Legislative Issues

RIDE SHARING SERVICES Bills impacting the operations of ride sharing services are slated for consideration this session. Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) filed a proposal requiring drivers of Uber and Lyft to have coverage of $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident and $25,000 for property damage, among other coverages. A House bill, which has already been heard in one committee, preempts municipal and county regulation of these services.

And, interestingly last November, the Jacksonville Jaguars professional football team partnered with Uber to provide in-app access to promotionally priced tickets for fans riding on game day.

SALES TAX HOLIDAY A bill proposing a sales tax holiday for 2016 is in its last committee stop in the Senate. Similar to previous years, the bill establishes a ten-day sales tax holiday from August 5-14, 2016 for certain items of clothing and school supplies. Florida has hosted a “Back-to-School” tax holiday fourteen times since 1998.

RED LIGHT CAMERAS For the fourth year in a row, Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) has filed legislation which would eliminate red light cameras on Florida’s roads.  A vocal opponent of such cameras, the Senator believes local governments utilize the devices as a revenue source only, rather than a safety measure.

TEXTING AND DRIVING Senator Thad Altman (R-Cape Canaveral) and Representative Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) filed bills to tighten current law on the prohibition of texting while driving. It would give police officers the ability to stop drivers solely for this reason, making it a primary instead of the current secondary offense. Other bills have been filed preventing any use of cellular devices while in a school zone.

ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION According to the Florida Department of State, online voter registration will be launched by October 1, 2017. The requirement to implement online voter registration was passed by the Legislature in 2015. Twenty-six states currently allow their citizens to register online to vote.

LOCAL ELECTION DATES The House State Affairs Committee has proposed legislation which would change the election date for local offices to coincide with the statewide November general election date in even numbered years and a similar date in odd numbered years.  The Committee voted 10-6 to file the bill, but it has not yet been referenced to any committees. The Florida League of Cities is mobilizing its members to oppose the proposal.

TERM LIMITS Senator Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and Representative Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) are proposing a bill that would extend Florida’s eight-year term limits for members of the Florida Legislature to twelve years. If approved by both chambers, a constitutional amendment would appear on the 2016 ballot for voters to make the ultimate decision. The amendment would apply to newly elected state legislators.

STATE PARKS Representative Matt Caldwell (R-Leigh Acres) reintroduced a bill relating to management of Florida’s parks. In an effort to make the parks more financially self-sufficient, the bill addresses public land buying and park use.  Missing from this year’s bill is a divisive proposal to allow “low-impact” agriculture at the parks.

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