Legislative Updates

The Legislative Session 2021 started on March 2, 2021 as House and Senate members gathered to hear Governor Ron DeSantis’ State of the State address. Lawmakers will take up a wide range of issues during the 60-day session, along with negotiating a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2021.

Gunster’s Government Affairs Consultants will provide weekly updates to summarize the issues of the week and how they may impact your business.

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WEEK EIGHT – April 30, 2021

The Florida Legislature concluded the 2021 Session sine die Friday at 2:40.  The House and Senate agreed to a $101.5 billion budget.  The 2021 budget is the highest budget ever passed in Florida, bolstered by federal funds for COVID-19 recovery.  This year, 275 bills passed both the House and Senate, one of the lowest numbers of total bills to pass during a Session. Read more

WEEK EIGHT – April 23, 2021

With the conclusion of Week Eight, we are one week away from the scheduled end of the regular legislative Session.  Committees wrapped up their work this week for the Session also.   Per the Senate rules, after the 50th day, the Senate may provide notices four hours in advance of a meeting.   Next week, the House will only hear Senate bills on their Special Order calendar Monday and Tuesday and the remainder of the week they will only hear Messages from the Senate.  As of today, approximately 75 bills have passed both the House and Senate thus far.  With only 7 days left, the Florida Legislature has passed only a total of 2.4% of the filed bills this year. Read more

WEEK SEVEN – April 16, 2021

As of today, the legislature has filed a total of 3,082 bills this Session and only 38 bills have passed both chambers thus far. With Sine Die scheduled for April 30th, there are now only two weeks left of the regular Session. Most committees in the House and Senate have stopped meeting and the fate of outstanding bills are becoming more and more clear. Read more

WEEK SIX – April 9, 2021

We are now more than halfway through the 60-day Regular Legislative Session.  Many of the House Subcommittees and some Senate Committees have completed their work for the Session and will not meet again.  Bills that have not been heard in at least one committee of reference are likely dead for the Session.  Much of the Legislature’s focus for the remaining three weeks of Session will now be on . . .Read more

WEEK FIVE – April 2, 2021

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Florida in ACF “Water Wars” – This week’s ruling dismissed the lawsuit that Florida filed in 2013 after the oyster fishery collapsed in Florida’s Apalachicola Bay. While Florida contended that Georgia drew too much water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, Georgia argued, in part, that the oyster industry sustained damage, because of overharvesting after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster . . .Read more

WEEK FOUR – March 26, 2021

Executive Update:

Vaccination Age Lowered – Governor Ron DeSantis lowered the eligible age for COVID-19 vaccinations to 40 and up starting Monday, March 29th and to 18 and up starting Monday, April 5th.

Confirmations – Several Department Secretaries and gubernatorial appointees had additional confirmation hearings in the Senate, including: Read more

WEEK THREE – March 19, 2021 –

Executive Update:

On Monday, Governor DeSantis lowered the eligibility age to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to 60 and announced today starting Monday will lower to age 50. In Florida as of Tuesday, About 2.5 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Governor DeSantis met with top brass at the state’s parimutuels and with the Seminole Tribe of Florida as part of a push to pass gaming legislation this Session. Read more.

WEEK TWO – March 12, 2021

The second week of the Legislative Session came to a close today and it was a busy week in Tallahassee. Gunster’s Government Affairs team is working diligently, monitoring legislation and meeting with legislators and staff while following the COVID-19 protocols established by the House and Senate. Read more

SESSION 2021 Preview – March 1, 2021

The Florida Legislature officially begins the sixty day 2021 Regular Session on Tuesday, March 2nd.  While each Session is unique, this year will be unlike any other Session with the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting the entire world.  Public access to the Capitol will remain extremely limited and the COVID protocols the House and Senate instituted for the Interim Committee Weeks, including testing of all Legislators and staff prior to weekly meetings, mask wearing requirements, and physical distancing continue.  The Legislature is only constitutionally required to pass a state budget and that task may prove to be even more challenging than most years as the economic impacts from COVID continue to impact tax revenues.  Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) warned members there will be budget cuts.  Governor DeSantis (R) proposed a $96.6 billion budget for the upcoming year, which is $4 billion over the budget the Legislature passed last year. . Read More

Meet our Government Affairs Consultants

Joanna Bonfanti

Joanna Bonfanti‘s passion for Florida politics and public policy led to her career in lobbying. She has over 15 years of experience representing clients before the legislature and executive agencies. This is Joanna’s 26th Legislative Session.

