The legislative session reached its “halfway” mark, Day 30, on Wednesday, February 7th. Legislators are now heading into the second half of the 2024 session with both chambers having passed only 12 bills thus far. Many of those bills are technical statutory revision bills required each year to make updates and delete provisions superseded by new laws. By comparison, 19 bills passed through both Chambers during the first half of the 2023 session. As the legislature continues to move forward, here are some of the top priority pieces of legislation that your Becker team is watching:
HB 1 – Social Media Use for Minors – Representative(s) Sirois, McFarland, and Rayner
SB 1788 – Social Media Use for Minors- Senator Grall
HB 1 requires a social media platform to prohibit children under the age of 16 from creating an account and to perform reasonable age-verification methods to verify that the age of a person attempting to create an account is 16 years of age or older. The bill also requires social media platforms, that have existing accounts belonging to minors under the age of 16, to terminate the account, allow an account holder or confirmed parent or guardian to terminate the account, and permanently delete all personal information held by the social media platform relating to the terminating account. A House Speaker priority, the bill passed favorably through all assigned committees and passed the House floor in a vote of 106 Yeas and 13 Nays. It has now been referred to Fiscal Policy. Its Senate companion, SB 1788, narrows the scope of the bill by revising the definition of “social media platform” to make the bill apply only to those platforms that have addictive features that are designed to cause account holders to use them excessively or compulsively. This bill also requires that reasonable age verification methods be conducted by nongovernmental and independent third parties that are not affiliated with the social media platform. Passing its first committee with a vote of 7 Yeas and 2 Nays, this bill is waiting to be heard in its final committee Fiscal Policy.
SB 280 – Vacation Rentals by Senator DiCeglie
HB 1537 – Vacation Rentals by Representative Griffits
SB 280 by Senator DiCeglie revises the regulation of short-term vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. Current law does not allow local laws, ordinances, or regulations that prohibit vacation rentals or to regulate the duration or frequency of the rental of vacation rentals. The bill preempts the regulation of advertising platforms to the state and also defines “advertising platform”. In addition, under this bill, a local government may require vacation rentals to be registered and they may charge a reasonable fee for registration. If there is an issue with that registration, the owner could be fined up to $500. The bill also states that the maximum overnight occupancy of a vacation rental cannot exceed two persons per bedroom, plus an additional two persons in one common area, or more than two persons per bedroom if at least 50 square feet per person. The bill also gives the property owner up to 15 days to cure a problem before issuing a fine. Passing favorably on the Senate floor with a vote of 27 Yeas and 13 Nays, the bill is now waiting to be heard by the House. Its House companion, HB 1537, is waiting to be heard in its final committee of reference, Commerce.
SB 1356 – School Safety by Senator Calatayud
HB 1473 – School Safety by Representative Trabulsy
SB 1356 by Representative Calatayud expands on protections first provided in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. This bill will allow sheriffs to waive specific requirements for the Chris Hixon, Coach Aaron Feis, and Coach Scott Beigel Guardian Program if the candidate has at least two years of law enforcement experience and has held an active law enforcement certificate within the past five years. School principals must provide instructions on FortifyFL annually and explain the consequences of a threat or a false report. The district school board must advertise FortifyFL on the school district website, on school campuses, and through other publication methods. For children taken into custody and suspected of a crime of violence or an offense that would be a felony, law enforcement agencies must notify the superintendent of schools. The superintendent must notify the chief of police or the public safety director of the postsecondary institution within 24 hours of the notification. It passed its second committee of reference, Criminal Justice, with a vote of 8 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now waiting to be scheduled for its final committee of reference, Fiscal Policy. Its House companion, HB 1473, by Representative Trabulsy, has passed its second committee of reference, Appropriations, with a vote of 23 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is waiting to be scheduled for its third and final committee, Education & Employment.
SB 104 – Municipal Water and Sewer Utility Rates by Senator Jones
HB 47 – Municipal Water and Sewer Utility Rates by Representative Robinson
SB 104 by Senator Jones revises how municipalities can charge their customers based on location within and outside the municipality’s boundaries. Any municipality operating a water or sewer utility may charge the same rate, fees, and charges as consumers inside the municipal boundaries. The municipality may add a surcharge of no more than 25 percent to the consumers outside the boundaries. All rates, fees, or charges may not exceed 50 percent more than the total amount the municipality charges customers served within the municipality for the corresponding service. These rates may not be fixed until a public hearing allows consumers, tenants, and others interested to be heard concerning the rates. This bill has been amended once. The bill passed its first committee of reference. It passed its second committee, Community Affairs, with a vote of 8 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now awaiting scheduling for its final committee, Rules. Its House companion, HB 47, by Representative Robinson, has passed two committees of reference with a vote of 16 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now awaiting scheduling for its final committee, Commerce.
