The Florida Legislature began its 60-day regular legislative session on January 12, 2016.
Here is a list of what are expected to be the top issues for legislators this session. For additional information on the 2016 legislative session, specific bills of interest and the potential impacts on your business, or for information on any state agency initiatives, please contact a member of Gunster’s government affairs practice.
Individuals with Disabilities:
A top priority for President Andy Gardiner, the Senate’s package for those with developmental disabilities is expected to pass in the first week of the Session. The Legislation will expand opportunities for people with disabilities through jobs and education and create a financial literacy program.
A key environmental issue for a number of years, water is a top priority for Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. The water bill is expected to pass the first week of Session. The water bill includes provisions upsetting environmental groups. The water and disabilities legislation are priorities for the Speaker and President, respectively, and are expected to pass early in Session.
Florida’s compact with the Seminole Tribe expired in 2015 and a new agreement has been reached. That agreement must be agreed to by the Legislature and is sure to be a hot topic – the tribe will pay $3 billion to the state in exchange for the ability to offer craps and roulette at their casinos. Other issues negotiated in a new compact could allow slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities, purse pools for thoroughbred tracks, changes in tax rates for racinos, and put an end to future expansion of gaming in Florida.
Legislators will likely take up a proposal that allows schools to use standardized tests other than the Florida Standards Assessments, which has been very controversial since its adoption.
Florida will have a surplus again this year. Governor Scott recently proposed a $79.3 billion budget for the state, with more tax cuts and economic incentives being key parts of his plan.
Governor Scott proposed $1 billion in tax cuts this year including eliminating permanently the tax on manufacturing equipment, a reduction in the commercial lease tax, continuing the popular back-to-school sales tax holiday, and eliminating income taxes on manufacturers and retailers. Legislators remain non-committal on many of these tax cuts and some say the decision to move forward with the Governor’s tax cut plan will depend on the size of the budget surplus.
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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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