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Legislative Update - April 14, 2023

The House and Senate have passed their respective budgets last week (SB 2500 and HB 5001). Leadership will organize budget conference to line up both plans for passage of a single budget by the end of session, May 5th. As of today, Friday April 14th, neither budget allocations or conference members have been announced. We expect an announcement sometime next week.

Hundreds of protestors descended on the capitol building this week protesting SB 300 Pregnancy and Family Support, the 6-week abortion ban legislation. The bill prohibits abortion after six weeks of gestation unless an exception is met (see bill description below). Despite the protests, the bill passed largely along party lines on Thursday and was signed into law by Governor DeSantis later that night at 11 pm.

When and if the six-week limit takes effect will be determined by how the Florida Supreme Court decides a challenge to last year's 15-week abortion law ban.

Legislation (SB 1320) that would expand an existing state ban on instruction related to sexual identity or orientation through 8th grade and put restrictions on alternate pronoun use in schools was approved Thursday in its final Senate committee stop. The measure is an expansion of legislation passed last year that sought to limit instruction on sexuality issues in lower grades. It also includes guidelines for removal of books and instructional materials deemed controversial from schools.

In other action outside of social issues, the House released its annual tax package (HB 7063), (please see below for details of the package) earlier this week while the Senate has reserved a placeholder for their bill. A final tax package will be hammered out during budget conferencing between the House and Senate over the next few weeks.

Bill Action This Week

SB 198 Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority repeals Part III of ch. 343, F. S., relating to the creation and operation of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority. The bill dissolves the authority on June 30, 2024, and requires it to provide for discharge of its liabilities, to settle and close its affairs, to close out and dispense any applicable federal or state grants or funds, and to provide for distribution of the authority's assets as specified. The authority is required to provide specified notices and forward its records to the Department of State upon final dissolution.

The bill removes a reference to the Tampa Bay Area Regional Authority Master Plan to conform to the repeal.

HB 221 Sales of Firearms and Ammunition - A Merchant Category Code (MCC) is a code used by credit card payment associations that categorizes where a credit card purchase is made without showing the specific items that were purchased. Payment organizations use the MCC codes to classify different merchants and businesses by goods or services so that they can track and restrict transactions, report taxes, interchange promotions, gather information on purchasing behaviors, file reports with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), determine rewards, identify high-risk business models and prohibited business types, and track customer spending.

Historically, MCCs have allowed retailers who sell firearm and ammunition to be categorized under general retail or sporting goods stores. Recently, ISO has updated the MCC. Some argue that the information gathered from the use of this new code could be construed as a firearm registry maintained by private entities.

This bill prohibits payment settlement entities, merchant acquiring entities, or third-party settlement organizations from classifying merchants or assigning them with an MCC that identifies them as sellers of firearms or ammunition; and Authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to conduct investigations of alleged violations and bring an administrative action seeking to impose a Class III administrative fine for violations.

SB 258 Prohibited Applications on Government Issued Devices instructs the Department of Management Services (DMS) to create a list of prohibited applications, defined as those that (1) are created, maintained, or owned by a foreign principal and that engage in specific activities that endanger cybersecurity; or (2) present a security risk in the form of unauthorized access to or temporary unavailability of a public employer's information technology systems or data, as determined by the DMS. This definition will likely include TikTok and WeChat.

The bill requires public employers (including state agencies, public education institutions, and local governments) to:

  • Block access to prohibited applications on any wireless network or virtual private network that it owns, operates, or maintains Restrict access to prohibited applications on any government-issued device; and
  • Retain the ability to remotely wipe and uninstall prohibited applications from a compromised government-issued device. All persons are prohibited from downloading prohibited applications on a government-issued device, and officers and employees of a public employer must remove any prohibited application from their government-issued device within 15 calendar days of the DMS' issuance of a list of prohibited applications.

The bill allows the use of prohibited applications by law enforcement officers, if the use is necessary to protect the public safety or to conduct an investigation. It also allows other government employees to use a prohibited application, if they are granted a waiver by the DMS.

The bill provides emergency rulemaking authority to the DMS to adopt a list of prohibited applications, and general rulemaking authority to implement a process by which it can grant waivers from the prohibition.

HB 299 Education and Training For Alzheimer's Disease and Related Forms of Dementia requires all employees of nursing homes, home health agencies, nurse registries, homemaker and companion service providers, ALFs, adult family-care homes, and adult day care centers, to complete one hour of initial ADRD training; not just those who have direct contact with individuals with ADRD. The bill requires the training to be completed within 30 days of beginning employment, instead of within three months.

