Legislative Status Report
April 2, 2021
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.
Governor DeSantis Update
Gov DeSantis wants to provide $1,000 bonuses for K-12 school principals and teachers for grades. It would provide a bonus to more than 3,600 public school principals and nearly 180,000 full-time classroom teachers. He is asking the Senate and House to include a $216 million appropriation in their respective budgets.
He stated, “The past year included so much uncertainty for our state’s students, parents and educators. We knew how important it was for our students to return to school, and our principals and teachers answered the call. I urge the Legislature to join me in awarding our great educators through this bonus program.”

He also wants to allocate an additional $50 million to increase teacher salaries.
Gov DeSantis signed S 72 to protect businesses from lawsuits related to COVID 19 provided they follow DC/Health Department guidelines.
House/Senate Propose Budgets
Despite a lag in tourism and hospitality revenue numbers, the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research (Amy Baker - coordinator) reported overall increased revenue collections over that past seven consecutive months.

General revenue collections have increased $1.8 billion from the revised August forecast and the State is now forecasting a $1.4 billion. The state Revenue Estimating Conference meets April 6 to update projections of general revenue.
Proposed House Budget H 5001
The House Appropriations Committee approved a $97.1 billion budget includes plans to spend the state's $10.2 billion share of the American Rescue Plan (passed by Congress on March 11).
  • $2 billion for State Transportation Trust Fund
  • $1 billion for new Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund
  • $630 million for environmental programs
  • $350 million to increase Budget Stabilization Fund
  • $324 million for cybersecurity, workforce and reemployment assistance
  • $141 million for the Sadowski Trust Fund
  • $2.2 billion goes to unallocated General Revenue for reserves.
Proposed Senate Budget - S 2500

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $95 billion budget proposal. The Senate package held off on factoring in the anticipated influx of federal stimulus cash.
  • $786 million for the Everglades
  • $50 million for Florida Forever.
  • $50 million for Visit Florida.
  • $350 million for “returning” student enrollment.
  • $5 billion in state reserves

From doc stamp revenue, the Senate proposal would provide $141 million for the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund, transfer $141 million to the Resilient Florida Trust Fund and another $141 million to the Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Fund.
Click here to see a list of local budget requests.
COVID 19 Business Liability Protection
COVID-19-Civil Liability for Damages S 72 will protect businesses, governments and healthcare providers from coronavirus lawsuits if they can prove a good effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It was the first bill signed by the governor during the session.

This legislation provides a “safe harbor” to protect businesses that are following CDC and Health Dept guidelines. It would raise the level of proof needed that a business has violated certain safety criteria.

In Court, you must show that someone was negligent based on “preponderance of evidence” or 50% plus 1.
This new law would require “clear and convincing” evidence which is a higher threshold. 

In order for a lawsuit to move ahead, a plaintiff would need a signed affidavit from a doctor stating with reasonable certainty that injury/ death caused by COVID-19 was a result of the defendant’s actions.
The Chamber applauds our Volusia delegation for their support in the passage of this bill.
Sadowski Housing Trust Fund/Budget
Documentary Stamp Tax Distributions (Sadowski Housing Trust Fund) - H 5401 by Rep Tomkow would split affordable housing dollars into housing, combating rising sea levels and wastewater grants.

It passed Appropriations Committee (Rep Tom Leek voted YES). Now en route to a House floor.
A similar Senate version S 2512 passed the Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutson voted YES).

This bill is derived from a comprehensive plan drafted by House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson to redirect doc stamp tax revenue that currently goes to the affordable housing trust fund to fund key infrastructure programs i.e. addressing sea level rise, wastewater grants and affordable housing. With the new plan, the Legislature would allocate a combined $141 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program (SAIL) and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP).

The Chamber supports sufficient funding for workforce housing!
Online Sales Tax/Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund
Taxes/Fees on Remote Sales S 50 by Sen Gruters requiring out-of-state retailers to collect and remit Florida sales taxes. It was amended whereby proceeds would replenish the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund. This amendment saves employers a per-employee tax increase of $7 to $80!
S 50 went over to the House and similar House version H 15 passed the Commerce Commitee (Rep Webster Barnaby voted YES).

BOTH bills are set for a House floor vote on April 7. The Chamber urges you to call Reps Barnaby, Fetterhoff, Leek and Renner in support!
Reemployment Assistance - S 1906 by Sen Jason Brodeur….amends the state’s reemployment assistance weekly benefit amount from a range of $32 to $275 per week to $100 to $375 per week for up to 12 weeks.
It passed the Commerce/Tourism Committee (Sens Tom Wright, Travis Hutson voted YES).
Next stop - Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutsonmember).

The American Rescue Plan Act, approved by Congress on March 11, further extends unemployment benefits (an additional $300 per week) until September 6, 2021.
A similar House version H 1463 by Rep LaMarca passed the Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee. Next stop - Government Operations Subcommittee (Rep Webster Barnabymember).  

Click here for more information.
Veterans Employment and Training - S 586 by Sen Tom Wright designates Florida for Veterans as the state’s principal assistance organization under the US Dept of Defense’s SkillBridge program for employers and transitioning servicemembers. 

This may make it easier for both industry partners and servicemembers to access a single point of entry, thereby increasing the likelihood of participation.
The Chamber supports
Sen Tom Wright's S 586
Sen Wright stated, "SB 586 will allow active military members to allow them to choose to spend the last 180 days of their active duty in the Skillbridge program. This DOD program will continue to pay wages and full benefits while the member works as an apprentice at a potential employer."

