January 28, 2021
Welcome to the Greater Gainesville Chamber's Legislative Update. During interim committee weeks and the legislative session, we distribute the update on Thursdays to keep our members current on key state-level issues and legislative action. Learn more about our priorities in Focus Forward, the Chamber's 2021 State Legislative Agenda.
SESSION 2021
Governor DeSantis Releases "Florida Leads" Budget
Governor Ron DeSantis this morning released a 2021-22 Budget Proposal totaling nearly $96.6 billion, an increase of over $4.3 billion compared to his 2020-21 proposal. COVID-related expenses comprise more than $2.6 billion of the increase.

While the Governor's budget proposal exceeds the current fiscal year budget budget, it does include reductions of more than $1 billion over the current fiscal year, of which $876.3 million is in General Revenue and $228.3 million is in trust funds.

Of note, the budget proposes allocations in the following categories:

Economic Development
  • $50M for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support local infrastructure and job training projects targeted towards economic recovery and development
  • $50 million for the Economic Development Transportation Fund," also known as the “Road Fund," which will provide funding for projects to facilitate economic development by eradicating location-specific transportation problems
  • $21 million for Enterprise Florida, including an additional $5 Million to support targeted campaigns that market the opportunities available in Florida for businesses to realize economic and job growth in the state
  • $50 million for Visit Florida holding the line from the current budget
  • $4.7 for Florida Sports Foundation

K-12 Education
  • $22.8 billion for K-12 public school funding, bringing per-student funding to $8,019, exceeding the current year's allocation by $233 per student
  • $550 million to continue raising the minimum K-12 teacher salary to $47,500 and allot for salary increases for eligible personnel
  • $16 billion for other public education expenses, including grants and workforce education

State Colleges and Universities
  • $1.26 billion for state colleges, down by about $18.9 billion from the current fiscal year budget
  • $5.2 billion for state universities, down by $22 million from the current fiscal year budget

Water Infrastructure
  • $50 million for Springs restoration
  • $145 million for targeted water quality improvements
  • $40 million for alternative water supply

Housing
  • $423 million for housing programs administered by local governments and the Florida Housing Finance Company. These programs are funded by the Sadowski Trust, which was projected to generate $350 for the current fiscal year (in addition to the more than $250 million to address affordable housing needs and the increase in homelessness due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19)

Tax Savings
  • $9 million for a 10-day Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday for Florida Families
  • $56 million for an 8-day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday

Mental Health
  • $110 million for mental health programs in Florida’s schools, an increase of $10 million over current year funding.
  • More than $31 million for adults and children who suffer from mental illness and emotional disturbances

As a reminder, the Governor's budget proposal is just that - proposal. A few weeks after the legislative session begins in March, the Senate and House will also release their respective budget proposals, and the three budgets will undergo conferencing and reconciliation in the weeks leading up to session's end, currently slated for early May.

