Legislative Status Report
March 19, 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
Gov Ron Desantis has promoted that Florida has been in business for the better part of the past year. Having fewer rules and restrictions, Florida ranks in the middle of all states regarding coronavirus statistics. Florida has had about 3% more Covid-19 cases per capita than the US overall, but about 8% fewer deaths per capita.

This week in Tallahassee, DeSantis stated, "Those lockdowns have not worked. They've done great damage to our country. Florida took a different path. We've had more success as a result."
Governor Ron Desantis
The unemployment rate in Florida is 4.8 %, according to the latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 6.8% in Texas, 8.8% in New York and 9% in California.

Also this week, Gov DeSantis is outlining how to utilize a portion of federal funds that Florida is expected to receive via the recent $1.9 trillion Federal Stimulus Package (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021). 

Click here for more information.
Chamber Hosts VIRTUAL Volusia Days at the Capitol
On March 16-17, the Chamber hosted VIRTUAL Volusia Days at the Capitol where over 70 participants heard our Volusia delegation and Department Administrators/Agency Execs present the latest state government news affecting the business community.
FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault spoke of work being done on I-95 interchanges at LPGA and US 1. He also mentioned working with city and county on East ISB where construction is planned for early 2023, but if their process moves smoothly, that construction date “might be expedited”.
Click here for more information.
COVID 19 Business Liability Protection
COVID-19-Claims Against Health Care Providers H 7005 by Rep Burton provides heightened civil liability protections to health care entities for negligence claims brought by patients related to diagnosis/ treatment of, or failure to diagnose/ treat, a person for COVID-19; provision of a novel or experimental COVID-19 treatment; transmission of COVID-19; It's in line for a House floor vote.
The Daytona Regional Chamber supports H 7005 /S 74 and H 7 / S 72
COVID-19-Civil Liability for Damages CS/HB 7 by Rep McClure which sets requirements for a civil action based on a COVID-19-related claim and stipulates that the plaintiff has the burden of proof, including statute of limitations; provides severability and retroactive applicability. While it passed the House last week, it still is waiting to move through the Senate..

Similar Senate version S 72 by Sen Brandes passed the Senate 24-15 (Sens Tom Wright, Travis Hutson, Jason Brodeur voted YES. An amendment was adopted to merge the business S 72 and healthcare facilities S 74 bills.

There MAY be some House/Senate negotiation on these bills.
The Chamber supports these bills to assist those businesses that follow CDC and Health Dept guidelines to keep their customers and employees safe.
Economic Development
S 982 Tax Refund Program for Qualified Target Industry Businesses 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. 

It passed the Finance and Tax (Sen Tom Wright voted YES). Next stop - Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutson - member).
Enterprise Florida Exec Jamal Sowell
Enterprise Fla Exec Jamal Sowell told Volusia Days participants that QTI renewal is a vaualb eeconomic development tool.

Identical House version H 6071 by Rep LaMarca is before the Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee.

The Chamber supports S 982 and H 6071. The QTI is a valuable asset in helping new businesses to locate in Florida. Team Volusia supports this legislation too. 
Public Records Economic Agency S 968 by Sen Gainer creates a public records exemption for certain identifying information held by economic development agencies, including the Dept of Economic Opportunity, pursuant to the administration of state/federally funded small business loan programs. It provides for the automatic repeal of the public records exemption on October 2026, unless reenacted by the Legislature under the Open Government Sunset Review Act.
It passed Commerce/Tourism Committee (Sens  Tom Wright Travis Hutson voted YES). Next stop Governmental Oversight and Accountability 

A similar House version H 379 by Rep Giallombardo passed the Government Operations Subcommittee. Next stop - Commerce Committee (Rep Webster Barnaby – member).
Online Sales Tax
An amended Online Sales Tax
H 15 by Rep Clemens is headed to the House for floor vote...

The amended bill would generate an estimated $1.1 billion which would be applied to the State's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund which dropped $3.5 billion last year due to COVID 19-related layoffs.
Sales & Use Tax S 50 by Sen Gruters is on the Senate's Special Order calendar.

The Chamber supports H 15 and S 50. This is still a fairness issue which puts multi-national online retailers on a level field with local bricks & mortar stores.

Our Volusia delegation needs to hear that YOU support this good legislation!
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 was added to the Ways & Means Committee agenda and should be heard next week.
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.
H 1429 Tourist Development Taxes by Rep Avila authorizes all TDT revenue to be used to finance flood mitigation projects or improvements. It also requires all TDTs to be approved by referendum every five years and requires any TDT currently imposed to be renewed in a referendum by July 2026.
It passed the Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee and now goes to the Ways & Means Committee (March 22 agenda).

A similar Senate version S 2008 has been filed. No action so far.

The Chamber stands with the Volusia Lodging & Hospitality Association in OPPOSING this legislation. Bed tax revenue derived & collected by hotels/motels should continue to be used to tourism promotion…there plenty of other destinations aiming to lure our visitors to their community.
Employment Issues
DEO Reemployment Assistance Modernization S 1948 by Sen Bean would allow local governments applying for grants under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to participate in more than one grant category; it increases the percent of CDBG funding that the DEO may set aside annually for use in local government jurisdictions for emergencies/natural disasters; allows local government to submit more grant applications during each CDBG application cycle;

requires local governments to expedite building permits approvals from contractors on behalf of a property owner participating in the CDBG-Disaster Recovery program.

It passed Commerce/Tourism Committee (Sens  Tom Wright Travis Hutson voted YES).

Next stop Appropriations Committee (Sen Travis Hutsonmember).
A similar House version H 1463 by Rep Lamarca has been filed. No action this week. 
Charter Schools H 51 by Rep McClain allows state universities and Fla College System (FCS) institutions to solicit applications and sponsor charter schools upon approval by the Dept of Education (DOE).

It was approved by the Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee (Rep Elizabeth Fetterhoff voted YES).

A similar Senate version S 1028 by Sen Travis Hutson is on the Education Committee agenda on March 23.
Bright Futures Scholarship Program S 86 by Sen Baxley changes eligibility for state financial aid by institutions to identify and publish a list of career opportunities which could limit Bright Future scholarships to degrees with higher job prospects.
It passed the Education Committee by a 5-4 vote. There were more than 70 speakers this hearing. Next stop is Appropriations Subcommittee on Education (Sens Tom Wright Travis Hutson – members).

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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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