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Legislative Update - March 17, 2023

Today concludes the second week of the 60-day 2023 regular session and more importantly is St. Patrick’s Day; Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Committee meetings are in full swing with leadership priorities beginning to move through the process and members working the respective committee chairs to have their bills heard.

Rumors are that initial budgets may be released by the chambers as early as next week. If so, the Senate and House will begin the process of hearing and amending their spending plans towards budget conference, where appointed committee members will hammer out the differences between the two plans before the end of session on May 5th.

Below are some of the major issues that moved through committee this week.

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

  • Access their personal information;
  • Delete or correct that personal information; and
  • Opt out of the sale or sharing of their personal information.

The Act generally applies to businesses that collect Florida consumers’ personal information, make in excess of $1 billion in gross revenues, and meet one of the following thresholds:

  • Derives 50% or more if its global annual revenues from providing targeted advertising or the sale of ads online; or

Operated 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.

The bill also adds “biometric data,” “genetic information,” and “geolocation data” to the definition of “personal information” under the Florida Information Protection Act. As such, entities that possess fingerprints, DNA, and other biological or physiological identifying information must take reasonable measures to protect that data and report data breaches.

SB 1068 Drones 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 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. The bill also provides that drone ports are exempt from the Florida Building Code and the Florida Fire Prevention Code, including the national codes and the Life Safety Code incorporated by reference.

SB 254 Treatments for Sex Reassignment creates regulations relating to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures, as that term is defined in the bill. The bill:

  • Creates a new section of statute relating to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act regarding court jurisdiction;
  • Prohibits the expenditure of state funds by specified entities for sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures;
  • Prohibits sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures for patients younger than 18 years of age, except that prescription treatments may continue for such patients whose treatment was commenced before, and is still active on, the bill’s effective date, under specified parameters;
  • Creates requirements for voluntary, informed consent that must be met in order for a patient 18 years of age or older to be treated with sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures;
  • Provides that only allopathic or osteopathic physicians may provide sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures;
  • Creates criminal penalties for the provision of sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures in violation of the bill’s prohibition or requirements;
  • Provides that a practitioner who is arrested for the crime of providing sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures to a patient younger than 18 years of age may have his or her license suspended via emergency order of the Department of Health (DOH); and Requires that any hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or physician’s office registered for the provision of office surgery, must provide a signed attestation to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) or the DOH, as applicable, that the facility or office does not offer or provide sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures for children, except those qualifying for the exception under the bill, and also does not refer such patients to other providers for those treatments.

SB 284 Energy revises the vehicle procurement requirements for the state purchasing plan. Specifically, the bill requires vehicles of a given use class to be selected for procurement based on the lowest lifetime ownership costs, including costs for operations, maintenance, and fuel when fuel economy data is available, rather than on the greatest fuel efficiency available, when fuel economy data is available. The current exemption to this requirement is continued for emergency response vehicles.

The bill requires, when available, the use of ethanol and biodiesel blended fuels and natural gas fuel when a state agency purchases a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

The bill requires the Department of Management Services to make recommendations before July 1, 2024, regarding the procurement of electric vehicles and natural gas fuel vehicles and other vehicles powered by renewable energy. The recommendations must include best practices for integrating these vehicles into existing fleets.

The bill expands the definition of “single-trade inspection” for purposes of building code inspection services to include inspections of the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and solar energy and energy storage installations or alterations. This allows the property owner to contract with a private provider for the inspection services rather than rely solely on the local government code inspectors.

HB 541 Motor Vehicle Glass addresses several issues regarding motor vehicle glass replacements and repairs. Some motor vehicle glass repair shops (repair shop) currently offer incentives, including cash and gift cards, in exchange for a consumer filing an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass repair or replacement. Many industries and professions currently prohibit incentives in exchange for an act that would earn the inducer additional income.

The bill provides that a repair shop may not offer a customer a rebate, gift, gift card, cash, coupon, or other thing of value in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair, including calibration or recalibration of an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). The bill prohibits an employee of a repair shop or a compensated nonemployee from offering such an incentive. It establishes that it is a violation of law for a repair shop, or its employee, to fail to provide notice to a customer whether the calibration or recalibration of an ADAS is required.

The bill also provides a definition of ADAS as a motor vehicle electronic safety system associated with motor vehicle glass and designed to support the driver and motor vehicle in a manner intended to increase motor vehicle safety and reduce losses associated with motor vehicle crashes.

The bill allows an insurer, when issuing or renewing a policy providing comprehensive coverage or combined additional coverage, to offer an insured or applicant a deductible of $250 for claims of damage to the windshield of a motor vehicle. The insured or applicant may decline the offer of the deductible. The bill also establishes that, if a deductible for comprehensive coverage or combined additional coverage is applied to a loss that includes damage in addition to windshield damage, no windshield damage deductible may apply.

HB 541 prohibits a policyholder, or another person, from signing an AOB for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair, including, but not limited to, calibration or recalibration of an ADAS, under an motor vehicle insurance policy issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2023.

SB 306 Catalytic Converters creates the Catalytic Converter Antitheft Act, which addresses tampering with and theft of a catalytic converter, a device the bill defines as an emission control device that is designed to be installed and operate in a motor vehicle to convert toxic gases and pollutants in the motor vehicle’s exhaust system into less toxic substances via chemical reaction. There have been numerous incidents throughout the United States of catalytic converters being detached from motor vehicles and stolen due to precious metals contained in the devices.

The bill requires recordkeeping and records inspection and disclosure regarding certain transactions involving a catalytic converter, and punishes certain unlawful transactions involving a catalytic converter.

