Legislative Status Report
March 8, 2019
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 opens Legislative Session 
with State of the State Presentation
On Tuesday, Gov Ron Desantis officially opened the Legislative Session by making his first State of the State message to a joint meeting of House/Senate members (Desantis recently received a 58 % approval rating).

He stressed:
  • that Florida should remain a low tax state
  • additional spending for water quality measures to reduce red tide and algae blooms;
  • that Florida should become a national leader in workforce training by 2030;
  • expanding K-12 school vouchers i.e. more charter schools;
  • creating a tuition-forgiveness program for teachers;
  • eliminating sanctuary cities;
  • addressing the rising cost of prescription drugs;
  • a proposed $330 million tax relief package.
DeSantis FY 2019-20 Budget Proposal
Each year, the Governor proposes a budget which is basically a blueprint used by the House and Senate as they draft their own budgets.

Gov DeSantis  recently released a $91.3 billion budget proposal (a $2 billion increase on the current year). It boosts funding for education (K-12 and Higher Education) as well as for the environment.

Some highlights include-
Gov Ron DeSantis
  • $625 million for water quality projects and Everglades restoration;
  • Sales tax holidays (back-to-school items and disaster preparedness goods prior to the hurricane season);
  • No cuts to health care spending;
  • Maintains full use of Sadowski Trust fund for workforce housing;
  • $21.7 billion for K-12 education (a $700 million increase over FY 2018-19) and no property tax increase at the local level to cover it;
  • $212 million for school safety programs;
  • $620 million for state universities, $120 million for state colleges;
  • Transportation work program includes $9.7 billion for roads, rights-of-way, rail lines and other infrastructure;
  • $76 million for Visit Florida;
  • $85 million job growth grant fund, for job training and infrastructure projects;
School Choice, Vouchers, School Guardians.....
A major portion of Gov DeSantis’ K-12 education plan is to expand choice. “Parents should have access to public schools that are not run by the school district, because you must have an opportunity to try new things.”
Senate and House leaders seem to agree with him. 
Senate Education Chair Manny Diaz filed SPB 7070 that pushes 80 percent of K-12 spending into the classroom i.e. provide teachers more available resources. Diaz sees this as a four-year strategy.

This Committee is also proposing a new scholarship program that would pay for more low-income families to enroll their children in private schools (funded using the Florida Education Finance Program, the main funding mechanism for public schools). Senate leaders are targeting more community schools in areas of high need.

Another education issues will be whether to expand the school “guardian” program to allow trained classroom teachers to be armed. 

S 7070 was approved ( Sen David Simmons voted YES )
District Cost Differentia l – H 1031 by Rep Aloupis was assigned next to the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee and S 1284 Education Committe e ( Sen David Simmons – member).  These bills would reopen the state education funding plan and how State DoE dollars are sent back to each School District. The Chamber’s Education
is carefully watching both bills and
the Chamber plans to meet with the sponsors (and other committee members that will vote on these bills) during Volusia Days at the Capitol.

NOTE – both sponsors represent Miami-Dade which is receiving currently $1.018 while Volusia is receiving $ 0.964 .

Why is this important? Volusia’s School District is losing more than $10 million each year because of the current formula. In other words, a 1% teacher pay increase is approximately $3 million.  

Click here to see key language in these bills. More news will be forthcoming.
Insurance Issues
Assignment of Benefits
Assignment of Benefits (AOB) - is where a consumer happens to sign over their rights to a particular home repair contractor when an insurance claim is filed.

Once an agreement is signed, it transfers any insurance claims/benefits
to a third party who now has authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without the consumer’s involvement.

For several sessions, the Chamber has been concerned that AOBs are driving up home insurance rates.

The legislature has been unable to reach any agreement on this issue in previous sessions. However, S 122 by Sen Broxson now includes an amendment providing an emergency repair clause that will be capped at $3,000. Consumers could rescind an AOB within the first 14 days of execution or 30 days after the execution of the agreement if service provider has not performed substantial repairs. The original version of the bill sought to cap attorney’s fees.

During his "State of the State" address, Gov Desantis said, “I hope the Legislature passes legislation to reform the issue of AOB, which has really degenerated into a racket. I would like to see the abuses pared back.” Though he hasn’t backed any single bill, both House Speaker Oliva and Senate President Galvano guaranteed that a bill be forthcoming. 

State CFO Jimmy Patronis also supports Assignment of Benefits reform and
is also encouraging House/Senate members to approve legislation.

With a 5 to 2 vote, the bill passed the Banking/Insurance Committee, S 122 now goes to the Judiciary Committee. ( Sen David Simmons; Chair ; Travis Hutson , member).

Other AOB bills include H 359 by Rep Fernandez, H 489 by Rep Hart and
S 904 by Sen Rader. Also this week, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved PCB 19-01 by a 13-2 vote.
Local Projects
First Step Shelter
Rep Elizabeth Fetterhoff presented H 4199 to the House Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee . It's a $400,000 request would be for First Step Homeless Shelter, a 24/7 come-as-you-are facility for homeless single men and women. Services will include in-take evaluation and
assessment, case management,social services addressing mental health, drug and alcohol dependency.
Rep Elizabeth Fetterhoff
Short term housing and job counseling will be other direct services. H 4199 was approved and now goes to the Appropriations Committee ( Reps Tom Leek , Paul Renner - members).

Sen Travis Hutson is proposing the Senate version which will soon go before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.
Rep Tom Leek
Volusia County Bellevue Rd Realignment/Stormwater Project 
H 2935 by Rep Tom Leek was approved by the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and now goes to the Appropriations Committee. This is a $3 million request for the design/permitting to improve stormwater collection and mitigation along Bellvue Rd behind the Daytona International Airport. 
These funds would be to design and provide needed infrastructure so that the property can be made “shovel ready” for attracting private-sector aviation or aerospace companies that bring high-wage job opportunities.

