Legislative Update

DANGEROUS DOGS CS/CS/CS/ HB 91 by Representative Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) passed unanimously in the House on January 27th and unanimously in the Senate February 11th.  If signed into law by Governor Scott, dogs labeled as “dangerous” for causing serious injury may not be automatically euthanized.

SALES TAX HOLIDAY The sales tax holiday bill for 2016 is in its last committee stop in the Senate. It establishes a ten-day sales tax holiday from August 5-14, 2016 for certain items of clothing and school supplies. The measure is part of the overall tax cut proposal in the House (HB7099) which has been placed on the Special Order Calendar.

AGRICULTURE This wide-ranging legislative package for the Department of Agriculture covers many issues, some of which include: the designation of tupelo honey as the official honey of the State of Florida; further certification of pest control operators; enhancement of school nutrition; food labeling; patent and trademark use; fertilizer licensing and reporting; and setting up a program to remove or destroy abandoned citrus groves to contain citrus greening.

EVERGLADES  Two Martin County legislators introduced legislation which would set aside a certain percentage of funds, or $200 million, for Everglades restoration projects.  The funding would come from documentary stamp taxes designated for Amendment One, the Water and Land Conservation constitutional amendment that was passed by the voters last November.

FRACKING Several municipalities and counties have passed bans on fracking within their jurisdictions. The Legislature introduced bills which would pre-empt all regulation pertaining to oil and gas exploration to the state.  The House passed their bill 73-45 on January 27th. The Senate may not consider their bill until the Department of Environmental Protection provides testimony as to the effects of fracking on Florida’s environment, especially the geological aspect.

AGRITOURISM Agritourism operators would be protected from regulations by local governments that prohibit or limit their activities on land classified as agricultural. The House bill passed unanimously on January 27th and is waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.

STATE PARKS Representative Matt Caldwell’s (R-Leigh Acres) bill relating to management of Florida’s parks has one more committee stop. The bill addresses public land buying and park use to make parks more financially self-sufficient. Its companion bill in the Senate passed its first of three committee stops.

ARTIFACTS Efforts to significantly change how Florida preserves its past stalled in both chambers. The proposed bills would require the Department of State to implement a program similar to one in 2009 where persons excavating artifacts must report all discoveries.  This program would have required a $100 annual permit; established penalties for violations; and transfer ownership of artifacts in exchange for information about them and their locations.

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