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  • Florida Chamber Weekly Legislative Update: End-of-Session Review

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    May 06, 2023
    Find Out How Session is Impacting Your Business
    The Florida Business Agenda Report:
    2023 Weekly Legislative Update
    End-of-Session Review
    Florida Legislature Passes Top Priorities of the Florida Chamber, Benefiting Floridians, Local Businesses and Florida’s Competitiveness
    Florida Chamber sees passage and signing of multiple Chamber top priorities, including much-needed lawsuit abuse reform, universal school choice, affordability and availability of workforce housing, record investments in infrastructure, transparency and accountability around government union dues and creating pathways to prosperity for children in poverty
    Florida’s Legislative Session by the Numbers:
    • 1,828 Bills and PCBs filed; over 350 bills passed both chambers
    • Florida Chamber of Commerce testified 181 times on legislation impacting job creators
    • Florida Chamber is analyzing more than 5,700 votes cast by lawmakers and will soon release its annual Legislative Report Card
    • $116 billion budget passed- the largest in Florida's history
    TALLAHASSEE, FL (May 5, 2023) — The 2023 Florida Legislative Session saw passage of several Florida Chamber top priorities and the largest budget in Florida’s history as Florida continues to surpass revenue expectations and grows by more than 1,000 new residents a day. While the backdrop of national election politics dominated many of the media headlines, the legislature took significant strides in continuing Florida’s economic momentum by passing several pro-jobs bills and investments.
    Florida’s economic growth and competitiveness is further enhanced through the passage of much needed lawsuit abuse reform, a dramatic expansion of school choice options, a workforce housing plan that incentivizes the private market, record infrastructure investments and tax cuts, and continued focus on building the world’s best workforce.
    “The Florida Chamber has been fighting to make Florida more competitive for years, so it’s no surprise Florida is number one in the nation in income migration with $4.48 million coming in every hour and the national model for economic growth and competitiveness,” said Mark Wilson, President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber’s priorities passed this legislative session will continue this momentum for Florida -- driving our economy, growing private-sector jobs, and creating additional economic opportunities for all Floridians and local businesses.”
    The first substantive bill that passed this session has been a top priority of the Florida Chamber for well over a decade as we have sought to improve Florida’s bottom-five legal climate to top 12 by 2030. HB 837 contained seven significant components that each taken on their own would have been a huge win for local businesses and consumers. The much-needed Florida Chamber-backed lawsuit abuse reform would not have been possible without the leadership of House Speaker Paul Renner, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, and Governor Ron DeSantis. This will begin to reverse the damage done by personal injury billboard trial lawyers by redirecting the billions of dollars spent annually on frivolous litigation, chipping away at the more than $5,000 per household lawsuit abuse tax in the form of higher costing good and services.
    "The Florida Chamber is in year-round pursuit to unify business leaders from every district to the state capitol and to earn their support of the Florida Business Agenda," said Florida Chamber Board of Directors Volunteer Chairman Charles Bailes III, Chairman and CEO of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. "We are successful during any election cycle when the business community is united and makes the right things happen to ensure Florida is the most competitive state in the country to run a business, raise a family, and enjoy our quality of life."
    Following the December special session to tackle overdue property insurance reform, the legislature continued to prioritize further bills that would reduce the cost of living and increase affordability for Florida consumers and local businesses that have been challenged with near record inflation over the last year. A $2.7 billion tax relief package provides several sales tax holidays and exemptions on goods and services such as school supplies, disaster preparedness, gas stoves, baby products and diapers that will benefit nearly every Florida family. The annual tax package also includes tax relief for local businesses, such as a reduction in the Florida-only business rent tax from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent beginning this December.
    Affordable housing also took center stage this session. Florida’s workforce housing crisis has disrupted its economic growth potential. Rising housing costs have not only hurt Florida families, but have been a significant issue stifling Florida’s competitiveness, affordability, and quality of life. Florida is creating 1 in every 10 U.S. jobs, so it is essential to have affordable workforce housing to ensure Florida’s workforce can ‘live local’ in the communities where they work. The passage of this legislation will ensure Floridians can live closer to their jobs, schools, and healthcare and still remain within their household budgets. This game-changing legislation will also incentivize developers and communities to invest in affordable workforce housing and develop areas that have been economically struggling, while ensuring anti-market policies like government rent control are not allowed to fester at the local level.
