The Florida Legislature concluded the 2024 Session sine die Friday at 2:25 PM EST.  The House and Senate agreed to a $117.46 billion budget.  This year, 325 bills passed both the House and Senate.

Below is a weekly update from Gunster’s Government Affairs Consultants with a summary of the week’s issues, how they may impact your business and a recap of bills that moved through the Legislature this session. 


The Florida Senate has introduced a comprehensive tax package that includes various measures such as sales-tax “holidays” and small discounts on property-insurance policies. This tax package, estimated to reduce state and local revenue by $439.6 million in the 2024-2025 fiscal year, accompanies a proposed budget of $117.46 billion that was passed on Friday. The tax package contains several beneficial components, including breaks for railroads, corporations employing people with disabilities, and the aforementioned tax holidays and insurance discounts. However, it does not include a proposal from the House to further decrease the commercial-lease tax, which businesses have long sought to eliminate. The House wanted to reduce the tax to 1.25 percent for one year, but it currently stands at 4.5 percent and is scheduled to drop to 2 percent in June. The tax package was influenced by two recent decisions. First, budget leaders decided to reinstate a bill-credit program for frequent toll-road users, which will cost the state approximately $450 million in revenue. Second, $162 million has been set aside to cover expenses related to a controversial transit tax in Hillsborough County that was ruled unconstitutional in 2018. These matters are included in the budget rather than the tax package. The toll-credit program, previously in effect in 2023, will resume on April 1 and provide 50 percent credits to drivers who make 35 or more toll-road trips per month.


SB 7028 – My Safe Florida Home Program

The Florida Senate has given final approval to a bill that would allocate an additional $200 million to the home-hardening grant program. However, the bill also includes a provision that would prevent the state Department of Financial Services from accepting new applications or creating a waiting list for the program once the funds are depleted. The My Safe Florida Home Program provides grants of up to $10,000 to homeowners to make improvements that qualify for property-insurance discounts. In a special legislative session last November, lawmakers approved $176.17 million for the program, which was expected to cover over 17,600 existing applications. This funding was in addition to the $215 million allocated when the program was relaunched in 2022 to address the state’s property-insurance issues. The program was originally established in 2006 but had become inactive. The bill now awaits the approval of Governor Ron DeSantis.

HB 1503 – Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

The Florida House has given final approval to a bill (HB 1503) aimed at reducing the size of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The bill, which was unanimously passed by the House and previously approved by the Senate, is now awaiting the approval of Governor Ron DeSantis. The focus of the bill is on a “depopulation” program that aims to shift policies from Citizens into the private insurance market. Under the current program, only “admitted” insurance carriers, which are subject to state regulations, can participate. The new bill would allow “surplus lines” carriers, which are not subject to the same regulations, to assume policies from Citizens for second homes that do not have homestead property-tax exemptions. This change has raised concerns, as surplus lines carriers often insure risky properties and lack the regulatory protections of admitted carriers. To address these concerns, the Senate amended the bill to exempt residences with homestead exemptions from being assumed by surplus lines carriers. This change was supported by critics of the earlier version of the bill, who felt that it could negatively impact Florida residents who only live part-time in the state. The bill also includes safeguards such as requiring surplus lines carriers to have strong financial-strength ratings. Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has become the state’s largest property insurer in recent years due to private carriers dropping customers and raising rates. However, state leaders believe that Citizens needs to be significantly smaller to mitigate financial risks in the event of major hurricanes. While proposals were filed during this legislative session that could have added policies to Citizens, it is now determined that those policies will not pass. If the bill is approved by Governor Ron DeSantis, it will be a significant step towards reducing the size of Citizens Property Insurance Corp and shifting policies into the private market.


SB 280 – Vacation Rentals

The Florida Senate has given final approval to a plan (SB 280) aimed at addressing issues related to short-term vacation rentals, particularly “party houses” in beachfront communities. The bill, which was approved by the House on Wednesday, is now awaiting the approval of Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill seeks to regulate vacation rentals by preempting regulation to the state while allowing local governments to have short-term rental registration programs that meet certain parameters. The bill also sets maximum occupancy limits for vacation rentals and allows officials to suspend registrations for violations of local codes. It requires vacation rental operators to designate a responsible party available around the clock to address complaints or emergencies. The plan also includes the creation of a database with information about vacation rentals and the assignment of a unique identifier to properties. Platforms such as Airbnb would be required to include the unique identifier and any local registration numbers on advertisements or listings for the property. Additionally, platforms would be responsible for collecting and remitting sales taxes on rentals. Critics of the bill argue that it takes away local control over vacation rentals and does not provide enough consumer protections. Supporters of the bill believe it will help ease litigation surrounding vacation rentals and protect property owners’ rights. If approved by Governor Ron DeSantis, the bill will establish a framework for regulating vacation rentals and address issues related to short-term rentals in Florida.

