Bi-Weekly Legislative Newsletter

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Week 5/ Education / HB 859 & SB 668-Relating to Postsecondary Distance Education

FullSizeRender 9Senator Campbell and Florida Youth Shine

On Monday, March 27th, HB 859, by Representative Amber Mariano (R-Port Richey), was heard by the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and passed unanimously by a vote of 12 years to 0 nays. Also on Monday, March 27th, SB 668, by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville), was heard by the Senate Committee on Education and passed unanimously by 9 years to 0 nays.

This legislation seeks to authorize Florida's participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement known as "SARA" created by the Southern Regional Education Board and the National Council on State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

This would allow for Florida's postsecondary institutions to voluntarily participate in what is a multi-state reciprocity agreement allowing them to offer online education without excessive fees and regulatory compliance processes.

Florida Youth ShineThis reciprocity offers student's greater access to more distance education, enhances oversight of distance education offerings to Florida students by another state, and expands experiential learning opportunities across state lines. Not only is this good for students but it also helps lessen the burden on Florida businesses and taxpayers to fund construction and facility costs. HB 859 will move on to the House Education Committee for its third hearing. SB 668 will move on to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education.

Insurance

HB 1299-Relating to Preinsurance Inspection

On Monday, March 27th, HB 1299, by Representative Bobby DuBose (D-Fort Lauderdale), was heard by the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee and passed by a vote of 13 years to 1 nay. This bill repeals an antiquated vehicle inspection program only required in a handful of counties in Florida. Initially designed to prevent "phantom vehicles," its usefulness has been eroded due to technological advancements such as VIN numbers and automated car reporting. Currently, insurers and premium payers bear the cost of this program which, according to the NICB, has only led to the successful recovery of one vehicle in several years. HB 1299 will go to the House Commerce Committee for its next hearing.

HB 1107-Relating to Public Records/Workers' Compensation

On Tuesday, March 28th, HB 1107, relating to Public Records/Workers' Compensation, by Representative Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) was heard by the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee and passed unanimously by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. This bill would exempt private and personal identifying information of an injured worker or deceased employee from public record. Currently, this information is open to the public and often times injured workers are inundated with outreach from attorneys wanting to take on their cases immediately after filing their claim. HB 1107 will now go to the House Commerce Committee for its third hearing. Please see the statement below from proponent in support of House Bill 1107, by Representative Ben Albritton, relating to Public Records/Workers' Compensation. HB 1107 was today heard in the House Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee, its second committee of reference. 

Workforce
HB 265-Relating to Computer Coding Instruction

20170405 093021 0 On Monday, March 27th, HB 265 by Representative Elizabeth Porter (R-Lake City), was heard by the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee and passed unanimously by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. HB 265 would allow high school students the option of taking computer coding courses along with a related industry certification to satisfy the foreign language requirement currently in place. Under this bill high schools will provide students the opportunity to substitute two credits in computer coding and a related industry certification for two credits sequential foreign language courses (i.e. Spanish I and Spanish II; Latin I and Latin II; French I and French II; etc.). Furthermore, HB 265, would require the Florida College System institutions and state universities to acknowledge computer coding course credits as foreign language credits. HB 265 will now go to its second committee stop in the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

Legal & Judicial

SB 466-Relating to Motor Vehicle Warranty Repairs and Recall Repairs

On Monday, March 27th, SB 466, by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast), was heard in Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism and passed by a vote of 8 years to 0 nays This bill prohibits a licensee, except as authorized by law, from denying a dealer's claim, reducing the dealer's compensation, or processing a chargeback to a dealer for performing covered warranty or recall repairs on a used motor vehicle under specified circumstances. The bill alters the playing field and may have a chilling effect on manufacturing in general. The complex issue surrounding safety recalls should be a federal matter, better addressed at the national level with the goal of creating uniform public policy that improves motor vehicle safety, encourages technological innovation, and protects our planet. SB 466 will move on to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

HB 423-Relating to Beverage Law

On Tuesday, March 28th, HB 423, by Representative Mike La Rosa (R-Saint Cloud), was heard before the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee and passed by a vote of 9 years and 6 nays. Florida's "Tied House Evil Law," s. 561.42, F.S., prohibits a manufacturer or distributor of alcoholic beverages from having a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or business of a licensed vendor, and prohibits a manufacturer or distributor from giving gifts, loans, property, or rebates to retail vendors. The bill exempts financial transactions between a vendor and a manufacturer from all tied evil house prohibitions if the following conditions are met: * The financial transaction must be negotiated at arm's length for fair market value between a manufacturer of beer or malt beverages, and * The financial transaction cannot involve, either all or in part, the direct sale or distribution of beer or malt beverages between the manufacturer and the licensed vendor. * HB 423 will go to the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee for its next hearing.

