Welcome to the opening of the 2019 Legislative Session! As is typical for the opening day, each chamber will hold separate sessions in the morning to hear from their chamber’s leader and conduct other business. The two chambers then will meet in joint session to receive the State of the State address by Governor DeSantis. In the afternoon, several committee/subcommittee meetings of interest are scheduled to consider bills relating to student health, local tax referenda, impact fees, property taxes, and government accountability.
Today’s schedule is available in the files below and will be updated after the morning floor sessions and afternoon committee/subcommittee meetings conclude. Please note that all of the meetings listed in the files below may be viewed via live webcast on the Florida Channel or subsequently in the Florida Channel Video Library. Also note that, if you click on the Committee/Subcommittee names linked below, you can access membership, meeting packets, and other committee information; if you click on the bill numbers linked below, you can access the bill summary, analysis, related bills, and other information.
The Senate was in Session this morning for Opening Day events. In his opening day remarks, Senate President Bill Galvano stressed the importance of working collaboratively with the House and the Governor. President Galvano did not list specific priorities for this Session but, instead, called on Senators to focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of legislation passed and to pursue an agenda that will serve Floridians rather than any personal agenda. You may watch the Senate Opening Day Session HERE.
In the House Opening Day Session, House Speaker Jose Oliva stressed the importance of following through on pursuing the promises made to voters during the 2018 elections. In addition to a commitment to pursue comprehensive health care reform, Speaker Olive stressed education priorities, including course corrections to policies and funding for higher education to curb excesses and to keep colleges focused on workforce and career education, continuing the reforms to K-12 education begun by Governor Bush and the need to pursue new and expanded public and private school choice options, and a responsible state budget that will provide funding to increase per student funding, raise teacher pay, and provide for recovery from Hurricane Michael. You may watch the House Opening Day Session HERE.
Following these separate floor sessions, the House and Senate held a Joint Session to hear the State of the State Address by Governor Ron DeSantis. In his remarks, Governor DeSantis referenced several areas in which the state has progressed in recent years and some of his accomplishments to date as governor. He encouraged the legislature to be bold in pursuing economic opportunities, environmental protections, education reforms, and public safety. With regard to education, the governor highlighted several priorities that are also reflected in his budget recommendations including:
- Advancing opportunities and support for workforce education with a goal of making Florida #1 in the country in workforce education by 2030;
- Replacing common core standards with high-quality curriculum, streamlined testing, and a new emphasis on American civics;
- Expanding efforts to recruit, retain and reward great teachers including revisions to the Best and Brightest bonus program, a tuition and loan forgiveness program, and new professional development opportunities;
- Expanding school choice options to, at a minimum, address current scholarship program waiting lists for the Gardener Scholarship Program and the Tax Credit Scholarship Program; and
- Enacting into law the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission.
You may watch the Governor’s State of the State Address HERE.
In the House Health Quality Subcommittee:
HB 213 – Immunization Registry by Massullo – PASSED
The bill requires those who administer vaccines to children aged 18 or younger, or to certain college or university students, to report the vaccinations to the immunization registry, requires school districts and private schools to have a policy that requires each student to have a certification of immunizations on file with the state’s electronic immunization registry, requires a school to still accept the DOH-approved immunization form if the child’s parent has opted out of the immunization registry, etc.
In the House Local, Federal, & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee:
HB 5 – Local Tax Referenda by DiCeglie – PASSED a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS)
The PCS requires any referendum to levy a discretionary sales surtax to be held at a general election and requires approval by two-thirds of the electors voting on the ballot measure. The PCS also revises the timeline and requirements for the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) performance audit and would declare void any referendum for which there is a failure to provide notice for, or publish results for, the audit. The PCS also specifies that these requirements apply to a proposal to adopt a discretionary sales surtax is by initiative.
In the Senate Community Affairs Committee:
SB 350 – Impact Fees by Hutson – PASSED with a Committee Substitute (CS)
The bill was amended by a strike all amendment that substantially expands the scope of the bill and shifts the focus to affordable/workforce housing. The bill authorizes local governments to provide exceptions or waivers for impact fees for affordable housing developments; requires that certain data relating to impact fees be included in certain annual financial reports; creates the Community Workforce Housing Loan Program in the place of the Community Workforce Housing Innovation Pilot Program to provide workforce housing for essential services personnel; authorizes the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to provide loans under the program to applicants for construction of workforce housing; etc.
SJR 344 – Homestead Exemptions by Diaz – PASSED with a CS
As amended, the proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution would authorize the legislature, for school district levy purposes, to prohibit increases in the assessed value of homestead property if the legal or equitable title to the property is held by a person who has attained age sixty-five and if he or she has held legal or equitable title to the property and maintained permanent residence thereon for at least twenty-five years.
SB 562 – Homestead Exemptions by Diaz – PASSED with a CS
As amended, this bill would provide the statutory framework to implement the provisions of SJR 344 (above) if that proposed amendment is approved by voters.
SB 7014 – Government Accountability by GOA – PASSED with a CS
As amended, the bill amends various statutes to enhance government accountability and auditing processes based on recommendations noted in recent reports by the Auditor General. The bill authorizes the Governor or Commissioner of Education, or designee, to notify the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee if an entity fails to comply with certain auditing and financial reporting requirements; requires each entities including charter schools, school districts, Florida College System institutions, and state universities to establish and maintain internal controls designed to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse; revises the membership, and restrictions thereof, for an auditor selection committee; removes a requirement that an internal auditor report directly to the district school board or its designee; etc.
SB 246 – Public Construction by Hooper – PASSED with a CS
As amended, the bill reduces the amount (referred to as retainage) a state or local governmental entity (including a school board) may withhold from payment to a contractor for construction services. This does not apply to projects entered into, pending approval, or advertised for bid prior to July 1, 2019.
SB 144 – Impact Fees by Gruters – PASSED
The bill requires that the collection of an impact fee occur no earlier than the issuance of a property’s building permit. The bill also codifies the ‘dual rational nexus test’ for impact fees as articulated in case law and prohibits the use of impact fee revenues to pay existing debt unless specific conditions are met.
SB 202 – Property Tax Exemption by Wright – PASSED
The bill increases the existing property tax exemption for Florida residents who are widows, widowers, blind, or totally and permanently disabled from $500 to $5,000.
In the House Commerce Committee:
HB 207 – Impact Fees by Donalds – PASSED
The bill prohibits any local government from requiring payment of impact fees any time prior to issuing a building permit, codifies the requirement for impact fees to bear a rational nexus both to the need for additional capital facilities and to the expenditure of funds collected and the benefits accruing to the new construction, and specifies that impact fees may not be used to pay existing debt or pay for prior approved projects unless such expenditure has a rational nexus to the impact generated by the new construction.