SB 1526 – Local Regulation of Nonconforming and Unsafe Structures

A bill that will make it easier for developers to demolish coastal and historic buildings and construct larger structures is heading to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk. The bill, known as the “Resiliency and Safe Structures Act,” prohibits local governments from blocking or restricting the demolition of buildings within the coastal construction control line (CCCL) under certain circumstances. The bill exempts several cities and neighborhoods, including St. Augustine, Key West, Palm Beach, Tampa, Pensacola, West Palm Beach, Panama City, and specific areas in Miami Beach. Supporters of the bill argue that it prevents unfair denials of demolition permits and promotes consistency in zoning regulations. Critics, including the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and the Miami Design Preservation League, express concerns about the potential loss of historic structures and the negative impact on local economies. The bill has faced opposition throughout the legislative process but was ultimately passed by the House with a vote of 86-29.


HB 1645 – Energy Resources

The Florida House has passed a bill (HB 1645) that would bring about several changes to state energy laws. The bill, which was previously approved by the Senate, is now awaiting the approval of Governor Ron DeSantis. One of the key provisions of the bill is a ban on offshore wind-energy generation in Florida, as well as the placement of wind turbines within one mile of the coast and the Intracoastal Waterway. The sponsors of the bill argue that large-scale wind energy is not viable in Florida and that the ban is necessary to protect wildlife, ecosystems, and prevent noise. However, some Democrats have raised concerns about imposing such a ban, noting that technologies evolve and change over time.  Additionally, the bill seeks to revise parts of state law that reference the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It eliminates language that highlights the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing alternative energy technologies. Instead, the revised language emphasizes the goal of ensuring an adequate, reliable, and cost-effective supply of energy for the state while promoting public health, welfare, and economic growth. The bill also includes changes to regulations on building natural gas pipelines. Currently, pipelines in Florida that are 15 miles or longer require certification under the Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Siting Act. The bill would raise the threshold to pipelines that are 100 miles or longer. Supporters of the bill argue that it is necessary to maintain stability in electric generation and prioritize cost-efficiency and reliability. Critics, on the other hand, point to concerns such as sea-level rise and its potential impact on flooding. The bill’s passage in the House marks a significant step towards its implementation, pending the governor’s approval.

HB 1365 – Unauthorized Public Camping and Public Sleeping

The Florida Senate has passed a bill that would crack down on homelessness and shift the financial responsibility to local jurisdictions. The bill, sponsored by Representative Sam Garrison, would prohibit homeless individuals from sleeping or camping in public places without explicit permission, forcing localities to find alternative solutions for the homeless population. Under the legislation, counties would be required to establish encampments with strict rules and regulations, including bans on drugs and alcohol, clean facilities, and rehabilitative services. These encampments would only be allowed to exist in one location for a maximum of 365 days. Democrats expressed concerns about the bill, citing logistical issues and the lack of funding. They also questioned how sex offenders and animals would be handled in the camps. Despite the opposition, the bill aligns with Governor Ron DeSantis’ goal of creating camps that provide assistance and resources to the homeless population while maintaining order and safety. The legislation includes provisions for behavioral health services, including substance abuse and mental health treatment.


HB 7071 – Foreign Investments by the State Board of Administration

The Florida House and Senate have unanimously passed a bill that would require the divestment of pension-fund investments in Chinese state-owned companies. The measure is now awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval. If approved by the Governor, the State Board of Administration would be tasked with developing a plan to sell holdings tied to Chinese companies and completing the divestment within one year. The bill is a response to the Chinese government’s activities that have drawn U.S. government sanctions. The aim is to prevent the state of Florida from supporting companies owned or controlled by a nation that poses a threat to the United States. However, some critics argue that the bill is hypocritical since the state and consumers continue to purchase Chinese-made goods. The State Board of Administration Board of Trustees, which oversees state investments, is comprised of Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. The proposal would prohibit pension-fund investments in companies linked to the Chinese government, communist party, and military. Investments in over 200 Chinese state-owned entities account for a small percentage of the retirement system fund. Similar bans have been imposed on Cuba, Sudan, Iran, and Venezuela in the past.