HB 727-Relating to Accessibility of Places of Public Accommodation

On Tuesday, March 28th, HB 727, by Representative Tom Leek (R-Daytona Beach), was heard by the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee and passed unanimously by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. The United States Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. One of the goals of the ADA is to guarantee that individuals with disabilities are offered full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered by a place of public accommodation.

The bill: * Creates a license type for ADA experts; * Requires the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to establish licensing requirements and regulation for ADA experts; * Allows ADA experts to determine if the businesses are compliant with the ADA; * Allows businesses to hire ADA experts and file ADA expert reports with DBPR; * Allows businesses to file remediation plans with DBPR if they are not in compliance with the ADA; * Requires DBPR to establish a public website with a registry of remediation plans and certifications of conformity; and * Requires courts to consider remediation plans to determine if a plaintiff filed a claim in good faith and whether the plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees in lawsuits involving alleged violations of the ADA. HB 727 will go on to the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee for its next hearing.

HB 1027- Relating to Unmanned Aircraft

On Tuesday, March 28th, HB 1027, by Representative Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville,) was heard by the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee and unanimously passed by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. This bill will ensure a consistent framework for the use of drones. As the use of drones becomes increasingly more common in many different sectors of the business community throughout the state, implementing statewide regulations will establish safeguards while operating drones. HB 1027 will go to the House Government Accountability Committee for its next hearing.

HB 1175-Relating to Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Dealers

20170405 095953On Tuesday, March 28th, HB 1175, by Representative Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens), was heard before the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee and passed by a vote of 9 years to 6 nays. The bill provides additional grounds to deny, suspend, or revoke a license held by a motor vehicle manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer ("manufacturer") within their contractual agreement. The bill prohibits manufacturers from taking certain actions against motor vehicle dealers and requires certain procedures be followed by the manufacturer when dealing with motor vehicle dealers. HB 1175 will go on to the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee for its next hearing. Opponent opposes legislation that would intervene in any contractual agreement between a dealer franchise and an auto manufacturer, voluntarily entered by each party, and dictate new terms and conditions of such mutual agreement that favor one party over the other.

SB 334-Relating to Prejudgment Interest 

On Wednesday, March 29th, SB 334, by Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), was heard by the Senate Committee on Rules, amended and passed by a vote of 6 years to 2 nays. This bill now seeks to mandate that prejudgment interest be awarded only to economic damages recovered. This prejudgment interest would accrue starting from the date the plaintiff incurs economic losses. Currently, prejudgment interest is awardable on economic losses at the discretion of the judge therefore we view this legislation as a way to overburden our court systems resulting in cost increases for Florida's businesses. SB 334 will move on to be heard on the floor of the Senate. Prejudgment Interest to Drive Businesses from Sunshine State Tallahassee.

Today released the following statement made regarding the opposition to Senate Bill 334, by Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), relating to Prejudgment Interest. SB 334 was today heard in the Senate Rules Committee, its second and last committee of reference. Opponent opposes legislation that would make it more expensive for businesses to operate in our state, and that is exactly what SB 334 would do. "The prejudgment interest bill being pushed by the trial bar would only put further strain on our already overburdened court system and create an additional cost driver to Florida businesses. "By adding time-consuming and burdensome measures, SB 334 would only stand to make attorneys richer and drive businesses away from the Sunshine State. "After today's action by the Senate Rules Committee, the bill is now ready for the Senate floor.

Telecommunications
SB 596-Relating to Utilities

On Tuesday, March 7th, SB 596, by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast), was heard by the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability and passed by a vote of 5 yeas to1 nay. This bill creates the Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act which would ultimately allow for 5G technology throughout the state of Florida. SB 596 will now go to its third committee hearing in the Senate Committee on Rules.

Economic Development
HB 853-Relating to Beer or Malt Beverages

On Tuesday, March 28th, HB 843, by Representative Tom Goodson (R-Merritt Island) was heard by the House Careers and Competitions Subcommittee and passed by a vote of 10 years to 4 nays. Currently, vendors must purchase glassware from distributors for use in their establishments. This bill allows for beer distributors to provide beer or malt beverage branded glassware to vendors for their use, cutting down on the vendors over all costs. HB 853 will now go on to the House Commerce Committee. Proponent supports legislation that will reduce costs on Florida's businesses by allowing distributors to provide vendors, at no cost, glassware to use in their establishments.

HB 333-Relating to Rural Economic Development Initiative

On Tuesday, March 28th, HB 333, by Representative Chuck Clemons (R- Jonesville), was heard by the House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee and unanimously passed by a vote of 12 years to 0 nays. Currently, Florida's rural communities are experiencing additional challenges compared to their urban counterparts in many quality of life indicators. The state has an opportunity to improve the economic competitiveness of Florida's rural communities by reforming the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI). This legislation accomplishes this by: * Focusing the mission of REDI on challenges rural communities face in the areas of workforce development and education, infrastructure, and access to healthcare; * Streamlining REDI membership to ensure decision makers are at the table; and * Making REDI a real tool for rural communities as they navigate through the red tape of state government. HB 333 will move on to the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee for its next hearing.