In addition to the initial training, current law requires employees of nursing homes, home health agencies, and adult day care centers who provide direct care to individuals with ADRD to complete additional ADRD training within nine months of beginning employment.

Current law does not require additional training for such employees of ALFs, home health agencies, nurse registries, homemaker and companion services providers, or adult family care homes. The bill fills in the gaps of facility types not currently required to complete additional training in the first year of employment by requiring employees of ALFs, nurse registries, homemaker and companion service providers, and adult family-care homes who provide direct care to individuals with ADRD to complete the additional training.

Current law requires employees who provide direct care to individuals with ADRD in ALFs and adult day care centers that provide special care for individuals with ADRD to complete four hours of continuing education annually. However, current law does not require such employees of adult family-care homes to complete continuing education. The bill fills in another gap to make training consistent among facility types by requiring employees of adult family -care homes to comply with the same continuing education requirements as the other facility types that provide special care for individuals with ADRD – four hours annually. Current law does not require employees of health care services pools to complete any ADRD training. The bill requires them to complete any training that is applicable to the type of facility they are working in.

The bill requires all individuals currently employed, contracted, or referred to provide services when the bill becomes effective to complete the required training by July 1, 2026. Individuals, newly employed, contracted, or referred to provide services on or after the effective date of the bill may complete training using any existing training curriculum approved by DOEA. The bill provides a grandfather clause for an employee who shows proof of completion of training that is equivalent to the training requirements of the bill.

SB 300 Pregnancy and Parenting Support amends and creates multiple provisions of law related to pregnancy support and wellness services, the state's Family Planning Program, and the termination of pregnancies. The bill prohibits abortion after six weeks of gestation unless an exception is met. Current-law exceptions to abortion time frames are maintained and a new exception is established for cases in which the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. This new exception is available until the 15th week of gestation under the bill.

The bill specifies that abortions, including medical abortions may not be provided through telehealth and that medication intended for the use in a medical abortion may only be dispensed by a physician and may not be dispensed via the U.S. Postal Service or by any other carrier. The bill also prohibits any person, educational institution, and governmental entity from expending state funds for a person to travel to another state to receive services that are intended to support an abortion, unless such expenditure is required by federal law or there is a legitimate medical emergency.

SB 300 also amends the pregnancy support and wellness services network established in s. 381.96, F.S., to expand eligibility for such services to women who have given birth in the past 12 months and to parents or guardians of children under the age of three for up to 12 months.

The bill adds new services and assistance which the network is required to provide, including counseling, mentoring, educational materials, and classes as well as material assistance including clothing, car seats, cribs formula, and diapers. The bill also requires that the Department of Health (DOH) report to the Governor and the Legislature annually on the types, amount, and costs of services provided as well as demographic information on persons who receive such services.

The bill appropriates $25 million in recurring general revenue for the expanded network and specifies that contracted organizations in the network must spend at least 85% of the funds received on providing services and maintaining a hotline.

SB 300 also appropriates $5 million in recurring general revenue, above what is currently appropriated in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), for family planning services provided by the Department of Health pursuant to s. 381.0051, F.S.

The bill makes other technical and clean-up changes, including repealing s. 390.01112, F.S., which is unused; clarifying that the current-law exception for fatal fetal anomalies is available until the third trimester of pregnancy, rather than until fetal viability; and repealing rulemaking language that is no longer applicable.

The provisions of the bill, other than the expansion of the pregnancy support network and the appropriations which are effective upon becoming law, are effective 30 days after one of several events occurs. These events include a Florida Supreme court ruling overturning In re T.W., 2 or one of several other related cases; a Florida Supreme court ruling stating that the privacy clause in the Florida Constitution does not protect the right to abortion; or an amendment to the Florida Constitution which provides the same.

SB 302 Government and Corporate Activism addresses the provision of products and services by financial institutions, the investment of certain state and local government funds, the issuance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) bonds, and procurement of and contracting with vendors by certain state and local entities and educational institutions.

Many members were concerned that there was no need for this provision as the state has previously held onto its pension money and invested in the best interest of confounding money. It was brought up in Fiscal Policy that the state had removed a large sum of money from Black Rock concerning the ESG clause. A few were concerned because this investment was doing well and then was removed for non-monetary reasons.

HB 541 Motor Vehicle Glass addresses provisions of a motor vehicle insurance policy providing comprehensive or combined additional coverage do not apply to the repair or replacement of the damaged windshield of any motor vehicle covered under such policy. Moreover, there is concern that the glass replacement practices of repair shops in conjunction with a multitude of lawsuits may have lead to the increase in motor vehicle insurance premiums for Florida consumers in recent years.

