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Issue 5  | April  3, 2017 

Top News: Budget Week
(Left to right): House PreK-12 Appropriations Chair Manny Diaz, House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Chair Clay Ingram, and House Health Care Appropriations Chair Jason Brodeur.

(Left to right): Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Chair Davidi Simmons, Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Chair Jeff Brandes, and Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chair Anitere Flores.

This is the midpoint of the 2017 Session, when the recommendations of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees are combined into their proposed budgets ( PBC APC 17-01 and SPB 2500 ), passed by the House and Senate full appropriations committees and sent to their respective chambers for floor votes. This sets the stage for joint House and Senate conference committees to begin ironing out the differences. This year, the two chambers will start their negotiations $2 billion apart. The list of unresolved issues is much longer than usual, including hospital and higher education funding, gambling, funding for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, funding to clean up Lake Okeechobee drainage, property taxes, and tax cuts. 

Some of the budget items important to United Ways are compared here .
Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign
Reps. Loranne Ausley (left) and Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) opposed HB 1141.
CS/HB 1141 (Yarborough, R-Jacksonville), repealing the Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign (FSECC), passed the House last week. The Senate companion SB 1310 (Artiles, R-Miami) will be heard this week in committee. It is likely the legislation will pass this year, leaving state employees without a workplace charitable giving campaign. Since 1980 state employees have generously contributed over $94 million to more than 1,000 charities through the FSECC, helping millions of Floridians. The Campaign had declined in recent years, but instead of working to improve it, to assist state employees and address their preferences regarding charitable giving, the Department of Management Services (DMS) decided it did not want to oversee the Campaign and prevailed upon the House to repeal it.
Local Regulation Preemption
Sen. Tom Lee (left) and Rep. Randy Fine have sponsored bills limiting the power of local government.

There has been strong debate this session about the proper role of local governments, with bills filed in both House and Senate to limit the powers of local government regarding taxation, regulation of business and local ordinances. A measure that would severely restrict the authority of local governments to pass business regulations CS/HB 17 (Fine, R-Palm Bay) is in its final committee in the House. Specifically, the bill takes away the power of local government to pass rules and regulations affecting businesses in their area. Under HB 17, only a law passed by the Florida Legislature could grant a city or county the ability to enact a rule affecting local businesses. Any existing local laws affecting businesses would expire in 2020.  The legislation largely neuters the state constitution's home rule provision, which gives local governments the authority to legislate on any matter not inconsistent with federal or state law. Senate Joint Resolution SJR 76 (Lee, R-Brandon) proposes an amendment to the State Constitution to preserve current limits on annual property assessment increases.
Labor Organizations
Bill sponsor Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood (left) and bill opponent Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.

Collective bargaining is a constitutional right for public employees in Florida to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. C urrent law specifies that public employees have the right to be represented in collective bargaining by an employee organization (union) of their choosing, or to refrain from being represented. ( Florida is a Right to Work state where employment is not dependent on joining a union.)  About 10 percent of state workers belong to an organized labor union.  
HB 11 (Plakon, R-Longwood) would effectively decertify public employee unions with membership below 50% of all eligible employees. The bill would also require yearly registration of unions that includes financial information about its individual members. Bill supporters say it is undemocratic for a union to represent workers if less than 50% are dues-paying members. Bill opponents say collective bargaining is needed to improve working conditions and the bill will make it virtually impossible for unions to continue functioning. The bill exempts law enforcement, corrections officers and firefighters. Its strongest impact will be on teachers and school employees unions.
The bill passed the House last week 75-41. Read more.
Bills to Watch this Week

SB 598 Elections (Gibson, R-Jacksonville): Requires the elections supervisor to allow a person who voted a provisional ballot to present identification and submit an affidavit to cure an unsigned Provisional Ballot Voter's Certificate and Affirmation or a provisional ballot rejected due to a signature discrepancy; requires the supervisor to allow submission of an affidavit to cure signature discrepancies on a vote-by-mail ballot.
HB 1229 Committee on Early Grade Success (Grall, R-Vero Beach): creates a Committee on Early Grade Success, within the Department of Education, to develop a proposal for establishing and implementing a coordinated child assessment system for the School Readiness Program, the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, and the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.
SB 1710 Education (Stargel, R-Lakeland) Designates September as 'American Founders Month'; revises the duties of the Just Read, Florida! Office to include civic literacy; requires postsecondary students to demonstrate civic literacy.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.