Legislative Report | Fifth Week of Session Summary - February 10-14

February 17, 2020 10:33 AM | Anonymous

Tallahassee was busy again this week as legislation spanning the various issues was considered in committee or on the House and Senate floors. We wrapped up week five and as we are approaching the midpoint of the 2020 Legislative Session, priority legislation is beginning to fall into place as legislators aim to conclude session by March 13.

A House bill that Liberty Partners and FAA have been following closely passed its final committee on Thursday. Liberty Partners President Jennifer Green waived in support of the legislation on behalf of the association. HB 1275 by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) would require nonpermanent amusement ride managers to comply with state regulations related to inspections and revises the standards for rules that are adopted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). Most notably, the bill contains amendment language supported by the FAA that clarifies the bill would only effect non-permanent amusement facilities such as carnivals or fairs. This amendment serves as protection to FAA’s members, as permanent amusement facilities will be exempt from the law. In addition to Green speaking in support of the bill, DACS spoke in support of the bill and noted that provisions of the bill will free up inspectors and allow inspectors to more efficiently inspect the temporary rides.

SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) unanimously passed the Senate chamber on Thursday. This critical legislation would extend the scheduled 2020 sunset of VISIT FLORIDA until 2028. Liberty Partners waived in support of this bill during every committee stop and continues to advocate for the full-funding and reauthorization of VISIT FLORIDA.

On Thursday, the House and Senate chambers passed their proposed budgets for FY 2020-21 - HB 5001 and SB 2500. While the Senate proposed a $92.8 billion budget, the House took a more conservative approach by proposing a budget of $91.4 billion that mirrors the amount proposed in Governor DeSantis’ budget proposal. Both the House and Senate proposals highlight significant funding for teacher salary increases, water quality improvements and environmental funding.


Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):

Amusement Rides

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 bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, February 18. The House companion - HB 1275 - by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) unanimously passed the House Commerce Committee on Thursday, February 13 and now heads to the House floor to be debated and voted on by all Representatives.

VISIT FLORIDA

FAA continues to support legislation that would extend the scheduled 2020 sunset of VISIT FLORIDA until 2028. SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) passed the full Senate on Wednesday, February 12 unanimously. The House companion - HB 213 - by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) is still awaiting its first committee hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

VISIT FLORIDA is funded at $52.5 million in the Senate budget, exceeding the Governor’s recommendation of $50 million for the agency. While the House has not allocated any money for VISIT FLORIDA in their budget, various Representatives discussed the need to fund the agency and urged lawmakers to act during Thursday’s House Session. Representative Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Representative Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg) applauded VISIT FLORIDA and highlighted the positive impact that the agency has on smaller, family-owned businesses.

Tourism Development Tax

During Tuesday’s House Ways & Means Committee, the committee chair presented a bill with several dozen proposed tax changes that included expanding the uses of the Tourist Development Tax to include water quality improvement projects. The allowable projects include, but are not limited to, flood mitigation; seagrass or seaweed removal; algae control, cleanup, or prevention measures; and septic to sewer conversion projects. These expansions to the Tourist Development Tax would be mirrored within the Convention Development Tax levied in Duval, Miami-Dade and Volusia counties as well as the Local Option Food and Beverage Tax levied within parts of Miami-Dade County.

If this bill were to pass it would be the biggest threat to expand the uses of the TDT in 20 years. The actual bill has not been made available yet but expect it to become public before this coming Tuesday’s House Ways and Means Committee.

SB 334 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) would authorize counties imposing a tourism development tax to use the tax revenues to promote or incentivize film or television productions in the state. The bill would also require a specified statement to be included in the production’s credits. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Finance and Tax Committee on Tuesday, February 18. The bill does not have a House companion.

Cultural Affairs

HB 757 by Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) would rename the Division of Cultural Affairs as Division of Arts & Culture and provide that the Secretary of State shall be known as "Florida's Chief Arts & Culture Officer". The bill would repeal provisions relating to Cultural Endowment Program short title, legislative intent, definitions and rulemaking. The bill unanimously passed the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, February 13 and will now be considered by all Representatives on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1632 – by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) unanimously passed the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Monday, February 10 and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, February 18.

Significant funding for cultural and museum grants is also proposed in the House and Senate budget proposals. In the Senate proposal, $19,318,091 is appropriated for cultural and museum grants from general revenue. Of this money, $14,618,091 would fund the Department of State's 2020-2021 Cultural and Museum Grants General Program Support ranked list, with the remaining amount going toward a variety of arts, culture and historical projects. In the House's proposed budget, $14,570,870 is appropriated for cultural and museum grants from general revenue, with $13,350,000 appropriated for the Department of State's 2020-21 Cultural and Museum Grants General Program Support ranked list. The remaining money for cultural and museum grants in the House budget would also fund a variety of specific cultural and historical projects. Additionally, equal funding for Culture Builds Florida is provided in both the Senate and House budgets, with both chambers proposing $2,881,168 for the program.

During the House floor budget discussion on Thursday, Representatives stated the economic impact that is a direct result of the agency’s efforts and the data that shows the massive return on investment that the agency provides. A positive component of both budgets that has received support from legislators is the amount of money set aside to fund cultural and historical grant programs. Under the House and Senate proposal, current year funding levels will be maintained, giving libraries, museums and cultural sites much-needed stability.

