia requires counties with more than 75,000 residents and municipalities with 30,000 residents or more to create a program to expedite the issuing of residential building permits based on an introductory plat and to issue the number of building permits by October 1, 2024. Local governments must update their expedited building permit program with the increased number by December 31, 2027. This requirement must conform to the Florida Building Code and require a local building official and a local governing body to mail a signed, certified letter with specific information to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Commerce. It passed favorably with a vote of 8 Yeas and 0 Nays in its first reference committee. It has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in its second committee, Regulated Industries. Its House companion, HB 665 by Representative McClain, is scheduled to be heard in its second committee, Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 31, at 2:00 pm.
HB 481 – Building Construction Regulations and System Warranties by Representative Maggard
SB 612 – Building Construction Regulations and System Warranties by Senator Hooper
HB 481 by Representative Maggard restructures regulations by expanding the extent of work that HVAC contractors do to include specified line-side repairs or replacements and the repair of specified components for dedicated HVAC circuits under certain conditions. It defines a contractor, a mechanical contractor, a Class A air-conditioning contractor, and a Class B air-conditioning contractor. This bill will bar the conditioning of an HVAC system warranty on product registration and designates the entire length of such a warranty’s coverage term to begin on the data a licensed contractor installs the system. It has passed favorably through two committees of reference with a vote of 19 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is scheduled to be heard in its third and final reference committee, Judiciary, on Tuesday, January 30 at 12:30 pm. It is now waiting to be heard in its third and final reference committee. Its Senate companion, SB 612, passed favorably with a vote of 5 Yeas and 0 Nays and is now on the agenda for its second committee on January 29.
HB 825 – Underground Facilities by Representative Koster
SB 708 – Underground Facilities by Senator Burton
HB 825 by Representative Koster amends the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act. This act was implemented to identify and locate underground facilities to prevent injury before an excavation or demolition occurred. Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc. (SSOCOF) was created through this act as a free-access notification system to all the owners of underground facilities to ensure that everything goes smoothly. This bill will give excavators three full business days to notify SSOCOF before they can begin excavation. It will extend the time for potentially affected member operators to mark the location of their underground facilities near the planned excavation to three full business days. It will enforce an enhanced civil Penalty for an excavator’s failure to notify a high-priority subsurface installation (HPSI) operator of the time and date for a planned excavation. HB 825 has been placed on the calendar for 2nd reading. The identical SB 708 is making headway in committee with a vote of 6 Yeas and 0 Nays in its first reference committee. It also passed favorably in its second committee, Governmental Oversight and Accountability with a vote of 5 Yeas, 1 Nay. It is now in its final committee of reference, Rules, and is awaiting a hearing date.
SB 662 – Virtual Currency Kiosk Businesses by Senator Burton
HB 977- Virtual Currency Kiosk Businesses by Representative (s) Steele and Daley
SB 662 by Senator Burton regulates virtual currency kiosk businesses. The bill defines terms such as blockchain analytics, virtual currency kiosk, business, transaction, and wallet concerning virtual currency. The Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services Commission would supervise all registrants. The bill defines a “virtual currency kiosk” as an electronic terminal that acts as a mechanical agent of the owner-operator, enabling it to facilitate virtual currency exchange for fiat currency or other virtual currency for a customer. The bill’s purpose is to reduce fraudulent activities within virtual currency kiosk businesses and protect customers. It has passed the first committee of reference favorably with a vote of 9 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is currently awaiting discussion in the second committee, Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. A similar bill, HB 977 by Representative Steele and Daley was referred to three committees and is awaiting a hearing.
SB 1098 – Department of Financial Services by Senator DiCeglie
HB 989 – Department of Financial Services by Representative LaMarca
SB 1098 by Senator DiCeglie proposes changes to various sections of the Department of Financial Services (DFS). Some significant changes include creating a new role – the Federal Tax Liaison, renaming the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services to the Florida Division of Investigations, and revising the My Safe Florida Home Program regulations. Additionally, the bill eliminates the need for quarterly reports of the total salary indemnification benefits and reimbursements from each agency to the State Risk Management Trust Fund. The bill passed its first committee with a 9-0 vote and is awaiting review by the second committee, the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. A similar bill, HB 989 by Representative LaMarca, was referred to three committees and is awaiting a hearing.
SB 796 – Combatting Human Trafficking by Senator Avila
SB 796 by Senator Avila is an all-encompassing bill that updates the information to combat human trafficking. It diversifies the membership for the direct-support organization (DSO) board of directors for the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. It replaces the human trafficking hotline with the Florida human trafficking hotline to better provide support for Floridians. It requires public lodging establishments to provide human trafficking awareness training to all state employees. Nongovernmental entities (NGOs) will be required to renew or extend a contract with a governmental entity that contains a declaration of facts attesting that they do not use coercion for labor or services. The bill passed favorably with a vote of 6 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now awaiting to be heard by its second committee, Criminal Justice.
HB 81 – Civil Penalties Under the Gas Safety Law of 1967 by Representative Brackett
SB 366 – Gas Safety by Senator Yarborough
HB 81 by Representative Brackett modifies the civil penalties for violators of Florida’s Gas Safety Law of 1967 to not exceed $257,664 (up from $25,000) for each day the violation continues and $2,576,627 (increased from $500,000) accumulated for any related incidents of violations. The bill has passed through its two committees of reference favorably with a vote of 20 Yeas and 0 Nays and was scheduled for its 2nd reading on January 25. The similar SB 366 bill passed favorably through two committees of reference with a vote of 10 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now waiting to be scheduled for its third committee, Fiscal Policy.
SB 1362 – Aviation by Senator Harrell
SB 1362 by Senator Harrell updates Florida’s aviation system plan developed by the Department of Transportation. This bill includes the incorporation of “vertiports” – areas or structures meant for aircraft landing, equipped with charging stations for aircraft, restrooms, and accessibility in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The proposed bill addresses the need for modernization of aircraft. It requires the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to review airport hazard regulations, provide a guidebook and technical resources to local jurisdictions, and appoint a subject matter expert on advanced air mobility (AAM) to serve as a resource to local jurisdictions. The bill received a favorable vote of 6 Yeas and 0 Nays and is now under consideration in its second committee, the Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development.