Crossing the halfway point of the 2017 Annual Legislative Session, we now begin the sprint towards Sine Die, the conclusion of session on May 5. Therefore, many of the subcommittees have conducted their final hearings and the calendar for week 6 is a short one with meetings scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday only.
The main order of business next week is for both the House and Senate to pass their respective budget proposals. Once both chambers have passed their budget bills, the two sides can begin negotiations on the 2017-2018 state budget.
However, the budget is not the only item of business headed to conference. The House took up the Senate bill on gambling (SB 8) and amended the entirety of their proposed gambling bill (HB 7037) onto the Senate version and sent it back. Due to the tremendous differences between the two proposals, it is likely the Legislature will take this issue into conference negotiations as well.
Week 6 - The Week Ahead
On Wednesday, both the House and Senate are scheduled to be on the floor for debate on their 2017-2018 General Appropriations bill. Upon passage, this will put them in the posture to begin budget conference as early as next week.
On Thursday, the House is scheduled to once again be in session to finish any remaining issues that are on the special order calendar. Meanwhile, the Senate will continue to hold appropriations meetings to pass any additional legislation with an appropriations impact.
Week 5 Activity
VISIT FLORIDA Funding
At this time, only the Senate proposed budget maintains the $76 million level of funding. The House began their budget negotiations funding Visit Florida at only $25 million.
Protection of Tourism Development Taxes
SB 68 – by Sen. Denise Grimsley (MONITOR) Relating to Tourist Development Tax
This bill is awaiting its fourth and final committee of reference in the full Appropriations Committee.
Stop the Expansion of Gaming in Florida
SB 8 – by Sen. Bill Galvano (OPPOSE) Relating to Gaming
SB 8 was passed by the Senate on March 30 by a vote of 32-6 and sent to the House. This bill renews portions of the Seminole Compact, de-couples racing facilities and allows for significant expansion of gaming in Florida.
HB 7037 – by Rep. Mike LaRosa (MONITOR) Relating to Gaming
On April 5, the House took up SB 8, amended the language of HB 7037 on to SB 8, passed it by 73-40 and sent it back to the Senate. This bill renews portions of the Seminole Compact, does not de-couple racing facilities and prohibits expansion of gaming in Florida.
Ensure Private Property Rights are Protected
SB 646 - by Sen Greg Steube (MONITOR) Relating to Concealed Weapons or Firearms
The Senate Judiciary temporarily postponed this bill in committee but is anticipated to take it up at the next hearing. This bill provides that a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm who is lawfully carrying a firearm does not violate certain provisions if the firearm is temporarily and openly displayed.
HB 779 by Rep. Neil Combee (MONITOR) Relating to Weapons and Firearms
The House passed HB 779 on April 4 by a vote of 80-34. This bill reduces penalties applicable to a person licensed to carry concealed weapon or firearm for first or second violation of specified provisions relating to openly carrying weapons; provides that person licensed to carry concealed weapon or firearm does not violate certain provisions if firearm is temporarily & openly displayed.
Tax Cuts for Commercial Leases
HB 7109 - by Ways and Means (MONITOR) related to Taxation
This bill is the House's omnibus tax package and includes, among other provisions, a temporary cut in the commercial rent tax by 1.5 percentage-point starting January 1, 2018. Two years later, the rate would rise to 5.5 percent, a mark intended to be permanent. The Senate is currently proposing a reduction of the 6 percent commercial rent tax by a single percentage point.
Expansion of Florida State Park Discount Programs
SB 64 – by Sen. Aaron Bean (SUPPORT) Relating to State Park Fees
SB 64 provides for free annual state park entrance passes and a 50 percent discount on state park base campsite fees to foster families. It also provides for a one-time free annual state park entrance pass at the time of adoption of children with special needs. The bill passed the Appropriations committee last week and will now head to the Senate floor.
HB 185 – by Rep. Larry Lee (SUPPORT) Relating to State Park Fees
HB 185 provides for free annual state park entrance passes and a 50 percent discount on state park base campsite fees to foster families. It also provides for a one-time free annual state park entrance pass at the time of adoption of children with special needs. This bill is now headed to its final committee of reference, the Government Accountability committee.
Protect Florida's Archaeological Treasures
SB 214 – by Sen. Greg Steube (SUPPORT) Relating to Division of Historical Resources
HB 6019 – by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (SUPPORT) Relating to Division of Historical Resources (No legislative action to date).
Preserve Responsible Display of Captive Wildlife
No 2017 legislation filed to date