Health Care
HB 589-Relating to Prescription Drug Price Transparency

20170329 184835On Thursday, March 30th, HB 589, by Representative Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville) was read for a third time on the House floor and passed unanimously by a vote of 114 years to 0 nays. Currently, law requires MyFloridaRX.com to provide the top 150 most prescribed drugs including their customary prices by pharmacies. This bill would double that number to 300 and codifies monthly reporting to the Agency for Health Care Administration ("AHCA"). The goal of HB 589 is to create more transparency in drug pricing, which in turn will give employers and consumers the ability to make more informed decisions regarding their health care spending. Prescription drug costs continue to rise, and become a larger percentage of the overall health care spend in Florida. HB 589 will now go to the Senate floor to be heard. Proponent SUPPORTS transparency in drug pricing as a tool for reducing the cost of health care coverage on Florida's employers and employees.

Information Technology

GOT1-Relating to State Agency Information Technology Reorganization

On Tuesday, March 28th, GOT1, by the Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, was heard in front of the Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and passed by a vote of 13 years to 1 nay. This bill abolishes the Agency for State Technology (AST), and creates a new smaller, anemic agency of only 7 people within Office of Tech and Data Services. It moves the State Data Center under DMS and eliminates the already weak responsibility for Enterprise technology. It is a further step in destroying, rather than empowering, an Enterprise Technology Agency for our state. GOT1 was filed as HB 5301 and is not currently assigned to any committees of reference. Opponent OPPOSES the removal of the AST as it is a further step in destroying, rather than empowering, an Enterprise Technology Agency for our state.

Transportation

SB 340-Relating to Transportation Network Companies

On Tuesday, March 28th, SB 340, relating to Transportation Network Companies, by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and passed unanimously by a vote of 9 years to 0 nays. This bill was amended by the bill sponsor to more closely match the House companion bill, HB 221. This bill now aims to establish a statewide regulatory framework for transportation network companies and how they operate throughout communities in Florida. It also defines what constitutes as a "TNC vehicle", sets in place insurance requirements and preempts authority to the state, which will allow for a streamlined set of rules to be followed throughout the state. SB 340 will now go to the Senate Committee on Rules for its third hearing. Proponent SUPPORTS statewide digital transportation service policies to create price competition, promote consumer choice, enhance customer experience, create jobs and remove anticompetitive local regulations.

Week 6

Education
HB 955-High School Graduation Requirements

Barry University Graduate StudentOn Monday, April 3rd, HB 955, by Representative Larry Ahern (R-Seminole), was heard by the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, and unanimously passed by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. Currently, based on 56 Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in financial literacy, high school students receive financial literacy instruction as part of the one-half Economics course credit required for graduation. The bill requires students entering grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year and thereafter to complete a one-half course credit in personal financial literacy and revises the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include additional specified financial literacy topics. HB 955 will go on to be heard on the House floor. 

SB 868-Educational Options and Services

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 868, by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake), was heard before the Senate Committee on Education and passed by a vote of 9 years to 0 nays. This bill expands educational options and services to accommodate for learning differences among students and to prepare students for higher education and entry into the workforce. SB 868 will move on to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education.

Economic Development

SB 600-Relating to Rural Economic Development Initiative

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 600, by Senator Denise Grimsley (R-Lake Placid) was heard by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and passed unanimously by a vote of 4 years to 0 nays. Currently, Florida's rural communities are experiencing additional challenges compared to their urban counterparts in many quality of life indicators. The state has an opportunity to improve the economic competitiveness of Florida's rural communities by reforming the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI). This legislation accomplishes this by: * Focusing the mission of REDI on challenges rural communities face in the areas of workforce development and education, infrastructure, and access to healthcare; * Streamlining REDI membership to ensure decision makers are at the table; and * Making REDI a real tool for rural communities as they navigate through the red tape of state government. SB 600 will now go to the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability for its third hearing.

SB 1040-Relating to Beer or Malt Beverages

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1040, by Senator Frank Artiles (R-Miami), was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism and passed by a vote of 6 years to 1 nay. This bill allows for beer distributors to provide beer or malt beverage branded glassware to vendors for their use, cutting down on the vendors over all costs. Currently, vendors must purchase glassware from distributors for use in their establishments. SB 1040 will now go on to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

Legal & Judicial

SB 388-Relating to Beverage Law

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 388, by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast), was heard before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism and passed unanimously by a vote of 7 years to 0 nays. The bill exempts financial transactions between a vendor and a manufacturer from all tied evil house prohibitions if the following conditions are met: * The financial transaction must be negotiated at arm's length for fair market value between a manufacturer of beer or malt beverages, and * The financial transaction cannot involve, either all or in part, the direct sale or distribution of beer or malt beverages between the manufacturer and the licensed vendor. SB 388 will now go to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

Insurance

SB 1008-Relating to Public Records/Injured or Deceased Employee/Department of Financial Services

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1008, by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) was heard before the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed unanimously by a vote of 8 years to 0 nays. This bill would exempt private and personal identifying information of an injured worker or deceased employee from public record. Currently, this information is open to the public and often times injured workers are inundated with outreach from attorneys wanting to take on their cases immediately after filing their claim. SB 1008 will now go to the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability to be heard.

