Since 1987, the Daytona Regional Chamber worked closely with our Volusia delegation and others to relay the local business viewpoint on matters that come before State government. In an effort to keep you, our members, informed of the Session in Tallahassee, we present our Legislative Status Report.  If you have any questions regarding its content, please contact
Jim Cameron at 386.566.2140.

Proposed  FY 2018-19 House/Senate Budgets 
The House budget  H 5001 , spends $87.2 billion while Senate budget  S 2500  spends  $87.3 billion but the two plans remain far apart when it comes to how it allocates that money to healthcare and education .
A major difference between each budget is how they pay hospitals for treating Medicaid patients. The House pretty much keeps the current practice intact --paying more money to 28 "safety net" hospitals that typically take on a bigger percentage of Medicaid patients. But the Senate is seeking to implement a different model that will reimburse ALL hospitals based on actual number of patients treated.
The Senate Healthcare Appropriation Committee agreed to the formula to get more overall funding for hospitals during last year's budget negotiations, but "that plan hurts many private hospitals that provide charity care".
Opponents are concerned their plan will jeopardize those 28 "safety net hospitals" with less funding.
Education is another point of disagreement. Both chambers increase overall spending but differ in where they spend that moneyThe biggest variance is the House' K-12 Education package, H 7055 which provides scholarships for students that have been bullied at other schools.
But the Senate is routing H 7055 through the committee process, not the budget process. Conference committee should start negotiating differences this next week. 

There are still differences in Governor's request for the Jobs Growth Fund and Visit Florida. 
Click here  to see some of the Volusia County allocations.    
Rep Patrick Henry
Mary McLeod-Bethune National Statutory Hall 
- Washington DC

H 139  by Reps Patrick Henry  and Tom Leek which locates a statue of Mary McLeod-Bethune in National Statutory Hall in Washington, was approved 24-0 by the Appropriations Committee. 

It's set on the Special Order Calendar for next Tuesday, February 20. 

With the Senate version S 472 approved, this legislation should soon go the Governor's desk. 
Rep David Santiago in  Government Accountability Committee

Insurance measure
that -
  • lowers, from $1,000,000 to $700,000, the threshold for exporting a homeowner's property insurance risk to a surplus lines insurer following a single coverage rejection; homeowners in this value range may find it easier to obtain coverage at a price acceptable to them;
  • provides for a uniform surplus lines tax of 4.93 % of gross premiums, regardless of where the risk is located vs surplus lines tax rate of each state where the risk is located; this will cause a net decrease in tax burden on average to payors with Fla based risks;
  • requires that a property and casualty insurer summarize policy changes on the required Notice of Change in Policy Terms that is issued at policy renewal vs issuing a notice may create savings for insurers;
  • provides that a third-party assignee may request mediation of property insurance claims; except, an insurer is not required to participate in mediations requested by the assignee.
It is currently on the House 2nd Reading Calendar.
S 784 by Sen Brandes in on the Judiciary Committee next Tuesday, February 20.
Another measure from Rep Santiago is H 351 Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency which passed the Health & Human Services Committee 18-0. Some of its conditions include requiring pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) which are involved in the acquisition/distribution of prescription drugs to register with the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR); requiring that any contract between a PBM and a health plan not inhibit patient access to pricing information.
Next stop - House Calendar.
A similar Senate version S 1494 by Sen Montford goes before the Banking & Insurance Committee next Tuesday, February 20.

Workforce Housing -
H 987 by Rep Cortes passed the Transportation, Tourism, Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
Next stop - Government Accountability Committee (Reps  Patrick Henry , David Santiago - members).

It creates new provisions on the use of local/state government-owned surplus land, impact fees as it relates to the development of affordable housing. It requires State agencies, in conjunction with the Fla Housing Finance Corp (FHFC), to evaluate all non-conservation surplus lands for suitability for residential use and the development of affordable housing and offer such parcels to local entities.
It also expedites the local permit approval process for affordable housing by reducing the time a local government entity has to approve/deny permit applications from 120 days to 60 days.
It requires the evaluation of additional components related to local government contribution in the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program.

A similar Senate version, S 1328 by Sen Perry passed the Community Affairs Committee ( Sen David Simmons voted YES) and is now before the
Transportation, Tourism, Economic Development Appropriations

Click here for more information.   

Possession of Real Property/Public Beach Access  
H 631 by Rep Edwards passed the House 92 -14 (Reps 
Tom LeekPaul RennerDavid Santiago voted YES).

S 804 by Sen Passidomo to be heard by the Community Affairs Committee next Tuesday, February 20. ( Sen David Simmons - member ).

Both bills would end local governments' authority to approve customary-use ordinances, which are key to guaranteeing public beach access. Otherwise, a new procedure would require cities/counties go before a judge and argue why a portion of private beach should be open for public use because it has been used continually for recreation before landowners purchased the property. Only after a judge's approval could local governments adopt protections for sunbathing, walking and other "customary uses".  

