Last week was a short one with committee meetings scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday only. However, those two days were jam packed with a number of committee meetings, mostly centered on the House and Senate passing their respective spending plans.
Now that both chambers have passed their budget bills, the two sides will go to conference within the next two weeks to begin negotiations on the 2017-2018 FY state budget. In order to finish as scheduled on May 5, they must pass a budget by May 2 to meet the constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period before final passage.
However, the budget is not the only issue headed to conference. Last week the House debated the Senate bill on gambling (SB 8) and amended the entirety of their proposed gambling bill (HB 7037) onto the Senate version and returned it to the Senate. The Senate then refused to concur with the House bill, which allowed the two sides to take the issue to conference. The Senate and House have announced their conferees and are expected to conference later this week.
Week 7 - The Week Ahead
Beginning Monday, the Legislature has time reserved on their calendar each day of the week for the Gaming Conference. We will be watching the notices for these meetings closely.
On Tuesday, the House session is scheduled to discuss their workers’ compensation package. The main difference between the House and Senate bill at this time is surrounding attorney fees. The House proposal caps fees at $150 per hour while the Senate plan offers $250 per hour.
Weekly 2017 Session Updates
Look for FAA member weekly session updates to hit your in-box each Monday during session.
Legislative IssuesVISIT FLORIDA Funding
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 awaits its fourth and final committee of reference in the full Appropriations Committee.
Stop the Expansion of Gambling in Florida
SB 8 – by Sen. Bill Galvano (OPPOSE) Relating to Gaming
The Senate refused to concur with the House proposal on gaming which sets the stage for conference sometime this week. 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 debated SB 8, amended the language of HB 7037 onto SB 8, passed it by 73-40 and returned it 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 Propert 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 and is not expected on the agenda at the next hearing. This bill provides that a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm and 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. However, the Senate companion looks doomed for defeat. 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 and 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-points beginning 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 the Florida State 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. 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. 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.