Here is a sampling of some legislation that has been filed for this Session.
LAWMAKER SPENDING REQUESTS Under House rules, members are required to submit funding requests in the form of an appropriations bill. To date, more than $3.6 billion in requests have been made.
EDUCATION Education issues, as usual, are receiving lots of attention. The Governor’s budget includes a $100 million “Equal Opportunity Scholarship” and $422.97 million to revise the Best and Brightest teacher bonus program. Through an executive order, he outlined his desire to end the state’s Common Core standards, reorganize standardized testing and revise the state’s educational curriculum, all within a year. The Senate is looking to greatly expand eligibility for the state’s school choice scholarship program, which currently has a waiting list of 19,000 eligible students.
Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is sponsoring a bill that would change the high school graduation requirements for some students by allowing them to replace high-level courses with various industry certifications. He is also the Senate sponsor of the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act. Hukill’s former legislative aide and now elected Representative Elizabeth Fetterhoff (R-DeLand) is the House sponsor. Named for its original advocate, former Florida legislator Dorothy Hukill who passed away in 2018, the bill would revise the required credits for a standard high school diploma to include one-half credit of instruction in personal financial literacy and money management. The bill died on the last day of the 2018 session.
Additional education issues deal with the implementation of safety measures passed by last year’s legislature following the killing of 17 people at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The law included the creation of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which allows for guardians – school personnel whose primary job duties are outside the classroom – to carry concealed firearms. The law also set up a commission that released a report in early January which recommended allowing teachers to be armed. The Senate bill includes that recommendation, which has drawn controversy.
SMOKING MEDICAL MARIJUANA Both the Senate and House are working on solutions to implement the 2016 constitutional amendment allowing for the use of medical marijuana. The Governor established a March 15th deadline for the Legislature to address whether the amendment permits smoking. On the Senate side, the legislation would authorize the sale of pre-rolled cigarettes as well as other whole-flower products, and minors would be able to receive prescriptions after a second opinion from a pediatric doctor. The House bill would only allow pre-rolled cigarettes and minors would be prohibited from smoking them. President Bill Galvano and Speaker Jose Oliva, who works in the cigar industry, have been reluctant to pass legislation that includes the smoking of medical marijuana, but have chosen to follow the Governor’s lead.
FRACKING With urging from the Governor, both the Senate and House have filed bills to ban fracking in Florida, both of which have been watered down to some extent. During the 2018 Session, a similar bill passed two committees in the Senate but was never considered in the House.
VACATION RENTALS For the third straight session, several bills have been filed that would govern vacation rentals, including portals such as Airbnb. The most contentious suggestion is the pre-emption of current and future local government ordinances.