This bill:

  • Expands the definition of "motor vehicle repair" to include advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) calibration or
  • Defines ADAS to mean any motor vehicle electronic safety system that is associated with motor
  • Prohibits a repair shop or its employees from: Offering to a customer anything of value in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair, including ADAS calibration or recalibration, and prohibits a nonemployee who is compensated for soliciting insurance claims from making such offers.
  • Prohibits additionally from, failing to provide electronic or written notice to the customer as to whether the calibration or recalibration of ADAS is required as part of the replacement or repair of motor vehicle glass.
  • Authorizes an insurer to offer to an insured or an applicant for insurance, upon the issuance or renewal of a policy providing comprehensive or combined additional coverage, a deductible of $250 for claims of damage to the windshield of any motor vehicle covered under such policy, which the insured or applicant may decline.
  • Prohibits a policyholder or any other person from entering into an assignment agreement for post-loss benefits for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair under a motor vehicle insurance policy issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2023; provides that any such agreement is void; and, unenforceable, and defines "assignment agreement" for the purposes of this
  • Prohibits insurers, agents and adjusters, and anyone working for them, from influencing the selection of a shop to complete a motor vehicle windshield repair, i.e., "steering" a claim, and establishes related conditions.

SB 598 Higher Educational Facilities Funding revises various provisions related to the Higher Educational Facilities Financing Authority (HEFFA). Specifically, the bill:

  • Clarifies that the term for a new appointee to the HEFFA begins on the later of the dates on which the current term expires or the date of appointment by the governor.
  • Authorizes the authority to conduct meetings and workshops by means of communications media technology, zoom and:
    • Provides notice requirements and participation specifications for meetings and workshops conducted via communication media technology.
    • Specifies that majority voting is for members participating in the meeting, rather than those
  • Authorizes the HEFFA to contract for administrative
    • Modifies the time by which the HEFFA determines the financial responsibility and capability to fulfill a project to at the time the financial agreement is executed.
    • Revises the timeframe within which the authority is required to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature from 2 months to 6 months after the end of the fiscal year.

SB 704 Substance Abuse Prevention expands the authority of pharmacies, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and emergency responders to possess, store, dispense, and administer, as applicable, emergency opioid antagonists. The bill also expands civil and criminal immunities for those who receive, possess, store, or administer an emergency opioid antagonist. Additionally, the bill creates the Statewide Council on Opioid Abatement (Council) within the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for the purpose of enhancing the development and coordination of state and local efforts to abate the opioid epidemic and to support the victims of the opioid crisis and their families.

HB 1013 COVID – 19 Mandates and Treatment Options amends current prohibitions and creates additional prohibitions. The bill:

  • Prohibits businesses, governmental entities, and educational institutions from requiring a person to take a COVID-19 test or wear a facial covering to gain access to or use their services.
  • Prohibits businesses, governmental entities, and educational institutions from discriminating against a person for refusing to comply with a requirement prohibited by the bill, or current law, and specifically prohibits employment discrimination by businesses and governmental entities.
  • Prohibits the use of facial coverings in health care settings, except in compliance with emergency rules required by the bill to be adopted by DOH and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA)

The bill requires DLA to enforce the provisions against businesses and governmental entities and moves enforcement of the current prohibitions against requiring documentation of vaccination or post-infection recovery from DOH to DLA. Similarly, the bill requires DOH to enforce the provisions against educational institutions and repeals the current authority for parents and adult students to pursue declaratory and injunctive relief to enforce the current prohibitions against requiring documentation of COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery.

The bill requires express informed patient consent for the use of COVID-19 treatment alternatives. Practitioners must consider treatment alternatives approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and explain the risks and benefits. It prohibits hospitals from interfering with the patient's right to choose treatment alternatives, under certain circumstances. Finally, the bill grants pharmacists licensure discipline immunity for dispensing a prescribed COVID-19 treatment alternative.

This bill defines emergency opioid antagonist as an autoinjector or intranasal device. We are currently trying to amend this to be inclusive of non-automatic injectable devices.

HB 1025 Government Vehicles provides that any governmental entity that purchases under the state purchasing plan must select vehicles based on the lowest lifetime ownership costs, including costs for operations, maintenance, and fuel when fuel economy data is available.