Areas of Focus:
Regulated industries like electric utilities and water and wastewater utilities are my primary areas of focus.

Policy Issue Expected to Define the 2021 Session:
I think health care and what Speaker Oliva refers to as the “hospital-industrial complex” will define this session along with environmental issues like the Everglades and water quality.

Advice for Session:
My advice is for the ladies – wear wedges or a stacked heel!

Gunster Government Affairs Consultant Ronald A. Brisé

Ron Brisé is an accomplished commissioner, legislative leader and senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in telecom, energy, utilities, government and business. Including his time as a State Representative, this is Ron’s 14th Legislative Session.

Areas of Focus:
My areas of focus include a diverse reach of legislative policy including energy and telecom,education, and technology and innovation.

Policy Issue Expected to Define the 2021 Session:
I expect the Governor’s initiative to increase teacher pay will play a large role in this session, including the impacts the increase will have on the budget and education as a whole.

Advice for Session:
Pace yourself!

Gunster Orlando Office Managing Shareholder Derek E. Bruce

Derek Bruce primarily represents clients before state and local governments throughout the state of Florida on land use, procurement and regulatory issues. He has nearly twenty years of experience. This is Derek’s 16th Legislative Session.

Areas of Focus:
Appropriations and Tourism

Policy Issue Expected to Define the 2021 Session:
Generally, pay increases for certain state employees and how to pay for them. For the business community, an effort to find ways to reduce regulation while maintaining the safety of the public.

Advice for Session:
Remember, it’s a sprint… not a marathon!

Gunster Government Affairs Consultant Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary is skilled in navigating the inner workings of state and local government. He has more than a decade of legislative, executive and political experience. This is Kevin’s 10th Legislative Session.

Areas of Focus:
My primary areas of focus include environment, agriculture, business regulations and housing.

Policy Issue Expected to Define the 2021 Session:
I believe that Everglades funding and the impact on the budget will be a defining factor of the 2021 Session.

Advice for Session:
Take the time to learn the Senate and House rules handbook, but always remember that the rules can be waived.

Julie Fess has more than two decades of experience participating in Florida’s political, regulatory and legislative process. This is Julie’s 25th Legislative Session.

Areas of Focus:
Insurance and Gaming

Policy Issue Expected to Define the 2021 Session:
Education and Gaming, including the Seminole Tribe Compact

Advice for Session:
Stay optimistic and on your toes. A sixty-day session is slow in the beginning and quickly becomes fast and furious. With over 2,000 bills, filed it can be overwhelming at times. There are many peaks and valleys and issues that seem finished that can quickly be revived and surprise all involved. Stay ready and know it isn’t over until the gavel has come down and you hear the words sine die.

Greg Munson represents regulated industries in the industrial, agricultural, mining and utility sectors in all areas of state and federal environmental law. This is Greg’s 5th Legislative Session.

Area of Focus:
Environmental policy

Policy Issue Expected to Define the 2021 Session:
I think that water quality initiatives, including their impact on the budget, will be a defining factor.

Advice for Session:
Stay organized and engaged, because there’s going to be a larger number of environmental bills than we’ve seen for many years.

Larry Williams

As head of Gunster’s lobbying practice, Larry Williams offers more than three decades of experience representing clients at all levels of government.

Larry has worked with a wide range of clients from a diverse cross-section of industries, including transportation, entertainment, educational instruction, energy, affordable housing, regulated industries, environmental and health care, among others. This is Larry’s 49th Session.

Areas of Focus:
My experience reaches across all sectors of legislative policy.

Policy Issue Expected to Define the 2021 Session:
The budget!

Advice for Session:
Always be prepared.

With extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, insurance law and regulatory matters, Sha`Ron James practices at the intersection of government affairs and advocacy, insurance law and regulation, and policy development and execution. She represents domestic and international insurance companies and insurance-related entities throughout Florida, before the Florida Legislature, Office of Insurance Regulation, and other State Agencies.