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Special Session B Summary

With agreement between the Governor’s Office, Senate, and the Florida House, Special Session B began on Monday, February 6 and ended today (Friday) after legislative business concluded. In yet another special session, several of Governor DeSantis’ priorities, including reform of Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek District, out of state Migrant transportation, hurricane related relief fund, collegiate athletic compensation, and providing jurisdiction to the Attorney General for prosecution of certain election crimes, passed the Legislature.

Republican leadership applauded the special session’s success touting passage of bills protecting voter integrity, providing hurricane relief, reorganizing special districts, reforming NIL, and tackling illegal immigration, while Democrats lamented that, “Held mere weeks before General Session, this farce of a Special Session was called to clean up the Governor’s messes and fix his legal woes, not to solve issues facing Floridians.”

The special session was held simultaneously during an already scheduled committee week in Tallahassee. Originally scheduled for two weeks, lawmakers finished early clearing the way for fundraising activities before regular session begins on Tuesday, March 7.

Below are links and summaries of legislation passed this week which will presumably be signed by the Governor when the bills reach his desk.

SB 2-B Emergency Response provides for emergency relief in the wake of the 2022 hurricane season, in which two disastrous hurricanes struck the state of Florida, resulting in widespread destruction of homes, infrastructure, agricultural lands, beaches, and more. On September 28, 2022, Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida as a high-end Category 4 storm which brought heavy rainfall, deadly storm surge, and extensive wind damage to Florida. Just two months later, Hurricane Nicole made landfall on Florida’s east coast causing residential damage, flooding, and shoreline erosion on coastal communities and exacerbated the impacts of Hurricane Ian.

The bill creates the Local Government Emergency Bridge Loan Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity to provide financial assistance to local governments impacted by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole. The bill appropriates $50 million in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue Fund for the program. The bill transfers $650 million to the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund to be used for responding to a declared state of emergency.

SB 4-B Statewide Prosecutor - Current law authorizes the Office of Statewide Prosecution to investigate and prosecute a list of enumerated crimes if certain conditions are met. This bill removes election-related issues from that enumerated list, relocates them to a new paragraph, and more clearly delineates the election related crimes over which the statewide prosecutor has concurrent jurisdiction with the state attorneys to prosecute.

SB 6-B Transportation of Inspected Unauthorized Aliens creates the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program within the Division of Emergency Management. The division will implement a program to facilitate the transport of inspected unauthorized aliens within the United States, consistent with federal law. The division is authorized to contract for services to implement the program, notwithstanding s. 287.057, F.S., relating to competitive procurement laws. The program expires June 30, 2025.

The bill appropriates $10 million to the division for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 for the program. The bill repeals section 185 of ch. 2022-156, Laws of Florida. All payments made pursuant to that section are deemed approved and any unexpended balance of funds appropriated to the Department of Transportation immediately revert.

HB 7-B Intercollegiate Athlete Compensation and Rights modifies provisions relating to intercollegiate athlete compensation and rights in Florida. The bill removes:

  • Requirements regarding compensation that intercollegiate athletes may earn from the use of their name, image, likeness (NIL) and restrictions on institutional involvement in NIL activities.
  • Requirements and prohibitions for postsecondary educational institutions whose intercollegiate athletes seek to earn compensation or to have professional representation.
  • Restrictions relating to contracts for the use of an intercollegiate athlete’s NIL.

HB 7B retains the requirement that institutions offer a financial literacy and life skills workshop for intercollegiate athletes, but requires each workshop to include entrepreneurship, modifies the timing of the training, and requires the second workshop to be more rigorous than the first. The bill protects postsecondary institutions and their staff from liability related to loss of an athlete’s ability to NIL compensation due to routine decisions taken in the course of intercollegiate athletics.

Additionally, the bill removes an unnecessary provision relating to an athlete agent representing an intercollegiate athlete for NIL purposes. However, the bill maintains in statute the requirement that an athlete agent must be licensed for the purposes of contracts that allow an intercollegiate athlete to profit from the commercial use of her or his NIL and be protected from unauthorized appropriation and commercial exploitation of her or his right to publicity.

HB 9-B Reedy Creek Improvement District, Orange and Osceola Counties is a local bill that ratifies and confirms the continued existence of the Reedy Creek Improvement District under a new name, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, and provides legislative intent regarding the district’s authority to raise revenue and pay outstanding bonds and obligations without interruption pursuant to provisions of the Florida Constitution for pre-1968 special districts. The bill retains the district’s necessary authority related to taxation and the issuance of bonds. The bill also makes extensive revisions to the district’s charter, including:

  • Replacing the landowner-elected board of the district with a five-member board appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate confirmation, and provides limitations on operators of any theme park or entertainment complex;
  • Removing the district’s ability to amend its own boundaries without a special act;
  • Providing reporting requirements for the district, including a periodic review of the district’s powers;
  • Removing the district’s ability to own and operate airport facilities, certain types of recreational facilities (such as stadiums, civic centers, and convention halls), and “novel and experimental” facilities (such as a nuclear fission power plant);
  • Removing the district’s ability to spend public funds to advertise businesses, facilities, and attractions within the district, and to levy tolls;
  • Retaining the district’s power to adopt its own planning, zoning, building, and safety codes, while clarifying the application of general law to those codes and requiring any building and safety codes to be substantially similar or provide more stringent standards than the Florida Building Code and Florida Fire Prevention Code; and
  • Removing sections of the charter that duplicate provisions of general law applicable to the district. The bill further provides that, notwithstanding s. 189.0311(2), F.S., the district is not dissolved as of June 1, 2023, but continues in full force and effect under its new name.