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As of today, the legislature has filed a total of 3,082 bills this Session and only 38 bills have passed both chambers thus far. With Sine Die scheduled for April 30th, there are now only two weeks left of the regular Session. Most committees in the House and Senate have stopped meeting and the fate of outstanding bills are becoming more and more clear.

Executive Updates: The PSC Nominating Council met Monday to conduct interviews and advance four names to the Governor to appoint the next Public Service Commission Commissioner, those four are:

Rosanna Catalano: 7 Votes
Gabriella Passidomo: 11 Votes
Ana Ortega: 10 Votes
Scott Plakon: 10 Votes

Governor DeSantis has 30 days to make his selection for the open Commission post.

Budget Watch: Budget allocations are expected soon as are announcements regarding budget conference meeting timeframes and members. Stay tuned!

Legislative Updates:

Gaming – The Senate Regulated Industries Committee heard the Senate’s initial versions of gaming bills Monday. SPB 7076/7078 would set up a state Gaming Control Commission within the Attorney General’s Office. SPB 7080 would remove requirements that pari-mutuels host races, or jai alai matches to operate card rooms, also known as decoupling. The bills do not address sports betting, nor do they address the negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Similarly, the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved their versions of these bills, PCB COM 21-05/PCB COM 21-03, which would revamp laws about pari-mutuel facilities and create a state gaming commission.

Consumer Data Privacy – Despite strong opposition from the business community, the House Commerce Committee progressed Rep. Fiona McFarland’s consumer data privacy bill, HB 969. Business advocates expressed concern about the financial burden for protecting consumers’ data, while consumer advocates argued customers would be upset to learn the information businesses retain about them.

Repeal of Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law – The Senate approved legislation Wednesday to end the state’s no-fault auto insurance system. Senate Bill 54 sponsored by Senator Danny Burgess repeals Florida’s current Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, which requires drivers to carry personal injury protection coverage. Drivers would be required instead to carry bodily injury liability coverage. The bill also creates a new framework to govern motor vehicle claim handling and third-party bad faith failure to settle actions against motor vehicle insurance carriers. It also authorizes the exclusion of a specifically named individual from insurance coverages under a private passenger motor vehicle policy, with the written consent of the policyholder. The reforms are a priority for Senate President Wilton Simpson, but the House has taken a different approach. These differences will need to be worked out in the final weeks of the legislative session for the repeal to go to the Governor.

Florida’s Broken Unemployment System – On Wednesday, the House Commerce Committee approved HB 1463, sponsored by Rep. Chip LaMarca, which requires the Department of Economic Opportunity to develop a cloud-based system that “must support the efficient distribution of benefits and the effective operation and management” of the unemployment program.” The bill is now set to go to the House floor. The Senate companion, SB 1948, by Senator Aaron Bean, passed the Appropriations Committee on Thursday and has one final committee stop before going to the Senate Floor. The bills are not identical, so House and Senate leadership will have to compromise to fix and improve this system. The legislation is the result of major system crashes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sea-Level Rise Tax Break – In an effort to address the effects of climate change, the Senate Finance and Tax Committee unanimously passed Senate Joint Resolution 1182 sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes. The bill would ask voters in 2022 to approve a constitutional amendment to provide a property tax break to property owners who elevate homes to address potential flooding. In order to be eligible, the work would have to meet elevation requirements set by the National Flood Insurance Program and the Florida Building Code. The bill has one final committee stop before the Senate floor. The House version HJR 1377 sponsored by Rep. Linda Chaney was heard in its final committee stop on Thursday and will now go to the House Floor. If the constitutional amendment is passed by voters, it would reduce local government property-tax revenue by $5.8 million during fiscal year 2023-2024, with that amount growing to $25.1 million annually. To fund the program, the House and Senate created the Resilient Florida Grant Program in SB 1954 sponsored by Senator Ray Rodrigues, and HB 7019 sponsored by Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera. This program will allow spending up to $100 million a year on projects within the Department of Environmental Protection. Under this program, local governments could apply for funding assistance to address sea level rise issues.

Gunster’s Government Affairs Team is committed to keeping you informed. If there is any way our team can be of service to you, please contact us.

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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, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With more than 240 attorneys and consultants, and over 240 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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