Lottery Games

HB 991 by Representative Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) would prohibit an electronic device from being used to play any lottery game and would prohibit the Department of Lottery (DOL) from authorizing operation of a specified lottery game. The bill would require DOL to include a specified warning in all advertisements & promotions of lottery games and require contracts between DOL & a vendor to require that the vendor print a specified warning on all lottery tickets. Under the bill, certain funds in the Operating Trust Fund would be used for a specified annual payment for services relating to prevention of compulsive & addictive gambling. The bill passed the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee by a vote of 8-3 on Tuesday, February 11 and now heads to its final committee hearing in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion - SB 1318 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) - has not received a hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

Sports Franchises and Facilities

HB 1369 by Representative Cary Pigman (R-Sebring) would delete provisions authorizing counties to impose specified taxes to pay debt service on bonds related to sports facilities and prohibit a county from leasing specified professional sports franchise facilities. It would prohibit the lease of public lands for purposes related to sports franchises & their facilities and require the lease of a facility on public lands to be at fair market value. The bill would require a sports franchise to repay specified debt incurred by local government related to construction of facilities. The bill unanimously passed the House Commerce Committee on Thursday, February 13 and now moves to the House floor to be debated and voted on by all Representatives. The bill does not have a Senate companion.

Vacation Rentals

HB 1011 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state and prohibit local law, ordinance or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of vacation rentals. The bill would require licenses issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of DBPR to be displayed conspicuously inside a licensed establishment and preempt regulation of advertising platforms for vacation rentals to the state. It would also provide requirements for advertising platforms. The bill is currently awaiting its final committee hearing in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion - SB 1128 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R- Hialeah Gardens) passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee by a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, February 11. The Senate bill now awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

Entertainment Industry

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 is awaiting a hearing in its second stop in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 497 - by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) is still waiting to be heard in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

Regulation of Recreational Activities

HB 647 by Representative Brad Drake (R-Defuniak Springs) would revise provisions relating to recreational vehicle parks, including permit application, preemption, rebuilding of park, abandoned property, ejection of certain persons and removal of property from park and immunity from liability. The bill unanimously passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, February 12 and now awaits a hearing on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 772 – by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) unanimously passed the Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday, February 11 and awaits its final committee stop in the Senate Rules Committee.

Declawing of Cats

SB 48 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) makes it illegal for any person to declaw a cat in Florida. Violations can result in a $1,000 fine and veterinarians found to be declawing the cat are subject to discipline by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. An exemption is made in the instance that a cat is declawed for therapeutic purposes. The bill is awaiting its second hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. There is not a House companion bill.

Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets

HB 705 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would require Department of Education to assist Division of Emergency Management in determining strategies regarding evacuation of persons with pets and would require certain counties to designate shelter that can accommodate persons with pets. It would also specify requirements for such shelters. The bill unanimously passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, February 12 and now to its final committee stop in the House State Affairs Committee. The Senate companion - SB 752 – by Senator Aaron Bean (RJacksonville) unanimously passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Monday, February 10 and awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

Beverage Law

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 has not yet been heard in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

The House companion - HB 583 - by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) is still awaiting its final hearing in the House Commerce Committee.

Captive-bred Animal Culture

SB 1176 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) would create the "Florida Animal Policy Act". The bill would provide duties of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and require the department to submit a list of specified research and development projects with its annual legislative budget request to the Governor and the Legislature. It would require a captive-bred producer to apply to the department for a certificate of registration and create the Captive-bred Animal Culture Advisory Council adjunct to the department. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The House companion - HB 933 - by Representative Clovis Watson (D-Gainesville) is waiting to be heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

Nonservice Animals

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 waiting to be heard in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1814 – by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) has yet to be heard 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 unanimously passed the House Judiciary committee on Wednesday, February 12 and now heads to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1084 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) unanimously passed the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee on Monday, February 10 and is scheduled to be heard in its final committee stop in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 19.

Shark Fins

SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, February 18. The House companion - HB 401 - by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) unanimously passed the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 13 and awaits consideration on the House floor.

Individual Wine Containers

HB 6037 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) would repeal provisions relating to a limitation of size of individual wine containers. The bill has passed the House chamber. The Senate companion - SB 138 - by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is scheduled to receive its first hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee on Monday, February 17.

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 bill unanimously passed the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 13 and moves to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1532 – by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) has yet to be heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Verification of Employment Eligibility

HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) would require public employers, contractors, & subcontractors to use the E-Verify system for specified purposes and prohibits such entities from entering into a contract unless each party uses the E-Verify system. The bill would authorize termination of the contract and require private employers to verify employment eligibility of newly hired employees. The bill is waiting for its first hearing in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion - SB 664 – by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 4-2 on Monday, February 10 and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, February 18.

Monuments

HB 981 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island) would establish the Florida Space Exploration Monument and provide for administration of the monument. The design shall be chosen by committee from entries submitted by the public. DMS would be directed to develop specified plan for placement & cost of the monument & submit the plan to the Governor & Legislature by a specified date. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1260 – by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Monday, February 10 and awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations 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 is still awaiting its first hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 882 – by Senator Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) has not been heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Employment Practices

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 and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 1194 – by Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) is still awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.


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