Becker & Poliakoff

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 4, March 27-31, 2023

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 4, March 27-31, 2023

Universal Voucher Bill

HB 1 – Education- Representative Kaylee Tuck
SB 202 – Education- Senator Corey Simon

  • Week 4 of the 2023 Legislative Session began with the signing of HB 1 by Representative Tuck, a comprehensive education bill expanding the eligibility for school choice. On Monday, March 27th Governor DeSantis approved the bill, formally making Florida the nation’s sixth state with a universal school choice policy. The bill will allow all Florida school-age students, roughly 2.9 million, to seek a taxpayer-funded voucher or scholarship to attend private school.  The main type of voucher scholarships are funded through is the Florida Education Finance Program, or FEFP, at the per-student amount that normally would go to traditional public schools in the state budget, not counting local funds.  The passage of this bill has allowed stakeholders to take a closer look at the FEFP and restructure those dollars to ensure that every child is accommodated and has the opportunity to attend any school of their choice.

Affordable Housing

SB 102- Housing – Senator Alexis Calatayud

  • On Wednesday, March 29 the Governor also signed SB 102 by Senator Calatayud, also known as the Live Local Act, which aims to provide affordable workforce housing for all Floridians. This legislation will put $711 million into housing and use tax breaks to incentivize developers to make more affordable housing options available.  The legislation also includes $260 million for the SAIL program for low interest loans to developers who create certain types of affordable housing opportunities and more than $250 million for local governments for housing programs. The legislature also puts $100 million into the “Hometown Heroes” Program.

Tort Reform

HB 837- Civil Remedies – Representative Tommy Gregory and Representative Tom Fabricio

  • On Friday, March 24th, the Governor signed HB 837, a bold tort reform that will reduce the general tort liability in the state.  This legislation will change how lawsuits are filed, litigated, and settled in Florida. One significant change is around premises liability changing the “comparative negligence” standards.

Criminal Justice

HB 603 – Exploitation of Vulnerable Persons by Representative LaMarca
CS/SB 232 – Exploitation of Vulnerable Persons by Senator Garcia

  • HB 603 by Representative LaMarca will prohibit exploitation of elderly persons or disabled adults and provide the criminal penalties for violations. An elderly person is defined as a person 60 years of age or older who is suffering from specified infirmities related to aging, to the extent that the person’s ability to provide adequately for his or her own care or protection is impaired. The bill outlines the various ways in which someone is prohibited from exploiting an elderly person or disabled adult; criminal penalties range from a first-degree felony to a third-degree felony. HB 603 sets time limitations for prosecution including that it must be commenced within five years after the crime is committed, but if fraud or breach of fiduciary duty is a material element of offense, the crime can be prosecuted within five years after discovery of the offense. The bill received unanimous support in the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. The Senate companion, CS/SB 232 by Senator Garcia, has been placed on the calendar for second reading.

Community Affairs

SB 698 – Local Tax Referenda Requirements by Senator Ingoglia
CS/HB 731 – Local Tax Referenda Requirements by Representative Temple

  • SB 698 by Senator Ingoglia will require a referendum for the reenactment of an expiring tax be held at the general election immediately preceding the expiration date of the tax. Applicable tax referenda will include those relating to touring development taxes, millage rates, and discretionary sales surtax. An amendment to SB 698 filed by the bill’s sponsor provides that a referendum may only be held once during the 48-month period preceding the effective date of the referendum. In its first hearing in the Community Affairs, SB 698 received 5 Yeas and 3 Nays. The House companion, CS/HB 731 by Representative Temple, was heard on Thursday, March 30 in the Ways and Means Committee where it received 14 Yeas and 7 Nays. Neither bill has been scheduled for its next hearing.


CS/SB 52 – Student Use of Social Media by Senator Burgess
CS/HB 379 – Technology in K-12 in Public Schools by Representative Yeager

  • CS/CS/SB 52 by Senator Burgess expands current statutes pertaining to the required instruction of the harmful effects of social media by including comprehensive age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate instruction on the social, emotional, and physical effects of social media. SB 52 will require that the instruction include the negative effects of social media on mental health including social media addiction, the distribution of misinformation on social media, social media behavior manipulation and maintaining personal security information. The Department of Education must provide instructional materials online and each district must notify parents of its availability. SB 52 will prohibit students from using cellphones, tablets or other wireless communication devices during instructional time and permits teachers to withhold these devices. School districts are instructed to prohibit and prevent students from accessing social media platforms when connected to district provided wireless connectivity. In its final committee hearing, CS/CS/SB 52 received unanimous support. The House companion, CS/HB 379 by Representative Yeager, received unanimous support in all three committee hearings. It is currently on the Special Order Calendar for second reading scheduled for Thursday, March 30.