SB 1218-Relating to Property Repair

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1218, by Senator Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale), was heard by the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed by a vote of 6 years to 2 nays. Certain Groups stood in opposition of this bill. During committee SB 1218 was amended and now provides for the regulation of water restoration providers, prohibits one-way attorney fees from being used in rate making calculations, and prohibits managed repair and preferred provider arrangements. While this bill aims to provide for a solution to assignment of benefits (AOB), it actually compounds the problem by further entrenching special interests, such as restoration companies who, take AOBs from policyholders, effectively stripping them of their benefits. In addition, it legitimizes the use of the one-way attorney fee statute for third party vendors, something that even the Florida Supreme Court has said was never the intent. Rather, the statute was meant to protect policyholders. SB 1218 will move on to the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries for its next hearing.

SB 1582-Relating to Workers' Compensation Insurance

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1582, by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park), was heard before the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed by a vote of 7 years to 1 nay. Certain Groups stood in opposition to this bill. This legislation seeks to address the issues within Florida's Workers' Compensation law that have deemed the law unconstitutional, specifically the issue of rate increases, attorney fees, claimant benefits, etc. While Certain Groups applaud Senator Bradley for his hard work on this delicate issue, we are confident that there is a solution that will address all aspects of the workers' compensation system in Florida so that Floridians can avoid unnecessary, costly and time consuming litigation and receive the benefits they need if injured at work as quickly as possible. SB 1582 will move on to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for its next hearing. These bills were today heard in the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, their first committee of reference.

Insurance

SB 1354-Relating to Maintenance of Certification

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1354, by Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa), was heard by the Senate Committee on Health Policy and passed by a vote of 6 years to 0 nays. Certain Groups stood in opposition of this bill. This bill eliminates the requirement of physicians to maintain board certification in a sub-specialty as conditions of licensure, reimbursement, employment, or admitting privileges. Currently, hospitals or private employers have the ability to require their physicians who may practice in a specialty field to hold and/or maintain such specialty certifications. As medical practices change daily, allowing employers this ability will ensure that these physicians have the utmost knowledge and skill pertaining to their specialty. Hosting top medical facilities, as well as world renowned specialty physicians, is one of the many things that brings people to Florida. We want our physicians to be on the cutting edge of their field and the only way to accomplish that is to continue to implement the requirement of maintaining certification. SB 1354 will move on to the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance for its next hearing.

Legal & Judicial

HB 727-Relating to Accessibility of Places of Public Accommodation

On Tuesday, April 4th, HB 727, by Representative Tom Leek (R-Daytona Beach), was heard by the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and passed unanimously by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. One of the goals of the ADA is to guarantee that individuals with disabilities are offered full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered by a place of public accommodation. However, individuals with disabilities may sue places of public accommodation including private businesses for alleged violations of the ADA, a problem that is currently rampant throughout the state.

The bill would: * Create a license type for ADA experts; * Require the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to establish licensing requirements and regulation for ADA experts; * Allow ADA experts to determine if the businesses are compliant with the ADA; * Allow businesses to hire ADA experts and file ADA expert reports with DBPR; * Allow businesses to file remediation plans with DBPR if they are not in compliance with the ADA; * Require DBPR to establish a public website with a registry of remediation plans and certifications of conformity; and * Require courts to consider remediation plans to determine if a plaintiff filed a claim in good faith and whether the plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees in lawsuits involving alleged violations of the ADA. HB 727 will go on to the House Commerce Committee for its next hearing.

SB 832-Relating to Drones

On Tuesday, April 4th, SB 832, by Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) was heard in Senate Committee on Transportation and passed by a vote of 4 years to 0 nays. This bill will ensure a consistent framework for the use of drones. As the use of drones becomes increasingly more common in many different sectors of the business community throughout the state, implementing statewide regulations will establish safeguards while operating drones. SB 832 will go to the Senate Committee on Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities for its third hearing.

SB 1678-Relating to Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Dealers

On Tuesday, April 4th, SB 1678, by Senator Rene Garcia (Hialeah), was heard before the Senate Committee on Transportation and passed by a vote of 3 years to 1 nay. The bill provides additional grounds to deny, suspend, or revoke a license held by a motor vehicle manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer ("manufacturer") within their contractual agreement. The bill prohibits manufacturers from taking certain actions against motor vehicle dealers and requires certain procedures be followed by the manufacturer when dealing with motor vehicle dealers. SB 1678 will move on to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism for its next hearing.

