The Florida Legislature concluded the 2021 Session sine die Friday at 2:40. The House and Senate agreed to a $101.5 billion budget. The 2021 budget is the highest budget ever passed in Florida, bolstered by federal funds for COVID-19 recovery. This year, 275 bills passed both the House and Senate, one of the lowest numbers of total bills to pass during a Session.
Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-94 (Emergency Management – Extension of Executive Order 20-52-COVID-19), which extends the state of emergency due to COVID-19.
Governor DeSantis signed SB 0088, Farming Operations, into law on Thursday.
Confirmations – Several Department Secretaries and gubernatorial appointees were officially confirmed in the Senate, including:
- John Davis, Department of the Lottery Secretary,
- Julie Brown, Department of Business and Professional Regulation,
- Mike La Rosa, Public Service Commission Commissioner,
- Peter Antonacci, Division of Administrative Hearings Chief Judge,
- Dane Eagle, Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director, and
- Gunster alum Simone Marstiller, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary.
Senator Lauren Book New Senate Minority Leader – With less than three days left in Session, Senate Democrats ousted Sen. Gary Farmer as Minority Leader. The Democratic Caucus elected Senator Lauren Book as the new Minority Leader.
Redistricting – House Redistricting Committee Chair Tom Leek and Senate President Wilton Simpson released memoranda Monday announcing that Florida will officially receive one additional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, for a total of 28 seats, based on 2020 census counts.
Utility Pole Oversight – SB 1944, by Senator Albritton, gives Florida control of utility pole oversight and is on its way to Governor DeSantis’ desk. The House voted 114-3 to pass the bill, while the Senate passed the bill 38-2. SB 1944 shifts utility pole oversight from the FCC to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC will be required to enforce rates, charges, terms and conditions for pole attachments, and resolve pole attachment disputes.
Consumer Data Privacy – A high-profile bill that is a priority for Governor DeSantis and Speaker Sprowls passed. HB 969, by Rep. McFarland, purports to give Floridians more control over their data. Previous versions of the bill included a private right of action for individuals, but the Senate amended the bill so that legal action would now be reserved exclusively for the Attorney General.
Rural Broadband Expansion – HB 1239, by Rep. Tomkow, helps expand broadband access in “unserved” parts of the state. The bill passed both chambers unanimously and expands on last year’s bill transferring the Office of Broadband to the Department of Economic Opportunity and bolstering its mission. The bill encourages broadband companies to expand to rural areas by creating a path for the necessary infrastructure, including identifying federal grants available for local spending.
Alcohol to go — The House and Senate reached a compromise on SB 148, by Senator Bradley, which includes limits on restaurants that can sell alcoholic drinks with take-home and delivery orders. Governor DeSantis, last spring, issued an executive order that included so-called “alcohol to go” to help restaurants in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. He supported making the rule permanent.
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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.
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