    Below are a few highlights of the Florida Chamber-championed legislative priorities that passed this session:
    • Ending Florida’s “Judicial Hellhole” Standing and Improving Florida’s Bottom-Five Lawsuit Abuse Climate: Reduces our lawsuit abuse tax of more than $5,000 that each Florida family pays by aligning several elements of Florida’s civil justice system to most other states, such as reducing the statute of limitations, increasing transparency to juries, and appropriately allocating fault in negligence claims. For more information on this generational legal reform package, click here
    • Universal School Choice: Expands school choice so a student’s zip code is not the primary factor determining a student’s opportunity for earned success. The passage of universal school choice ensures every family can choose the best learning environment for their children, which should boost educational outcomes and better position Florida’s current learners to become earners in the 21st century global economy.
    • Affordable Workforce Housing: The “live local” act increases funding for state and local affordable housing programs, relaxes burdensome regulations, and incentivizes the private market to increase the availability and affordability of housing so each Floridian can live in the community in which they work. Greater access to affordable housing will help employers attract and retain a competitive workforce.
    •  Workforce Development: Continues to build Florida’s talent pipeline by aligning education systems with industry to increase access to work-based learning opportunities such as apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, career and technical education, and on the job training. The Florida Chamber will be diving deeper into what this means for Florida’s business community at the Florida Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit on June 27.
    • Innovation in Transportation: Builds on the work of the Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida initiative to become the mobility innovation capital of the world by creating a system to grade Florida’s highways for autonomous vehicle use and allows for collaboration, research, testing and market delivery of mobility solutions at the Implementing Solutions from Transportation Research and Evaluating Emerging Technologies (I-Street) lab at the University of Florida.
    • Rural Economic Development: Improves access to state and federal financial assistance and economic development programs to boost economic activity in rural communities, which will help meet the 2030 Blueprint goal of doubling the rural share of state gross domestic product. 
    • Fiscal Cliff Reform: Encourages a pathway to prosperity by reducing “fiscal cliffs” and phasing in costs for parents that qualify for subsidized health insurance under Kidcare, so they are not choosing between a small increase in their paycheck or health insurance for their child. The Florida Chamber will discuss this further at the Florida Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit on May 25.
    • Paycheck Protection: Brings transparency and accountability around government sector union dues by prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to collect dues and empowers the Public Employees Relations Commission to certify and decertify unions.
    “The Florida Chamber team, and our key partners, fought on the front lines this session, pushing legislation forward that will continue to position Florida as a global competitor,” said Florida Chamber Executive Vice President of Governmental and Political Relations Frank Walker. “We will immediately begin preparation of our 2024 legislative agenda starting with any unfinished business and continue to lead the fight for free enterprise.”
    While numerous business-friendly measures passed, several threats to local businesses emerged during session. The Florida Chamber worked endlessly to defeat or mitigate efforts to drive additional litigation, create new regulations, or increase costs on Florida businesses. One example was legislation that would mandate E-verify on all employers, provide for citizen enforcement, and allow for criminal penalties and the loss of a business license were mitigated through the work of a united business community. The immigration bill that ultimately passed exempts small businesses of 25 employees or less, allows companies to cure a violation before penalties are assessed, and removes criminal penalties and citizen enforcement.
    The Florida Chamber team is analyzing thousands of votes and will soon release its annual Legislative Report Card, showcasing grades earned by all 159 legislators in the Florida House and Senate based on their votes during the 2023 Legislative Session. The Florida Chamber Legislative Report Card is an annual opportunity to recognize members of the Florida Legislature who placed making Florida more competitive through private-sector job creation above special interests and their attempts to protect the status quo. The Report Card also lets Florida families, small businesses, taxpayers, and voters know who voted in favor of private-sector job creation and a stronger economy.
    See below to view the Florida Chamber’s full legislative review of what passed, what was defeated, and what remains unfinished business for next year.
    The Florida Chamber's Florida Business Agenda is guided by our Florida 2030 Blueprint, which outlines our Six Pillars framework, with 39 goals, with the ultimate goal of catapulting Florida from 16th largest economy to 10th largest economy in the world by 2030.
    Below is a comprehensive review of legislative activity from the 2023 Legislative Session.
    Improving Florida's Talent Pipeline for a Better Workforce
    School Choice
    Expands school choice eligibility to all K-12 students while prioritizing families whose household income does not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level to ensure a child’s zip code does not limit access to a high-quality education that best meets the needs of the child.
    HB 1: Rep. Kaylee Tuck
    SB 202: Sen. Corey Simon
    Guidance Services on Academic and Career Planning 
    Increases Florida's awareness and education for parents and students of all educational opportunities available to them, including on-the-job training, to ensure students are prepared for post-secondary degrees, high-value certifications, or the workforce.