H 2935 is on the Chamber’s priority list.
Environmental Issues
Water Quality Improvements S 1758 by Sen Mayfield would -
  • transfer the regulation
/inspection of septic tanks from the Dept of Health to the Dept of Environmental Protection;
  • establish a wastewater grant
program within the Dept of Environmental Protection

While septic tanks have often been criticized and linked to water contamination, especially in the Indian River Lagoon, homeowners argued it costs too much to convert.

Mayfield's wastewater grant program would only be applicable for local projects that r etrofit onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems and connect septic tanks to sewage systems.

S 1758 also says the program's administrators must give priority to fund septic to sewer conversion projects or any projects that would cover the cost of inspecting and assessing septic tanks.
Currently, septic-to-sewer conversions are funded on a case by case basis by state legislators, and few requests are funded each year. 

Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems - S 214 by Sen Gruters would also require the Department of Health to develop minimum standards and requirements for repairing or pumping out any failing septic systems. 

Land Acquisition Trust Fund - S 368 by Sen Harrell would provide funds for certain projects related to the Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan including “septic to sewer” projects. 
Healthcare Issues
House Speaker Jose Oliva has stated strong views related to healthcare, however, healthcare providers disagree with his ideas such as abolishing Certificates of Need i.e. state rules determining where/when healthcare facilities can be built.
He wants to curb government regulations and provide more choices for the consumer so that market forces can apply.
Healthcare Market Barriers H 21 by Rep Fitzenhagen was approved by the House   Health Market Reform Subcommittee ( Rep Tom Leek voted YES ) which would repeal Certificates of Need for healthcare facilities.  Next stop – Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee.

A similar Senate version is S 1712 by Sen Harrell 
Telehealth - HB 23  by Rep Yarborough allows Fla licensed health care professionals to use telehealth (audio/video) to deliver health care services within their scopes of practice. It also allows out-of-state health care professionals to use telehealth to deliver health care services to Fla patients if they register with the Dept of Health, meet certain eligibility requirements, and pay a fee; however, they’re not allowed to open an office or provide in person services in Fla .

It was approved by the House Health Quality Subcommittee and now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee  ( Rep David Santiago – member).

S 1526  by Sen Harrell is the Senate version.                    
Sadowski Workforce Housing Fund
Housing Trust Fund S 70 by Sen Mayfield would exempt the State Housing Trust Fund and Local Government Housing Trust Fund from a provision authorizing the Legislature to transfer (or “sweep”) unappropriated cash balances from specified trust funds to the Budget Stabilization Fund and the General Revenue Fund.

S 70 has been referred to the Community Affairs Committee ( Sen David Simmons  - member).       
The identical House version H 1103 by Reps Silvers & Plasencia  has been referred to the Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee ( Reps Elizabeth Fetterhoff, Tom Leek – members).
Florida Legislature Regular Session
2019 Statistics Report
Total Senate bills filed                     933
Bills passed                          11
Total House bills filed                    2424
               Bills passed                         0
Total House/Senate bills filed        3357

Click Subject Index - A list of all House and Senate bills, in alphabetical order by subject.
Chamber's 2018 Legislative Priorities
Click  2019 Legislative Priorities  to see the Chamber's recommendations for the Session. Compiled by our Legislative Action Committee - Phil Maroney, Chair (Root Company), this list was presented to the Volusia delegation at their December 17 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 her e   to see Volusia's House/Senate contact information
as well as new committee assignment.

Click here to see  Florida House members   and  Florida Senate members
Volusia Days at the Capitol
March 19-20
The Chamber is again proud to organize our Volusia Days at the Capitol , business leaders and elected officials lobby House/Senate members
on issues of interest to our community.

Meetings are being set with House/Senate members, Cabinet members, and Dept Heads to discuss business-related issues and state programs that impact Volusia County. We plan to attend key House/Senate committee meetings as well.

More information will be forthcoming or call Jim Cameron 566-2140.
Relationship Between Transportation and the Local Economy
Virgin/Brightline Vice President Rusty Roberts addresses audience
On February 25, the Chamber and River to Sea TPO hosted a joint program focusing on how economic development and transportation are interrelated.

Economic Development doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Location and development decisions are influenced by the availability of transportation and these development decisions can also influence the need for additional transportation infrastructure.

Mike Shannon P.E. Secretary, FDOT District 5 spoke on the Central Florida/Volusia County Transportation Outlook while Florida Rep Tom Leek provided that same outlook from the House Appropriations Committee perspective.

Crossman & Company CEO John Crossman shared his perspective of how transportation impacts economic development efforts including transportation’s role as a site selection factor

Virgin/Brightline Vice President Rusty Roberts spoke about future plans for Virgin/Brightline in Florida.

NOTE – the Chamber made it known that Volusia County would like to locate a station as Virgin/Brightline plans progress to Jacksonville. 

The Chamber would like to thank Charter-Spectrum, AT&T, Daytona Beach News Journal and Consolidated Tomoka Land Co for sponsoring this event.
Emcees Phil Maroney and Commissioner Rob Gilliland
Eggs & Issues Breakfast
Topic – Background details of a proposed referendum for a
half-cent sales tax for infrastructure.

A proposed half-cent sales tax referendum (mail-in ballot- May 21 deadline) with revenue being applied to road & water quality projects throughout Volusia. It’s been estimated to generate $42 million annually with approximately a third paid by tourists/visitors.
A “citizens advisory board” to direct how funds will be spent.

Click here to RSVP.

The Chamber would like to thank Charter-Spectrum for sponsoring our Government Relations E-Newsletters.
Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce
126 E. Orange Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
386.255.0981 | info@daytonachamber.com

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