February 28, 2022 – Legislative Week 7



We’ve just finished week seven of this Legislative Session and are now entering into the home stretch.

Although the Legislature may not succeed in getting all of the bills passed and submitted to the Governor before the end of Session, the House and the Senate MUST agree upon, pass and submit a budget before Session can be adjourned, or Sine Die is called. The Senate and House are about $3.5 Billion apart in their budgets. They have two weeks to work out their differences and submit a jointly agreed upon budget to the Governor.

On another note, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine. May their desire for freedom and independence keep them strong and unwavering as they face Russian forces and armaments.

Representative Bob Rommel
District 106

Florida’s New Official COVID Guidelines

Florida is breaking from outdated CDC guidance and allowing students to avoid unnecessarily missing school for extended periods of time. The Florida Department of Health has updated its guidelines for students to safely return to the classroom by reducing the time a student must isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 from 10 to 5 days. The guidance is also clear that healthy students do not need to quarantine. Florida will continue to do everything possible to support parents, keep children healthy and make sure kids have the ability to learn in the classroom.

State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and Governor Ron DeSantis

On Thursday, February 24th, Governor Ron DeSantis and State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced significant changes to Florida’s COVID-19 guidance including pushing back on unscientific corporate masking, reducing isolation for all Floridians including those in schools and daycares, and recommending that physicians should exercise their individual clinical judgement and expertise based on their patients’ needs and preferences. For more information about Florida’s new guidance, click here.

“People want to live freely in Florida, without corporate masking creating a two-tier society and without overbearing isolation for children,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are empowering health care practitioners to follow science, not Fauci’s status quo.”

Public health updates in Florida now include:
Pushing Back Against Corporate Masking for Employees
Advising Health Care Practitioners and Facilities to Reevaluate Status Quo Protocols in Favor of Scientifically Based Treatment Options to Benefit Patients
Updating Daycare Guidance to Limit Child Isolation to 5 Days
Updating the School Rule to Limit Student Isolation to 5 Days
Reducing Isolation for Floridians with COVID to 5 Days
“The State of Florida has widespread natural and vaccine-induced immunity,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo. “Evidence suggests that most secondary transmission occurs early on. Our state will continue to make decisions for Floridians rooted in sound science, not fear, whether they are working or in school.”

Pushing Back Against Corporate Masking for Employees

Despite a lack of evidence that masks, and particularly cloth face coverings, prevent the transmission of COVID-19, many corporations have continued to require their employees to wear masks at work, regardless of the situation. Unlike CDC guidance, Florida’s new masking guidance advises against wearing facial coverings in a community setting. There is not strong evidence that masks reduce the transmission of respiratory illness.

This guidance makes clear that all employees at a corporation should not be forced to wear a mask while at work. The guidance recognizes that there are millions of employees in Florida working in industries from hospitality to manufacturing to banking who for no reason whatsoever have been forced to wear a mask at work.

The full guidance can be accessed here.

Advising Health Care Practitioners and Facilities to Reevaluate Status Quo Protocols in Favor of Scientifically Based Treatment Options to Benefit Patients

Florida recognizes that health care practitioners know best how to treat their patients. With today’s actions, state guidance is now clear that practitioners will have the flexibility to make the decision to treat patients with off-label prescriptions if they determine that it may help the patient and it is something the patient would like to try and provides informed consent to try. Florida has always believed in providing all possible treatment options to health care providers and led efforts to make monoclonal antibody treatments available statewide.

The full guidance can be accessed here.

Updating Daycare Guidance to Limit Child Isolation to 5 Days

Florida is supporting parents with children in daycare by updating outdated, unscientific guidelines that hurt working families and keep kids out of school.

Florida is making it clear that healthy children in daycare do not need to quarantine; children in daycare who test positive for COVID-19 can return after five days, with no test required. This guidance also reiterates that children attending daycare should never be forced to wear a mask — this choice should always be made by the parent.

The full guidance can be accessed here.

Updating the School Rule to Limit Student Isolation to 5 Days

The Florida Department of Health is also updating the school isolation rule to reduce isolation to 5 days. Parents still maintain the right to determine if their child should wear a mask and that remains strictly optional.

The updated rule language can be found here.

Reducing Isolation for Floridians with COVID to 5 Days

The new 5-day isolation guidance for COVID-19 issued by the Florida Department of Health is based on science and was informed by access to treatments, the benefits and harms of isolation, and widespread immunity. The 5-day guidance does not rely on the use of masks as a mitigation technique among the general public, as the use of masks has been shown to be ineffective in preventing transmission. This guidance recognizes that the CDC’s guidance is vastly out of date and has forced Floridians to miss work and school even when it is safe to return.