    SB 196: Sen. Shevrin Jones
    HB 141: Rep. Kristen Arrington
    SB 196 PASSED
    Increases funding for career and technical education and expands work-based learning opportunities that are linked to local employment. 
    SB 240: Sen. Travis Hutson
    HB 7051: Rep. Lauren Melo
    SB 240 PASSED
    Apprenticeship and Preapprenticeship Direct Funding Grant
    Creates a new grant to fund apprenticeship/pre apprenticeship programs to assist in preparing our future workforce with on-the-job training.
    SB 1060: Sen. Blaise Ingoglia
    HB 461: Rep. Mike Giallombardo
    Determination of Residential Status for Tuition Purposes 
    Allows time spent in a Florida correctional institution to count toward the residency requirement to receive in-state tuition, which decreases the financial burden to receive an education and reduces recidivism.
    SB 526: Sen. Rosalind Osgood
    HB 595: Rep. Jervonte Edmonds
    Child Care and Early Learning Providers
    Incentivizes employers to assist employees with access to childcare and chips away at bureaucracy limiting childcare access and driving up costs.
    SB 990: Sen. Erin Grall
    HB 1021: Rep. Fiona McFarland
    Computer Science Instruction in K-12 Public Schools
    Increases access to computer science and technology education and provides opportunities for students to take courses that lead to technology-related industry certifications.
    SB 780: Sen. Alexis Calatayud
    HB 1601: Rep. Karen Gonzalez-Pittman
    Student Outcomes
    Replaces ineffective reading instruction with science-based methods to improve literacy outcomes and creates individual progress monitoring plans for students with substantial reading and math deficiencies.
    SB 1424: Sen. Alexis Calatayud
    HB 7039: Rep. Dana Trabulsy
    HB 7039 PASSED
    Florida Scholars Academy
    Creates the Florida Scholars Academy to provide high-quality education and greater access to secondary and postsecondary educational opportunities for students in the juvenile justice system.
    SB 7014: Sen. Jonathan Martin
    HB 939: Rep. Berny Jaques
    SB 7014 PASSED
    Creating Quality Jobs by Diversifying Florida's Economy
    Entertainment Industry Tax Credit Program
    Creates the Florida First Production Partnership Program to broaden the film, television and digital media industry in Florida, create high wage jobs and encourage the production of family-friendly movies and television.
    SB 476: Sen. Joe Gruters
    HB 251: Rep. Dana Trabulsy
    Financial Assistance for Rural Areas of Opportunity
    Improves the feasibility for rural communities to access state or federal financial assistance.
    SB 1628: Sen. Corey Simon
    HB 413: Rep. Shane Abbott
    Rural Development
    Increases the feasibility for assistance grants, regional rural development grants and rural infrastructure funds for rural communities and rural areas of opportunity.
    SB 1482: Sen. Corey Simon
    HB 1209: Rep. Jason Shoaf
    HB 1209 PASSED
    Economic Programs
    Restructures Florida’s role in economic development by eliminating Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, and some programs while transferring other duties to the re-named Florida Department of Commerce.
    SB 1664: Sen. Ed Hooper
    HB 5: Tiffany Esposito
    Tourism Development
    Transforms how VISIT FLORIDA is funded and operated by requiring VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency, to be funded through local tourist development taxes approved by the voters of each jurisdiction to fund marketing for state parks, state forests and rural areas. 
    HB 7053: Brad Yeager
    Improving Florida's Infrastructure for Smart Growth and Development
    Takes an “all of the above” approach to improve Florida’s housing stock by incentivizing the free market, providing additional financing for the state’s existing housing programs, and removing regulatory roadblocks.
    SB 102: Sen. Alexis Calatayud
    HB 627: Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera
    Taxation of Affordable Housing
    Allows local governments to provide property tax exemptions to encourage affordable housing.
    HB 229: Rep. Lindsay Cross
    Residential Building Permits
    Reduces permitting times and government bureaucracy, which in turn will improve costs, for residential developments.
    SB 682: Sen. Nick DiCeglie
    HB 671: Rep. Tiffany Esposito
    Local Government Comp Plans
    Discourages meritless litigation that needlessly holds up development by requiring the payment of attorney fees to the prevailing party.
    SB 540: Sen. Nick DiCeglie
    HB 359: Rep. Wyman Duggan
    SB 540 PASSED
    Sales Tax Exemption for Renewable Natural Gas Machinery & Equipment
    Provides a sales tax exemption for machinery and equipment that is used to develop renewable natural gas.
