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The Legislature began budget conferencing during the eighth week of the regular Session. Allocations for each major segment of the budget were released Monday evening and Conference Committees were created with members from both the House and the Senate. Conference meetings started Tuesday and progressed through the week. By Thursday evening, unresolved budget issues were bumped to the full Appropriations Chairs for their negotiation. Any issues the Chairs are unable to resolve will be negotiated by the Senate President and House Speaker. The House and Senate remain at odds on education, health care, and state worker raises, among other issues. The Legislature must complete the budget by Tuesday, March 8th, to complete the Session on March 11th. Out of the 3,682 bills filed this Session, so far only 56 have passed both Chambers to go on to the Governor’s desk. Next week is the final week of the regular Session, which is expected to end on Friday, March 11th.

Executive Updates 

Governor DeSantis was presented with SB 282, Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders, Thursday. He has until Thursday, March 10th, to act on the bill.

Consumer Data Privacy

For the second year in a row, the House has voted to strengthen consumer data privacy in Florida. The proposal (HB 9), passed via a 103-8 vote, would give consumers more control over their personal data, including the right to request companies delete or stop selling it. The bill would apply to businesses that meet two of three thresholds: have $50 million global annual revenue, sell the data of 50,000 consumers, or derive half of its global revenue from selling personal data. Ultimately, lawmakers hope to prevent companies from trading in Floridians’ data without approval. Polling published Tuesday showed the proposal is overwhelmingly popular among voters, but the business community has railed against the bill, claiming it could cost Florida businesses as much as $21 billion. Supporters, however, note the potential costs would be shouldered only by companies that actively trade in consumer data.

Net Metering 

HB 741 by Representative McClure passed the House 83-31. Under existing state law, people who own rooftop solar systems are required to hook up to utility systems. Owners can sell excess electricity to utilities and receive bill credits, which are provided at the utilities’ retail rates. The bill would change the credits over a number of years to eventually providing credits at full avoided cost rates, which could reduce the amounts going to rooftop solar owners. The Senate companion, SB 1024, was heard by the by the full Senate Friday and the Senate substituted the House bill for their bill and placed it on the Third Reading Calendar for the 7th. This would be the final reading before going to the Governor.

Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform

The Senate approved HB 357 to increase oversight of pharmacy benefit managers. The Senate voted 36-0 to pass the bill, which also was unanimously approved last week by the House. The bill will now go to Governor DeSantis. The bill gives the state Office of Insurance Regulation more authority over pharmacy benefit managers. Pharmacy benefit managers will not only be required to register with the state, but the Office of Insurance Regulation will now have power to enforce the registration requirement and fine those who violate the requirement.

Broadband Pole Replacement

The Florida Senate unanimously passed bills, SB 1800 and SB 1802 by Senator Jim Boyd, that create a framework to help expand broadband into underserved areas. Funding for the program was stripped from the bill, because the state is waiting to receive federal money for the program. The House companions, HB 1543 and HB 1545, by Representative Tomkow, are ready for the full House.

Redistricting Update

The State Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state Senate and House maps. The Florida Supreme Court Issued Opinion SC22-131 In Re: Senate Joint Resolution of Legislative Apportionment 100, affirming the constitutionality of the state House and state Senate districts.

The Legislature approved a redistricting plan Friday for the Congressional districts. The House passed two congressional maps in a 67-47, while the Senate passed the maps by a 24-15 vote near party lines. The maps were approved despite a veto threat by Governor DeSantis.

Webinar Replay: Part 1 Redistricting 101: An Overview of the Redistricting Process and the Impact on Florida Businesses – November 19, 2021

Webinar Replay: Part II Redistricting 101: A Legislative Update on Redistricting- January 28, 2022

Florida Women in Insurance Leadership Awards

Gunster and its Government Affairs Team kicked off Women’s History month this week recognizing women from across the state that have and continue to make extraordinary contributions to Florida’s insurance marketplace. On Thursday, March 3rd, Government Affairs Consultant, Sha’Ron James hosted the inaugural Florida Women in Insurance Leadership Awards luncheon. Women from across the state gathered in Tallahassee to recognize the impact female insurance leaders have on our state’s insurance market and the work that must be done in the future to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry. Vivian D. Wesson, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Marsh & McLennan Companies, served as the luncheon’s keynote speaker and challenged attendees to forge a path for women in the industry through sponsorship, mentorship, and courageous leadership.

Over 40 women were nominated for the Florida Women in Insurance Awards and the winners, announced at the luncheon, are as follows:

  • Emerging Leader Paige Crider, Litigation Manager, Florida Peninsula Insurance Company
  • Leadership PacesetterVeronica Della Porta, Managing Partner, The Della Porta Group
  • Lifetime Achievement Elana Schrader, MD, Senior Vice President of Health Care Services, Florida Blue and President of GuideWell Health
  • DEI Catalyst AwardAmerican Property & Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA)
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