The fourth week of the Legislative Session came to a close yesterday and bills are moving through the Florida House and Senate. Gunster’s Government Affairs team is working hard, closely tracking legislation and meeting with legislators to monitor and lobby on behalf of our clients.

Below is a weekly update from Gunster’s Government Affairs Consultants with a summary of the issues of the week and how they may impact your business, a recap of bills that are moving through the Legislature and a close look at this week’s happenings around the capital city.



HB 1 – Education (relating to school choice): HB 1 was presented to Governor DeSantis for his signature and signed into law on Monday, March 27th. The bill is estimated to cost the state at least $2.2 billion to fund expected enrollment for students obtaining opportunity scholarships to private schools with an additional $350 million in the back of the House budget bill in case there is additional growth.

HB 1069 – Education / SB 1320 – Child Protection in Public Schools (relating to school and reproductive instruction): HB 1069 by Representative Stan McClain passed the full House Friday with a vote of 77-35. The bill will restrict instruction on sexual health, such as health education, sexually transmitted diseases and human sexuality to grades 6 through 12, regulate the use of pronouns that do not correspond to the “sex” of a student, teacher or employee as defined by naturally occurring hormones and genitalia at birth, refer to marriage as “heterosexual,” ignoring that current, federal law recognizes same-sex marriage, mandate instruction that gender is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth — an immutable, unchanging characteristic, and allow the objection of one person to restrict access to library materials for all the students where the objection is occurring while the material undergoes review. It will now go to the Senate for vote. A similar senate bill, SB 1320 by Senator Clay Yarborough is in its last committee stop.

HB 733/SB1112Middle School and High School Start Times: which would require middle and high schools to have a later start time was placed on the House Special Order Calendar on Thursday. The measure by Representative Temple, was passed by the House on Friday by a 92-20 vote.

The measure would require middle schools to start “instructional classes” no earlier than 8:00 a.m. and high schools from starting earlier than 8:30 a.m. School districts will have until fall of 2026 to meet the requirements and make the appropriate transportation implementations. SB 1112 by Senator Danny Burgess still needs to pass through two more committee meetings before it can be heard by the full Senate.


HB 555 – Sentencing Proceedings in Death Penalty Cases / SB 450 – Death Penalty: HB 555 by Representative Berny Jacques was heard and reported favorably by a 14-7 vote from the House Judiciary Committee. It is now eligibility to be placed on the House Special Order Calendar.

The bill would amend ss. 921.141 and 921.142, F.S., to revise Florida’s capital sentencing scheme by requiring:

  • A jury to recommend a sentence of death to the court if at least eight jurors determine a defendant should be sentenced to death; and
  • The court to impose a sentence of death when such a sentence is recommended by the jury.


SB 102 / HB 627 – Housing (relating to affordable housing): SB 102 by Senate Alexis Calatayud, legislation also called the “Live Local Act,” was signed into law on Wednesday morning by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill includes new tax breaks for homebuilders intended to spur the creation of new affordable projects and puts more than $700 million into the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the State Housing Initiatives Program, or SHIP, and the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program, or SAIL. The bill also bans local rent control ordinances. Additionally, it expands eligibility requirements for the Hometown Heroes down payment assistance program to full-time employed Floridians. That program provides up to $35,000 in zero-interest loans for first-time home buyers.


SB 150 / HB 543 – Public Safety: The Senate gave final approval to HB 543 on Thursday sending the legislation to Governor Ron DeSantis to sign into law. The Governor has pledged he supports the legislation and will sign the bill into law. While Democrats weren’t very supportive of the legislation, they did express support for the parts of the bill that would bolsters school safety by providing money for school hardening, better coordinating threat-assessment services and allowing armed “guardians” in private schools.

The legislation would allow people to carry guns without concealed-weapons licenses. This would strip the previous requirement of needing training and background screening, but a person carrying a firearm would be required to have valid identification and be able to “display such identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer.”

Governor Ron DeSantis was asked by a news reporter this week, “Would you hold a special session for “Open Carry” in which he responded, “If I had the votes.”


SB 300/HB 7 – Pregnancy and Parenting Support: SB 300 by Senator Erin Grall, legislation that would ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy was placed on the Senate Special Order Calendar and considered before the whole Senate on Thursday. While there were several amendments that were offered, the only amendment approved was offered by Senator Alexis Calatayud. The amendment added the term “human trafficking” to the list of permissible exceptions to the proposed law. Other exceptions permitted by the bill include an abortion up to the 15th week of pregnancy if the woman was impregnated by rape or incest or a combination thereof and would also include statutory rape, if two doctors (unless one is unavailable) believe a pregnant women is in danger of dying or suffering “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition,” and if the fetus had a “fatal abnormality,” abortion would be permitted during the first two trimesters. SB 300 will be debated and voted on during next Monday’s chamber sitting.

The House companion, HB 7 by Representative Jenna Persons-Mulika and Jennifer Canady was reported favorably by a 13-7 vote from its last committee stop, House Committee on Health & Human Services. It is now eligible to be placed on the House Special Order Calendar.

SB 1550/HB 1509 – Prescription Drugs: Legislation that was filed to place restrictions on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) and create transparency. PBMs are also known as “middlemen” due to “spread pricing”. Spread pricing describes the practice of charging an insurer one price for a drug and paying the pharmacy a lower cost while pocketing the difference. Studies have shown that PBMs have drawn up the out-of-pocket costs of prescriptions by being the middlemen between drug manufacturers and health insurers. Legislation relating to PBMs has been filed in the previous years with changes to better regulate the practice of PBMs.