Agriculture

HB 5401-Pesticide Registration

On Wednesday, April 5th, HB 5401, by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, was heard before the House Appropriations Committee and passed unanimously by a vote of 27 years to 0 nays. This legislation repeals a supplemental pesticide registration fee on certain products sold in Florida. The supplemental fee was established in 2009 as a mechanism to boost state revenue and help balance the budget. HB 5401 will go on to the House floor to be heard.

HB 1231-Relating to Agricultural Practices

On Wednesday, April 5th, HB 1231, by Representative Jake Raburn (R-Valrico), was heard before the House Ways & Means Committee and passed by a vote of 18 years to 0 nays. This bill clarifies that livestock, poultry, and aquaculture medical supplies are exempt from sales tax. The bill repeals a supplemental pesticide registration fee which was added to bi-annual pesticide registrations. The bill also expands the travel radius limitations on the state restricted agricultural tag from "150" miles to statewide. HB 1231 will now go to the House Commerce Committee to be heard.

Education

SB 392-High School Graduation Requirements

On Wednesday, April 5th, SB 392, by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange), was heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee and passed by a vote of 17 years to 0 nays. 2 Currently, based on 56 Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in financial literacy, high school students receive financial literacy instruction as part of the one-half Economics course credit required for graduation. The bill requires students entering grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year and thereafter to complete a one-half course credit in personal financial literacy and revises the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include additional specified financial literacy topics. SB 392 will go on to be heard on the floor of the Senate.

Transportation

HB 221-Relating to Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)

20170405 110101On Wednesday, April 5th, HB 221, by Representative Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) and Representative James Grant (R-Tampa), was read for a third time on the House floor and passed unanimously by a vote of 115 years to 0 nays. This bill aims to establish a regulatory framework for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and how they operate throughout communities in Florida. HB 221 defines what constitutes as a "TNC vehicle", sets in place insurance requirements and preempts authority to the state, which will allow for a streamlined set of rules to be followed throughout the state. HB 221 will now go to the floor of the Senate for consideration.

Insurance

HB 1107-Relating to Public Records/Workers' Compensation

On Thursday, April 6th, HB 1107, by Representative Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) was heard by the House Commerce Committee and passed unanimously by a vote of 25 years to 0 nays. This bill would exempt private and personal identifying information of an injured worker or deceased employee from public record. Currently, this information is open to the public and often times injured workers are inundated with outreach from attorneys wanting to take on their cases immediately after filing their claim. HB 1107 will now go to the House floor to be heard.

HB 7085-Relating to Workers' Compensation

On Thursday, April 6th, HB 7085, by Representative Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) and the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, was heard by the House Commerce Committee, amended, and passed by a vote of 20 years to 9 nays. This legislation seeks to address the issues within Florida's Workers' Compensation law that have deemed the law unconstitutional, specifically the issue of rate increases, attorney fees, claimant benefits, etc. During committee three amendments offered by Representative Burgess were adopted.

Education

HB 859-Relating to Postsecondary Distance Education

On Thursday, April 6th, HB 859, by Representative Amber Mariano (R-Port Richey), was heard by the House Education Committee and passed unanimously by a vote of 18 years to 0 nays. This legislation seeks to authorize Florida's participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement known as "SARA" created by the Southern Regional Education Board and the National Council on State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. This would allow for Florida's postsecondary institutions to voluntarily participate in what is a multi-state reciprocity agreement allowing them to offer online education without excessive fees and regulatory compliance processes. This reciprocity offers student's greater access to more distance education, enhances oversight of distance education offerings to Florida students by another state, and expands experiential learning opportunities across state lines. Not only is this good for students but it also helps lessen the burden on Florida businesses and taxpayers to fund construction and facility costs. HB 859 will move on to the House floor to be heard.

Health Care

HB 7-Certificates of Need

20170405 130132On Thursday, April 6th, HB 7, by Representative Alex Miller (R-Sarasota), was heard before the House Health and Human Services Committee and passed by a vote of 12 years to 5 nays. In committee, a strike all amendment, offered by the bill sponsor was adopted. This amendment eliminates certificate of need (CON) requirements for nursing homes, hospices, and ICFDD's from the original proposed CON program repeal. Currently, the Florida CON program has three levels of review: full, expedited, and exempt. Expedited review is primarily targeted towards nursing home projects; specifically, when adding beds and making any construction changes or creating new nursing home facilities. The CON program, administered by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), requires certain health care facilities to obtain authorization from the state before offering certain new or expanded services. HB 7 will move on to the House floor to be heard.

SB 182-Relating to Consumer Protection from Nonmedical Changes to Prescription Drug Formularies

On Thursday, April 6th, SB 182, by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne), was heard by the Senate Committee on Appropriations and passed with a vote of 18 years to 0 nays. This bill addresses the ability to move or shift prescription drugs within drug formularies by health plans. Currently, health plans have the authority to move prescription drugs to different tiers within the drug formulary, or add/remove certain drugs all together. Health plans use this system if, for instance, a drug has been found to be unsafe for patients or a more cost-efficient alternative has become available. Removing this ability from health plans would not only cause the cost of healthcare to rise but could put patients at risk of taking potentially harmful medications. SB 182 will now go to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

Environment

SB 532-Relating to Public Notification of Pollution

On Thursday, April 6th, SB 532, by Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee and passed by a vote of 18 years to 0 nays. This bill will require companies to notify the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) about the release of any dangerous substance within 24 hours of discovery, and DEP must then publish a public notice within 24 hours. SB 532 will now go to the Senate floor to be heard.

Taxation

SB 76-Relating to Limitations on Property Tax Assessments

On Thursday, April 6th, SB 76, by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) was heard in the Senate Committee on Appropriations and unanimously passed by a vote of 15 years to 0 nays. In 2008, Florida voters approved Amendment 1 which, among other things, created a 10% cap on the annual increase of property taxes for all non-homestead properties. However, this amendment included a sunset provision that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. HB 21 proposes a constitutional amendment be added to the ballot during the 2018 General Election to let the voters decide in making this cap 10% tax cap permanent. SB 76 will now go to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

Taxation

SB 76-Relating to Limitations on Property Tax Assessments

On Thursday, April 6th, SB 76, by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) was heard in the Senate Committee on Appropriations and unanimously passed by a vote of 15 years to 0 nays. In 2008, Florida voters approved Amendment 1 which, among other things, created a 10% cap on the annual increase of property taxes for all non-homestead properties. However, this amendment included a sunset provision that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. HB 21 proposes a constitutional amendment be added to the ballot during the 2018 General Election to let the voters decide in making this cap 10% tax cap permanent. SB 76 will now go to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

Transportation

SB 340-Relating to Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)

On Thursday, April 6th, SB 340, by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) was heard by the Senate Committee on Rules and passed by a vote of 10 years to 1 nay. This bill aims to establish a regulatory framework for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and how they operate throughout communities in Florida. SB 340 defines what constitutes as a "TNC vehicle", sets in place insurance requirements and preempts authority to the state, which will allow for a streamlined set of rules to be followed throughout the state. SB 340 will now go to the Senate floor to be heard.

Legal & Judicial

SB 1398-Relating to Accessibility of Places of Public Accommodation

On Thursday, April 6th, SB 1398, by Senator Linda Stewart (R-Orlando), was heard before the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and passed unanimously by a vote of 10 yeas to 0 nays. Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. One of the goals of the ADA is to guarantee that individuals with disabilities are offered full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered by a place of public accommodation. However, individuals with disabilities may sue places of public accommodation including private businesses for alleged violations of the ADA, a problem that is currently rampant throughout the state.

The bill would: * Create a license type for ADA experts; * Require the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to establish licensing requirements and regulation for ADA experts; * Allow ADA experts to determine if the businesses are compliant with the ADA; * Allow businesses to hire ADA experts and file ADA expert reports with DBPR; * Allow businesses to file remediation plans with DBPR if they are not in compliance with the ADA; * Require DBPR to establish a public website with a registry of remediation plans and certifications of conformity; and * Require courts to consider remediation plans to determine if a plaintiff filed a claim in good faith and whether the plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees in lawsuits involving alleged violations of the ADA. SB 1398 will go on to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government for its next hearing.

HB 1027- Relating to Unmanned Aircraft

On Thursday, April 6th, HB 1027, by Representative Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville,) was heard by the House Government Accountability Committee and unanimously passed by a vote of 23 years to 0 nays. This bill will ensure a consistent framework for the use of drones. As the use of drones becomes increasingly more common in many different sectors of the business community throughout the state, implementing statewide regulations will establish safeguards while operating drones. HB 1027 will go to the House floor to be heard.

Education

HB 955 & SB 392-High School Graduation Requirements

On Monday, April 3rd, HB 955, by Representative Larry Ahern (R-Seminole), was heard by the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, and unanimously passed by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. On Wednesday, April 5th, SB 392, by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange), was heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee and passed by a vote of 17 years to 0 nays. Currently, based on 56 Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in financial literacy, high school students receive financial literacy instruction as part of the one-half Economics course credit required for graduation. The bill requires students entering grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year and thereafter to complete a one-half course credit in personal financial literacy and revises the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include additional specified financial literacy topics. HB 955 will go on to be heard on the House floor. SB 392 will go on to be heard on the floor of the Senate.

SB 868-Educational Options and Services

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 868, by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake), was heard before the Senate Committee on Education and passed by a vote of 9 years to 0 nays. This bill expands educational options and services to accommodate for learning differences among students and to prepare students for higher education and entry into the workforce. SB 868 will move on to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education.

