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This week marked the halfway point of the Legislative Session 2020. At the halfway point, 3,470 bills have been filed, 1,977 passed a committee, 48 passed in one chamber, and 9 passed in both chambers. On Thursday, both the Florida House and Senate voted on final versions of their budget, leaving a $1.4 billion discrepancy that will be negotiated before the March 13th deadline. This week’s update will feature more information on the state budget process, a recap of bills moving through the legislature, an update on the 2020 elections, and happenings around the capital city.

Team Gunster’s Government Affairs team is continuing to track legislation and meet with legislators to monitor and lobby on behalf of our clients. If there is anything our team can do to help you and your business, please contact our Government Affairs Consultants.

Legislation Watch

  • SB 7052: Office of Public Counsel. This proposal would require an appointment every four years of the state Public Counsel and place 12 year term limits on the position. The Public Counsel is responsible for representing consumers in utility issues, primarily representing them before the Florida Public Service Commission. Read more
  • HB 991: Lottery Games. This is a bill relating to lottery games, and prohibits an electronic device from being used to play any lottery game, along with requiring the DOL to include specified warnings in all advertisements and promotions of lottery games. The bill has passed two committees in the House and has not yet been heard in a committee in the Senate. Read more
  • HB 5401: An act relating to the Department of Environmental Protection. This act would transfer the Office of Energy that is currently within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to the Department of Environmental Protection. The act passed the house by a 76-40 margin. Read more

State Budget Watch

This week the Senate and House Appropriations Chairs presented their budget proposals in the House and Senate Chambers. Both plans were passed, leaving only four weeks to reconcile the $1.4 billion differences between the two chambers. Differences in the budget stem from these top funding initiatives:

  • Pay raises for teachers
  • Florida Forever
  • Affordable Housing
  • Visit Florida

Legislators will conference on the budget to resolve the discrepancies before the March 13th deadline. More information on the budgets can be found below.

SB 2500: Appropriations   

HB 5001: General Appropriations Act

SB 2502: Implementing the 2020-2021 General Appropriations Act 

HB 5003: Implementing the 2020-2021 General Appropriations Act

2020 Election Update

The 2020 elections are quickly approaching, with presidential primaries scheduled for March 17. In order to vote in the Presidential Primary, voters must be registered by February 18. As a reminder, you can register at county election offices, public libraries, military recruitment offices, or driver’s license offices.
Important Dates:

  • Presidential Preference Primary Election: March 17
  • Primary Election: August 18
  • General Election: November 3

By the Numbers:

  • 13,536,830 voters are registered in Florida
  • 4,986,520 are registered Democrats
  • 4,761,405 are registered Republicans
  • 3,641,405 are registered with no party affiliation

You can find more information on the elections and voter registration at the Florida Division of Elections website.

Legislature Considering Merging Universities 

The House Education Committee is considering a plan to merge Florida Polytechnic University with the University of Florida and New College of Florida with Florida State University. The proposal is surprising to many, but Representative Randy Fine says this plan comes after months of deliberation by the committee and is primarily based on cost. “In addition to whatever tuition a student is paying on average the state, we the taxpayer, our constituents pay $28,208 per degree that is issued,” Fine said. “But not at New College. At New College, we spend $197,681 per degree–seven times as much.” Read more

Florida State University Day at the Capitol 

Team Gunster at CapitolTeam Gunster showed their support for FSU Day at the Capitol on Wednesday. Lawmakers from both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate honored the university for its achievements in resolutions naming February 12 FSU Day throughout the state. Students filled the capitol with presentations and booths representing FSU’s numerous colleges and programs. The day was complete with a pep rally in the Capitol courtyard featuring President John Thrasher, the FSU Board of Trustees Chair Ed Burr, Head Football Coach Mike Norvell and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, an FSU alumnus. Read more

 

 

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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.

About Gunster

Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 12 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, The Florida Keys, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With nearly 200 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 500 largest law firms and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Diverse Law Firms by Law360. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at www.gunster.com.


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