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Legislative Update - April 28, 2023

At the time of writing this, the Legislature has made good progress in finalizing the FY 2023-24 Budget. Work started with a flurry of conference meetings on Monday negotiating the differences between the House and Senate plans, and steady advancement has been made reaching agreement on individual projects and large allocations alike. Subcommittees wrapped up their work today with remaining unresolved issues "bumped up" to the full appropriations committee, chaired by Senator Doug Broxson and Representative Tom Leek. They are expected to meet through the weekend. Any remaining issues will be bumped up to the Senate President and House Speaker most likely concluding the process on Monday to allow for the mandatory 72 hour "cooling off" period before lawmakers can vote on the budget.

SB 252 Protection from Discrimination Based on Health Care Choices, among other items, amends several statutes in order to prohibit mask mandates; mandates on emergency use authorizations (EUA) vaccinations, messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccinations, and COVID-19 vaccinations; and COVID-19 testing mandates in educational institutions, business entities, and governmental entities.

The bill also prohibits these entities and institutions from requiring proof of a vaccination with one of the specified types of vaccinations, or a COVID-19 test to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the entity or institution. SB 252 passed the Senate this week and is now awaiting action in the House.

Another controversial bill, SB 266 Higher Education, passed along party lines (27-12) in the Senate today. The bill provides additional restrictions on public education institution spending, to include diversity, equity, and inclusion and social and political activism, with exceptions for students organizations, compliance with law, accreditation, and access programs. Among other items it also assigns hiring authority to the president, who may delegate authority to the executive team or individual deans and prohibits a pledge in the admissions or personnel process except those to state or federal law, or the State or United States Constitution. Lastly, it specifies that the faculty grievance process terminates with the university president.

Other Bill Action This Week

HJR 129 Requiring Broader Public Support for Constitutional Amendments or Revisions changes the threshold required to approve an amendment or revision from 60% of the electors voting on the measure to 66.67% of such electors.

The joint resolution has a nonrecurring fiscal impact on the Department of State for the publication of the proposed constitutional amendment in newspapers of general circulation in each county and for publication of booklets or posters with the amendment language for use in polling places. Such requirements would have to be met if the joint resolution passes both houses of the Legislature.

Read 2nd time, amendments failed, read third time; passed (74-35) the floor on 4/28 and is in Senate Messages.

SB 262 Technology Transparency prohibits employees of a governmental entity from using their position or any state resources to communicate with a social media platform to request that it remove content or accounts. Additionally, a governmental entity cannot initiate or maintain any agreements with a social media platform for the purpose of content moderation. The bill provides certain exceptions. 

The bill creates a unified scheme to allow Florida’s consumers to control the digital flow of their personal data. Specifically, it gives consumers the right to: 

  • Confirm and access their personal data.
  • Delete, correct, or obtain a copy of that personal data.
  • Opt out of the processing of personal data for the purposes of targeted advertising, the sale of personal data, or profiling in furtherance of a decision that produces a legal or similarly significant effect concerning a consumer.
  • Opt out of the collection of sensitive data.
  • Opt out of the collection of personal data collected through the operation of a voice recognition feature.

The data privacy provisions of the bill generally apply to businesses that collect Florida consumers’ personal data, make in excess of $1 billion in global gross annual revenues, and meet one of the following thresholds

  • Derives 50% or more if its global gross annual revenues from the sale of advertisements, including from providing targeted advertising or the sale of ads online; 
  • Operates a consumer smart speaker and voice command component service with an integrated virtual assistant connected to a cloud computing service that uses hands-free verbal activation; or
  • Operates an app store or digital distribution platform that offers at least 250,000 different software applications for consumers to download and install.

This bill requires a controller who operates an online search engine to make available an up-to-date plain language description of the main parameters that are most significant in determining ranking and the relative importance of those main parameters, including the prioritization or deprioritization of political partisanship or political ideology in search results.

Bill is placed on Special Order Calendar for 4/28. A similar bill in the House: HB 1547, placed on the Calendar in the House for 2nd reading.

HB 425 Transportation addresses matters related to transportation. The bill:

  • Expands Florida’s existing Move Over Law to include disabled motor vehicles.
  • Requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish standards by which the State Highway System will be graded according to their compatibility with the operation of autonomous vehicles.
  • Codifies the Implementing Solutions from Transportation Research and Evaluating Emerging Technologies (ISTREET) Living Lab within the University of Florida.
  • Provides that a producer of construction aggregates (gravel, sand, etc.) may not represent that an aggregate is certified for use unless such aggregate complies with DOT rules.
  • Requires a local governmental entity to accept electronic proof of delivery for construction materials.
  • Requires DOT contracts for bridge work over navigable waters to require a marine general liability insurance provision in an amount determined by DOT.
  • Requires DOT to implement strategies to reduce project costs while still meeting applicable federal and state standards.
  • Authorizes DOT to share up to 10% of construction cost savings with design and engineering consultants whose input was involved in realizing the cost savings.
  • Provides that stipends paid by DOT to nonselected design-build firms that have submitted responsive proposals for construction contracts, which stipends are contained in DOT’s legislatively-approved work program, are not subject to specified documentation and notification requirements.
  • Authorizes a contractor who desires to bid exclusively on construction contracts with proposed budget estimates of $2 million or less (increased from $1 million) to submit reviewed, rather than audited, financial statements.
  • Authorizes an applicant for a contractor certificate of qualification to submit a request to keep an existing certificate, with the current maximum capacity rating, in place until the expiration date of the existing certificate.
  • Repeals a public records exemption for documents that reveal the identity of a person who has requested or obtained a bid package, plan, or specifications pertaining to any project to be let by DOT.
  • Authorizes specific information panels to be placed on rights-of-way if specified conditions are met.
  • Authorizes DOT to request legislative approval of a proposed turnpike project regardless of how complete the project’s design phase is.
  • Encourages the consolidation of and cooperation between Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).
  • Requires a report regarding the consolidation of the MPOs serving Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties.
  • Revises provisions regarding the Metropolitan Planning Organization Advisory Council.
  • Authorizes DOT to use $5 million from the State Transportation Trust Fund for workforce development
  • Removes the requirement that railroad police be appointed by the Governor and gives them arrest powers in every county in which the railroad operates.
  • Requires DOT to make $20 million available each year to provide for the movement and storage of aggregate.

Read a 3rd time and passed in the House, Received by the Senate and referred to Fiscal Policy. Similar bill in the Senate SB 0064, Placed on Special Order Calendar for 4/28

SB 564 Interchange Fees on Taxes creates F.S. 501.0119, which prohibits an issuer, a payment card network, an acquirer bank, or a processor from charging an interchange fee on any tax that is separately itemized on a sales invoice, sales slip, or other evidence of sale in any electronic payment transaction if the merchant informs a specified entity of such tax amount as part of the authorization or settlement process for such transaction. The merchant must transmit the tax amount data as part of the authorization or settlement process to avoid being charged interchange fees on the tax amount. Section 501.0119, F.S., does not create liability for a payment card network regarding the accuracy of the tax data reported by the merchant. 

A merchant that does not transmit the tax amount data for eligible electronic payment transactions as part of the authorization or settlement process may submit tax documentation to the specified entity no later than 180 days after the date of the electronic payment transaction, and within 30 days, the issuer must credit to the merchant the amount of interchange fees charged on the tax amount of the electronic payment transaction.

An issuer, a payment card network, an acquirer bank, a processor, or other designated entity that has received the tax amount data and that violates these provisions is subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 per electronic payment transaction, and the issuer must refund the interchange fees charged on any tax amount relative to the electronic payment transaction.

An entity, other than the merchant, involved in the facilitation or processing of an electronic payment transaction may not distribute, exchange, transfer, disseminate, or use the data except to facilitate the transaction or as required by law. A violation of this provision constitutes a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUPTA) which may be enforced only by the enforcing authority and subjects the violator to sanctions and penalties provided under the FDUPTA provisions. If such action is successful, the enforcing authority is entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs.

Favorable in rules on 4/24, Committee Substitute Text Filed. 

SB 598 Higher Educational Facilities Financing 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.
    • 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 present.
  • Authorizes the HEFFA to contract for administrative services.
  • 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 598 has passed the Legislature awaiting action from the Governor.

HB 667 Victim’s Right to Candor in Criminal Proceedings amends s. 960.001, F.S., to require that each victim be notified that he or she has the right, if contacted to obtain information relating to a criminal proceeding by an attorney, investigator, or any other agent acting on behalf of the criminal defendant, to be informed of:

  • The person’s name and employer
  • The fact that such person is acting on behalf of the defendant.

Read third time in the House on 4/26, Received by the Senate and referred to Rules. Similar Bill in the Senate: 510, placed on Special Order Calendar for 5/1

HB 783 Emergency Opioid Antagonist revises the definitions of the terms “authorized health care practitioner,” and “caregiver,” in the context of emergency opioid antagonist administration. The changes broaden the definitions of these terms to eliminate unintended restrictions on how and by whom emergency opioid antagonists may be dispensed, possessed, and administered. 

The bill creates the Statewide Council on Opioid Abatement within the Department of Children and Families 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.

Amendment 542946 has been filed in order to include the language “Prefilled injection device delivery system”. The bill was read a third time on the House floor and passed on 4/26.

It's companion, SB 704 has a delete everything amendment pending in the Senate to be taken up on Tuesday. If passed, the bill will bounce back to the House for final passage time permitting.