HB 1195 – Millage Rates by Representative Garrison
SB 1322 – Millage Rates by Senator Ingoglia
HB 1195 by Representative Garrison prohibits any increase in millage rates unless approved by a two-thirds vote of a governing body of a county, municipality, or independent special district unless a higher vote threshold is already required under current law. The bill passed favorably in its first two committees of references. It passed its final committee, State Affairs, with a vote of 13 Yeas and 4 Nays. It has been placed on the calendar for a second reading. Its Senate Companion, SB 1322, by Senator Ingoglia, passed its first committee of reference and its second committee, Finance and Tax, with a vote of 4 Yeas and 2 Nays. It is waiting to be scheduled for its final committee, Appropriations.
SB 684 – Residential Building Permits by Senator DiCeglie
HB 267 – Building Regulations by Representative Espositio
SB 684 by Senator DiCeglie requires governing bodies with 30,000 or more residents to create a program that expedites issuing building permits for residential subdivisions before a final plat is registered with the circuit court clerk by August 15, 2024. Local jurisdictions must reduce their permit fee by 75 percent if a private provider is retained for plan review or building inspection services. This bill shortens timeframes for the submittal, process, and review of applications for a building permit. The law allows an applicant to contract to sell a residential structure but not transfer ownership of a residential structure in the preliminary plat before the final plat is approved. The bill passed its first committee of reference, Community Affairs, with a vote of 5 Yeas and 3 Nays and is waiting to be scheduled for its second committee, Fiscal Policy. Its House Companion, HB 267 by Representative Esposito reduces the time frame that a local government must approve, approve with conditions, or deny a building permit application following the receipt of a completed and sufficient application unless the applicant waives such limitation in writing. In addition, this bill requires local governments to approve applications for multifamily projects within 60 business days and to review completed applications for sufficiency within 10 business days. This bill is waiting to be heard in its last committee, Commerce, it has not been scheduled yet.
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 has passed favorably in its first committee of reference. It passed its second committee, Regulated Industries, with a vote of 6 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now scheduled to be heard in its final committee, Rules, on Wednesday, February 14. Its House companion, HB 665 by Representative McClain, has made progress in committee by passing favorably in its first two committees of reference. It passed its third and final committee, Commerce, with a vote of 12 Yeas and 5 Nays. It is now waiting to be placed on the Special Order calendar to be heard on the House floor.
SB 1366 – My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program by Senator DiCeglie
HB 1029 – My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program by Representative Lopez (V)
SB 1366 by Senator DiCeglie establishes the My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program within the Department of Financial Services (DFS). This program will only be implemented if included in the annual legislative appropriations. This program aims to reinforce the protection of condominiums from hurricane damage by allowing eligible condominium associations to apply for hurricane mitigation inspections and grants. To be eligible, condominium associations must receive approval from a majority vote of the board of administration or a unanimous vote of all unit owners. The DFS must contract with wind certification entities, or an association may hire its own contractor. These contractors must qualify under a strict set of guidelines. A quality assurance program is implemented to ensure the mitigation improvements are completed to the standards set by the program. The bill passed its first committee of reference, Banking, and Insurance, with a vote of 11 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is awaiting scheduling for its second committee, Appropriations. Its House companion, HB 1029, by Representative Lopez (V) passed its first committee of reference, Insurance and Banking, with a vote of 18 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is awaiting scheduling for its second committee, State Administration & Technology Appropriations.
HB 95 – Yacht and Ship Brokers’ Act by Representative LaMarca
SB 92 – Yacht and Ship Brokers’ Act by Senator Hooper
HB 95 by Representative LaMarca requires the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, precisely the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes to regulate yacht and ship brokers and salespersons. A “yacht” is any vessel exceeding 32 feet in length that is propelled by sail or machinery. If a person conducts business as a broker or salesperson in another state as their primary profession and carries out the purchase or sale of a yacht under this act, they are not required to obtain a license. However, this exemption only applies if the entire transaction is executed with a licensed broker or salesperson. A person can only qualify as a broker if they have obtained a salesperson license and can prove that they have directly participated in four transactions that resulted in the sale of a yacht or if they have completed at least 20 education credits approved by the division. This bill has passed favorably in its first two committees of reference. It passed its final committee, Commerce, with a vote of 17 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is waiting to be placed on the calendar. Its Senate companion, SB 92, by Senator Hooper, has passed favorably in each committee and has been placed on the Special-Order Calendar on Wednesday, February 14.
SB 796 – Combatting Human Trafficking by Senator Avila
HB 7063 – Anti-human Trafficking by Representative Overdorf
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 its second committee of reference, Criminal Justice, with a vote of 8 Yeas and 0 Nays. It is now awaiting scheduling in its final committee, Fiscal Policy. Its House companion, HB 7063 by Representative Overdorf has been placed on the calendar, for a Second reading.