The updated guidance language can be found here.

Key Takeaways from Tallahassee

The Florida House continued to work on important issues facing Floridians during the seventh week of the 2022 Legislative Session.

The Florida House passed legislation to provide affordable housing for critical public employees, uphold principles of individual freedom, respect parents’ rights, and prevent tragedies like the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside.

In committees, state lawmakers approved a wide range of bills, including those that cut taxes, protect personal data, create more options in juvenile justice, enforce federal immigration laws, improve cybersecurity, and increase flooding and sea level rise resilience.

House Votes

House Votes for Affordable Housing for
Critical Public Employees
Home values and property taxes are on the increase, and Florida’s critical public employees deserve a break. They shouldn’t worry about whether they have a home to return to while they are out protecting ours.
HJR 1 & HB 1563 build on our commitment to affordable housing for Floridians by proposing a constitutional amendment for property tax relief – an additional $50,000 homestead exemption – for law enforcement officers, members of the Florida National Guard, K-12 classroom teachers, firefighters, active duty military, correctional officers, EMTs, paramedics, and child welfare service professionals. The bill lessens the financial burden for key members of the public workforce and their families with a significant and historic tax break.
HJR 1 & HB 1563 passed the House 115-0 on Thursday, February 24 and is now headed to the Senate.

House Votes to Uphold Principles of Individual Freedom

The Florida House is committed to the belief that every Floridian, regardless of their race, sex, religion, or any other quality, is entitled to their dignity as an individual.

HB 7 upholds the American principle that all people are created equal by identifying principles of individual freedom to guide instruction and curriculum:
No individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.
No race is inherently superior to another race.
No individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.
The bill requires that education materials in Florida’s schools are consistent with these shared values and prohibits employers from requiring workplace trainings that compel workers to believe concepts contradictory to the principles of individual freedom.

HB 7 also includes a new “Stories of Inspiration” curriculum to give students the opportunity to learn about and be inspired by influential Americans whose grit, resilience, and perseverance enabled them to rise above difficult circumstances to make invaluable contributions to our country. These “Stories of Inspiration” will be unifying, objective, and real stories that uphold principles of individual freedom and American ideals, such as: all people are created equal and are deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Students will be able to learn about and be inspired by great Americans like Bessie Coleman, who broke through race and gender barriers to become one of the most celebrated stunt pilots, and Biddy Mason, who was born a slave and died a millionaire real estate investor.

Not only does the bill encourage discussion and teaching of African American history already required under Florida law, it includes the most substantial expansion of African American history, including the contributions of Americans of the African diaspora, in our public schools in 20 years.

HB 7 passed the House 74-41 on Thursday, February 24 and is now headed to the Senate.

House Votes for Parents’ Rights

Parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children.

HB 1557 makes it clear that classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is not appropriate in kindergarten through grade 3 and specifies that instruction in other grades must be age and developmentally appropriate and consistent with state standards. It empowers parents by requiring school boards to notify parents if there is a change in their child’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health and wellbeing or the school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment.

The bill strengthens the parent and child relationship by requiring school district employees to encourage a student to discuss issues with his or her parent and requiring school districts to notify parents of all health care services offered at their student’s school and provide the parent the opportunity to individually consent to or decline each service.

Under this bill, a school guidance counselor or a trusted school employee is not required to tell a parent that his or her child is gay unless there is a change in the student’s mental, emotional or physical well-being and related services. The sexual orientation of the student would not require a change in services to the student.

HB 1557 also ensures parents have access to their child’s education and health records. The bill provides a process for parents to seek resolution of concerns at their child’s school through the school principal, the school district, the Department of Education, or the courts.

HB 1557 passed the House 69-47 on Thursday, February 24 and is now headed to the Senate.

House Votes to Uphold the Importance of Family

The Florida House will always uphold the importance of family by standing up for our most vulnerable, children and grandparents.

HB 1119 recognizes the importance of family in a child’s upbringing by ensuring grandparents’ visitation rights if a court finds one parent criminally or civilly liable for an intentional tort for the death of the other parent for the parents of the deceased and allows a court to block visitation if deemed not in the best interest of the child.

HB 1119 passed the House 112-3 on Thursday, February 24 and is now headed to the Senate.

House Votes to Prevent Tragedies
Like the Collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside

We must ensure Florida’s condominiums and cooperatives are properly maintained in order to ensure the safety of Floridians and to prevent tragedies like the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside.