The Chamber has stated to several members of the Volusia delegation that public beach access is paramount. Both bills are on the Chamber's Watch List.
Senate Regulated Industries Chair Travis Hutson
Pari-Mutuals / Card Games

S 840 by Sen Travis Hutson passed the Finance & Tax
Appropriations Subcom-  mmittee. It reduces the tax rate on slot machine gaming rev enue effective
January 1, 2019, but re- quires that existing Broward/Miami-Dade slot machine facilities pay the same; stipulates that Designated Player Game is not a banking game; sets Designated Player Game requirements and limits the number of these Game tables to 50 percent of the cardroom's total licensed tables; grants rulemaking authority to Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (Dept of Business & Professional Regulation).
Next stop - Appropriations Committee (Sen David Simmons- member)

Vacation Rentals
H 773 by Rep LaRosa was not heard at this week's House Government Accountability Committee (Reps  Patrick Henry , David Santiago - members), thus it might not have the votes to pass.
An amendment was filed that would have allowed local governments to pass regulations that apply to all residences, and cities with regulations passed prior to June 1, 2011, would be grandfathered in, but other ordinances would be voided. Also, cities would be allowed to pass new vacation-rental regulations that are less restrictive.
Rep Guillermo-Smith filed an amendment that would have exempted homestead properties from the state-level regulations.
In addition to the Government Accountability Committee, H 773 still needs Commerce Committee approval unless it's pulled.
But because of the Vacation Rentals controversy, the House committee delayed H 773 in order to hear other bills.
It would require homeowners to pay up to $1,000 for an annual vacation rental license from the Dept of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR). Each license could accommodate up to 75 properties, and must be visibly displayed in the home. Occupancy limits are set at two people per room, plus four additional guests.
Rep LaRosa's amendment seeks to align H 773 with the Senate version, S 1400 by Sen Steube which is currently before the Appropriations Committee ( Sen David Simmons - member) .

The Chamber opposes S 1400 and H 773

Tourist Development Tax 

H 585 - by Rep Fine passed the House 90-23 ( Reps  Patrick Henry Paul Renner David Santiago  voted YES; Rep  Tom Leek  voted NO).
It a uthorizes a county government that collects a tourist development tax to use tax revenues for infrastructure purposes.
An amendment was added requiring that a county's governing board must approves the use for the proposed public facilities by a two-thirds vote; no more than 70% of the cost of the proposed project will be paid for with tourist development tax revenues.
Senate version S 658 by Sen Brandes is now before their Appropriations Committee (Sen David Simmons - member).
House/Senate leaders push to get gambling legislation passed this  session

House Speaker-Designate
Jose Oliva says House and Senate negotiations are still "at the very early stages."
They met with Seminole Tribe
representatives who are seeking to finalize a compact whereby the tribe pays $250 million annually in gambling revenue in order to secure a degree of exclusivity. But how much exclusivity?
Tribe representatives are concerned about proposals to legalize fantasy sports and give eligible counties the right to operate slot machines. 
Senate leaders have proposed to give Seminoles' casinos the chance to offer new games  including craps and roulette.  While the House version H 7067 by Rep LaRosa has no such clause but that could be negotiable.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran warned that any expansion of
gambling could make  passing difficult in the House. He wants to "lessen the footprint of gambling in the state" as a means to maintain a "family friendly brand". He'd really like to "put the gambling issue put to bed this year".
This may be the legislature's last chance to address gambling since the "Voters in Charge" constitutional amendment (which gives voters a voice in all future casino gambling decisions) will appear on the November 6 ballot.
Ways & Means Committee Chair
Paul Renner
Business Rent Tax Reduction

The House Ways & Means Committee has finalized their tax package  WMC 18-03  which will reduce the sales tax on commercial real estate rent 5.8 to 5.5%; provides for a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday; and three 7-day disaster preparedness sales tax holidays; several provisions designed to provide tax relief to citizens adversely affected by Hurricane Irma.  The bill is expected to reduce the corporate income tax liability for certain taxpayers that utilize the tax credit programs.

The Florida Chamber has led the effort on this legislation!

Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders

H 227 by Rep Willhite passed the Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee 9-0. It would extend benefits to first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if they are diagnosed by a professional psychiatrist of a traumatizing incident/work-related injury.
Currently, first responders with PTSD do not get workers comp unless they have a physical injury as well.  Initially, there was no time limit for when first responders could file a claim.....they just had to have a valid diagnosis. H 227 was amended require first responders would have 1 year from the initial event to file a claim.
The League of Cities says local governments would have to bear the brunt of the changes.