HB 31 – Partisan Elections for District School Board Members by Representative Roach
SB 94 – Partisan Elections for District School Boards by Senator Gruters

  • HB 31 by Representative Roach is a House Joint Resolution to allow Floridians to vote on whether they would like school board elections to become partisan. Representative Roach explained that the purpose of this legislation is to increase transparency among voters and throughout Florida public schools. According to the bill’s sponsor, school board elections have only been nonpartisan for approximately 22 years which is an anomaly among the state’s history. There was stanch criticism from members of the committee and members of the public who argued that politics did not belong in the public school system. Proponents of the bill argued that partisan school board elections have always been prevalent as most political parties endorse candidates that align with their agenda despite political parties not being present on the ballot. HB 31 was read a second time on the House floor on Thursday, March 30. The Senate companion, SB 94 by Senator Gruters, received 7 Yeas and 2 Nays in the Education PreK-12 committee. It will head to the Rules committee for its final hearing before heading to the Senate floor.


CS/SB 284 – Energy by Senator Brodeur
CS/HB 1025 – Government Vehicles by Representative Caruso

  • CS/CS/SB 284 by Senator Brodeur will revise vehicle procurement requirements for the state purchasing plan. The bill requires that, when available, the use of ethanol and biodiesel blended fuels and natural gas fuel when a state agency purchases a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. SB 284 also expands the definition of single trade inspection for purposes of building code inspection services regarding installation inspections which will allow the property owner to contract with a private provider for the inspection services rather than relying solely on the local government’s code inspectors. In its final committee hearing, CS/CS/SB 284 received unanimous support. It will head to the Senate floor for second reading. The House companion, CS/HB 1025 by Representative Caruso, received unanimous support from the Energy, Communications and Cybersecurity Subcommittee on March 21. It will be heard in the Commerce Committee next.

Ethics and Elections

CS/SB 774 – Ethics Requirements for Public Officials by Senator Brodeur
CS/HB 37 – Financial Disclosures for Local Governments by Representative Roach

  • CS/SB 774 by Senator Brodeur requires specified local officers to file a public disclosure of financial interests on a Form 6 instead of a Form 1. SB 774 bill also increases the maximum civil penalty for violations of the Code of Ethics from $10,000 to $20,000 and allows the Commission on Ethics to dismiss complaints or investigations for certain minor infractions. In lieu of the full financial disclosure, a candidate may submit a verification or receipt of a previous financial disclosure filing to the qualifying officer. In its second committee hearing, CS/SB 774 by Senator Brodeur received 16 Yeas and 4 Nays. The House companion, CS/HB 37 by Representative Roach, was last heard on March 15 in the Local Administration, Federal Affairs, and Special Districts Subcommittee. It has not been scheduled for its next hearing.


CS/HB 741 – Enforcement of School Bus Passing Infractions by Representative Michael
SB 766 – Photographic Enforcement of School Bus Safety by Senator Burgess

  • CS/HB 741 by Representative Michael will authorize school districts to implement school bus passing infraction systems. Under HB 741, a camera system will be affixed to a school bus which will produce a video and two or more digital photographic still images for the purpose of documenting a motor vehicle operating in a manner that violates current statutes. The district will be permitted to enter an interlocal agreement with one or more law enforcement agencies within a district and may install and operate a passing infraction system on a school bus within its fleet. The district must post high-visibility reflective signage on the rear of each school bus and must make a public announcement and conduct a public awareness campaign. An individual will face a $225 penalty for each violation. CS/HB 741 received 14 Yeas and 1 Nay in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday, March 28. The Senate companion, SB 766 by Senator Burgess, has been referred to three committees, but has not been scheduled.

HB 671 – Residential Building Permits by Representative Esposito
SB 682 – Residential Building Permits by Senator DiCeglie

  • HB 671 by Representative Esposito will repeal Florida statutes relating to the timeframe in which single-family residential dwelling permits must be issued and shortens the timeframe for the submittal, processing, and review of an application. HB 671 also requires a local government to reduce permit fees by 75% if a property owner or contractor retains a private provider for pans review or inspection services. Additionally, the bill limits a local government’s ability to request additional information from an applicant to one time and provides that an application will be automatically approved if a local government fails to notify an applicant about necessary revisions within 9 business days. The bill received 11 Yeas and 4 Nays in the Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee. The Senate companion, SB 682 by Senator DiCeglie, has been referred to three committees, but has not been scheduled.

