Pictured, L to R: Senate President Bill Galvano, House Speaker José Oliva, Governor Ron DeSantis, and Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez
The Florida Legislature's 2019 Session ended last Saturday after being extended for one day because of a delay in completing the final $91.1 billion 2019-2020 state budget that will take effect on July 1. The budget, SB 2500, will be presented to Governor DeSantis in the near future and, once he receives it, he will have 15 days to sign or veto it. He also has the ability to veto specific line item appropriations in the bill.
Before and during session, 3,571 bills were filed, but by session's end only 196 had passed, the lowest number of bills passed since 2010 according to the News Service of Florida. Major bills addressing school safety and arming teachers, limiting authority of local governments, penalizing "sanctuary cities", stopping texting while driving, and expanding school choice passed, while
bills addressing school board member term limits, "fetal heartbeat" ant-abortion legislation, and major gambling legislation died.
Priority United Way Bills
As is always the case, Florida's United Ways prevailed on some of their 2019 priority issues and lost on others.
Among the wins, United Way received a $500,000 appropriation to help thousands of ALICE families across the state recoup millions of their hard-earned dollars in federal income tax refunds, including Earned Income Tax Credits. In addition,T.E.A.C.H. early learning teacher scholarship funding was maintained at $10 million and legislation requiring creation of early learning professional development training and course standards for school readiness program providers (
HB 1027) passed. United Way also played a major role in passing legislation that will provide alternative treatment options for veterans who have traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress (
Several key United Way bills fell victim to the low number of bills passed, including legislation that would have: 1) further implemented HB 1091, last year's landmark early learning bill (
HB 1193); 2) authorized dental therapists to expand dental care across the state (
SB 684); and 3) authorized use of school safety funds as match to draw down $40+ million in federal funds for school mental health services (
For a brief summary of 2019 bills and appropriations important to United Way, click here.