The Florida Legislature officially begins its 60-day 2023 regular Session on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. Here is a list of what is expected to be top of mind for legislators this session. For additional information on the 2023 legislative session, specific bills of interest and the potential impacts on your business, or for information on any state agency initiatives, please contact Ronald Brisé, or any member of Gunster’s government affairs practice.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, has made a priority of trying to find ways to make housing more affordable. Senator Calatayud filed SB 102 Housing and the bill is placed on Calendar, on second reading which means it is likely to pass the first week of session. The bill includes providing incentives for investments in affordable housing and encouraging mixed-use developments in struggling commercial areas. The bill would also put more money into housing programs such as SHIP and SAIL. Opponents of the bill believe that it preempts local governments from enacting ordinances controlling the price of rent under any circumstances.

BUDGET: Governor DeSantis has proposed a $114.8 billion budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1. The Framework for Freedom budget proposal includes money for increasing teacher salaries, $1.1 billion for Everglades restoration and water-quality issues, 5 percent across-the-board pay hikes for state workers and additional money for targeted jobs such as correctional officers. In addition, the budget includes $7 billion that would expedite the completion of 20 highway projects across the state, with a focus on Central and South Florida.

DEATH PENALTY: Legislation filed to reform death penalty sentences would change state law to allow juries to hand down the death penalty with a supermajority vote, rather than requiring unanimity. If passed, Florida would be the second state in the nation that allows nonunanimous jury votes for the death penalty.

DEFAMATION: Lawmakers will consider revamping the state’s defamation laws, potentially weakening protections for journalists. Governor DeSantis, who frequently criticizes the media, and House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, have called for revisiting the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as New York Times v. Sullivan, which helps shield reporters from lawsuits.

GUNS: Representative Chuck Brannan filed a proposal that would repeal the state requirement for a concealed weapons license, an idea that supporters call “constitutional carry.” The Florida Sheriffs Association and the National Rifle Association support the measure and Governor DeSantis has previously promised to sign constitutional carry legislation into law before his time as governor ends.

IMMIGRATION: Continuing to criticize federal border and immigration policies, Governor DeSantis wants lawmakers to pass a series of proposals involving undocumented immigrants. The proposed legislation does this by increasing penalties for human smuggling, strengthening statutes for the detention of illegal aliens, requiring universal use of E-Verify, enhancing penalties for document falsification, and prohibiting the issuance by local governments of ID cards to people who are not lawfully in the country.

LAWSUIT LIMITS: One of Governor DeSantis’ priorities this session is the tort reform package filed to tackle new lawsuit reform measures to reduce the number of suits and the amount of damages faced by small businesses in court cases. The proposals, which target issues such as attorney fees, have been very controversial, with critics arguing they would harm the ability of injured people to go to court.

SCHOOL BOARDS: Republican lawmakers want to amend the state Constitution to change school-board races from non-partisan to partisan. Also, lawmakers are considering eight-year term limits for school-board members, down from the current 12 years. This term limit applies to those individuals elected on or after November 8, 2022.

SCHOOL VOUCHERS: After years of gradually expanding school vouchers, the Republican proposal, which is also a priority for Speaker Renner, could make every Florida student eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers that could be used for private-school tuition, home school, and other expenses. In addition, it would nix income requirements for voucher. With ongoing conversations around cost to the state, House estimates put the cost at about $210 million while the Florida Policy Institute (FPI) says $4 billion. Many Florida homeschoolers oppose the bill.

TAXES: Governor DeSantis has proposed a $2 billion tax relief plan. The proposal includes a one-year sales tax exemption on children’s items, a permanent sales tax exemption on baby and toddler necessities and an expansion of the annual back-to-school tax holiday. Another tax holiday included in the plan is called “Freedom Summer,” which would run from Memorial Day to Sept. 4, and is estimated to save residents $224 million on items such as concert tickets, sporting equipment and camping supplies. The proposal also provides savings for homeowners and small businesses, including a permanent sales tax exemption on gas stoves and a two-year extension of the sales tax exemption on natural gas fuel. In addition to the plan, a Toll Relief Program was also signed by the governor in December, providing frequent commuters with a 50% credit on their toll transactions, saving them nearly $480 a year.

DIGITAL BILL OF RIGHTS: One of Governor DeSantis priorities this year proposes legislation that would ban the use of TikTok, and other social media platforms tied to China and other foreign countries of concern on all government devices and bans the access of such platforms through internet services provided by any university, public school, or other government office.


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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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


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