The bill provides that if a state agency purchases a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, the agency must use ethanol and biodiesel blended fuels or natural gas fuels when available. It also requires state agencies that administer central fueling operations for state-owned vehicles with internal combustion engines to procure biofuels for fleet needs to the greatest extent practicable.

The bill requires DMS to make recommendations before July 1, 2024, to state agencies, state universities, community colleges, and local governments regarding the procurement of electric vehicles, natural gas fuel vehicles, and other vehicles that are powered by renewable energy as specified in law.

HB 1071 Drone Delivery Services Defines:

  • "Drone delivery service" as a person or entity engaged in a business or profession of delivering goods via drone and who is governed by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Defines "drone port" as a stand-alone building that does not exceed 1,500 square feet in area or 36 feet in height; is located in a nonresidential area; is used, or intended for use, by a drone delivery service for the storage, launch, landing and observation of drones; was constructed using Type I or Type II construction as described in the Florida Building Code; and, if greater than one story in height, includes at least one stairwell compliant with the Florida Building Code.
  • Prohibits a political subdivision from withholding the issuance of a business tax receipt to a drone delivery service or enacting or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that prohibits a drone delivery service's operation based on the location of its drone port, but does allow them to enforce generally applicable minimum setback and landscaping regulations.

The bill exempts drone ports from the Florida Building Code and provisions of the Florida Fire Prevention Code concerning fire protection systems.

SB 1098 Withholding or Withdrawal of Life-prolonging Procedures regulates the authority of a court-appointed guardian to consent to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging procedures, or sign an order not to resuscitate, on behalf of a ward. The bill allows the ward's wishes to be followed without delay, but still requires court approval to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging procedures in some cases. Specifically, the bill creates a statute that:

  • Authorizes a guardian of a ward's person to petition a court for authority to consent to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging procedures, if the guardian lacks sufficient authority to consent or if the proposal is in conflict with the wishes of the ward or the ward's next of kin.
  • Requires the court to hold a hearing on the petition if it has been notified of an objection or conflict, or if the court has insufficient information to determine whether the criteria for granting the requested authority has been met.
  • Requires the court to hold a preliminary hearing within 72 hours after the petition is filed, if a hearing is required and exigent circumstances are alleged, and either rule on the requested relief immediately or conduct an evidentiary hearing within 4
  • Allows a guardian without vested authority to consent to the withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures, without a hearing or prior court approval, if:
    • The ward is in a hospital and the ward's primary physician and at least one other consulting physician document that the ward's death is imminent;
    • The guardian has notified known next of kin as to the intent to withhold or withdraw life prolonging procedures and there is no known objection to the withholding or withdrawing of life-prolonging procedures by the ward, the next of kin, or any other interested person, and the hospital ethics committee has met and agrees with the guardian's proposal.

The bill also amends existing statutes to:

  • Require initial and annual guardianship plans to state whether an advance directive or an order to not resuscitate listed therein remains in effect or state the extent to which their authority to make health care decisions has been transferred by the court to the
  • Provide that a surrogate under an advance directive, or an agent under a durable power of attorney, who has retained the authority to make health care decisions under the initial and annual guardianship plans may exercise that authority without additional approval by the court.
  • Provide that any authority to make health care decisions that has been transferred by the court to the guardian may be exercised by the guardian, consistent with the advance directive or the durable power of attorney, and without additional approval by the court, unless there is a conflict over or objection to the guardian's proposed exercise of that authority.

HB 1209 Economic Development makes the following changes to current law:

  • Removes the match requirements.
  • Removes the requirement for local governments and private businesses to make financial or in-kind commitments to the regional organization.

Related to the Rural Infrastructure Fund, the bill:

  • Allows DEO to award grants for up to 75% of the total infrastructure project cost, an increase from 50%.
  • Allows DEO to award grants for up to 100% of the total infrastructure project cost for a project located in a rural community or a rural area of opportunity, if the county is also fiscally constrained.
  • Removes the requirement related to infrastructure feasibility studies and other infrastructure planning activities that grants awarded be limited to 30% of the total project.

Related to the Florida Development Finance Corporation, the bill:

  • Removes the repeal of the corporation in current law.
  • Provides that after July 1, 2023, the corporation may not establish any new residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) agreements.

Related to Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., the bill:

  • Specifies that awards for public infrastructure projects may include projects for workforce The recipient of an award for workforce housing must be a local government in a disproportionately affected county.
  • Defines workforce housing as housing that is affordable to natural persons or families whose total annual household income does not exceed 80% of the median annual adjusted gross income for households.