    SB 844: Sen. Clay Yarborough
    Natural Gas Fuel Taxes
    Extends the natural gas fuel tax exemption to continue encouraging the adoption of vehicles that run on natural gas.
    SB 322: Sen. Joe Gruters
    HB 529: Jim Mooney
    Renewable Energy Cost Recovery
    Creates a mechanism to fund renewable natural gas projects, which will increase energy independence and encourage the development of additional renewable natural gas facilities.
    SB 1162: Sen. Nick DiCeglie
    HB 821: Rep. Brad Yeager
    Continues the leadership of Autonomous Florida by creating a mechanism for highways to be rated for autonomous vehicle operation and creates the Implementing Solutions from Transportation Research and Evaluating Emerging Technologies Living Lab (I-STREET) at the University of Florida.
    SB 64: Sen. Ed Hooper
    HB 425: Rep. Tiffany Esposito
    HB 425 PASSED
    License Taxes
    Creates an annual electric vehicle fee that funds state and local transportation projects, similar to the gas tax.
    SB 1070: Sen. Ed Hooper
    Building the Perfect Climate for Business
    Civil Remedies
    Includes long standing Chamber priorities to improve Florida’s bottom-five lawsuit abuse climate, protect consumers, and prevent frivolous litigation against local businesses.
    SB 236: Sen. Travis Hutson
    HB 837: Rep. Tommy Gregory
    Discrimination in Labor and Employment
    Interferes in the employer-employee relationship by prohibiting employers from engaging in certain activities related to wages and benefits.
    SB 1026: Sen. Linda Stewart
    Motor Vehicle Insurance
    Repeals Florida’s no-fault Personal Injury Protection system and requires Bodily Injury Protection Auto Insurance. This bill is sponsored by the trial lawyers and does not include necessary bad faith reforms to stem the litigation that will increase by switching to the new system.
    SB 586: Sen. Erin Grall
    HB 429: Rep. Danny Alvarez
    Assignment of Benefits
    Prohibits assignment of benefits (AOBs) for windshield claims, which increases auto insurance litigation and drives up consumer premiums due to a handful of bad actors abusing the system.
    SB 1002: Sen. Linda Stewart
    HB 541: Rep. Griff Griffitts
    SB 1002 PASSED
    Employment Protections
    Interferes in employment practices by prohibiting a job creator from requesting or relying on previous wage or salary information to interview, hire, promote or employ an employee.
    SB 576: Sen. Lauren Book
    HB 663: Rep. Hillary Cassel
    Asbestos and Silica Claims
    Requires claimant to investigate and provide specific evidence to ensure only the companies that caused the exposure to asbestos are paying the claim.
    SB 1260: Sen. Jay Trumbull
    HB 755: Rep. Tom Fabricio
    Sovereign Immunity
    Increases the statutory damage cap for lawsuits against governmental entities which increases the liability of taxpayers.
    SB 604: Sen. Joe Gruters
    HB 401: Rep. Mike Beltran
    Department of Labor
    Creates a Florida Department of Labor and establishes new layers of governmental bureaucracy that interfere in the employer-employee relationship.
    SB 1598: Sen. Victor Torres, Jr.
    HB 137: Rep. Angie Nixon
    Corporate Income Tax
    Requires unitary combined reporting when filing corporate income taxes, which may capture income from subsidiaries regardless of the location or amount of business transacted in the state.
    SB 1144: Sen. Geraldine Thompson
    HB 769: Rep. Anna Eskamani
    Premises Liability
    Allows the consideration of all parties at fault when determining damages, including those that committed an intentional act, and creates a rebuttable presumption for multi-family housing units against liability if they meet certain safety and security measures.
    SB 1274: Sen. Colleen Burton
    HB 1165: Rep. Wyman Duggan
    Claims Against Long-Term Care Facilities
    Limits frivolous litigation against long-term care facilities by instituting standards that must be met to file a lawsuit and provides additional protections for facilities following the law.
    SB 1304: Sen. Colleen Burton
    HB 1029: Rep. Randy Maggard
    Communications Services Tax
    Reduces the state Communications Services Tax, which when combined with the local communications services tax is more than twice the state sales tax, in order to make Florida more competitive and reduce costs on consumers.
    SB 1432: Sen. Jay Trumbull
    HB 1153: Rep. Kevin Steele
    Litigation Financing
    Provides for transparency and consumer protections around hedge funds and other financiers investing in Florida lawsuits for economic gain.
    SB 1612: Sen. Clay Yarborough
    HB 1447: Rep. Toby Overdorf
    Rent Control
    Allows government intrusion into the private marketplace by capping rent increases and security deposits for communities with adults aged 55 or older.
