Becker & Poliakoff

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 1, March 7-10, 2023

Becker’s State Lobbying Update: Week 1, March 7-10, 2023

Opening Day

The Florida Legislature convened in Tallahassee for the commencement of the state’s 125th Legislative Session on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. President Kathleen Passidomo delivered an impassioned opening statement thanking the entire legislature for their commitment to serving their constituents, outlaying the achievements of the legislature during Special Session, and the goals of the Senate republicans during the 2023 legislative session. These goals include, but are not limited to, the expansion of school choice, the commitment to affordable housing for workforce employees, and meaningful tort reform. House Speaker Paul Renner echoed these sentiments in his opening remarks, adding that the House republicans are committed to protecting the sanctity of life, the protection and expansion of a law-abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves, and a “bold tax relief” that will return money to hard-working Floridian families. Both chamber leaders emphasized their commitment to reducing costs to combat the rise of inflation, their willingness to enact an agenda to protect the wellbeing of children and the promise to keep Florida free.


House Bill 931 – Postsecondary Educational Institutions by Representative Spencer Roach

  • HB 931 by Representative Roach will revise the date by which the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors presiding over the State University System (SUS) must annually submit their assessment of an educational institution’s intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity to December 31 of each calendar year beginning on December 31, 2024. HB 931 will also create the establishment of the Office of Public Policy Events within the SUS to promote the diversity of thought among state colleges and universities. The Office, under the guidance of the Board of Governors will be responsible for the organization, publication, and staging of debates, group forums, and individual lectures to discuss a wide range of perspectives on various public policy issues. The Office of Public Policy Events will have a satellite office at each institution. Additionally, the bill will prohibit a public institution from requiring an employee or individual being considered for employment to complete a political loyalty test. House Bill 931 had its first committee hearing on opening day of the legislative session and received 13 Yeas and 5 Nays. It will be heard in the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee next.

Senate Bill 202 – K-12 Education by Senator Corey Simon 
House Bill 1 – School Choice by Representative Kaylee Tuck

  • SB 202 by Chair Simon is a comprehensive education package to expand school choice and reduce state regulation of Florida public schools. SB 202 seeks to increase the number of eligible students for state scholarships by allowing all students, regardless of their family income, to apply for and receive school choice vouchers totaling $8,000. SB 202 will also expand state laws to allow public and charter schools to enroll students on a part-time basis according to availability, streamline transportation by deleting requirements for school districts to provide transportation for students, and allow for more discretion in the increases of teacher salaries once the $47,500 is reached as allocated in the 2022-23 budget.
  • The House companion, CS/CS/CS/HB 1 by Rep. Tuck includes an amendment by Representative Williams that would prioritize families earning less than or equal to 185% of the federal poverty line; families with greater than or equal to 400% of the federal poverty line would receive scholarship consideration last. Both versions were heard in committees on Wednesday, March 8; SB 202 received 9 Yeas and 4 Nays in the Appropriations Committee on Education while HB 1 received 16 Yeas and 4 Nays. HB 1 will be heard in the Education Quality Committee on Friday, March 10. Both are expected to pass and head to the Floor for second reading.

CS/House Bill 477 – Term Limits for District School Board Members by Representative Alex Rizo

  • CS/HB 477 by Representative Rizo will revise term limits for district school board members from 12 consecutive years to 8. In the 2022 legislative session, the legislature passed CS/HB 1467 establishing term limits of 12 years for school board members. Under CS/HB 1467, individuals may not appear on the ballot for reelection if they have served in that current position for 12 consecutive years, however, to align school districts with state legislative terms, Representative Rizo has concluded that this legislation is necessary. According to the bill’s sponsor, there are a myriad of benefits yielded from lowering term limits. These benefits include creating encouraging spaces of independence among school boards that are conducive to growing ideas, introducing new faces and mandating rotation to address community needs. Representative Chambliss voiced his support for HB 477 stating that in Miami-Dade, there is an upward trend in supporting term limits for elected officials. Other proponents of the bill likened current term limits to communist nations, while opponents alleged that 8 years may not be enough time to effectively spark change within school districts. The bill passed in the Choice and Innovation committee with 14 Yeas and 4 Nays. It will be heard in the Education and Employment committee next.

Criminal Justice

House Bill 269 – Public Nuisances by Representative Mike Caruso

  • HB 269 by Representative Caruso sets provisions for violations related to littering, stalking, and hate crimes. Under HB 269, distribution of commercial/non-commercial pamphlets or flyers in a public space leading to the act of littering is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. The bill establishes that willful following, harassing, or interfering with an ‘individual’s quiet enjoyment’ based on religious, or ethnic group related, garments, in addition to the willful and malicious defacement of, or damage to, a religious cemetery or gravesite marker displaying a religious symbol will be classified as a third-degree felony and a hate crime. The Senate companion, SB 994 by Senator Alexis Calatayud includes intimidation, threat, or intent to harm as provisions related to the act of a hate crime. HB 269 was heard on Tuesday, March 7 in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and received unanimous support while SB 994 has yet to be scheduled for its first hearing.


Senate Bill 558 – Certified Nursing Assistants by Senator Gayle Harrell

  • SB 558 by Senator Harrell permits nursing homes to authorize registered nurses to designate tasks, including the administration of medication, to a certified nursing assistant (CNA). CNAs must first meet specific requirements including, but not limited to, an extensive 6-hour training, and the completion of an additional 34-hour training on medication administration. Upon completion of these requirements, CNAs will be designated as ‘Qualified Medication Aides’ and must complete an annual validation with 2 hours of in-service training in medication administration and medication error prevention. SB 558 requires that CNAs may only administer medication under supervision of a nurse. SB 558 received unanimous support in the Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services. It has not been scheduled for its hearing in the Fiscal Policy committee.

