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Sunshine State Legislative Updates

February 14, 2020

Session 2020: Florida Business Legislation Update for the Week Ending 2/14/20

By Anne Corcoran

What happened in Week 5 of the 2020 Florida Session?  Both the House and Senate this week passed budgets (HB 5001/SB 2500), and there are differences between the two funding bills which will affect substantive legislation working its way through the chambers.  Read on to find out more about the differences in the budgets, as well as other updates on proposed legislation this week.

  • E-Verify (SB 664/HB 1265)
    • On Wednesday, the Senate bill requiring all employers to verify that new employees are eligible to work in the U.S. through the E-Verify system was amended to exempt (1) agricultural employers and (2) employers with under 150 employees.  It was also amended to allow applicable employers to use a system other than E-Verify if it is approved by the state.  It is now scheduled to be heard in Commerce and Tourism on 2/19.
    • The Senate bill as amended is viewed as an attempt to make the legislation palatable to a wider swath of Republican legislators who may be concerned about how such a law would affect the agriculture industry and small businesses.
    • The governor has voiced support for the original version of the Senate bill requiring all employers to use E-Verify. 
    • The House bill – which only applies to public employers and those contracting with public employers – has not been heard in a committee yet.
       
  • Visit Florida (SB 362/HB 213)
    • The Senate’s budget which passed this week fully funds the state tourism marketing organization, Visit Florida, at $52.5 million. 
    • On Thursday, a bill extending the organization through 2028 has passed the Senate.  Last session, legislation was passed sunsetting the organization on July 1, 2020. 
    • The governor’s budget includes $50 million for the organization.
    • The House’s budget which passed this week does not fund the organization.
    • A House bill extending the life of the organization through 2028 has yet to be heard in a committee.
  • Pre-emption of Local Licensing (HB 3/SB 1336)
    • HB 3 prohibits local governments from imposing new business regulations and automatically sunsets those now on the books by July 1, 2022.  The bill also precludes local governments from requiring a license for an occupation that does not fall under that of a contractor as licensed by the state Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB).  It specifically prohibits local governments requiring a license for painting; flooring; cabinetry; interior remodeling; driveway or tennis court installation; decorative stone, tile, marble, granite or terrazzo installation; plastering; stuccoing; caulking; canvas; awning installation or ornamental iron installation.
    • It has passed all House committees, and this week was put on the Calendar for the House floor on 2/19.
    • Last year, the same bill passed the House but was not heard in a Senate committee.
    • This year the Senate bill has moved through one committee and is scheduled in the Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee on 2/17.  Next stop: Rules.
    • The Senate bill is almost identical to the House bill except it does not pre-empt any licensing prior to October 1, 2020.   
       
  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund (SB 306/HB 381)
    • The Senate budget passed this week fully funds the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund at $382 million. 
    • The House’s budget passed this week only funds it at $144 million with the additional money allocated elsewhere. 
    • Currently the law allows the Legislature to use unappropriated balances in certain funds, including affordable housing trust funds, in the general budget.
    • Bills have been filed in the House and Senate to prohibit the Legislature from using money from affordable housing trust funds for the general budget.  The House bill has yet to be heard in committee.  The Senate bill has passed Infrastructure and Security (8-0) and is now in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development.
  • E-Fairness (HB 159/SB 126)
    • The legislation requires retailers with no physical presence in Florida to collect Florida’s sales tax on items delivered to purchasers in Florida if the seller conducts 200 or more retail sales or sales exceeding $100,000 during the previous calendar year.  Currently, the burden is on the consumer to ensure the sales tax is paid.
    • On Thursday, the Senate bill passed its second committee, Finance and Tax (8-0).  It has already passed Commerce and Tourism (5-0) and is now headed to its final committee stop, Appropriations.
    • The House bill has been referred to three committees but has yet to have a hearing.
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  • Limiting Attorney Fees in Property Insurance Lawsuits (HB7071/SB 914)
    • The legislation would limit the use in property insurance lawsuits of the contingency risk multiplier in calculating attorney fees.  Under the bills, the multiplier would only apply in rare and exceptional circumstances.   According to the House bill sponsor, Rep. Mike Beltran, “The purpose of this bill is to limit the multiplier to only those circumstances where they truly cannot obtain a lawyer but for the multiplier.”
    • On Thursday, the House bill passed the Commerce Committee on Thursday (16-7).  It had already passed the Judiciary Committee (13-5) and is now headed to the House floor.
    • The Senate bill is currently in the Rules Committee, its final stop, having already passed Banking and Insurance (5-3) and Judiciary (4-2).