HJR 129 Requiring Broader Public Support for Constitutional Amendments 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.

The joint resolution, if passed by the Legislature, would be considered by the electorate at the next general election on November 5, 2024. If adopted at this election, the joint resolution would take effect January 7, 2025.

HB 3 Government and Corporate Activism expands the directive to cover all funds invested by state and local governments, including general revenue, trusts dedicated to specific purposes, money held by retirement plans, and surplus funds. Investment decisions, including written policies and the exercise of shareholder rights, must be driven solely by pecuniary factors, and may not sacrifice investment return to promote non-pecuniary factors. The Attorney General is authorized to bring civil or administrative actions to enforce provisions of the bill.

The term “pecuniary factor” is defined as a factor that is expected “to have a material effect on the risk or return of an investment based on appropriate investment horizons consistent with applicable investment objectives and funding policy. The term does not include the consideration of the furtherance of any social, political, or ideological interests.”

Additionally, the bill prohibits both the state Division of Bond Finance and specified public bond issuers from issuing an environmental, social, or corporate governance (ESG) bond, paying for the services of another to verify or certify a public bond as an ESG bond, or contracting with rating agencies that use ESG scores in a manner that directly impacts the issuer’s bond ratings.

For government contracting, the bill prohibits all units of state and local government from: 1) considering social, political, or ideological beliefs when evaluating prospective vendors, or 2) giving any preference to a vendor based on social, political, or ideological beliefs. State and local governments may only deposit funds in banks and savings associations that have been designated as a Qualified Public Depository (QPD).

The bill prohibits certification as a QPD if a bank has engaged in an “unsafe and unsound business practice” by denying or canceling services based on political beliefs or affiliations, religious beliefs or affiliations, business sector, or any other factor that is not a quantitative, impartial, risk-based standard, or applying social credit scores. QPDs will be required to certify compliance with this requirement.

HB 1019 Independent Postsecondary Educational Grants creates educational grants to students enrolled in certain independent for-profit colleges and universities. Specifically, the bill makes institutions that meet specified requirements eligible to receive funds from the Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) Grant program. The bill authorizes any full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate student, who is registered at an independent for-profit college or university that meets specified requirements, to be eligible to receive an EASE grant.

HB 257 Higher Educational Facilities Financing revises several provisions relating to the makeup and operation of HEFFA, including board appointee terms, public meetings and workshops, quorum and participation at such meetings and workshops, audit deadlines, contract administration, means of defining financial responsibility in financing agreements, and legislative determinations with respect to HEFFA’s purpose. Specifically, the bill:

  • Modifies the legislative findings and declarations by clarifying the necessity of the public interest of the provisions enacted as a matter of legislative determination.
  • Specifies the start of a term when the Governor appoints a new member to the HEFFA as beginning on the later of the date the current term expires or the date the new member was appointed.
  • Allows for the HEFFA to conduct a public meeting or workshop by means of communications media technology. For meetings or workshops being conducted via communication media technology, the bill requires the HEFFA to provide notice requirements for such meetings and workshops. This bill also revises the requirement for the HEFFA to take action by defining a quorum and the necessity of an affirmative vote of a majority of members participating in the meeting.
  • Authorizes the HEFFA to contract with an entity as its agent and to assist the HEFFA with administrative matters.
  • Prohibits the HEFFA from entering into a financing agreement with a participating institution for a project, if at the time the agreement is executed, the institution is not financially responsible and not fully capable of and willing to fulfill its obligation under the financing agreement.
  • Increases the timeframe that the HEFFA is required to submit a report to the Governor and the presiding offices of each house of the Legislature, from two to six months after the end of its fiscal year.

HB 669 Resiliency Energy Environment Florida Programs makes several changes to Florida’s PACE law, including:

  • Using the term “Resiliency Energy Environmental Florida (REEF) program” to refer to the programs used in Florida to provide PACE financing for qualifying improvements;
  • Authorizing the use of PACE financing for refinancing and for improvements on new construction;
  • Modifying eligibility requirements;
  • Allowing the total of the mortgage-related debt and the amount of any PACE assessments on a property to reach 100% of the property’s fair market value;
  • Requiring certain disclosures to be made to residential property owners prior to or at the time of signing a PACE financing agreement;
  • Requiring certain disclosures to be made verbally, by telephone, prior to issuance of a notice to proceed;
  • Establishing a maximum term for PACE assessments;
  • Prohibiting the use of certain financing tools through PACE;
  • Establishing provisions governing PACE program administrators’ enrollment and oversight of contractors that install qualifying improvements on residential real property;
  • Prohibiting the use of certain terms in PACE marketing; and
  • Requiring an annual report from PACE program administrators.

HB 1397 Regional Transportation Planning provides legislative intent to explore the merger or dissolution of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) 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 merger of HART and PSTA into one entity responsible for regional planning and operation of a public transit system covering the Tampa Bay Area.

The bill provides required elements of the study. As part of the study, DOT, or its consultant, must also study the potential advantages and disadvantages of the dissolution of HART and PSTA.

The bill requires DOT to submit a report detailing the results of the study to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1, 2024.

HB 5 Economic Programs eliminates Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI) and provides that all duties, functions, records, pending issues, existing contracts, administrative authority, administrative rules, and unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other public funds relating to the programs in EFI are transferred by a type two transfer to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

The bill provides that VISIT FLORIDA and the Florida Sports Foundation may enter into agreements with DEO to continue any existing programs, activities, duties, or functions necessary for their operation.