HB 7069 protects Floridians by creating a statewide building recertification requirement for condominium and cooperative buildings that are three stories or taller 30 years after initial occupancy, or 25 years if the building is located within three miles of the coast. It requires a more intensive phase 2 inspection if the recertification reveals substantial structural deterioration that negatively affects the building’s general structural condition and integrity.

The bill helps condominiums and cooperatives plan for necessary repairs and maintenance by requiring associations to complete a structural integrity reserve study every 10 years for their buildings, which are three stories or taller, in order to create a financial plan for future repairs and maintenance of structural and life-safety systems. It also empowers owners by providing that structural integrity reserve studies, re-certifications, and phase 2 inspections are part of the official records of a condominium or cooperative, and must be provided to potential purchasers.

HB 7069 passed the House 114-0 on Thursday, February 24 and is now headed to the Senate.

House Judiciary Committee Votes to Protect Personal Data

This legislation draws the line at the point at which a person’s personal information stops being about providing them a good or service and turns into a product itself. Beyond that line, we say a person ought to have a voice in what happens to their information.

HB 9 generally applies to businesses that buy, sell, or share personal information of Florida consumers.

HB 9 creates the:
Right to Know – gives consumers the right to know what information a business has collected about them.
Right to Delete – allows consumers to request to delete or correct certain personal information, unless the information is crucial to maintaining the person’s account.
Right to Opt-Out of Sale – requires businesses to allow consumers to “opt-out” of the sale or sharing of personal information to third parties, giving consumers more control over their personal information.
The bill also helps consumers make informed decisions by requiring businesses to tell consumers how their personal information will be collected, stored, and disseminated.

HB 9 passed its final committee stop on Wednesday, February 23, and is now ready for the House Floor.

House Judiciary Committee Votes for More Options in Juvenile Justice

It’s important that our juvenile justice system balances the need to keep the public safe with ensuring fairness for children accused of an offense.

HB 7029 creates more tools for our juvenile justice system by removing current limitations on a court’s ability to require a child to be appropriately supervised during the pendency of his or her case. The bill authorizes a court to place a child on supervised release for any time period until his or her case is adjudicated. In cases in which a child is charged with a specified felony, which may include a crime of violence, the bill authorizes a court to order a child to be held in secure detention beyond the current 21-day time limit. The bill also creates more opportunities for children to be out of secure detention by authorizing, but not requiring, law enforcement agencies to supervise any court-ordered electronic monitoring.

HB 7029 passed its final committee stop on Wednesday, February 23, and is now ready for the House Floor.

State Affairs Committee Votes for Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience

With 1,350 miles of coastline and relatively low elevations, Florida is particularly vulnerable to impacts from flooding and sea level rise – in both coastal and inland communities.

HB 7053 creates the Statewide Office of Resilience within the Executive Office of the Governor. It also authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide grants to small cities and counties to fund preconstruction activities for projects they submit for the annual Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan (Plan), which we directed the department to develop when we passed SB 1954 last year.

This bill builds on last year’s bill by requiring DEP to rank and include in the Plan all eligible projects that are submitted and expanding the types of entities that can submit projects for the Plan. It also directs the Department of Transportation to develop a resilience action plan for the State Highway System and informs policymakers by requiring DEP to prepare and submit a report on flood resilience and mitigation efforts to the Legislature and Governor by December 15, 2022.

HB 7053 passed its final committee stop on Wednesday, February 23, and is now ready for the House Floor.

House State Affairs Committee Votes to Improve Cybersecurity

It’s no secret that cyber-attacks and ransomware attacks are on the rise. Improving cybersecurity is vital to ensuring the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of state and local government data, IT resources, and critical infrastructure.

HB 7055 improves incident prevention by requiring incident reporting, after-action reports, cybersecurity awareness training, and the adoption of cybersecurity standards by local governments. It strengthens incident response by requiring state agencies and local governments to report ransomware incidents.

The bill also combats cybercrime by prohibiting state agencies and local governments from complying with ransom demands and creating a new crime for persons conducting a ransomware attack against a government entity with enhanced penalties that are designed to deter ransomware attacks in the future.

HB 7055 passed its final committee stop on Wednesday, February 23, and is now ready for the House Floor.

Happenings in Tallahassee

Sisters Sierra and Santana Kahn with Rep. Rommel.
They are students in our district and participated in the Page Program

Matthew Boggan, a student at FGCU, has been interning with our office this Session.

Florida has no income tax and a balanced budget.
Let’s keep it that way!

Copyright © 2022 State Representative Bob Rommel, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in to see updates from State Representative Bob Rommel.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *