The fourth week of the Legislative Session ends today, and bills are moving through the Florida House and Senate. Gunster’s Government Affairs team is working hard, closely tracking legislation and meeting with legislators to monitor and lobby on behalf of our clients.

Below is a weekly update from Gunster’s Government Affairs Consultants with a summary of the week’s top issues and how they may impact your business and a close look at this week’s happenings around the capital city.



The Senate and House budget committees in Florida have approved spending plans exceeding $115 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. Despite differences on issues such as prison funding, healthcare, and home-hardening grants, both proposals aim to tighten spending and address future economic uncertainties. The budgets include provisions for tax breaks, pay raises for state employees, and increased funding for education. The Senate proposal also prioritizes initiatives such as the “Live Healthy” plan (SB 7016) and the repair of aging prison infrastructure, while the House proposal focuses on grants and inspections for home-hardening projects. The proposals will now undergo negotiations between the Senate and House before final approval by both chambers.



A bill that would prohibit state insurers from charging out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary breast cancer examinations is making progress in the Senate. The bill aims to amend patient cost-sharing rules to ban insurance companies from requiring copays for diagnostic and supplemental breast exams. The goal is to make these essential imaging procedures more accessible and affordable for patients. The bill has received support from breast cancer survivors and advocacy organizations, who emphasize the importance of early detection and timely treatment. Similar legislation has been passed in 20 other states.

The bill passed unanimously in its first committee stop, Senate Banking and Insurance on Tuesday. A companion bill (HB 773) passed its first committee stop Friday.



The House Education & Employment Committee has approved an amendment to a proposed bill that would impose fees on individuals who file objections to school-library books and other learning materials. The initial version of the bill included a $100 processing fee for people who filed more than five book objections in a year, without having students enrolled in the schools where the books are challenged. However, the revised bill now states that the fees would only be assessed if the book challenges are unsuccessful. This means that if school districts uphold people’s objections, they would not be limited in the number of challenges they can file. The conservative group Florida Citizens Alliance has expressed concerns about the definition of “unsuccessful objection,” as some objections may result in books being deemed age-inappropriate for certain grade levels but still suitable for others. The issue of book objections has been a contentious topic in Florida, leading to increased scrutiny of library materials in recent years. To date, the three Senate bills on school deregulation (SB 7000, SB 7002, and SB 7004) do not include a similar fee proposal.

The bill passed out of its last committee stop and is ready to be heard by the full House.



This is a proposal that would loosen work restrictions for 16- and 17-year-old students. The proposal allows them to work until midnight on school nights, extending the current limit of 11 p.m. It also revises the prohibition on working more than eight hours on school nights, allowing them to work longer if it’s a holiday or Sunday. In contrast, the House bill (HB 49) maintains the 11 p.m. work limit on school nights but removes the restriction on working more than eight hours. The proposals have sparked controversy, with some groups supporting the changes and others opposing them. Supporters argue that the bills address the need for flexibility in a post-COVID work environment, while opponent’s express concerns about the potential impact on students’ sleep and academic performance.

SB 1596 was reported favorably in its first committee stop on Tuesday. The House companion was heard on Thursday by the full House and approved the measure 80-35.



A proposal that aims to protect coastal communities from certain construction and saltwater intrusion. The bill would remove the Department of Environmental Protection’s ability to delegate coastal construction zoning authority to local governments. However, local governments that established such zoning before December 1, 2023, would be exempted. The bill would also expand the Resilient Florida Grant Program to include projects assessing the vulnerability of a locality’s drinking water to saltwater intrusion.

The House bill passed out of its first committee stop Monday and has two more committee stops to go. The Senate version of the bill (SB 298) has already cleared all three committees and awaits consideration by the full chamber.


Legislation to create a two-mile buffer zone around the Everglades Protection Area (EPA) is making progress in the House. The bill (HB 723) aims to impose restrictions on development and zoning changes near the endangered wetlands of the Everglades. If passed, local development plans within two miles of the EPA would need to follow Florida’s coordinated review process, which would assess the potential harm to the Everglades.

The bill has received unanimous approval from the House Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee. A similar bill (SB 1364) is also being considered in the Senate.



The bills clarify that “passive investors” in ALFs, similar to nursing homes, cannot be sued in civil litigation. They also make it more challenging for plaintiffs to seek punitive damages against ALF providers by requiring a court hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence for punitive damages. The ALF industry believes these changes are necessary due to an increase in lawsuits and rising liability insurance premiums. However, critics argue that ALFs want to be treated like nursing homes in litigation but do not want to face the same regulations. The bills define a “passive investor” as an entity that has an interest in a facility but does not participate in its decision-making or operations. There are approximately 3,000 licensed ALFs in Florida with a combined 106,000 beds.

Both bills have passed out of their first committee stop and the Senate version is scheduled to be heard next week in Senate Health Policy.



The bill requires a two-thirds majority vote by governing boards to approve increases in millage rates. This means that a broad bipartisan consensus would be needed to increase taxes. The Senate version (SB 1322) has also been approved by the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties have expressed concerns about the bills in its current form. The bill aims to address concerns raised by voters about increasing taxes without sufficient consensus.

The bill passed its second committee stop on Wednesday and is now at its last committee stop. The bill’s Senate companion still has two more committee stops.



A bill is advancing in the Senate that could allow surplus lines insurance companies, which face less regulation than traditional insurers, to take over second homes in Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The aim of the bill is to reduce the number of policies in Citizens, a state-run company that can place assessments on all homeowners in the event of a catastrophic storm. Surplus lines companies are not regulated in the same way as admitted carriers, and they typically cover more expensive homes in riskier coastal areas. Under the proposed bill, homeowners with a second home covered by Citizens would be required to move to a surplus lines company if approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation. However, homeowners could opt out if their insurance agent is not licensed with the surplus lines company.

The bill passed unanimously in Senate Banking and Insurance on Tuesday and is now in its last committee stop. The House version of the bill (HB 1503) was heard on Thursday in its first committee stop and was passed.



A bill that aims to provide affordable housing across the state as an expansion of the 2023 Live Local legislative goals supported by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. Sen. Alexis Calatayud highlighted that workforce housing is crucial for the state’s security and quality of life. The bill proposes enhancements to zoning and land use for affordable housing developments, preemptions for floor area ratio, and clarification that affordable housing units must be rentals. The bill was amended to revise the building height entitlements. Senators, including Sen. Shevrin Jones and Sen. Victor Torres, commended Calatayud for her efforts and emphasized the importance of addressing housing affordability. Sen. Geraldine Thompson expressed support for the bill but requested further clarity regarding student housing and its classification as affordable housing.

SB 328 was heard on Wednesday and has unanimously passed the Florida Senate Fiscal Policy Committee, its final committee assignment. The House companion has yet to be heard in committee.


A bill that aims to address affordable housing issues through the establishment of parameters and a statutory definition for “movable tiny homes.” The bill provides a standard definition and construction guidelines for these homes, which are smaller in size and are on wheels. The bill would allow for permanent dwelling in movable tiny homes that meet residential building standards. The total area of such homes would not exceed 400 square feet or 500 square feet, depending on the construction standards. Inspections would also be required to ensure compliance with the Florida Building Code. The bill has received praise from legislators, including Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani, who sees it as a potential solution for lower-income families and nonprofits seeking transitional housing options.

The Transportation & Modals Subcommittee of the Florida House unanimously advanced the bill on Wednesday and its now in its last committee stop.


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 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 290 attorneys and consultants, and over 290 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


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