HB 859-Relating to Postsecondary Distance Education

On Thursday, April 6th, HB 859, by Representative Amber Mariano (R-Port Richey), was heard by the House Education Committee and passed unanimously by a vote of 18 years to 0 nays. This legislation seeks to authorize Florida's participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement known as "SARA" created by the Southern Regional Education Board and the National Council on State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. This would allow for Florida's postsecondary institutions to voluntarily participate in what is a multi-state reciprocity agreement allowing them to offer online education without excessive fees and regulatory compliance processes. This reciprocity offers student's greater access to more distance education, enhances oversight of distance education offerings to Florida students by another state, and expands experiential learning opportunities across state lines. Not only is this good for students but it also helps lessen the burden on Florida businesses and taxpayers to fund construction and facility costs. HB 859 will move on to the House floor to be heard.

Economic Development
SB 600-Relating to Rural Economic Development Initiative

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 600, by Senator Denise Grimsley (R-Lake Placid) was heard by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and passed unanimously by a vote of 4 years to 0 nays. Currently, Florida's rural communities are experiencing additional challenges compared to their urban counterparts in many quality of life indicators. The state has an opportunity to improve the economic competitiveness of Florida's rural communities by reforming the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI). This legislation accomplishes this by: * Focusing the mission of REDI on challenges rural communities face in the areas of workforce development and education, infrastructure, and access to healthcare; * Streamlining REDI membership to ensure decision makers are at the table; and * Making REDI a real tool for rural communities as they navigate through the red tape of state government. SB 600 will now go to the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability for its third hearing.

SB 1040-Relating to Beer or Malt Beverages

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1040, by Senator Frank Artiles (R-Miami), was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism and passed by a vote of 6 years to 1 nay. Currently, vendors must purchase glassware from distributors for use in their establishments. This bill allows for beer distributors to provide beer or malt beverage branded glassware to vendors for their use, cutting down on the vendors over all costs. SB 1040 will now go on to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

Legal & Judicial

SB 388-Relating to Beverage Law

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 388, by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast), was heard before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism and passed unanimously by a vote of 7 years to 0 nays. Florida's "Tied House Evil Law," s. 561.42, F.S., prohibits a manufacturer or distributor of alcoholic beverages from having a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or business of a licensed vendor, and prohibits a manufacturer or distributor from giving gifts, loans, property, or rebates to retail vendors. The bill exempts financial transactions between a vendor and a manufacturer from all tied evil house prohibitions if the following conditions are met: * The financial transaction must be negotiated at arm's length for fair market value between a manufacturer of beer or malt beverages, and * The financial transaction cannot involve, either all or in part, the direct sale or distribution of beer or malt beverages between the manufacturer and the licensed vendor. SB 388 will now go to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

HB 727 & SB 1398-Relating to Accessibility of Places of Public Accommodation

On Tuesday, April 4th, HB 727, by Representative Tom Leek (R-Daytona Beach), was heard by the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and passed unanimously by a vote of 14 years to 0 nays. On Thursday, April 6th, SB 1398, by Senator Linda Stewart (R-Orlando), was heard before the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and passed unanimously by a vote of 10 years to 0 nays. Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. One of the goals of the ADA is to guarantee that individuals with disabilities are offered full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered by a place of public accommodation.

However, individuals with disabilities may sue places of public accommodation including private businesses for alleged violations of the ADA, a problem that is currently rampant throughout the state. These bills would: * Create a license type for ADA experts; * Require the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to establish licensing requirements and regulation for ADA experts; * Allow ADA experts to determine if the businesses are compliant with the ADA; * Allow businesses to hire ADA experts and file ADA expert reports with DBPR; * Allow businesses to file remediation plans with DBPR if they are not in compliance with the ADA; * Require DBPR to establish a public website with a registry of remediation plans and certifications of conformity; and * Require courts to consider remediation plans to determine if a plaintiff filed a claim in good faith and whether the plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees in lawsuits involving alleged violations of the ADA. HB 727 will go on to the House Commerce Committee for its next hearing. SB 1398 will go on to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government for its next hearing.

SB 832 & HB 1027-Relating to Drones or Unmanned Aircraft

On Tuesday, April 4th, SB 832, by Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) was heard in Senate Committee on Transportation and passed by a vote of 4 years to 0 nays. On Thursday, April 6th, HB 1027, by Representative Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville,) was heard by the House Government Accountability Committee and unanimously passed by a vote of 23 years to 0 nays. These bills will ensure a consistent framework for the use of drones. As the use of drones becomes increasingly more common in many different sectors of the business community throughout the state, implementing statewide regulations will establish safeguards while operating drones. SB 832 will go to the Senate Committee on Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities for its third hearing. HB 1027 will go to the House floor to be heard.