HB 1013 Protection from Discrimination Based on Health Care Choices 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, wear a facial covering to gain access to or use their services or document vaccination status for any COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA vaccine, or EUA vaccine.
  • 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.
  • Requires businesses, governmental entities, and educational institutions to provide exemptions and reasonable accommodations related to other (non-COVID-19, non-EUA and non-mRNA) vaccines.
  • Prohibits business, governmental entities, and educational institutions from using polices of international public health organizations, unless expressly authorized by state government.
  • 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 documentation requirements related to vaccination status 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 pharmacist’s licensure discipline immunity for dispensing a prescribed COVID-19 treatment alternative.

Passed through the Commerce Committee, put on Calendar for the House. Similar Senate bill: 0252, passed (29-6), engrossed text filed.

SB 1068 Drone Delivery Services amends the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act to define the terms “drone delivery service” and “drone port” as well as prohibit a political subdivision from withholding the issuance of a business tax receipt or development permit, or enacting or enforcing an ordinance or resolution prohibiting a drone delivery service’s operation based on the location of the delivery service’s drone port, but does allow them to enforce generally applicable minimum setback and landscaping regulations.
he bill exempts drone ports, except for their stairwells, from the Florida Building Code.

The bill also exempts drone ports from provisions concerning fire protection systems of the Florida Fire Prevention Code, including the national codes and the Life Safety Code incorporated by reference.

Substituted for identical House bill HB 1071, passed, ordered enrolled and text filed

HB 1191 Use of Phosphogypsum authorizes the Department of Transportation (DOT) to undertake demonstration projects using PG from phosphate production in road construction aggregate material. The bill requires DOT to conduct a study to evaluate the suitability of using PG as a construction aggregate material. DOT may consider any prior or ongoing studies of PG’s road suitability in the fulfillment of this duty. The study and a determination of suitability must be completed by April 1, 2024. Upon DOT’s determination of suitability, PG from phosphate production may be used as a construction aggregate material in accordance with the EPA’s approval for use.

The bill provides that PG used in accordance with an allowed use expressly specified in EPA regulations, or pursuant to an express EPA approval for the specific use, is not solid waste and is an allowed use in this state. The bill also provides that PG may be placed in a PG stack permitted by the Department of Environmental Protection.

HB 1191 Passed the house on 4/26, and is in Senate Messages. It's companion, SB 1258, placed on Special Order Calendar for 5/1.

HB 1209 Economic Development requires an agency agreement that provides state of federal financial assistance to a recipient or subrecipient to include a provision allowing the agency to pay to the county or municipality for verified and eligible performance. 

Related to the Regional Rural Development Grants Program, the bill:

  • 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.
  • 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 cost.

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 housing.
  • Defines workforce housing as rented or leased housing for residents of the eight disproportionately affected counties.

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

  • Provides definitions and changes the phrase “areas of high agricultural unemployment” to “Everglades Agricultural Area and rural areas of opportunity.”
  • Specifies that DEO, must prioritize grants under the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program that assist training programs located in Rural Areas of Opportunity within a certain area. 

Read third time in the house, passed. Received by the Senate: Referred to Fiscal Policy 4/26

HB 1397 Regional Transportation Planning provides legislative intent to explore the dissolution or transfer of the governance, staff, operations, funding, and facilities of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) with the goal of enhancing regional transit service and connectivity in the Tampa Bay Area. The Legislature finds that the coordination of transportation planning, especially regional, is critical to the safe and efficient management, operation, and development of public transit systems considering Florida’s rapid population growth.  

The bill requires the Department of Transportation (DOT), or its consultant, to conduct a study on the potential dissolution of HART. 

Read for a third time and passed on the House floor on 4/26. Sent to and received by the Senate; referred to Fiscal Policy.

Similar Senate bill -1532, Placed Calendar for on 2nd Reading.

HB 1445 Employee Organizations Representing Public Employees requires a public employee who desires to join an employee organization to sign and date a membership authorization form, which must contain certain information. An employee organization is required to revoke an employee’s membership upon the employee’s written request and may not limit an employee’s right to revoke membership to certain dates.

The bill prohibits an employee organization that has been certified as a bargaining agent for a unit of public employees from having its dues and uniform assessments deducted from the salaries of employees in the unit and collected by the employer. 

HB 1445 requires an employee organization certified to represent public employees to include certain membership information and verification documentation in its registration renewal application.

Identical Senate bill 0256, enrolled text filed on 4/27, Substituted for said bill on 4/25, laid on table.

SB 1664 Economic Programs eliminates Enterprise Florida Inc. and separates its functions and allocations between DEO and the Department of Commerce.

This bill additionally repeals a score of incentive programs that have been deemed obsolete or expired.
Refer to the bill language for more details.

Favorable in Fiscal Policy and placed on calendar for 2nd reading. Similar House bill 5, placed on Special order Calendar for 4/28

*Bill summaries provided by House and Senate staff analyses