Related to the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program, the bill:

  • Specifies definitions and changes the phrase "areas of high agricultural unemployment" to "Everglades Agricultural Area and rural areas of opportunity."
  • Specifies that DEO, in cooperation with CareerSource Florida, , must prioritize grants under the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program that assist training programs located in Rural Areas of Opportunity.

HB 1521 Facility Requirements Based on Sex - Currently, Florida law does not address whether businesses, schools, hospitals or prisons are required to provide separate restrooms or changing rooms for people based on their sex. However, the Florida Building Code does require that certain businesses that are open to the public, like public lodging establishments and restaurants, have at least one restroom open to the public. In addition, Florida does not currently make it a crime for a person of one sex to enter a restroom or changing room intended for use by the opposite sex.

The bill:

  • Creates the "Safety in Private Spaces "
  • Requires public and private sector covered entities that maintain a restroom or changing facility to have restrooms separately designated for males and females or a unisex restroom or changing facility.
  • Limits instances when a person may enter a restroom or changing facility designated for the opposite sex to the following circumstances:
    • For assisting or chaperoning a minor child, elderly person, or disabled
    • For law enforcement or governmental regulatory
    • For emergency
    • For custodial, maintenance, or inspection purposes, if not in
    • If the appropriate designated restroom or changing facility is out of order or under repair and the opposite designated restroom or changing facility contains no person of the opposite sex.
  • Makes it a second-degree misdemeanor for a person 18 years of age or older to willfully enter a rest room or changing facility designated for the opposite sex and refuse to immediately depart.
  • Requires educational institutions to establish disciplinary procedures for violators under 18 years
  • Requires all covered entities who must be licensed to operate in the state to submit documentation regarding compliance with restroom and changing facilities requirements, as applicable, upon initial or renewal application for licensure, after July 1,
  • Requires domestic violence centers and correctional institutions to provide separate accommodations for females and males, based on their sex.
  • Makes covered entities who fail to comply with such requirements subject to penalties and licensure or regulatory disciplinary
  • Exempts individuals born with certain verifiable disorders of sex
  • Authorizes the Attorney General to bring a civil action to enforce these provisions against any covered entity, to seek injunctive relief, and to impose a fine of up to $10,000 for any covered entity found to have willfully violated such provisions.
  • Directs fines collected to be deposited in the General Revenue

HB 7063 Taxation provides for the following tax-related provisions designed to benefit both families and businesses. For sales taxes, the bill:

  • Creates permanent exemptions for specified baby and toddler products and clothes, adult incontinence products, oral hygiene products, machinery and equipment to produce renewable natural gas, certain agricultural fencing, and small private investigative agency services.
  • Provides a one-year exemption for certain ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators, refrigerator/freezer combinations, water heaters, and clothes washers and dryers; a one-year exemption for gas ranges and cooktops, and an estimated 13-month reduction in the business rent tax from 5.5% to 4.5%.
  • Creates two 14-day "back-to-school" tax holidays, one in July and August 2023, and one in January 2024, for certain clothing, school supplies, learning aids and puzzles, and personal computers; a 14- day "disaster preparedness" holiday in May and June of 2023 for specified disaster preparedness supplies for families and their pets; a three-month "Freedom Summer" tax holiday from Memorial Day through Labor Day for specified recreational items and activities; and a seven-day "Tool Time" tax holiday in September for tools and equipment needed in skilled trades.

For property taxes, the bill:

  • Makes several changes to expand, clarify, or correct provisions related to homestead benefits for permanently and totally disabled veterans, first responders, and surviving spouses of either;
  • Allows an educational facility to qualify for an exemption if they have a bona fide 98-year lease with nominal payments; and Makes technical and clarifying changes to several sections of existing law.

For corporate income tax, the bill:

  • Adopts the Internal Revenue Code in effect on January 1, 2023, to maintain conformity with federal provisions; and
  • Creates a tax credit for homebuilders that purchase and install residential graywater systems, and for companies that purchase machinery and equipment for use in the production of human breast milk fortifiers.

The bill also delays the imposition of natural gas fuel taxes by two years; provides administrative provisions related to discretionary sales surtaxes found to be unconstitutional; freezes local communications services tax rates for three years; changes a population cap for a tourist development tax provision; exempts certain small business loans from duplicative documentary stamp and intangible tax treatment; clarifies the calculation of a certain penalty as related to the Florida Tax Credit Program, New Worlds Reading Initiative, and Strong Families Tax Credit programs; increases the annual cap of the Strong Families Tax Credit to $20 million; and revises the qualifications to participate in that program.

*Bill summaries provided by House and Senate staff analyses