Identical House version H 435 by Rep Sirois was approved by the Public Integrity & Elections Committee . Next Stop - State Affairs Committee.
Impact Fees
Impact Fees S 750 by Sen Gruters makes several changes regarding impact fees imposed by local governments to fund local infrastructure to meet the demands of population growth; says a local govt, school district or district may not increase impact fee rates by more than 3 percent annually.

It passed Finance & Tax Committee (Sen Tom Wright voted YES; now in Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutson - member).
H 337 by Rep DiCeglie passed Ways & Means Committee and now on the State Affairs Committee agenda.
Growth Management
Growth Management - H 59 by Rep McClain…..among other points, it requires each local government to include a property rights element in its comprehensive plan. It also requires the Dept of Transportation, when selling property, to provide a right of first refusal to the property’s prior owner. It is set for a House floor vote. 

A similar Senate version S 496 by Sen Perry is set for a Senate floor vote.

Both bills are on the Chamber’s Watch List.
Vacation Rental Units H 219 by Rep Fischer preempts local authority to regulate short-term rentals i.e. shifts regulation by cities/counties to the State’s Division of Hotels/Restaurants (under Dept of Business & Professional Regulation). It’s currently before the Ways & Means Committee.

A similar Senate version S 522 by Sen Diaz was approved by the Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutson voted YES). Next stop - Senate floor vote.
Charter Schools S 1028 by Sen Travis Hutson allows state universities and Fla College System (FCS) institutions to solicit applications and sponsor charter schools upon approval by the Dept of Education (DOE)…..and that a state university’s charter school may serve students from multiple school districts to meet regional education or
workforce demands and a FCS sponsored charter school may serve students from any county within the colleges’ service area to meet workforce demands.

Click here for more information.
Bright Futures Scholarship Program S 86 by Sen Baxley which would revamp the state’s Bright Futures' scholarships. The bill would no longer tie school cirrucluum to specific careers paths.

It was approved by the Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutson voted YES).
In its budget proposal, the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee
has called to suspend a $600 stipend that Bright Futures top-level recipients get for textbooks.

They’re also looking to end the Access to Better Learning and Education (ABLE) grant that helps students attend for-profit private colleges/universities.
Unlicensed Contracting
Unlicensed Contracting S 332 by Sen Perry increases the criminal penalties when an unlicensed person engages as a contractor without being duly registered/certified. S 332 creates a tiered penalty structure, increasing in severity with the contract price.
  • Less than $1,000, the penalty is a first degree misdemeanor.
  • $1,000 or more, but less than $20,000, the penalty is a third degree felony.
  • $20,000 or more, but less than $200,000, the penalty is a second degree felony
  • $200,000 or more, the penalty is a first degree felony.
Passed the Regulated Industries Committee (Sen Travis Hutson voted YES). Next stop - Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal/Civil Justice Committee.

Identical House version H 1169 by Rep Stevenson is before the Regulatory Reform Committee
On the Radar Screen
Elections H 7041 by Rep Ingoglia would tighten election procedures supervisors...comparing signatures on mail-in ballots, require voters to request mail-in ballots for each general election. Now before the
Appropriations Committee (Rep Tom Leek - member).

Senate companion bill S 90 by Sen Baxley goes to Rules Committee April 6...then Senate floor.
Constitution Revision Commission SJR 204 by Sen Brandes which would abolish the CRC (convene every 20 years to review it and propose any necessary amendments) If passed the Senate 27-12 (Sens Jason Brodeur, Travis Hutson, Tom Wright voted YES). Now en route to the House.
H 1429 Tourist Development Taxes by Rep Avila authorizes all TDT revenue to be used to finance flood mitigation projects or improvements.
En route to the House floor.

Similar Senate version S 2008 is STALLED on Community Affairs Committee agenda (Sens Jason Brodeur, Travis Hutson - members.

The Chamber stands with the Volusia Lodging & Hospitality Association in OPPOSING this legislation.
Tax Refund Program for Qualified Target Industry Businesses  S 982 by Sen Gruters reauthorizes the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Tax Refund Program by repealing the June 30, 2020, deadline for applicants to be certified for the program. It has a $35 million cap. Now before Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutson - member).

Identical House version H 6071 by Rep LaMarca is before the Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee.
Save the Date!
Chamber's 38th Annual Welcome Back Breakfast for
Volusia Legislative Delegation
The Chamber's 38th Annual "Welcome Back Breakfast" for the Volusia Legislative delegation 
 Thursday, May 13, 7:30 am at Halifax River Yacht Club 

 At this event, our own House and Senate members will express their viewpoint on the legislative session along with questions from the audience. 
Daytona Regional Chamber member admission is $17 in- person at Halifax River Yacht Club, $10 for virtual. Advanced RSVP required. Please make sure you are logged into your member portal to receive your member rate when registering for this event.
Event Sponsors
Chamber's 2021 Legislative Priorities
Click 2021 Legislative Priorities to see the Chamber's recommendations for the Session. Compiled by our Advocacy Action Council - Dwight Durant, Chair (Zev Cohen & Associates), this list was presented to the Volusia delegation at their December 14 meeting.  

These recommendations will be tracked throughout the session and reported each week in the Chamber's Legislative Status Report.
Contact Your House and Senate Members
Click here to see Volusia's House/Senate contact information
as well as new committee assignment.

Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce
126 E. Orange Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
386.255.0981 | info@daytonachamber.com

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