This week, the Senate bill was approved by its first committee, Senate Health Policy, placing the bill in its final committee stop before being heard by the full Senate. The House companion was heard and passed in its first committee on Tuesday and still has two more committee stops. The bills are a top health care priority of Governor Ron DeSantis.


SB 1416/HB 1409 – Dissolution of Marriage: the proposed legislation would not end permanent alimony on existing agreements – legislation that has been filed and vetoed three times in the past; however, the proposal would provide a process for ex-spouses paying alimony to modify an existing agreement when they want to retire. HB 1409 by John Temple, passed out of its first committee stop Monday with a 14-1 vote. Both bills are in their last committee stop.


HB 3/SB 302 – Government and Corporate Activism: HB 3 was passed by the full House during week 3 of session with a vote 80-31 and sent to the Senate for their consideration. The Senate companion measure to HB 3, was approved in its first committee stop Wednesday advancing it to its final committee stop before being heard by the full Senate.

The Senate proposal would require state and local-government investment decisions to be based “solely on pecuniary factors” and would prevent “sacrificing investment return or undertaking additional investment risk to promote any non-pecuniary factor.” It would prevent fund managers from considering issues such as climate change and social diversity when deciding how to invest money. The legislation is a priority of Governor Ron DeSantis and expands on directive last year issued by the Governor and members of the state Cabinet that required investment decisions in the Florida Retirement System Defined Benefit Plan to prioritize the highest returns without consideration of the standards known as “ESG.”


Senate Confirmation Hearing: The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee held confirmation hearings for the following:

Secretary of State

Byrd, Cord (Neptune Beach) Pleasure of Governor – Vote: 8 Yeas 0 Nays

Secretary of Management Services

Allende, Pedro M. () Pleasure of Governor – Vote: 7 Yeas 1 Nays

Director and Chief Judge, Division of Administrative Hearings

Newman, Brian () Pleasure of Admin Commission – Vote: 8 Yeas 0 Nays


This week, the Florida State Senate and House voted to approve their respective budget proposals. The Senate proposal totals $113.7 billion which is $1 billion less than Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposed budget, while the House proposal of $113 billion is $2 billion less. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 200 amendments changing the Senate’s proposed spending plan on Tuesday. Both budgets have raises for state employees, infrastructure, and land acquisition.

The Chamber proposals have differences that they will have to work out: The House proposal does not include funding for Visit Florida while the Senate includes $80 million. Education is another big difference between the two budget proposals. They bother differ on how to pay for the newly signed universal school voucher program. The Senate has $100 million more than the House. The House proposed $210 million with an additional $110 million set aside in their budget, if needed. The Senate has it at $647 million with an additional $350 million if more than the estimated number of students choose to participate in the program.

Both House and Senate propose an additional $2 billion on education which equates to more than a 4% increase per student. The House proposes a plan to pass down money to school districts in a new way, more of a “lump sum approach” while the Senate is skeptical and is not ready to change the formula. The House plan has an additional $250 million for teachers and school staff raises while the Senate has $200 million. Another difference between the two chamber budget proposals is the amount of money to expand the State Guard. The House proposal is a little over $100 million which is more than the Governor’s proposed budget while the Senate does not include anything for the State Guard.


Red Dog Blue Dog

State leaders mixed up drinks at Township in Tallahassee on Tuesday night during the 8th annual Red Dog Blue Dog event as they raised funds to benefit the Animal Shelter Foundation, the Leon County Humane Society and Last Hope Rescue. This annual event reaches across party lines to raise money for animals in need.

The results are in:

The event raised a total of $49,705, all of which will be used to support three animal shelter organizations in the Capital City: The Animal Shelter Foundation, Leon County Humane Society and Last Hope Rescue.

This year the Blue Team had Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, Sen. Tracie Davis, Sen. Jason Pizzo, Rep. Kristen Arrington and Rep. Dan Daley and created a signature drink “Heather Blue” by shaking up a combination of Titos vodka, peach schnapps, lemon-lime, Proof Outwit and blue Curacao. The Red Team had Sens. Jennifer Bradley and Alexis Calatayud and Reps. Demi Busatta Cabrera, Tom Leek and Jim Mooney.

Congratulations to both teams for raising money for such a great cause!


Bills Received from the Legislature

Governor Ron DeSantis approved 2 bills this week, both bills were priority measures for the presiding officers in the FL Senate and House.

BillTitleDate PresentedGovernor’s DeadlineDate Acted UponAction
SB 0032Florida Statutes03/22/2303/29/2303/24/23Approved
SB 0034Florida Statutes03/22/2303/29/2303/24/23Approved
SB 0036Florida Statutes03/22/2303/29/2303/24/23Approved
SB 0038Florida Statutes03/22/2303/29/2303/24/23Approved
SB 0040Florida Statutes03/22/2303/29/2303/24/23Approved
SB 0042Florida Statutes03/22/2303/29/2303/24/23Approved
SB 0044Florida Statutes03/22/2303/29/2303/24/23Approved
HB 0837*Civil Remedies03/24/2303/31/2303/24/23Approved
HB 0001Education03/27/2304/03/2303/27/23Approved
HB 0102Housing03/28/2304/04/2303/29/23Approved

*For more information, click the link to read previous Weekly Legislative Updates.


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 13 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, Naples, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa Bayshore, Tampa Downtown, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With more than 260 attorneys and consultants, and over 270 committed professional 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


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