    SB 1698: Sen. Shevrin Jones
    HB 1261: Rep. Ashley Gantt
    Decreases competitiveness in Florida’s property insurance market by disregarding free market principles, as well as provides for additional avenues for filing lawsuits.
    SB 1340: Sen. Erin Grall
    HB 1431: Rep. Spencer Roach
    Data Privacy
    Establishes new requirements on Florida employers that collect or use data.
    SB 262 Sen. Jennifer Bradley
    HB 1547: Rep. Fiona McFarland
    Heat Illness Prevention
    Creates a new mandate on employers relating to heat safety, ignoring the free market and that employers already implement safety programs to protect their employees.
    SB 706: Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez
    HB 903: Rep. Mike Gottlieb
    Duty of Care Regarding Commercial Motor Vehicles
    Provides reasonable liability protections for companies who own or lease commercial vehicles and were in compliance with federal safety standards at the time of purchase.
    HB 7055: Rep. Randy Maggard
    Includes several Florida Chamber priorities that provide targeted tax relief to Florida’s local businesses and consumers.
    SB 7062: Sen. Blaise Ingoglia
    HB 7063: Rep. Stan McClain
    HB 7063 PASSED
    Wage and Employment Benefits
    Prohibits local governments from requiring higher wages and benefits for private businesses than what is provided for in state or federal law. Florida Chamber led prevailing wage amendment did not make it in final bill.
    HB 917: Rep. Brad Yeager
    Making Government and Civics more Efficient and Effective
    Employee Organizations
    Creates transparency and accountability in the collection of union dues for certain public sector employees.
    SB 256: Sen. Blaise Ingoglia
    HB 1445: Rep. Dean Black
    SB 256 PASSED
    Constitutional Amendments
    Protects Florida’s foundational document by proposing to increase the threshold of voter approval to further amend the State Constitution.
    SB 1410: Sen. Joe Gruters
    HB 129: Rep. Rick Roth
    Local Ordinances
    Prevents burdensome regulations by requiring local governments to adopt a business impact statement before the adoption of an ordinance and awards attorney fees if it is found by the courts that a local ordinance is arbitrary or unreasonable, or that the ordinance is prohibited by law.
    SB 170: Sen. Jay Trumbull
    HB 1515: Rep. Robbie Brackett
    SB 170 PASSED
    Administrative Procedures Act
    Promotes additional transparency around regulatory rulemaking and protects small businesses from unelected bureaucrats proposing these rules.
    SB 742: Sen. Erin Grall
    HB 713: Rep. Fiona McFarland
    Preemption of Recyclable and Polystyrene Materials
    Removes a Chamber-backed preemption on local ordinances relating to polystyrene products, thereby furthering a patchwork regulatory environment for businesses.
    SB 498: Sen. Linda Stewart
    Public Construction
    Improves efficiencies at the local government level by ensuring businesses are paid promptly for completed public construction projects.
    SB 346: Sen. Nick DiCeglie
    HB 383: Rep. Griff Griffitts
    SB 346 PASSED
    Occupational Licensing
    Decreases barriers to employment and increases job opportunities available to Floridians by streamlining the occupational licensing process and recognizing reciprocity with licenses issued in other states.
    SB 1364: Sen. Jay Collins
    HB 1333: Rep. Traci Koster
    Increases the role of Florida’s business community in enforcing immigration law. 
    SB 1718: Sen. Blaise Ingoglia
    HB 1617: Rep. Kiyan Michael
    SB 1718 PASSED
    Championing Florida's Quality of Life
    Florida Kidcare Program Eligibility 
    Increases the Florida Kidcare income eligibility threshold to reduce fiscal cliffs and facilitate a pathway for families toward economic self-sufficiency. 
    SB 246: Sen. Alexis Calatayud
    HB 121: Rep. Robin Bartleman & HB 1245: Rep. Chip LaMarca
    HB 121 PASSED
    Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Actions
    Drives up medical malpractice insurance rates by broadening the scope of who is allowed to recover damages in medical negligence claims. 
    SB 690: Sen. Lauren Book
    HB 1435: Rep. Johanna Lopez
    Truth in Legal Advertising 
    Cracks down on misleading lawsuit advertisements around medical services and prescription drugs. Current scare tactics used by billboard attorneys have led to Floridians abandoning their prescribed/recommended treatments, thus resulting in reduced health outcomes.
    SB 1246: Sen. Clay Yarborough
    HB 1205: Rep. Alex Andrade
    HB 1205 PASSED
    Florida Chamber of Commerce l www.FLChamber.com