Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 5, February 7-11

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 5, February 7-11

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 5, February 7-11

Welcome to Becker’s Weekly Spotlight! As your trusted lobbyists, we are proud to provide you with the latest developments in politics and policy in Tallahassee. Here is what happened in Tallahassee during Week 5 (February 7 – February 11) of the 2022 Legislative Session.

HEADLINES

  • Budget. The House and Senate voted on a measure that would significantly increase the Governor’s budget by $500 million. SB 96 is a bill that relates to the state’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund, which can be used in the case of a declared state of emergency. A measure similar to this was vetoed in the 2021 Legislative Session by Governor DeSantis due to federal requirements for COVID-19 spending. Opponents of the bill argued that they did not see the logic in increasing funding, to which the bill’s sponsor, Representative Dana Trabulsy, responded that it would prevent the Governor from having to “tap into additional state revenue and reserves.” SB 96 passed favorably in the House with a vote of 95 Yeas and 22 Nays.On Wednesday, February 9, the House Appropriations Committee approved a budget proposal despite slight pushback from Democratic legislators. In his proposal titled “Putting Parents First Adjustment,” Representative Randy Fine removes a collective $200 million from the pay of school board administrators with an annual salary of $100,000 or more from twelve school districts including Duval County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County. This reduction in school funding comes after school board administrators required that their students wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, even after the passage of HB 1B, a bill that prohibited mask mandates in schools across the state. The $200 million, according to Representative Fine, will be reallocated to the other 55 school districts who “obeyed” the Governor. Democratic lawmakers called the measure “punitive” and “disingenuous,” while Representative Fine and other proponents referred to it as a way to hold officials accountable.
  • Redistricting. On February 1, Governor DeSantis requested an advisory opinion from the Florida Supreme Court to the constitutionality of the newly drawn congressional district that stretches from Jacksonville to Gadsden County to “ensure sufficient voter strength.” However, the Supreme Court unanimously voted against the request due to a full map not being presented, citing that more judicial review would be required to do a full statistical analysis.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

  • Financial Disclosures. CS/CS/SB 510 by Senator Jason Brodeur and HB 301 by Representative Spencer Roachwere proposed to increase transparency between constituents and their local government officials. SB 510 will require Mayors, City Commissioners, elected members of a City Council, and City Managers to file a full disclosure of financial interests (Form 6) through the Florida Commission on Ethics. This bill will become effective on January 1, 2023. SB 510 passed favorably in its last committee hearing with 11 Yeas and 5 Nays. It is now ready for the Senate floor. Its House companion, HB 301, was also heard this week, and passed unanimously. It will be heard in its final committee of reference, the State Affairs Committee. Both bills await a scheduling date.
  • Building Regulations and Building Permits. CS/CS/CS/SB 644 by Senator Jason Brodeur and HB 635 by Representative Randy Maggardattempt to reduce extensive delays in the building permitting process. The bills will allow private providers more room to be involved in the permit process under the supervision of a licensed building code administrator. They will also allow an individual person to sit for the building inspector or the plans examiner license test by completing a four-year internship with a private provider or private provider firm. Furthermore, CS/CS/CS/SB 644 requires the Florida Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board to adopt a rule establishing that partial completion of an internship program may be transferred among local jurisdictions and private providers. The bill also prohibits a local government from enacting a local ordinance that may restrict the ability of a private property owner to obtain a building permit to demolish any single-family residential structure located in certain flood hazard areas in accordance with the Flood Insurance Rate Maps. This bill will become effective on July 1, 2022. CS/CS/CS/SB 644 passed favorably in its final committee and has been placed on the calendar for second reading. HB 635 received unanimous approval in the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday, February 7. It is now in its final committee but has not been scheduled.
  • Additional Homestead Property Tax Exemptions. HJR 1 by Representative Josie Tomkow, SB 1746 by Sen. Jason Brodeur, and SB 1748 by Sen. Jason Brodeur are a joint resolution that propose an amendment to the Florida State Constitution to authorize the generation of a law granting an additional homestead tax exemption of up to $50,000 of the assessed value of homestead property tax for first responders and frontline workers. Opponents of the bill argue that the fundamental principle of taxation is that taxes be applied broadly to minimize the impact of those who will have to cover it. However, the Revenue Estimating Conference estimated that the joint resolution would not have a fiscal impact on local government revenue as the amendment it proposes is subject to voter approval. This amendment will be placed on either the 2022 General Election or an earlier special election should there be a need. The bill will take effect January 1, 2023, pending voter approval. HJR 1 passed unanimously in the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday, February 7. It awaits a hearing in the State Affairs Committee. Similarly, SB 1746 and SB 1748 by Senator Brodeur both passed unanimously in the Finance and Tax Committee. They are now in their final committee of reference, Appropriations, waiting to be heard.

HEALTH CARE

  • Medicaid Managed Care. HB 7047 by Representative Sam Garrison and SB 1950 by Senator Jason Brodeur were brought forth to revamp the laws regulating Medicaid and to consolidate the state’s current Medicaid Managed Care regions from 11 to 8. HB 7047 addresses healthcare worker shortages by allowing health plans to include nurse train expenses in their medical expenses and expand the use of funds to include students who are not in a physician residency. Currently, Medicaid is the second largest budget allocation and the state’s largest expenditure, and because of this, the bill’s sponsor believes a consolidation will “reasonably allocate enrollee volume.” His goal is to make each region equally attractive for bidders with the goal of increasing competition and value to both taxpayers and patients. This bill did receive slight criticism, with one representative inquiring about the provision requiring hospitals to contract all medical plans. HB 7047 received 10 Yeas and 5 Nays and is on its way to its final hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee. Its Senate companion, SB 1950, was placed on the committee agenda for the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, February 16.

EDUCATION 

  • Education and School Boards. HB 1467 by Representative Sam Garrison and SB 1300 by Senator Joe Gruters have proven to be quite controversial due to the repeal of school board members’ salaries, subsequently making them volunteers of the school district as opposed to paid employees. However, HB 1467 was significantly amended to allow for $200 per-meeting pay and a maximum of $4,800 per year. Effective January 1, 2025, the authority for school board members to receive a salary will be removed, however members are permitted to retain their salaries through the end of their term. Additionally, beginning August 1, 2022, newly elected or re-elected members may not receive a salary. HB 1467 will also create term limits, like the limit rules for state legislators, at a maximum of eight consecutive years. This version of the bill also requires that school districts post all materials available to students within the school library online for public review. HB 1467 was passed on the House floor with 78 Yeas and 40 Nays, and immediately certified. It was referred to the Senate Rules committee where it awaits a hearing. The Senate version, SB 1300, does not include provisions for term limits for school board members, but it still contains the provisions to completely repeal the members’ salaries. On January 26, it was removed from one of its committee references and awaits a final hearing in the Senate Rules committee. This bill will take effect July 1, 2022.