With only three weeks remaining in the 2020 Legislative Session, lawmakers and advocates begin to set their sights on Sine Die on March 13. As the end of session nears, it is becoming clear which bills have the momentum to get across the finish line and which bills will not pass. While there was no action taken on the budget this week, it is expected that the House and Senate will begin the budget conference process in the coming days.
A Senate bill that Liberty Partners and FAA have been following closely passed its first committee this week, with Liberty Partners Vice President Melanie Bostick speaking in support of the legislation on behalf of the association. SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) unanimously passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday and awaits its second committee stop in the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill specifies that temporary amusement rides such as carnival or fair rides must be inspected by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) each time the ride is set up at a new location. Liberty Partners and FAA have worked to ensure that permanent rides are exempt from these frequent inspections and have an added layer of protection. We will continue to work in lockstep with FDACS and FAA to keep this important provision in the bill.Another bill of importance to FAA moved forward in the Senate this week. SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the sale or exportation of shark fins in the state and would ban the importation of shark fins into Florida. However, commercial fishermen that obtain a federal permit on January 1, 2020 to catch sharks and seafood dealers that possess legally processed, handled and transported sharks or shark fins will not be affected by this bill. Liberty Partners will continue to monitor this legislation closely on behalf of FAA.
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee passed their tax package - HB 7097. The legislation contains several provisions, including a reduction in the business rent tax, seven-day Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday and three-day Back-to-School Tax Holiday. However, a particular portion of the tax package dealing with tourist development taxes (TDT) raises concern with FAA. Under the bill, the usage of these taxes would be expanded to include funding for water quality improvement projects in counties and cities across Florida. Additionally, the TDT usage expansions would apply to 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. During Wednesday’s committee meeting, Melanie Bostick addressed the committee on behalf of FAA. In her testimony, Bostick commended the committee on reducing the state’s business rent tax but expressed FAA’s opposition to the expansion of TDT dollars and asked the committee to reconsider this issue. The Florida Retail Association and Greater Miami Beaches and Hotel Association also spoke in opposition to this aspect of the bill. We will continue to fight on behalf of FAA to ensure that the expanded usage of these dollars are not included in the final tax package.
Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):
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.
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.
Tourism Development Tax
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 unanimously passed the Senate Finance and Tax Committee on Tuesday, February 18 and now moves to the Senate floor for consideration. The bill does not have a House companion.
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 unanimously passed the House Commerce Committee on Thursday, February 20 and now moves to the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1318 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) - has not received a committee hearing.
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 has moved to the House floor and is awaiting consideration by all Representatives. The bill does not have a companion in the Senate.
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 passed the House Commerce Committee by a vote of 14-9 on Thursday, February 20 and moves to the House floor for full consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1128 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R- Hialeah Gardens) awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules 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 has not been heard in its second stop in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 497 - by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) has not received its first hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.
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.
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 has passed all of its committee references now awaits a hearing on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 772– by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
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 has passed all
committees and is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on Wednesday, February 26. The Senate companion - SB 1632 – by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) unanimously passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, February 18 and now awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
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 State Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 20 and now heads to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 752 – by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) is scheduled to receive its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 26.
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 received its first committee hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 583 - by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) is 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 has not received its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The House companion - HB 933 - by Representative Clovis Watson (D-Gainesville) has not been heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
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 has not been heard in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1814 – by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) has not received a 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 has passed all committees and is awaiting to be heard on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1084 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) unanimously passed the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 19 and is scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor on Wednesday, February 26.
SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill unanimously passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, February 18 and is scheduled to receive its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 26. The House companion - HB 401 - by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) has passed all committees 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) was not considered 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 has passed all committees and moves to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1532 – by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) has not been 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 has not received its first hearing in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion - SB 664 – by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee by a vote of 3-2 on Tuesday, February 18 and awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
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 has yet to be heard in the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1260 – by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) 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 has not been heard 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.
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 has not been heard in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 1194 – by Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) has not been heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.