SB 1638 – Funding for Environmental Resource Management

A bill that would allocate gambling revenue for environmental projects is now awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval. The bill, unanimously approved by the House and previously passed by the Senate, would provide a minimum of $450 million annually for initiatives such as land conservation, invasive species removal, and upgrading properties from septic tanks to sewer systems. The funding will primarily come from a gambling deal made with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2021. The deal is projected to generate $749 million for the state in the upcoming fiscal year. The bill aims to support land conservation, water quality improvement, and the preservation of working lands. The gambling compact allows the tribe to offer online sports betting statewide and expand their casino games. In return, the tribe has committed to paying $2.5 billion to the state over the first five years, with the potential for additional payments over the three-decade pact. The compact funds for the next fiscal year are expected to be allocated to land acquisition, flood control, and land management, distributed among the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. However, the gambling deal is currently being challenged in state and federal courts by two pari-mutuel companies.

1698 – Food and Hemp Products

A bill aimed at banning intoxicating hemp-based products has passed in the Florida House and Senate and is now awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval. The legislation specifically targets delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids in hemp products, including whole-flower products, which can produce psychedelic effects. The bill received opposition from manufacturers and sellers of hemp-based products who argued that it would harm businesses and push people towards the illegal drug market. Supporters of the bill argue that it closes a loophole in a previous law that allowed hemp cultivation in the state. Democrats raised concerns about the impact on individuals who rely on hemp-based products for medical conditions and questioned the need for the ban.

SB 1084 – Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The Florida House has given final approval to a bill that would ban lab-grown meat and prevent local regulation of electric-vehicle charging stations. The bill, which is now awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval, includes several changes related to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Democrats have criticized the bans on lab-grown meat and local regulation, arguing that they hinder innovation and limit the free market. Supporters of the bill express concerns about the safety of cultivated meat and believe that Florida agriculture can provide safe and quality agricultural products. The bill allows for research into lab-grown meat but makes it a misdemeanor to sell or manufacture it. Additionally, the bill places oversight of electric-vehicle charging stations under the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, aligning them with the regulation of gas pumps. The bill comes in response to a 2021 state law that prohibits local governments from mandating electric-vehicle charging stations on gas retailers.

HB 165 – Sampling of Beach Waters and Public Bathing Spaces

Florida waterways, particularly those in South Florida, are susceptible to bacterial contamination due to aging wastewater systems, surface runoff, and animal byproducts. In response to the contamination of public swimming areas, Florida lawmakers have passed a bill called the “Safe Waterways Act” (HB 165) and sent it to Governor Ron DeSantis for approval. The Safe Waterways Act aims to streamline the state’s reporting process by creating a statewide system under the Department of Health (DOH) to issue warnings and announce beach, canal, and pool closures within 24 hours of a safety issue. It also establishes an official procedure for city and county governments to report water problems to the DOH and display health advisory signage in affected areas. Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to display health advisory signs for state-owned beach waters and public bathing places if they contain elevated levels of fecal coliform, E. coli, or enterococci bacteria. These bacteria usually originate from sewage, fertilizer runoff, and livestock byproducts. The purpose of this bill is to prevent unnecessary human illness and potential fatalities. Lack of accountability and public awareness regarding water dangers has negatively impacted tourism in the state. The bipartisan support for the bill highlights the shared concern for the health of Florida’s waterways, especially in South Florida, where bacterial exposure and fish kills are common. The bill’s sponsors include Boynton Beach Democratic Senator Lori Berman, Miami Republican Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez, St. Petersburg Democratic Representative Lindsay Cross, and Highland Beach Republican Representative Peggy Gossett-Seidman. Senator Gayle Harrell, a Republican from Stuart, praised the bill and shared a personal story about a friend who suffered severe contamination-related injuries. If approved by Governor Ron DeSantis, the “Safe Waterways Act” will take effect on July 1, 2021.


SB 644 – Rural Emergency Hospitals

A bill that aims to create a new category of “rural emergency hospitals” in Florida has been unanimously passed by the House and is now headed to Governor Ron DeSantis for approval. The bill, sponsored by Senator Corey Simon and Representative Jason Shoaf, is intended to improve healthcare access in rural areas. It is a response to a federal law that allows for the designation of rural emergency hospitals, making them eligible for Medicare payments. The bill would ensure that these hospitals are licensed by the state, enabling them to receive the necessary funding. The designated hospitals would be able to provide emergency services, observation care, and outpatient services with a maximum length of stay of 24 hours. They would be exempt from certain requirements, such as providing inpatient and surgical care. The bill comes as a response to the closure of several rural hospitals in Florida in recent years.

