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Legislative Update - March 31, 2023

The end of this week marks the halfway point of the 2023 Regular Session. House and Senate budgets have passed the appropriations committees and now head to the respective House and Senate floors next week for debate, possible amendments, and passage. Once passed, budget conference will be announced to align the numbers into one spending plan.

Over the last several years the House has put more economic development incentive programs are coming under scrutiny. Introduced this session, HB 5 Economic Programs eliminates Enterprise Florida, which was created by the Legislature in 1996 to help diversify Florida’s tourism and agriculture based economy by recruiting businesses to the state by offering tax exemptions and incentives.

The bill continues to move through House committees, but there is no Senate companion currently, so the path for HB 5 is unclear at this point, although there appears to more momentum this year to eliminate or drastically revamp the economic incentive program than in the past.

Governor DeSantis signed HB 1 School Choice this week that makes school choice universal in Florida. It expands eligibility for scholarships to any student who is a resident of Florida and is eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a public school.

The bill expressly authorizes any school in Florida, including public charter schools, to permit a student to enroll part-time and provides that the student will be funded proportionally based on their time of attendance or as contracted services.

Bills Moving Through Committees This Week

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.

The bill provides for the repeal of the following programs and incentives; however, the bill authorizes continuation of payments for existing related commitments:

  • Urban High-Crime Area Job Tax Credit Program
  • Professional Sports Franchise Incentive
  • Entertainment industry tax credit
  • Motorsports Entertainment Complex
  • Capital Investment Tax Credit
  • Spring Training Baseball Franchises
  • Qualified defense and space flight tax refund
  • Qualified target industry businesses tax refund
  • International Game Fish Association World Center
  • Florida Small Business Technology Program
  • High-Impact Sector Performance Grants
  • New Markets Development Program
  • Economic Gardening Programs
  • Microfinance programs
  • Quick Action Closing Fund
  • Economic Development Transportation Projects
  • Innovation Incentive Program
  • Office of Film and Entertainment
  • Florida Small Business Development Center Network
  • Florida Film Advisory Council - Scripps Florida Funding Corporation
  • Entertainment industry sales tax exemptions
  • Cooperative advertising matching grants program

The Revenue Estimating Conference estimated the total state and local government revenue impact of the bill in Fiscal Year 2023-24 to be $24.1 million ($87.3 million recurring).

HB 7 Pregnancy and Parenting Support provides pregnancy support services and wellness services to eligible clients. This bill expands the types of services that may be provided through the FPSSP to include parenting services, nonmedical material assistance, counseling, mentoring, education materials, and classes on pregnancy, parenting, adoption, life skills and employment. The bill also expands eligibility for services to include adoptive parents of children under age three and their families.

Current law prohibits abortions if the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks, with a medical exception and an exception for fatal fetal anomalies. The bill prohibits abortions if the gestational age of the fetus is more than 6 weeks and retains the medical and fatal fetal anomaly exceptions.

HB 7 adds an exception for rape and incest if the fetus is less than 15 weeks of age and the woman seeking the abortion provides certain documentation. The bill also deletes all provisions in current law related to the viability standard, including the prohibition against abortions after viability, as these provisions are no longer necessary.

Current law does not regulate how physicians dispense these abortion-inducing drugs, or the use of telehealth to provide abortions. The bill requires abortion-inducing drugs to be dispensed in person by a physician, and expressly prohibits the use of telehealth for abortions.

The bill prohibits the use of state funds to pay for the travel out-of-state to obtain an abortion except for cases of medical emergencies and when federal law requires states to pay for such travel.

HB 0039 Emergency Opioid Antagonists requires each Florida College System institution and state university to have a supply of emergency opioid antagonists in clearly marked locations within certain residence halls or dormitory residences.

The bill requires these easily accessible emergency opioid antagonists to be administered by emergency personnel only. There was concern from multiple representatives about the ability of others to administer the antagonist. Representative Edmonds notes a “7-minute response time” from EMS. Additionally, these personnel and the institution that employs them have civil and criminal immunity under suspected overdose laws and the Good Samaritan Act.

