COVID Liability for Healthcare Providers (Chamber Supports)
The House Judiciary Committee passed a necessary extension of COVID-19 liability protections for healthcare providers, HB 7021, readying it for the House floor as soon as this week. Without an extension, the healthcare COVID-19 liability protections passed at the Chamber’s urging during the 2021 legislative session will expire in March. The first substantive bill the Senate passed earlier this session was the COVID-19 liability protections bill for healthcare providers.
VISIT FLORIDA Extension Ready for House Floor Hearings (Chamber Supports)
Both VISIT FLORIDA reauthorization bills, HB 489 and SB 434, received their final hearings and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. The House bill would extend VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing arm, through October 1, 2028 while the Senate companion would extend the organization through 2031.
Rural Economic Development (Chamber Supports)
The House State Affairs Committee heard legislation on Wednesday that would improve access to three rural economic development programs- the Rural Infrastructure Fund, the Regional Development Grants Program, and the Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Fund. This bill passed unanimously a day before Rural Counties Day at the Florida Capitol. The Florida Chamber Foundation Blueprint 2030 lays out a goal of doubling rural county share of Florida GDP by 2030.
Business Rent Tax (Chamber Supports)
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.
Word on the street is this may not advance further because of upcoming reductions mentioned above.
Small Business Saturday: SB 712/HB 439 (Chamber Supports)
Supports shopping at local small businesses by eliminating the sales tax on purchases on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. No action taken this week.
OTHER IMPORTANT STORYLINES:
Government Regulation Impacting Businesses, Moving Forward:
On Thursday, the Senate passed SB 280 and SB 620 off the Senate Floor. In debate, Senator Travis Hutson referred to his bill, SB 280, as the “ultimate” preemption bill and a way to end groups from coming to Tallahassee on an annual basis requesting preemptions of local governments. SB 280 requires local governments to create a business impact statement when considering local ordinances, pauses enforcement of regulations while they are being challenged in court, and allows for attorney fees if the ordinance is successfully challenged. He argued that now these ordinances will be challenged at the local level. Senator Hutson also filed an amendment to SB 620 that titles the bill the “Local Business Protection Act.” SB 620 creates an avenue for businesses that lose more than 15 percent of their profit due to a local government ordinance to recover damages. These bills were sent to the House where the companion measures, HB 403 and HB 569, have two committee hearings remaining.