The Florida Legislature opened the 2023 Session on Tuesday, March 7th. The House and Senate met in a joint session Tuesday morning to receive the Governor’s Message during the annual State of the State address.
With a list of executive priorities spread throughout the address, Governor Ron DeSantis began his speech by reflecting on the effect of changes his administration has made. He emphasized that Florida is the fastest growing state in the nation and ranks number one net in-migration, new business formations, law enforcement recruitment and support, tourism, and space-related development, manufacturing, and flight. He would go on to claim that out of large states, Florida tops the list in terms of economic growth, lowest tax and state debt per capita burdens, and fourth grade reading and math.
Other highlights from Governor DeSantis’ address include a proposal for a $2 billion tax cut package, increase in teacher salaries, a bonus program to incentivize the recruitment of out-of-state law enforcement officers, and an expansion of school choice and parental rights. He also reiterated his goals for the 2023 Session including reform of the Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), legal reform, affordable housing, additional water quality and Everglades restoration efforts, permanent protection from medical authoritarianism, free speech rights and conscience rights of physicians, continuation of strengthening K through 12 education, and illegal immigration.
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 an update from Gunster’s Government Affairs Consultants with a summary of the issues of the past week and how they may impact your business, a recap of bills that are moving through the Legislature and a close look at the latest happenings around the capitol city.
- HB 543/SB 150 – Public Safety: Legislation filed by Senator Jay Collins and Representative Charles ”Chuck” Brannan III that would abolish the need for a permit to carry concealed weapons in Florida. The House bill is awaiting floor action while the senate version passed its last committee stop on Thursday where it aligned bills. This legislation is expected to pass both chambers and Governor Ron DeSantis has already said he will approve the legislation.
- HB 1 – School Choice: which expands school vouchers to make every Florida student eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers that could be used for private-school tuition, home school and other expenses. The bill was heard and approved at its last committee Friday and is now ready for the House Floor.
- HB 379 – Technology in K-12 Public Schools: A measure that would restrict access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and ban TikTok on school district networks and devices and prohibit students use of cellphones in class advanced unanimously from committee Thursday. It has two more stops before heading to a full chamber vote. The bill has Governor Ron DeSantis support along with both sides of the political aisle.
- HB 121 – Florida Kidcare Program Eligibility: a bill that would allow Florida families to earn more money and still qualify for Florida KidCare. The bill would allow families to earn up to 250% of the FPL ($75,000 for a family of four) without losing access to the reduced health insurance plan. The income eligibility would increase to 300% of the FPL ($90,000 for a family of four) by 2024. A similar bill filed by Representative Chip LaMarca HB 1245 allows families to earn 400% of the FPL ($120,000 for a family of four) and continue to qualify for the program. The Senate version, SB 246 proposed by Senator Alexis Calatayud will be heard in Health Policy on Monday, March 13th.
- SB 300/HB 7 – Pregnancy and Parenting Support: legislation that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy was filed by Senator Erin Grall on the opening day of Session. Planned Parenthood has raised concerns that the 15-week threshold imposed last year is already having deleterious effects and that often, people don’t even realize they’re pregnant at six weeks. The bills have been referred to committees but have not been placed on the agenda to be heard in committee.
- SB 102 – Housing: the legislation carries a $711 million price tag, providing money for a series of programs, including $252 million for the longstanding State Housing Initiatives Partnership, or SHIP, program, $150 million a year to the State Apartment Incentive Loan, or SAIL, program, and an additional $100 million for the Hometown Heroes program, which is designed to help teachers, health-care workers and police officers buy homes. Among other things, it would pre-empt local-government rules on density and building heights in certain circumstances, create tax exemptions for developments that set aside at least 70 units for affordable housing, speed permits and development orders for affordable housing projects and bar local rent controls. The bill sponsored by Senator Alexis Calatayud passed unanimously off the senate floor on Thursday. The house companion measure, HB 672 by Representative Busatta Cabrera, passed its first of three committee stops on Wednesday, March 8.
- HB 3 – Government and Corporate Activism: the measure would prohibit state agencies and local governments, including public schools, colleges and universities, from requesting or considering information about a company’s social, political or ideological beliefs when determining if that company can provide services. Other financial institutions – banks, trust companies, credit unions, consumer finance lenders, and money services businesses – may be subject to administrative sanctions if they engage in an “unsafe and unsound business practice” by denying or canceling services based on political beliefs or affiliations, religious beliefs or affiliations, business sector, any other factor that is not a quantitative, impartial, risk-based standard, or applying social credit scores. The bill passed its first committee of reference on Wednesday. March 8 – its next stop is the State Affairs Committee.
On March 7th, a primary Special Election was held for House District 24 formerly represented by Representative Joe Harding. Ryan Chamberlin secured the Republican nomination and will be up against Robert Fox, a write-in candidate in the General Special Election on May 16th.
YES! PLEASE SIGN ME UP TO RECEIVE EMAIL ALERTS FROM OTHER GUNSTER PRACTICE AREAS.
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.
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 www.gunster.com.