SB 1678-Relating to Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Dealers

On Tuesday, April 4th, SB 1678, by Senator Rene Garcia (Hialeah), was heard before the Senate Committee on Transportation and passed by a vote of 3 years to 1 nay. The bill provides additional grounds to deny, suspend, or revoke a license held by a motor vehicle manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer ("manufacturer") within their contractual agreement. The bill prohibits manufacturers from taking certain actions against motor vehicle dealers and requires certain procedures be followed by the manufacturer when dealing with motor vehicle dealers. SB 1678 will move on to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism for its next hearing.
Insurance

SB 1008 & HB 1107-Relating to Public Records/Injured or Deceased Employee/Department of Financial Services

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1008, by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) was heard before the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed unanimously by a vote of 8 years to 0 nays. On Thursday, April 6th, HB 1107, by Representative Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) was heard by the House Commerce Committee and passed unanimously by a vote of 25 years to 0 nays. Tess bills would exempt private and personal identifying information of an injured worker or deceased employee from public record. Currently, this information is open to the public and often times injured workers are inundated with outreach from attorneys wanting to take on their cases immediately after filing their claim. SB 1008 will now go to the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability to be heard. HB 1107 will now go to the House floor to be heard.

SB 1218-Relating to Property Repair

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1218, by Senator Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale), was heard by the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed by a vote of 6 years to 2 nays During committee SB 1218 was amended and now provides for the regulation of water restoration providers, prohibits one-way attorney fees from being used in rate making calculations, and prohibits managed repair and preferred provider arrangements. While this bill aims to provide for a solution to assignment of benefits (AOB), it actually compounds the problem by further entrenching special interests, such as restoration companies who, take AOBs from policyholders, effectively stripping them of their benefits. In addition, it legitimizes the use of the one-way attorney fee statute for third party vendors, something that even the Florida Supreme Court has said was never the intent. Rather, the statute was meant to protect policyholders. 7 SB 1218 will move on to the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries for its next hearing.

SB 1582 -Relating to Workers' Compensation Insurance

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1582, by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park), was heard before the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed by a vote of 7 years to 1 nay. This legislation seeks to address the issues within Florida's Workers' Compensation law that have deemed the law unconstitutional, specifically the issue of rate increases, attorney fees, claimant benefits, etc. While Proponent applauds Senator Bradley for his hard work on this delicate issue, we are confident that there is a solution that will address all aspects of the workers' compensation system in Florida so that Floridians can avoid unnecessary, costly and time consuming litigation and receive the benefits they need if injured at work as quickly as possible. SB 1582 will move on to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for its next hearing.

HB 7085-Relating to Workers' Compensation

On Thursday, April 6th, the House version of Workers' Compensation, HB 7085, by Representative Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) and the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, was heard by the House Commerce Committee, amended, and passed by a vote of 20 years to 9 nays. This legislation seeks to address the issues within Florida's Workers' Compensation law that have deemed the law unconstitutional, specifically the issue of rate increases, attorney fees, claimant benefits, etc. During committee three amendments offered by Representative Burgess were adopted.

Health Care

SB 1354-Relating to Maintenance of Certification

On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1354, by Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa), was heard by the Senate Committee on Health Policy and passed by a vote of 6 years to 0 nays. This bill eliminates the requirement of physicians to maintain board certification in a subspecialty as conditions of licensure, reimbursement, employment, or admitting privileges. Currently, hospitals or private employers have the ability to require their physicians who may practice in a specialty field to hold and/or maintain such specialty certifications. As medical practices change daily, allowing employers this ability will ensure that these physicians have the utmost knowledge and skill pertaining to their specialty. Hosting top medical facilities, as well as world renowned specialty physicians, is one of the many things that brings people to Florida. We want our physicians to be on the cutting edge of their field and the only way to accomplish that is to continue to implement the requirement of maintaining certification. SB 1354 will move on to the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance for its next hearing.

HB 7-Certificates of Need

On Thursday, April 6th, HB 7, by Representative Alex Miller (R-Sarasota), was heard before the House Health and Human Services Committee and passed by a vote of 12 years to 5 nays. In committee, a strike all amendment, offered by the bill sponsor was adopted. This amendment still repeals the certificate of need (CON) review program in the state of Florida, however, it takes out nursing homes, hospices, and ICFDD's from the original proposed CON program repeal. CONs ensure that there is not an over-saturation of facilities in an area. With too many facilities and too few patients, the quality of care would decrease. Removing CONs for nursing homes would be detrimental to Florida's senior care demands. HB 7 will move on to the House floor to be heard.

SB 182-Relating to Consumer Protection from Nonmedical Changes to Prescription Drug Formularies

On Thursday, April 6th, SB 182, by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne), was heard by the Senate Committee on Appropriations and passed with a vote of 18 years to 0 nays. This bill addresses the ability to move or shift prescription drugs within drug formularies by health plans. Currently, health plans have the authority to move prescription drugs to different tiers within the drug formulary, or add/remove certain drugs all together. Health plans use this system if, for instance, a drug has been found to be unsafe for patients or a more cost-efficient alternative has become available. Removing this ability from health plans would not only cause the cost of healthcare to rise but could put patients at risk of taking potentially harmful medications. SB 182 will now go to the Senate Committee on Rules to be heard.

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