The sixth 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 House Ways & Means Committee has approved a proposed tax-cut package worth $647.3 million. The package aims to provide tax breaks for businesses and shoppers. It is expected to be changed as the House and Senate negotiate a final plan before the end of the legislative session. A Senate proposal is expected to be released next week. While the House bill received praise from lawmakers and business groups, concerns were raised about a proposal to limit new tourist-development taxes to six years and require voter approval for existing taxes to continue. The package includes sales-tax holidays but offers fewer holidays compared to the current fiscal year. The House proposal also allows Monroe County to use tourist-development and tourist-impact tax dollars for affordable housing. Governor Ron DeSantis proposed a larger tax package, but the House package is smaller due to expectations of a tighter budget. The largest part of the package focuses on lowering the commercial-lease tax rate.


HB 1549/SB 7016 – Health Care

A major health-care plan, supported by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, is moving forward for consideration by the full House in Florida. The House Health & Human Services Committee has unanimously approved the House version of the bill, which aims to increase the number of physicians in the state and improve access to healthcare. The $717 million plan includes measures to expand medical-residency programs, facilitate the practice of doctors from other countries in Florida, and allow the creation of advanced birth centers that can provide cesarean-section deliveries for low-risk pregnancies. House Majority Leader Michael Grant, the sponsor of the bill, sees it as a starting point for addressing healthcare issues, with more to be addressed in the future. The Senate has already passed its version of the bill.

SB 330/HB 1617 Behavioral Health Teaching Hospitals

The Florida Senate is advancing a $114 million plan aimed at addressing the shortage of healthcare workers in the field of mental health and substance abuse. The plan includes designating four pilot behavioral-health teaching hospitals that would be linked to medical schools. These hospitals would offer psychiatric residency programs and post-doctoral clinical psychology fellowship programs. They would also develop plans to address workforce-related issues and coordinate partnerships with relevant disciplines. The bill has been approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee and is supported by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. The plan sets aside $100 million for the pilot teaching hospitals and includes additional measures such as funding for medical residency slots and the establishment of a Florida Center for Behavioral Health Workforce.


HB 1613/SB 1698 Hemp

Legislation that could impact Florida’s hemp industry has been unanimously passed by the Senate and is currently moving through House committees. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Colleen Burton, aims to regulate the “unregulated market” of hemp products and includes a ban on certain cannabinoids, a cap on delta-9 THC, and changes to the definition of hemp. The bill has been amended several times to address concerns about child-friendly packaging and testing equipment. The legislation is similar to a companion bill in the House, which is also progressing. The bill draws support from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Critics of the bill argue that it restricts competition for the medical marijuana industry and raises the standards beyond federal requirements. The bill will need further approval by the House before becoming law.

COM1 Fantasy Sports Contest Amusement Act

Legislation has passed through a House committee that would introduce regulations for large-scale fantasy sports betting. The bill aims to set parameters for companies offering fantasy sports games with prize payouts exceeding $1,500 per season or $10,000 per year. The legislation prohibits platforms from offering direct bets on sporting events and restricts ads for casinos featuring certain symbols. The bill also includes provisions such as informing players of prize award amounts before contests begin, verifying participants’ age, and prohibiting operators and their relatives and employees from participating. The Gaming Control Commission would enforce the regulations and have the authority to investigate and audit companies. Violations could result in fines and license revocation. Another similar committee bill (COM2) proposes a license fee and renewal fee for operators. Both bills have received support from the House Commerce Committee and will be referred to additional committees.

HB 433/SB 1492 Employment Regulations

The House State Affairs Committee in Florida has passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from setting minimum wages for their contractors and subcontractors, as well as prevent them from requiring businesses to protect workers from heat exposure. The bill, known as HB 433, was passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats opposing it. Critics argue that the bill takes away local control and could potentially lower wages for workers. However, supporters of the bill argue that it allows businesses to operate more freely and protects taxpayer dollars by reducing regulation. The bill will now move to the House floor for further consideration, while the Senate version (SB 1492) is still awaiting a committee hearing.


HB 1557/SB 1386 – Department of Environment Protection

The Department of Environmental Protection’s agency bills are moving through both chambers this week. The House bill was passed by the full House and the Senate bill passed its last committee stop and is now ready to be heard by the full Senate. These bills amend provisions relating to aquatic preserves, resilience, onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDSs, otherwise known as septic systems), and wastewater treatment facilities.

HB 1073/SB 1532 – Mitigation

Legislation to expand the water quality enhancement credit program to allow private entities to purchase credits has passed its last committee stop and is now ready to be heard by the full Senate. The House version is still waiting to be heard in its last committee stop. Currently, only governmental entities may purchase water quality enhancement credits under the program. Specifically, the bill provides that water quality enhancement credits may be sold to governmental entities seeking to meet an assigned basin management action plan allocation or reasonable assurance plan or to applicants for the for the purpose of achieving net improvement performance standards after reasonable assurances have been provided for the design and construction of all onsite stormwater management. Regarding mitigation banking, the bill allows limited use of local government land for private mitigation banks, provided that the private mitigation banks are located in credit-deficient basins and would produce certain habitat type credits that are unavailable or insufficient in such basins.

