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The 2022 Session was supposed to conclude sine die today, but work on the state budget was not completed Tuesday. The budget needed to be “on the desk” Tuesday for the required 72-hour cooling off period to pass for a vote on the budget Friday. The House and Senate ultimately agreed to a $112 billion budget. The Legislature officially extended the Session to Monday in order to come back and vote on the budget and budget-related bills. The 2022 budget is the highest budget ever passed in Florida, bolstered as it was last year, by federal funds for COVID-19 recovery.

Executive Update:

Confirmations

Several Department Secretaries were officially confirmed in the Senate, including:

  • Department of Management Services Secretary Todd Inman
  • Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Melanie Griffin
  • Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon
  • Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton

Legislation Update:

Elections Reform

The elections reform bill, SB 524 by Senator Hutson, is headed to Governor DeSantis. The bill makes changes to the Florida’s election laws focused on election fraud. Governor DeSantis made this a priority after the last election cycle. Election supervisors will be required to clean the voter rolls each a 25-person election crimes office and greater penalties for election-related crimes. The House of Representatives passed the bill 76-41, along party lines. Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the bill.

Procedures for Petitions for Utility Rate Relief

SB 350 by Senator Bean increases the maximum annual sales, expressed in gigawatt hours, by which natural gas or public electric utilities may have to be eligible to request that the Public Service Commission use certain procedures for the utility’s petition for rate relief. The bill received overwhelming support in the Senate and House and is ready for the Governor’s review.

Local Ordinance Impact on Businesses

A bill allowing businesses whose revenues decline by 15% or more as a result of a local ordinance or local citizens initiative will now be allowed to sue cities and counties for damages passed Wednesday. The bill was a priority for Senate President Simpson. SB 620, by Senator Hutson, passed largely along party lines.

Anti-Woke Bill

HB 7, by Representative Avila, passed the Senate Thursday and is now ready for the Governor’s review. The bill known as the “Individual Freedom” bill or the anti-woke bill in intended to limit certain conversations about racism and sexism in schools and workplaces. The bill details principles that students may not be subjected to in public school classrooms. This was a priority for both House Speaker Sprowls and Governor DeSantis.

Net Metering

HB 741 by Representative McClure passed the Senate this week and will go on to Governor DeSantis. The bill would changes the credits rooftop solar system owners receive from electric utilities over a number of years to eventually providing credits at full avoided cost rates. 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.

Consumer Data Privacy – DID NOT PASS

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.

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