SB 330 – Behavioral Health Teaching Hospitals

Florida lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill to establish behavioral-health teaching hospitals in an effort to enhance mental health and substance abuse treatment. The bill designates four hospitals connected to universities as behavioral-health teaching hospitals. These hospitals include Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida, UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and the University of Florida, UF Health Jacksonville and the University of Florida, and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and the University of Miami. The legislation also allows for the addition of more behavioral-health teaching hospitals in the future. The bill allocates $100 million annually for the next three years to support these teaching hospitals, including funding for psychiatry residency positions. The hospitals will collaborate with universities to develop programs for students in medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, and public health, covering various aspects of behavioral health care. These programs will encompass screening, therapy, community outpatient care, crisis stabilization, short-term residential treatment, and long-term care.

HB 159 – HIV Infection Prevention Drugs

The Florida House has given final approval to a bill sponsored by Democratic Representative Gallop Franklin that could empower pharmacists to play a crucial role in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. If approved by Governor Ron DeSantis, the bill would allow pharmacists to screen adults for HIV exposure and provide the results of the screening. Additionally, certain pharmacists who work collaboratively with physicians could become certified to order and dispense post-exposure prophylaxis. The Senate added an amendment to the bill that clarified the language regarding the collaborative agreements between physicians and pharmacists. Representative Franklin, who is a pharmacist himself, named the bill the “John W. Rheay Act” in honor of Republican Representative Dana Trabulsy’s brother, who passed away from AIDS. Representative Trabulsy expressed her gratitude for the bill and thanked Representative Gallop Franklin II and Senator Alexis Calatayud, the bill’s sponsors.


HB 1007 – Nicotine Products and Dispensing Devices

The Florida Legislature has passed a bill (HB 1007) that could lead to a ban on certain single-use vape products, while exempting refillable devices and e-liquids. The original version of the bill aimed to prohibit the sale of any vape product without FDA approval, but the amended version now directs the Department of Legal Affairs to develop a directory of single-use nicotine vapes deemed attractive to minors. Once a product is listed, retailers have 60 days to sell or remove it from inventory, and selling banned products can result in misdemeanor charges and fines. The bill has cleared the Senate with unanimous support and now awaits Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision. Critics of the bill argue that it gives the Attorney General’s office too much power in determining which vape products to ban.


1291 – Educator Preparation Programs

The Florida Senate passed a bill that aims to prevent “identity politics” from being taught in teacher preparation programs. The bill prohibits colleges and universities from teaching concepts like systemic racism and privilege, claiming they perpetuate social inequities. The measure applies to both teacher and school leader preparation programs. Democrats in the Senate raised concerns about the lack of a clear definition for “identity politics” and argued that the bill could limit teachers’ freedom of speech. Critics also argue that the restrictions could prevent students from learning about important aspects of history. The bill’s sponsor, a Republican senator, defended the measure by stating that it focuses on how teachers are taught, not the content they teach. The bill also includes a provision requiring candidates to develop critical thinking skills and master academic content.

HB 1285 – Education

The Florida House has given final approval to an education bill aimed at limiting objections to school-library books from individuals who do not have children in schools. The bill states that non-parent residents of the county can only object to one material per month. Initially, the House proposed a $100 fee for unsuccessful book objections, but the Senate amended the bill to restrict non-parents to one challenge per month instead. The revised bill was accepted by the House with a vote of 84-29, putting it on track to be sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for approval. This bill follows previous measures implemented since 2022 that increased scrutiny of school-library books and classroom materials. Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed the need to address “frivolous” book challenges, stating that some individuals have abused the objection process. Democrats have voiced opposition to making it easier to object to books, arguing that removing books from library shelves is equivalent to book bans.

HB 3 – Online Access to Materials Harmful to Minors

The Florida House has passed a bill aimed at keeping children off social media platforms, with the intention of protecting their mental health and preventing communication with sexual predators. The bill, which already passed the Senate, will now go to Governor Ron DeSantis for final approval. The legislation prohibits children under the age of 16 from opening social media accounts but allows parents to provide consent for 14- and 15-year-olds. Children under 14 would not be allowed to have accounts. Tech-industry and free-speech groups have expressed concerns about the bill, stating that it may violate First Amendment rights and could face legal challenges. Supporters of the bill argue that it targets the addictive features of social media platforms rather than content, making it more likely to withstand constitutional challenges. The bill does not name specific social media platforms but includes criteria related to algorithms, addictive features, and user interactions. The revised plan no longer includes age-verification requirements but instead allows lawsuits against platforms that violate the age restrictions. The bill also includes provisions for age verification to prevent minors from accessing online pornography sites.