CS/SB 346 – Public Construction by Senator DiCeglie
CS/HB 383 – Public Construction by Representative Griffitts

  • CS/SB 346 by Senator DiCeglie relates to contractual agreements for construction services between a local government entity and a contractor. SB 346 will require that contracts include a dollar valuation as reasonable determined by the contractor as a portion of the contract value of the estimated cost to complete each item on the list. Within 20 days of the list’s creation date, a local government must pay the contractor the remaining contract balance including all retainage withheld. A contractor may submit a payment request for the remaining contract balance. The remaining balance does not include the estimated costs to complete the items on the list. Additionally, the bill revises the definition of ‘public works project’ to prohibit the imposition of certain requirements on contractors for certain public construction projects that exceed $350,000 in which either state or local funds are used. CS/SB 346 received 7 Yeas and 1 Nay in the Governmental Oversight and Accountability committee on Wednesday, March 29. The House companion, CS/HB 383 by Representative Griffits, is awaiting its second hearing in the State Affairs Committee.

Local Government

HB 935 – Chiefs of Police by Representative Jacques
CS/SB 998 – Chiefs of Police by Senator Burgess

  • HB 935 by Representative Jacques intends to protect individuals serving as a chief of police in a county or municipality from frivolous and/or arbitrary termination. The bill asserts that chiefs of police are vital to communities across the state and should be able to communicate with members of the community. HB 935 provides a definition for chief of police but does not include state law enforcement agency executives whose appointment or employment is governed by other provisions of law. The bill will require that chiefs of police be provided written notice and the opportunity to defend themselves against termination in a public hearing. The bill also allows individuals to bring civil action against any person, organization, or corporation for damages, those relating to finances or otherwise, suffered during the performance of official duties. The Senate companion, CS/SB 998 by Senate Burgess, does not include language on civil action. In the Criminal Justice committee, SB 998 received unanimous support. HB 935 received its first hearing on Tuesday, March 28 and passed favorably with unanimous support. Neither bill has been scheduled for its next hearing.

SB 540 – Local Government Comprehensive Plans by Senator DiCeglie
CS/HB 359 – Local Government Comprehensive Plans by Representative Duggan

  • SB 540 by Senator DiCeglie will amend state statutes to authorize courts to award the prevailing party in cases related to comprehensive planning, or amendment to comprehensive plans, by allowing for the recovery of attorney fees and costs, including reasonable appellate attorney fees and costs. SB 540 also seeks to clarify the split of authority on the scope of review between 2 judicial districts. Opponents of the bill were concerned about the possibility of discouraging citizens from pursuing lawsuits against their local governments and stated that current state statutes have language regarding similar issues. Proponents argued that this bill would chill frivolous lawsuits against local governments. SB 540 received its first hearing on Wednesday, March 29 and received 8 Yeas and 3 Nays. The House companion, HB 359 by Representative Duggan, has moved swiftly through its committee references, and received 13 Yeas and 5 Nays in its last committee hearing. It has been placed on the calendar for its second reading but has no date has been scheduled.

Regulatory Reform

CS/HB 327 – Fire Sprinkler System Projects by Representative Bell
CS/SB 408 – Fire Sprinkler System Project Permitting by Senator Perry

  • CS/CS/HB 327 by Representative Bell permits a Contractor I or Contractor II to design the alterations of an existing fire sprinkler system if the alterations consist of the relocation or deletion of less than or equal to 249 sprinklers, and the additions of 49 sprinklers, as long as the cumulative total number of fire sprinklers being added, relocated, or deleted does not exceed 249. An electrical or alarm system contractor may not install or relace a fire alarm until they obtain a Uniform Fire Alarm Permit, there is expedited permitting processes, however the expedited permitting process does not include projects that involve changes to fire sprinkler systems. HB 327 allows for the creation of an expedited permitting process for certain “fire sprinkler system projects,” allowing for a fire protection system contractor to start work on such fire systems and then obtain an expedited permit electronically. CS/HB 327 was read a second time and the House adopted an amendment that provides definitions for the term ‘component’ and ‘fire sprinkler system’. The Senate companion, CS/SB 408 by Senator Perry, is awaiting a its final hearing in the Rules committee.