HB 7053/SB 7040 Ratification of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Rules Relating to Stormwater

As required by the Clean Waterways Act (SB 712; 2020), the DEP and the water management districts, initiated rulemaking to update the stormwater design and operation regulations for environmental resource permitting, including updates to the Environmental Resource Permit Applicant’s Handbook. The proposed rules were developed to increase the removal of nutrients from stormwater to protect the state’s waterways. There have been some amendments to the rule that DEP submitting, including clarifying provisions related to grandfathered projects, allowing alternative treatment standards for redevelopment projects in areas with impaired waters, and providing that entities implementing stormwater best management practices also regulated under different provisions of law are not subject to duplicate inspections for the same practices. Both the House and Senate bills are in position to be heard by their respective chambers.


HB 1473 School Safety/HB 1109 Security for Jewish Day Schools and Preschools

A Florida House panel has approved two bills aimed at enhancing security in public schools and Jewish day schools. These bills, now set for consideration by the full House, were approved on the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The bill concerning public schools would introduce several changes to improve school safety, including new door-safety requirements and restrictions on drone usage near schools. The bill also mandates unannounced inspections of public and charter schools every three years. The proposal for Jewish day schools would ensure recurring funding for safety measures, such as security cameras and hiring security personnel. The bills aim to prioritize the safety of students and address the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. The committee held a moment of silence before advancing the bills, emphasizing the importance of protecting every child at school.

HB 7051/SB 7032 Education

A bill that would provide tuition waivers for high school dropouts to pursue diplomas and workforce credentials at Florida colleges has received unanimous support from a key House committee. The bill, known as the Graduation Alternative to Traditional Education (GATE) program, aims to re-engage and support individuals aged 16 to 21 who have left high school without a diploma or GED. Under the program, colleges and career centers would waive registration, tuition, laboratory, and exam fees for GATE participants after other forms of aid have been applied. Students in the GATE program would need to maintain a minimum 2.0 grade-point average and complete their education within three years. Concerns were raised by committee members about whether the bill would provide dropouts with a better deal than students who graduate. The bill sponsor clarified that the GATE program only provides a high school diploma and certifications, not a four-year degree. The bill also includes provisions for a GATE scholarship program and a grant program to increase access in rural areas. The bill will now move to the full House for consideration. A similar bill in the Senate is awaiting approval from the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has expressed support for the proposal, emphasizing the importance of providing resources for young people to re-engage in education and work opportunities.


HB 1347/SB 1436 Consumer Finance Loans

Florida lawmakers are pushing forward with a proposal that would allow consumer-finance loan companies to charge higher interest rates. The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Committee has approved the Senate version of the proposal, while a similar bill has been approved by two House committees. Under the measures, consumer-finance companies would be able to charge annual interest rates of up to 36 percent on certain loan amounts, compared to the current rates of 30 percent. Supporters argue that the change would increase competition and provide more loan options for consumers. However, opponents are concerned about the impact on borrowers who may not have access to traditional bank loans. It’s worth noting that a similar bill was vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis last year.

SB 7028/HB 1263 My Safe Florida Home Program

SB 7028 provides a $100 million matching grant fund to assist homeowners in making windstorm mitigation upgrades. These upgrades include measures such as roof, window, and door hardening to reduce storm damage. The grant program will be incorporated into the existing My Safe Florida Home program. The bill also includes provisions for hurricane mitigation inspections for eligible single-family homes. Additionally, low-income homeowners may be eligible to receive grants without providing a matching amount.

The bill was passed unanimously by the full Senate on Wednesday and will now move to be heard by the full House. Its House companion is waiting to be heard in its second committee stop.


SB 1788 Online Access to Materials Harmful to Minors/ HB 1 Social Media Use for Minors

The Florida Senate has made revisions to a bill aimed at keeping children under the age of 16 off social media. The bill, supported by House Speaker Paul Renner, seeks to address concerns about the negative impact of social media on children’s mental health. The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee approved changes to the bill, which include preventing children under 16 from creating social media accounts, requiring platforms to terminate existing accounts held by minors, and allowing parents to request the termination of their child’s account. The bill also includes provisions for age verification and restrictions on certain platforms based on criteria such as addictive features and content visibility. The revised bill was combined with another measure to prevent minors under 18 from accessing online pornographic sites. The bill has faced opposition from tech industry organizations and First Amendment groups, who argue that it would infringe on free speech and be unconstitutional. The debate over parental rights has also been a central point of discussion regarding the bill.

HB 919/SB 850 Artificial Intelligence Use in Political Advertising

A bill in the Florida House is advancing that would require political ads using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to disclose this fact. The bill, proposed by Rep. Alex Rizo, includes a criminal penalty for candidates or political committees that fail to disclose the use of AI in their ads. Violators could face a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a prison sentence of one year and a fine of $1,000. The bill passed with an 18-2 vote, with some lawmakers expressing concerns about the investigation process and the potential for candidates to be charged when they were unaware of the AI use by a third-party vendor. While some lawmakers suggested banning AI in political ads altogether, Rep. Rizo argued that such a ban would likely violate the First Amendment. The bill will now move to the House floor for further consideration. A similar bill in the Senate is also progressing.

Governor’s Activity 2024

Governor DeSantis signed 6 bills into law Thursday.

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


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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