The 2022 Florida Legislative Session is officially underway and the Chamber is tracking these important issues (Next Gov’t Affairs Committee Meeting is Wed, February 9 at 9 a.m.):
COVID Liability for Healthcare Providers (Chamber Supports)
SB 7014: extends the liability protections passed last year for health care providers through June 1, 2023. UPDATE: Passed the full Senate on a 22-13 vote on 1-19-22. Thank you to Senator Travis Hutson for supporting this bill twice (once in committee and again on the Senate floor).
HHS1: The House Health and Human Services Committee voted last week to introduce a committee bill to extend the lawsuit protections.
Tourism: VISIT FLORIDA (Chamber Supports Funding and Extending “Sunset”)
SB 434/HB 489: Reauthorizes VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing arm, beyond October 1, 2023, to provide certainty and allow VISIT FLORIDA to long-term plan and hire top talent.
Rural Economic Development (Chamber Supports Funding for Rural Communities)
SB 800/HB 685: Establishing a rural opportunity tax refund program for qualified target industry businesses in rural areas, additional support for Opportunity Zones. (No action taken this week)
Tax Reform Initiatives (Chamber Supports Small Businesses)
Elimination of the Business Rent Tax: SB 1558/HB 6093– Legislation passed last year begins to reduce the Florida-only business rent tax incrementally, a huge win for the Chamber last year. These bills permanently eliminate the Florida-only business rent tax after July 1, 2026. (No action taken last week)
Small Business Saturday: SB 712/HB 439– Supports shopping at local small businesses by eliminating the sales tax on purchases on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (No action taken this week)
Education and Workforce Development (Chamber Supports Initiatives to Improve Hiring and Preparedness Concerns)
Apprenticeship Contracts: SB 612– Authorizing an apprentice to enter into a contract with a business organization for a specified duration
OTHER MAJOR STORYLINES:
- Significant Budget Surplus: Thanks to Federal COVID funding, Gov. DeSantis is recommending adding $15 Billion to the state’s reserve fund. (Smart for a state that can get hit by a Cat 5 hurricane on any given year)
- Redistricting: The once-every-10-years process of redrawing legislative districts is expected to command a significant amount of attention this session.
- $1 Billion Gas Tax Holiday: Governor DeSantis has proposed a $1 Billion fund to help reduce the price of gas via Florida gas tax reduction. (Flagler is a “driving” tourism destination. Fill ‘er up.)
- Government Regulation Impacting Businesses: SB 620, by Senator Travis Hutson, allows businesses to recoup their losses if a government passes a regulation that leads to a 15 percent decrease in profitability. SB 280, also by Senator Hutson, requires local governments to create a Business Impact Statement that analyzes the impact of local ordinances before the ordinance is passed and delays enforcement of regulations once a lawsuit is filed. In a sign that President Simpson plans to fast track these bills, SB 620 and SB 280 both had a committee reference removed and only have one committee hearing remaining. The House took up the companion measures this week as well to prevent “local governments gone wild”, HB 569 (Rep. Lawrence McClure) and HB 403 (Rep. Mike Giallombardo). *The Florida Chamber supports this legislation.