On Friday, April 21, House Speaker, Paul Renner, and Senate President, Kathleen Passidomo, announced that conferencing between the two chambers is likely to start Monday, April 24. The House and Senate passed separate budgets earlier this month and the two chambers are now working on allocating the dollars toward each section of the budget for the coming fiscal year. Conference will allow members of those committees to communicate and finalize an agreement on those dollars. Any issues that can’t be agreed on by the joint budget conference committees are “bumped” to each chamber’s Appropriations Committee chairs who will do their best to work out any issues and come to an agreement. The final conference report must “cool off” for 72 hours before each chamber adopts and votes on the final version of the budget to present to the Governor.
On Thursday, April 20, HB 269 by Representative Mike Caruso, passed the House floor in a unanimous vote of 112 Yeas and 0 Nays. HB 269, Public Nuisances, is a bill presented as a means to crack down on hate crimes and to curb anti-semitism. The legislation prohibits a person from distributing on private property any material with the purpose to intimidate or threaten the owner of said property. The bill also prohibits a person from willfully & maliciously harassing, threatening, or intimidating another person based on a person’s wearing or displaying of any indicia relating to any religious or ethnic heritage. A person is guilty of a felony for making threats. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if they display or project any image onto a building, structure, or other property without the written consent of the owner. This bill has an effective date of upon becoming law. The bill now goes to the Senate.
CS/CS/HB 299 – Education and Training for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Forms of Dementia by Representative Black
CS/SB 1182 – Education and Training for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Forms of Dementia by Senator Simon
- CS/CS/HB 299 by Representative Black requires that all employees of nursing homes, home health agencies, nurse registries, homemaker, and companion service providers, assisted living facilities, adult family-care homes, and adult day care centers, to complete one hour of initial Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders (ADRD) training. The training must be completed within 30 days of beginning employment, rather than within 3 months. Personnel who provide direct care to individuals with ADRD must complete additional training of 4 hours annually. Once HB 299 goes into effect, employees must have the required training complete by July 1, 2026. A newly filed amendment by the bill’s sponsor that will require employees of health care service pools to comply with the training requirements set forth in the bill was adopted. These training requirements are applicable to the type of facility an individual is employed at and provides that employees of an assisted living facility with a limited mental health license are not subject to the 3 hours of training required within the first 7 months of employment. CS/CS/HB 299 was read a third time a received unanimous support on the House floor with a vote of 115 Yeas and 0 Nays. The Senate companion, CS/SB 1182 by Senator Simon, also received unanimous support in its final committee hearing. It will be heard next in the Fiscal Policy committee.
CS/SB 1256 – Preemption Over Utility by Senator Collins
CS/HB 1281 – Preemption Over Utility Service Restrictions by Representative Buchanan
- CS/SB 1256 by Senator Collins will prohibit a municipality, county, special district, or other political subdivision of the state from enacting or enforcing a law, ordinance or rule that will restrict or prohibit, or has the effect of restricting or prohibiting, the use of any major appliance including a stove or grill. SB 1256 outlines the acceptable types or fuel source of energy production allowed to be used, delivered, concerted, or supplied. SB 1256 received 17 Yeas and 1 Nay in the Rules committee. It has been placed on the calendar for second reading. The House companion, CS/HB 1281 by Representative Buchanan has been placed on the Special Order calendar for Tuesday, April 25.
CS/SB 698 – Local Tax Referenda Requirements by Senator Ingoglia
CS/HB 731 – Local Tax Referenda Requirements by Representative Temple
- CS/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 hearing on Tuesday, April 18, a committee substitute was adopted which included a new provision regarding referenda requirements to increase millage. In its second hearing in the Finance and Tax committee, SB 698 received 5 Yeas and 3 Nays; it will be heard next in Fiscal Policy. The House companion, CS/HB 731 by Representative Temple has been placed on the calendar for second reading.
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, received unanimous support in its final committee hearing. Both bills have been placed on the calendar for second reading.
SB 696 – Local Officials by Senator Ingoglia
HB 729 – Local Officials Employment Contracts by Representative Holcomb
- SB 696 by Senator Ingoglia provides that the employment contract for a county administrator is not to be renewed, extended, or renegotiated during the specified time frame of 12 months within an August primary election for member of the applicable governing body. Applicable governing members include county administrators, county attorneys, municipal chief executive officers, municipal attorneys, school superintendents, and school board district attorneys. During its first committee hearinf, SB 696 was amended to change the specific time period to within 8 months of the general election and received unanimous support. The bill was scheduled for the Rules committee but was temporarily postponed. The House companion, HB 729 by Representative Holcomb has not moved in committee since February 21.
HB 833 – Vacation Rentals by Representative Duggan
SB 714 – Vacation Rentals by Senator DiCiglie
- HB 833 by Representative Duggan adds to the scope of the state preemption of public lodging establishments and public food service establishments be preempting “licensing” regulations and revises the scope of the express state preemption on vacation rentals to allow local jurisdictions to amend local regulations to be less restrictive or comply with local registration requirements. The bill revises exemptions to the prohibition against certain local regulation of vacation rentals, expanding the authority of local laws, ordinances, or regulations to include requiring vacation rentals to register with local vacation rental registration programs. A registration fee is allowed that does not exceed $50 for processing an individual registration application, or $100 for processing a collective registration application. Vacation rental operators must display license and registration information, and sexual offenders and predators who stay in a vacation rental must register with the local sheriff’s office under certain circumstances. In its final committee hearing in the Commerce Committee on April 17, CS/HB 833 received 10 Yeas and 7 Nays. The Senate companion, SB 714 by Senator DiCiglie, has been placed the Fiscal Policy committee for Tuesday, April 25.
CS/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 on the House floor with a vote of 110 Yeas and 0 Nays. CS/HB 379 has been substituted for SB 52 which passed the Senate floor unanimously with a vote of 39 Yeas and 0 Nays.
CS/CS/HB 1259 – Education Funding by Representative Canady
CS/SB 1328 – Charter School Capital Outlay Funding by Senator Hutson
- CS/CS/HB 1259 by Representative Canady seeks to ensure that funding for Florida’s public and charter schools is allocated fairly to ensure all schools have the appropriate capital outlay funding to accommodate students. According to the bill’s sponsor, historically, charter schools have received ‘significantly less’ funding per student, averaging at least half as much as the full-time equivalent base allocation per student in a district public school. HB 1259 will revise the calculation method used by the Department of Education to determine the amount of the discretionary 1.5 millage revenue a school district must distribute to each eligible charter school;/ The bill will appropriate roughly $213.5 million for charter school capital outlay to reduce the amount that districts will have to share in the 2023-24 fiscal year. HB 1259 received 20 Yeas and 7 Nays in its final committee hearing and has been placed on the Special Order calendar for Tuesday, April 25. The Senate companion, SB 1328 by Senator Hutson, was amended to align it with the House’s version. It was heard in the Appropriations committee on Friday, April 20 where it received 12 Yeas and 6 Nays.
Ethics and Elections
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. This joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution requiring that members of a district school board be elected in a partisan election. Currently, district school board members are elected in a nonpartisan election. Nonpartisan elections have been present since 2000 however, prior to 2000, district school board members were elected in partisan elections. This proposed constitutional amendment will go into effect upon approval by the electors, except that members of district school boards may not be elected on a partisan basis until the general election held on November 3, 2026. HB 31 was taken up in both chambers and passed along party lines.