Of 81,470 first responders in Fla, approximately 75,000 are employed by local governments thus the overwhelming majority of the fiscal impact of this bill will be on local governments.
Next stop - House floor calendar .
A Senate version, SB 376 by Sen Book requires a "preponderance of the evidence" for first responders to obtain benefits, which is a lower threshold than what's provided in the House, which requires "clear and convincing" evidence that someone is suffering from a mental or nervous injury.
Now in Appropriations Committee
Assignment of (Insurance) Benefits (AOB)

S 1168 by  Sen Steube
creates new conditions for assignment of post-loss benefits (AOB) from per- sonal residential property insurance policies; and 
does NOT allow personal lines residential or com-
mercial residential property insurance policies to PROHIBIT AOBs; any AOB agreement must be in writing; limited to claims for work performed or work to be performed by the assignee; contains a concise scope of work; 7-day cancellation period without penalty or fee;
It requires the assignee to provide a copy of the AOB agreement to the insurer within a specified time along with a written estimate of the work to be done;
It might help forestall property insurance rate increases to consumers/insureds by requiring assignees/ contractors/insurers to work together early on in the process of home repairs/remediation.
Currently before Rules Committee before the full Senate.

H 7015  by Rep Trumbull -  passed the House...before the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee......tightens statutes regarding assignment of insurance benefits with 3 rd  party...
On the Chamber's Radar Screen.....

  • Daytona Beach First Step Homeless Shelter - H 2389 by Rep Patrick Henry  no progress...would provide $1.7 million matching funds to fund the $7.5 million dollar First Step Homeless Shelter. 
  • Land Acquisition Trust FundS 204 - by Sen BradleySens Dorothy Hukill, Travis Hutson (co-sponsors....passed the Senate 35 - 0 - en route to House .....increases funding from Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) for spring restoration, protection, from $50 million to $75 million; also requires $50 million to St. Johns River WMD for restoration projects.  
  • State Housing Trust Fund S 874 by Sen Passidomo.......prevents diverting State Housing Trust Fund and Local Government Housing Trust Fund monies to the General Fund....House version H 191 by Rep Shaw - no progress for either bill.......both were a long-shot anyway....
  • Pt Orange Flood Mitigation/Stormwater Quality Improvement Phase II - H 2805 by  in Appropriations Committee.....a continuation of last year's project to assist flood control the City's flood control efforts. See Specific Volusia allocations in budget article.
  • Workers' CompensationH 7009 by Rep Burgess passed the progress... still before Senate Banking & Insurance Committee......permits direct payment of attorneys by/for claimants; Increases total combined temporary wage replacement benefits from 104 weeks to 260 weeks......
  • Local Government Fiscal Transparency - H 7 by Rep Burton - no progress still before the Senate Community Affairs Committee.....requires easy public access to local government governing boards' voting records related to tax increases and issuance of bonds; easy online access to property tax TRIM notices and a 4-year history of property tax rates.....
  • Volusia County Williamson Road Widening - H 2343 by Rep Tom Leek still before Appropriations Committee ...funding request for Williamson Rd Widening, a one - mile corridor in Daytona Beach to Ormond Beach (existing 2-lane road to 4 lanes) to enhance office and commercial/retail development opportunities.  See Specific Volusia allocations in budget article.
  • Supermajority Votes for State Taxes or Fees - 
    SJR 1742  
    by  Sen Stargel 
    still before Appropriations Committee.
    It would require a 
    three-fifths vote
     before the Legislature can pass any tax or fee hike while the
    House version HJR 7001 by Rep Tom Leek would require a two-thirds vote 
    of both House/Senate
    Rep Leek's 
    version is
    Finance & Tax 
    Appropriations Subcommittee agenda, next Tuesday, February 20
    ( Sen David Simmons  - member)
  • Impact Fees - H 697 by Rep Miller was approved by the Government Accountability Committee (Rep Patrick Henry voted YES). It generally tightens ways, means and regulations for local governments imposing impact fees on new construction. Just added to 2nd Reading calendar
Mark your calendar! 

The Chamber will host their - 

35th Annual "Welcome Back" Breakfast for our Volusia Legislative Delegation 
Thursday, April 12, 7:30 am 
LPGA Clubhouse
Legislative Directories

Click these links to contact YOUR Volusia delegation  
Chamber's 2018 Legislative Priorities

Click 2018 Legislative Priorities to see the Chamber's recommendations for the Session. Compiled by our Legislative Action Committee - Bob Williams, Chair (Halifax Health), this list was presented to the Volusia delegation at their November 3 meeting.  

These recommendations will be tracked throughout the session and reported each week in the Chamber's Legislative Status Report.
NOTE - the Chamber will host a Tallahassee Speaker Series in August to review several of the proposed Constitutional Amendments on the November 6 ballot...Supermajority Approval of Tax/Fee Increases; additional $25,000 Homestead Exemption, Voter Control of Gambling and others. Look for more information to come!
Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce |126 E. Orange Ave., Daytona Beach | 386.255.0981 | Visit our Website
Any questions regarding this Legislative Status Report should be directed to 
Jim Cameron Sr Vice President, Government Relations, 386.523.3673.