While supporting the bill, Representative Hawkins wants to make sure that moving forward there is push for student training on the device. Suggesting that during orientation, etc. there be training as “time is of the essence”.

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 house of the Legislature, from two to six months after the end of its fiscal year.

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 645 Unmanned Air Craft Systems Act amends 330.41 FS to expand the definition of “critical infrastructure facility” to include:

  • A water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station
  • A liquid natural gas or propane gas terminal or storage facility, regardless of capacity
  • A refinery
  • A gas processing plant including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas
  • A seaport
  • An inland port or other facility serving as a point of intermodal transfer of freight
  • An airport
  • A spaceport territory
  • Certain military installations and armory
  • A dam or other structures such as locks, floodgates, or dikes, which are designed to maintain or control the level of navigable waterways.

The bill removes the requirement that a person or governmental entity seeking to restrict or limit the operation of drones near infrastructure or facilities must apply to the Federal Aviation Administration for such designation under s. 2209 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. The bill removes the provision that a drone operating in transit for commercial purposes can operate over a critical infrastructure facility.

SB 0908 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act revises the definition of “critical infrastructure facility” for purposes of the operation of unmanned aircraft systems, or “drones,” over or near certain facilities and structures to include: water intake structures; water treatment facilities; wastewater treatment plants; pump stations; certain deep-water ports; railroad switching yards; certain airports; certain spaceport territories; certain military installations; or certain dams or other structures, such as locks, floodgates, or dikes, which are designed to maintain or control the level of navigable waterways.

The federal Modernization Act (FAA) allowed the FAA to safely open the nation’s airspace to unmanned aircrafts. The FAA is required to regulate the use of this with the emphasis being safety, efficiency, and national security. Additionally, there are a number of regulations that apply to the use of unmanned aircraft systems. Do to the fact that the federal rule has not been issued providing a process for the granting of a drone specific flight restriction, states have attempted to protect infrastructure and facilities deemed to be critical and in need of such drone-flight restriction.

There was question from Senator Pizzo about the ability for private entities to engage in the no fly restriction as well. It was discussed that if they fall under the state’s definition of ‘critical infrastructure facility’ they gain access to being included as a “no-fly” zone for unmanned aircraft systems.

HB 1071 Drone Delivery Services was amended to define “drone delivery service” as a person or entity engaged in a business or profession of delivering goods via drone and who is guided by federal law. In addition to this it defines a drone port (the place in which drones will land and deliver) and outlines what is allowed by regulation to be a drone port.

The bill also outlines that “political subdivisions” are not allowed to withhold the issuance of a business tax receipt.

HB 1247 Effective Access to Education Grants proposes to tie institutional eligibility for participation in the EASE program to performance against the metrics. Under the bill, an institution must meet or exceed the minimum benchmark on any three out of the five metrics to be eligible for its students to receive funding.

The bill clarifies transparency requirements and adds a disclosure requirement. The institution’s president or chief administrative officer must certify the institution is in compliance with the reporting, disclosure, and transparency requirements in order for the institution to be eligible for EASE funds.

 The House proposed General Appropriations Act provides $34.2 million for costs associated with implementing provisions of the bill.

SB 1664 Economic Development modifies provisions related to economic development and the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), including:

  • Exempting any loan made with funds administered by the DEO from the documentary stamp tax
  • Specifying that funding provided under the Regional Rural Development Grant Program are not matching grants and removing the requirement that an applicant must show proof that each local government and the private sector made a financial or in-kind commitment to the regional organization in order to receive funding
  • Removing the requirement that repaid funds from the Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Fund be matched in order to be retained to fund future loans
  • Revising the uses of the Rural Infrastructure Fund to remove the requirement that grants be linked to financing specific projects
  • Specifying that the term “public infrastructure projects” includes projects for workforce housing in terms of awards that may be provided through Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc.

The bill exempts loans made with funds administered by the DEO from the documentary stamp tax, which could result in a positive fiscal impact for loan recipients. The bill does not affect state revenues or expenditures relating to the Rural Development Grants Program, Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, and the Rural Infrastructure Fund.

*Bill summaries provided by House and Senate staff analyses