Lawmakers, advocates and guests were in Tallahassee this week as the Legislature convened for the first week of the 2020 Legislative Session.
During Tuesday’s House Session, Speaker Jose Oliva’s opening address focused on the state of healthcare in Florida. A priority of his since becoming Speaker, healthcare reform will once again be of utmost importance to Oliva in the coming months. During his address, Speaker Oliva also touched on other significant issues of the 2020 session including education, the environment and child welfare.
Senate President Bill Galvano did not touch on policy goals but instead focused on civility and unity during his opening address on Tuesday. President Galvano encouraged all Senators to work together in a bipartisan effort in order to pass meaningful policy for all Floridians. President Galvano also thanked Governor DeSantis and Speaker Oliva for their service and expressed his eagerness in working with them to craft an impactful budget and legislation.
Following the House and Senate sessions, Governor Ron DeSantis provided his State of the State Address. In front of lawmakers and guests, Governor DeSantis touted Florida’s historically low unemployment rate, top-tier higher education system, low crime rate and strong fiscal health. He thanked Speaker Oliva, President Galvano, Lieutenant Governor Nunez and First Lady DeSantis for their leadership and dedication to moving Florida forward. The Governor also touched on issues such as the protection of natural resources and the environment, the need for healthcare reform and the importance of Florida being a low-tax, business-friendly state.
While most of the focus this week related to the ceremonial beginning of session, impactful legislation continued to make its way through the legislative process. An exciting two months are ahead, as budget and policy battles loom.
Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):
FAA supports legislation that would extend the scheduled 2020 sunset of VISIT FLORIDA until 2028. SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) is awaiting it’s second committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development. The House companion - HB 213 - by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) is awaiting its first committee hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.
SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) would require amusement ride managers to meet certain requirements and revise standards for rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services relating to amusement rides. The bill would also remove the exemption from safety standards for certain museums and institutions and revise inspection standards for amusement rides. The Senate bill is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. A House companion - HB 1275 – by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) was filed on January 10 but has not been referred to a committee.
SB 530 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) would create the Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. Projects that are eligible for the rebate program must provide the highest return on investment and economic benefit to the state. The bill unanimously passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee in December and is awaiting its second hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 497 - by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) has yet to be heard in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.
SB 482 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would repeal provisions relating to limits to the size of wine and cider containers. Provisions that allow patrons of a restaurant to take partially consumed bottles of wine off the restaurant’s premises would also be changed under this law. The bill is still awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 583 - by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) passed the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 15, and now heads to its final stop in the House Commerce Committee.
HB 243 by Representative Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) would prohibit nonservice animals from entering certain food service establishments or places of business. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation would also create and update a website for filed complaints. The bill is still awaiting its first hearing in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. A Senate companion - SB 1814 – by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) has been filed and is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
Emotional Support Animals
HB 209 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would prohibit discrimination in a rental dwelling to a person with a disability or disability-related needs who has an emotional support animal. It would also prohibit a landlord from requiring such person to pay extra compensation and authorize the landlord to request certain written documentation. The bill passed the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee on Thursday, January 16, and now moves to its final committee stop in the House Judiciary Committee. The Senate companion - SB 1084 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, January 14, and now awaits a hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.
SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill has yet to be heard in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The House companion - HB 401 - by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) passed the House Business and Professions Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 15, and now moves to its final stop in the House State Affairs Committee.
Public Records/Trade Secrets
HB 799 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would provide a public record exemption for trade secrets held by an agency, provide notice requirements and exceptions and provide that the agency employee is not liable for release of records in compliance with act. The bill would also provide applicability and future legislative review & repeal. The House bill passed the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee on Thursday, January 16, and now moves on to the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion - SB 1532 – by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) has been filed and is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
Heat Illness Prevention
HB 513 by Representative Carlos Smith (D-Winter Park) would require certain employers to provide drinking water, shade, & annual training to employees & supervisors and require the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services & the Department of Health to adopt specified rules. The House bill has been referred to the House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee but has not been heard. The Senate companion - SB 882 – by Senator Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
HB 889 by Representative Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville) would create the “Florida Family Leave Act”. The bill would require an employer to allow certain employees to take paid family leave to bond with a minor child upon the child's birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The bill would provide requirements, limitations, & duties and provide for civil action & penalties & criminal penalty. The legislation would prohibit specified employment practices on basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. It would also provide for leave, maintenance of health coverage, reasonable accommodation & transfer, & return rights for an employee who is disabled from pregnancy, childbirth, or medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The bill is currently awaiting its first committee hearing in the House Business & Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 1194 – by Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) has yet to be heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.