House Bill 365 – Controlled Substances by Rachel Plakon

  • HB 365 by Representative Plakon will amend current statutes to classify the supply of a substance or mixture that is proven to have caused, or is proven to be, a substantial factor in the death or serious injury of an individual. HB 365 defines ‘substantial factor’ as the use of a substance or mixture [of substances] alone is sufficient to cause death, regardless of whether any other substance or mixture used is also sufficient to cause death. Under the changes made by the bill, individuals guilty of distribution will have committed a felony in the 2nd degree. Repeat offenders found guilty of the same crime will have committed a felony in the 1st degree. Additionally, HB 365 classifies the distribution of controlled substances resulting in an overdose or serious bodily harm as a felony in the 2nd degree. HB 365 had its first committee hearing in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on opening day and received 15 Yeas and 3 Nays. Its second committee hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Community Affairs

Senate Bill 170 – Local Ordinances by Senator Jay Trumbull

  • SB 170 by Senator Trumbull seeks to create more caution regarding the enactment of local ordinances to prevent arbitrary and/or unreasonable ordinances and subsequent financial deficits to local businesses. SB 170 will require local governments to create and publish a business impact estimate prior to enacting an ordinance. Business impact estimates must include a statement of public purpose of the ordinance, an estimate of potential financial impacts, including potential compliance costs, that a business may incur because of the enactment of an ordinance. The bill outlines several types of ordinances that will not apply under these provisions, including but not limited to, ordinances required for compliance with federal or state law or regulation and emergency ordinances. SB 170 provides stipulations for lawsuits including the suspension of enforcement an ordinance under legal challenges. Courts may award up to $50,000 to the prevailing party who successfully challenges an ordinance as arbitrary and unreasonable. The bill will take effect October 1, 2023. SB 170 was read a third time on March 8 and received 29 Yeas and 11 Nays. It will head to the Governor for his signature.

Local Government

House Bill 359 – Local Government Comprehensive Plans by Representative Wyman Duggan

  • HB 350 by Representative Duggan 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. HB 359 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. HB 359 received 17 Yeas and 1 Nay in the Civil Justice Subcommittee. It will be heard in its third and stop, the State Affairs committee, but has not yet been scheduled. Its Senate companion, SB 540 by Senator Nick DiCeglie, has been referred to three committees, but has not yet received its first hearing.

PCS/HB 439 – Land Use and Development Regulations by Local Administration, Federal Affairs and Special Districts Subcommittee

  • PCS/HB 439 by the Local Administration, Federal Affairs and Special Districts Subcommittee will amend state statutes related to the comprehensive planning and land development and the Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act (FLUEDRA). Of the number of substantial changes made by PCS/HB 439, the most notable are the increase to the required planning period; currently the planning period is 10 years, the PCS will increase it to 20. The PCS will also require that land development regulations imposed by local governments contain minimum lot sizes for specific zoning districts with regard to the maximum density authorized within a comprehensive plan. Additionally, local governments may no longer collect and utilize original data in their analysis of land development comprehensive plans. As it relates to the FLUEDRA, PCS/HB 439 will allow a special magistrate to recommend types of relief for settlement negotiations between private property owners and local governments. PCS/HB 439 received its first hearing in the Local Administration, Federal Affairs and Special Districts Subcommittee on Friday, March 10 where it received 13 Yeas and 3 Nays. It will be heard next in the Commerce Committee but has not yet been scheduled.

HB 41 – Land Development Initiative and Referendum Processes by Representative Alina Garcia

  • HB 41 by Representative Garcia will prohibit the use of an initiative or referendum process in the consideration of a development order or any amendments related to land development regulations. Current state law prohibits the use of a referendum process for any development orders. However, the bill does provide exceptions for those authorized by ‘specific language’ in a local government’s charter that was lawful and in effect on June 1, 2011. HB 41 was heard in its first committee on Friday, March 10 and received unanimous support. It will head to the Infrastructure Strategies Committee but has not yet been scheduled.

HB 359 – Local Government Comprehensive Plans by Representative Duggan

  • HB 359 by Representative Duggan will allow prevailing parties in cases related to comprehensive planning, or comprehensive planning amendments, to recover attorney fees and associated costs incurred as a result of a lawsuit. Under HB 359, victors in challenges related to small-scale plan amendment will also be allowed to recover fees and associated costs as well. The bill also seeks to clarify the scope for First and Second District Courts, stating that circuit courts may not review other elements of the plan when making judgments on the case before them. Opponents of the bill cited numerous issues with the bill including the potential reluctance of citizens to bring claims against their local governments and the citing of current statutes – F.S. 57.105 – that already deal with similar issues. Proponents argued that it would prevent frivolous lawsuits against local governments that often burden taxpayers. HB 359 received 17 Yeas and 1 Nay in its third and final committee. It will head to the House floor for second reading. A date has not yet been scheduled.

CS/HB 89 – Building Construction by Representative Maggard

  • CS/HB 89 by Representative Maggard states that a local enforcement agency or local government may not make or require any changes to a building plan unless otherwise required for compliance with the Florida Building code, Florida Fire Prevention Code, or an amendment set forth by a local government. CS/HB 89 adds language permitting a Class A air-conditioning contractor to perform certain duties including, but not limited to, the reconnecting of breakers and fuses on an electrical circuit and the replacement – and other potential fixes – to switches and boxes. The bill also requires a local government to inform building permit applicants of the specific parts of a building plan that do not apply with either Florida Fire Prevention code, Florida’s Life Safety Code, or local amendments and allow the applicant to rectify the issues in order to receive the permit. CS/HB 89 received unanimous support in the Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee on Thursday, March 9. It will head to the Local Administration, Federal Affairs and Special Districts Subcommittee but has not yet been scheduled.