SB 7002 – Deregulation of Public Schools/School District Finance and Budgets, Facilities, and Administration and Oversight & SB 7004 – Deregulation of Public Schools/Assessment and Accountability, Instruction, and Education Choice

A package of education legislation in Florida that aims to free public schools from certain requirements has received unanimous support from the House and Senate. The bills, known as “Learn Local,” seek to level the playing field between public, private, and charter schools. The legislation, which is awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature, would overhaul requirements for teacher training, governance, and student promotion. The original version of the legislation included removing a 20-minute free play period, algebra, and a 10th-grade English assessment from public school requirements. However, lawmakers removed the provision that would have allowed recess to be canceled. The legislation also makes it easier for students to advance to fourth grade and modifies rules about student progression, instructional materials, and early learning. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has expressed her satisfaction with the bill and pledged to continue deregulating public school rules in the future.

HB 1109 – Security for Jewish Day Schools and Preschools

The Florida Senate has passed a bill aimed at enhancing security at Jewish day schools due to an increase in anti-Semitic incidents. The measure, which received unanimous approval, is now awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ review. The proposal seeks to allocate recurring funding in each year’s state budget for safety measures at Jewish day schools. This funding would cover expenses such as security cameras, hiring security personnel, shatter-resistant glass for windows, and transportation-related costs to minimize security risks for staff, parents, and students. Last year, the Legislature allocated $30 million to Jewish day schools, with $25 million provided during a special legislative session in November. Senator Joe Gruters, the bill’s sponsor, highlighted the rise in anti-Semitism since October, particularly during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Senator Gruters emphasized the increasing enrollment in Jewish day schools, which has led to higher security costs.

HB 931 – School Chaplains

Florida school districts may soon have the authority to allow volunteer chaplains to provide services to students, as the Senate gave final passage to a bill (HB 931) on Thursday. The measure is now awaiting the approval of Governor Ron DeSantis. Under the bill, school districts and charter schools would be able to create policies that allow volunteer chaplains to offer support, services, and programs to students. These policies would need to meet certain requirements, such as describing the services provided by the chaplains and obtaining written parental consent for students to receive those services. Parents would also have the option to select a volunteer school chaplain from a list provided by the school district, which would include the chaplain’s religious affiliation. The bill also mandates that volunteer chaplains undergo background screenings similar to noninstructional school employees, and school districts would be required to publish lists of chaplains and their religious affiliations. Critics of the bill, including Senate Democrats, argue that it lacks requirements for chaplain training and raises concerns about the separation of church and state. Supporters of the bill contend that it allows school districts to determine their own training requirements and that chaplains have long been present in public institutions. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which opposes the bill, expressed concerns about potential violations of religious freedom rights and the risk of chaplains evangelizing or imposing religion on students. If signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the bill would grant school districts the option to allow volunteer chaplains to provide services to students, while raising debates surrounding religious freedom and the separation of church and state.


HB 91 – Transportation Facility Designations

A bill to rename State Road A1A as “Jimmy Buffett Highway” in honor of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett has been approved by lawmakers in Florida. The legislation, known as HB 91, received unanimous support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The highway will be renamed from Ferdinand Beach to Mile Marker 0 in Key West. The decision to choose A1A is fitting, as Buffett’s fifth studio album was titled “A1A.” The bill directs the Florida Department of Transportation to install the first highway marker by August 30, 2024. The renaming of the highway is seen as a tribute to Buffett’s influence and his connection to the coastal lifestyle of Florida.

BillTitleDate PresentedGovernor’s DeadlineDate Acted UponAction
SB 0072Florida Statutes02/08/2402/15/2402/15/24Approved
SB 0074Florida Statutes02/08/2402/15/2402/15/24Approved
SB 0076Florida Statutes02/08/2402/15/2402/15/24Approved
SB 0078Florida Statutes02/08/2402/15/2402/15/24Approved
SB 0080Florida Statutes02/08/2402/15/2402/15/24Approved
SB 0082Florida Statutes02/08/2402/15/2402/15/24Approved
HB 0001Online Protections for Minors02/23/2403/01/2403/01/24Vetoed
HB 1377Pub. Rec. / Investigations by the Department of Legal Affairs02/23/2403/01/2403/01/24Vetoed
HB 0117Disclosure of Grand Jury Testimony02/28/2403/06/2402/29/24Approved

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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