Click here to find the Governor's budget overview, FAQ, detailed reports and more.
When out-of-state internet retailers don't have to charge sales tax on Florida orders, your community's small businesses lose out. Add your name to the growing list of companies who want lawmakers to level the playing field for local businesses by ensuring internet retailers pay their fair share. It's not a new tax - it's already due!
In the wake COVID and the resulting budget challenges, the 2021 Legislative Session is going to be tough. Chamber Members, we're going to need your support more than ever to advance our 2021 Focus Forward State Legislative Agenda. That's why we created Session Central, a one-stop repository on the Chamber's website, where you'll find action items, the weekly legislative update and an archive of past issues. As we progress through committee weeks and into Session, we'll continue to add content there to help you stay in the loop.
Bills of Interest
More than 970 bills have been filed for consideration this coming session. At this time, the Chamber is monitoring 67 of these bills on numerous issues, and will be adding more to the list as needed. Not all of the bills below are on the Chamber's list of legislative priorities, but all are likely to be of interest to local businesses .
Small Business
SB 50 / HB 15 – Sales Tax Fairness/Internet Sales Tax: Revises conditions for certain dealers subject to sales tax; deletes exemption for certain dealers from collecting local option surtaxes; MORE
In Context: If a state has a tax already in place, but isn't collecting it, it is not a new tax. Florida is collecting a fraction of the taxes it should from online sales, and small brick-and-mortar businesses are paying the price. It's time for Florida to level the playing field and collect the conservatively estimated $612 million it is missing out on each year by not collecting this tax. 
Status:
  • SB 50 - Approved by Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee on Jan. 25. Now awaiting hearing in the Senate Finance and Tax Committee and also up for discussion at tomorrow's Revenue Estimating Conference.
  • HB 15 - Awaiting hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee and also up for discussion at tomorrow's Revenue Estimating Conference.
SB 72 / HB 7 – COVID Liability Protections: Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19; Providing requirements for a civil action based on a COVID-19-related claim; providing that the plaintiff has the burden of proof in such action.. MORE
In Context: Most small businesses are doing all they possibly can to keep their staff and customers safe from COVID-19. Businesses should be protected from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits at a time when they can least afford it.
Status:
  • SB 72 - Approved on Jan. 25 by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now awaiting hearing in the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee
  • HB 7 - Previously approved by the House Civil Justice & Property Rights Committee. On the Feb. 3 agenda of the House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee
SB 266 – Home Based Businesses: Providing legislative findings and intent; specifying conditions under which a business is considered a home-based business; authorizing a home-based business to operate in a residential zone under certain circumstances... MORE
In Context: Small and home-based businesses are a critical part of Florida's economy. Residential property is often the most valuable asset a business owner has, and can be used in ways that are conducive with residential use.
Status:
  • SB 496 - Filed and awaiting committee assignments
SB 134 /HB 329 – Beverage Law: Authorizing certain food service establishments to sell or deliver alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption if specified requirements are met... MORE
In Context: This bill allows businesses in certain areas, such as specified entertainment or recreational districts, to sell or deliver alcoholic beverages in those districts.
Status:
  • SB 134 - Referred to Regulated Industries Committee
  • HB 329 - Filed Jan. 19 and awaiting committee assignments
  • Similar bills include SB 142 and SB 148
Talent, Education & Workforce
SB 268 – Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing: Preempts occupational licensing to the state and prohibits local governments from imposing additional licensing requirements or modifying licensing unless specified conditions are met…MORE
In Context: Many careers that currently require licensure at the state and/or local levels can be practiced safely without licensure. Floridians should be free to pursue trades such as painting, flooring, interior decorating, and more without unnecessary licensing requirements.
Status:
  • Awaiting hearing in Senate Regulated Industries Committee
Infrastructure & Growth
SB 496 / HB 59 – Growth Management: Requires a comprehensive plan to include a property rights element; provides a statement of rights that a local government may use…MORE
In Context: Special considerations are needed when government decisions affect private property. This bill aligns the property rights elements in local comprehensive plans with statutorily provided statement of rights. Would require local comprehensive plans to include a property rights element, and provides a statement of rights that local governments may use.
Status:
  • SB 496 - Filed and awaiting committee assignments
  • HB 59 - On Feb. 4 Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee agenda
SB 138 – Electric Vehicles: Revising the Department of Transportation's goals relating to mobility; requiring the department to establish the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Grant ProgramMORE
In Context: Electric vehicles are driving change and innovation, and more people are beginning to use them. Our roads and infrastructure need upgrades to keep up and accommodate the changing transportation landscape.
Status:
  • Awaiting hearing in Senate Transportation Committee
  • Linked bills include SB 140, which addresses related fees
SB 750 / HB 337 – Impact Fees: Specifying instances when a local government or special district may collect an impact feeMORE
In Context: Across the state, impact fees represent a growing source of local governments’ income. This bill seeks to bring consistency to what impact fees may include, when they may be assessed and how much may be assessed.
Status:
  • SB 750 - Awaiting hearing in Senate Community Affairs Committee
  • HB 337 - Filed and awaiting committee assignments
Healthcare & Well-Being
SB 130 / HB 83: Mental Health & Substance Abuse Disorders: Designates the “Florida Rural Jobs and Business Recovery Act” and requires the Department of Economic Opportunity to accept applications for approval as growth funds in a specified manner…MORE
In Context: Experience often can be the best teacher. When a person has first-hand experience with mental illness or substance abuse, they have unique insights that allow them to contribute in the recovery of others. This bill recognizes peer specialists as an essential element of a coordinated system of care in recovery from mental illness or substance abuse.
Status:
  • SB 130 - Awaiting hearing in the Senate Children, Families & Elder Affairs Committee
  • HB 83 - Awaiting hearing in the House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee
Elections & Voting
SB 204Abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission: Abolishes the Constitution Revision Commission; proposes amendments to the State Constitution to abolish… MORE
In Context: This bill would allow voters to decide whether to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years and has the power to bypass the legislature. In 2018, the CRC fell under heavy criticism because of “bundled amendments” containing unrelated provisions.
Status: 
  • Approved Jan. 27 by Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee. Awaiting hearing in Rules Committee
COVID Safety Protocol

Lawmakers and staff are following special protocols to minimize transmission of COVID-19. If you are planning to meet with or visit a lawmaker, please be sure to review COVID-19 protocol memos disseminated by House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson.

  • Senate protocol can be found here.
  • House protocol is available here.
Your Policy Team
Policy Questions? Contact a member of the Chamber's Public Policy team.
Vice President, Public Policy
Grassroots Engagement Manager