It’s week 9-of-9 in Tallahassee for the 2022 Florida Legislative Session. With the end in sight, here’s what the Chamber is watching:
- COVID Liability Protections for Healthcare Industry– PASSED. Extends the commonsense COVID-19 liability protections expiring for health care facilities to continue to protect our healthcare heroes as the pandemic continues.
- Tourism Marketing- SB 434- It’s looking good for those that support tourism marketing, which the Chamber does. Significant progress has been made to support VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency. The bill extends VISIT FLORIDA to October 1, 2028. This extension is important to provide certainty that VISIT FLORIDA will continue to engage in tourism marketing efforts in Florida for several years. SB 434 had previously passed the Senate but an amendment on the House Floor means the bill must return to the Senate for a final vote. Tourism is a key driver of Florida’s $1.23 trillion economy and the mission of VISIT FLORIDA is even more important as our state continues its economic momentum out of the pandemic. Still at issue is VISIT FLORIDA’s funding, with both sides allocating $50 million in the budget but the Senate wanting to use recurring funding.
- Rural Economic Development- SB 800/HB 685 failed to move through the committee process, and is therefore dead for this legislative session.
- Tax Cut Package- The Florida House has passed their tax package, and the Florida Senate is working on theirs this week. The House tax package includes several sales tax holidays, a sales tax exemption for machinery used for hydrogen production, and a Chamber-sought documentary sales tax exemption for small business emergency loans. The House tax package also includes the annual “piggyback” to adopt the latest Internal Revenue Code. This will result in a corporate income tax increase, especially with the expiration of the corporate income tax rate reduction that was passed in 2019. More will occur later this week on this important issue.
- Budget- Negotiations are ongoing for the state’s FY 22-23 budget and conforming bills with a targeted landing of no later than March 8th for session to end on time. Conference subcommittees started meeting last week to resolve differences in the House and Senate budgets and this past Thursday, conference subcommittees bumped unresolved differences to the full conference committee. A balanced budget is the only item required by the Florida Constitution to pass each legislative session.
Other Major Issues:
- Local Government Preemption- The House State Affairs Committee readied HB 403 for the Floor earlier this week. A priority of the Senate, HB 403 requires local governments to create a business impact statement before passing a local ordinance. The bill will also allow businesses to sue their local government if they pass a local ordinance that is arbitrary or unreasonable and receive attorney fees. HB 403 and HB 569 have been described together as legislation to end all preemption bills.
- Redistricting- The Florida Supreme Court validated the House and Senate redistricting maps on Thursday. Once every decade, the legislature is required to redraw House, Senate and Congressional districts based off the latest census data. Today, the House and Senate passed the new Congressional map along with what has been described as a backup map and the redistricting plan will head to the Governor for his signature or veto. The Governor, however, has remarked in the media that he plans to veto the congressional map.
- Net Metering (Solar)- On Wednesday, HB 741 related to Net Metering by Representative McClure passed off the House Floor and last Friday, was taken up with its Senate companion, SB 1024 by Jennifer Bradley, on the Senate Floor for final passage. These bills modernize Florida’s net metering policy to correct what has become a regressive policy due to the substantial growth in renewable energy resources. The bill maintains the importance of continued investment in advanced and diversified technologies but prevents general ratepayers from subsidizing the full cost of electrical service, upgrades, and maintenance of the grid. Amendments added a glide path for net metering utility credits beginning in 2024 through 2028, a twenty-year grandfather clause, and the implementation of the new rules if the penetration rate of renewable energy exceeds 6.5% in a public utility service territory. Final passage of this bill is important to Florida’s businesses community because it ensures all customers pay their fair and equitable share to maintain a secure and robust electric grid. Reliable, cost-effective power is a competitiveness issue that must be protected as our population continues to grow at approximately 1,000 new residents every day.