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Issue 1   |  January  12, 2018

Top News: 2018 Florida Legislative Session Begins
House of Representatives in session; Rep. Metz (R-Groveland) presents a bill.

The 2018 Florida Legislative Session opened on Tuesday, January 9th. House and Senate leaders and Governor Scott each identified their top priorities, including tax cuts, and legislative restrictions on future tax increases, higher education policy reform, insurance reforms, the opioid crisis, and the various impacts of last year's hurricanes. The Legislature will grapple with these and other issues during the 60-day session. Most important, the House and Senate must agree on and pass a state budget to submit to Governor Scott before the session ends on March 9th.  Each week during the legislative session United Way's Legislative Link will provide a summary of the top stories, legislative highlights and bills to watch.
Florida United Ways Consensus Legislative Agenda
The 2018 Florida United Ways Consensus Legislative Agenda focuses on quality early learning, financial stability and access to health care.

Florida's 31 United Ways strive daily to solve the most pressing education, income, health, and safety net challenges facing our communities. Our work extends deep into the fabric of our communities and expands to embrace every opportunity to improve the lives of our neighbors and those we serve.  During the 2018 Session, we will focus on three Florida United Ways Consensus Legislative Agenda priorities: Early Learning, Financial Stability and Access to Health Care. We will also join our community partners in their advocacy efforts to improve the quality of life for all Floridians; pursuing issues that - together with our Consensus priorities - are fundamentally important to improving the health and well-being of our communities, today and tomorrow.
Financial Stability: Tax Preparation Appropriations Request
Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine), sponsor of HB 4227.

The top priority for Florida's United Ways this session is an appropriation request for $1.2 million, to expand the statewide capacity of Florida's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs. The House sponsor of the appropriations request (HB 4227 - United Way of Florida Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program) is Representative Cyndi Stevenson, R-St. Augustine. The bill will be heard soon in the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. Read more.
Supermajority Requirement for Tax Increases
Speaker Corcoran delivers his opening address to the House, highlighting a proposal to limit tax increases.

Both Governor Scott and House Speaker Corcoran have made it a priority to require a supermajority (two-thirds) vote of the Legislature to increase or create new taxes or fees. The Joint Resolution (HJR 7001) passed its final committee on the opening day of session and heads for a floor vote in the House. Senate President Negron has said he will support a comparable resolution (SJR 1742) filed by Senator Stargel. If passed, either it or a similar constitutional amendment proposed by the Constitutional Revision Commission would be placed on the ballot in November 2018 for voters' approval. Although seen as a stimulus to business growth, the impact of requiring a supermajority of the legislature to pass any tax or fee increase would have a chilling effect on local government and human services.  Read more.  
Bills to Watch

Week of January 15-19, 2018

House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness (Chair, Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami) will review the final committee recommendations and action items.
CS/SB 272  Local Tax Referenda (Brandes, R-St. Petersburg) : Revises the voter approval threshold required to pass a referendum to adopt or amend local government discretionary sales surtaxes when the referendum is held at any date other than a general election.
CS/SB 386 Consumer Finance (Garcia, R-Hialeah; Taddeo, D-Miami): Revises a provision relating to the maximum delinquency charge that may be charged for consumer finance loans; revises a requirement relating to installment repayments for consumer finance loans.
SB 280 Telehealth (Bean, R-Jacksonville): Encourages the state group health insurance program to offer health insurance plans that include telehealth coverage for state employees; establishes the standard of care for telehealth providers; encourages insurers offering certain plans to include in the plans services provided through telehealth.
SB 874 State Funds (Passidomo, R-Naples): Exempts the State Housing Trust Fund and the Local Government Housing Trust Fund from a provision authorizing the Legislature, in the General Appropriations Act, to transfer unappropriated cash balances from specified trust funds to the Budget Stabilization Fund and General Revenue Fund.
SB 108 Florida KidCare Program (Campbell, D-Miami): Establishes the KidCare Operational Efficiency and Health Care Improvement Workgroup as a task force administratively housed in the Department of Health to maximize the return on investment and enhance the operational efficiencies of the Florida KidCare program.
SB 138  Perinatal Mental Health (Book, D-Plantation) : Cites this act as the "Florida Families First Act"; requiring the Department of Health to create public service announcements to educate the public on perinatal mental health care; revises components that are included in the postpartum evaluation and follow-up care provided by birth centers to include a mental health screening and the provision of certain information on postpartum depression.

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Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.