Legislative Update – Senator Kathleen Passidomo February 2nd

The Florida Senate closed out the fourth week of the 2024 Legislative Session in Tallahassee.

On the chamber floor this week, we passed House Joint Resolution 703, Balanced Federal Budget, and House Joint Resolution 693, Congressional Term Limits, both sponsored in the Senate by Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill). The legislation calls on Congress to convene a constitutional amendments convention to propose term limits and balanced budget amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Term limits and balanced budget requirements have worked quite well here in Florida. These policies help to guard our state against the rampant corruption, abuses of power and excessive spending, all of which we see too often in Washington. Our founding fathers envisioned elected officials as short-term public servants, not lifelong bureaucrats. With these initiatives, Florida is sending a strong message that the federal government must be accountable to the people.

In the Senate Committee on Appropriations, we reviewed our proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024-2025. Our balanced budget focuses on infrastructure, prioritizes public school education, provides tax relief and pays down state debt. This year, we’ve also included historic funding to grow Florida’s health care workforce and invest in Florida’s environment and natural resources.

Senate Committees also advanced two bills this week that are important to my Live Healthy legislative initiative. SB 1600: Interstate Mobility by Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa) and SB 1758: Individuals with Disabilities by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) are essential to enhancing accessibility and encouraging health care professionals to grow their careers in Florida.

Nearly halfway through, the 2024 Legislative Session is off to a strong start.

 

Florida Senate Introduces Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2024-2025

Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Chaired by Senator Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola) introduced the Florida Senate’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024-2025.

This balanced budget proposal makes significant investments in Florida’s infrastructure, provides record funding for public schools and school choice opportunities, and reaffirms Florida’s commitment to responsible spending.

Additionally, the Florida Senate’s proposed budget emphasizes one of the main reasons why so many new Floridians are coming to our state in droves – the environment. This budget proposal includes over $1 billion for water quality improvements and Everglades restoration, more than $400 million for conservation acquisitions, and $120 million to address flooding and sea level rise. These critical investments will help to preserve the paradise we call home for future generations of Floridians.

The proposed budget also includes critical funding to improve the health and well-being of Floridians across the state. Complemented by funding included in the Live Healthy Legislative Package, the proposed Fiscal Year 2024-2025 budget includes additional funding to support Florida’s most vulnerable – our children, elders, and loved ones with disabilities.

Included also is critical funding to support and enhance Florida’s child welfare system and construct our state’s 9th Veteran’s nursing home.
Unlike other states that utilized pandemic funding on recurring expenses that they can no longer afford – Florida focused on one-time generational investments in our infrastructure and economy while maintaining best practices in financial management.

The Senate’s balanced budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024-2025 authorizes paying off $455 million in state debt, provides significant tax relief, and sets aside record state reserves.

 

The Florida Senate is Holding Washington Accountable

Thursday, the Florida Senate passed House Resolution 703 and House Resolution 693, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), with strong support.

House Resolution 703 calls on the United States Congress to convene a Constitutional Convention to propose a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. House Resolution 693 builds on this proposal and urges Congress to enact Congressional term limits through a Constitutional Convention.

For years, Florida has been the gold standard of governance across the country. While excess spending, career politicians, and ineffective leadership have left Washington helpless – Florida has thrived.  Every single year, the Florida Legislature, in conjunction with the Governor, has been able to deliver tangible results for Florida families. In the 2023 Legislative Session alone, the Florida Senate returned money to families through record tax breaks, funded historic investments in affordable housing and delivered universal school choice to every student – all while maintaining a balanced budget.

Forty-six states have balanced budget requirements and 16 have legislative term limits, including Florida. Both of these measures enhance accountability, improve the function of government, and weaken the influence of dark money special interest groups.

Florida’s resolve to fiscal responsibility and limits on elected terms have propelled our state into a role model of proper governance that has been far too long lacking in D.C.

 

 

Additional Live Healthy Legislation Advances

As part of the Live Healthy Legislative Package, the Florida Senate advanced two critical pieces of legislation to increase access to health care and expand Florida’s health care workforce.

Monday, the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries passed Senate Bill 1600, sponsored by Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa), with unanimous support. Senate Bill 1600 creates the MOBILE Act, which expedites the issuance of licenses and certifications for health care professionals.

This legislation requires the Florida Department of Health to issue a license or certificate within 15 days of receiving all required documents for out-of-state health care practitioners moving to Florida. This legislation maintains strict qualification requirements for testing, training, and experience.

As our state continues to grow at a record pace, the need for experienced health care professionals becomes even clearer. This legislation empowers seasoned health care practitioners who move to Florida to build their lives and careers in the Sunshine State.

Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy passed Senate Bill 1758, sponsored by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), with unanimous support. Senate Bill 1758 enhances care for individuals with disabilities in the State of Florida.

This legislation slashes bureaucratic red tape and streamlines the application process for individuals with disabilities seeking services from Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities, ensuring that those who need critical care can receive services more efficiently.

Senate Bill 1758 expands support for aging caregivers, ensuring that critical services are provided to a greater number of Floridians without separating families. By lowering the minimum age for a caregiver to receive home and community-based services, Florida is tackling the challenges while empowering families to provide the best quality care possible.

 

 

Affordable Housing Expansion Moves to Senate Floor

Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy passed Senate Bill 328, sponsored by Senator Alexis Calatayud (R-Miami), with unanimous support. This legislation provides strategic policy enhancements to legislation passed last session, Senate Bill 102 (2023), the Live Local Act.

The Live Local Act, which became law, comprehensively addressed the issue of affordable workforce housing. Through record funding for affordable housing developments, removal of burdensome local regulations that served as a deterrence to building affordable housing, and critical home ownership and rental assistance, Senate Bill 102(2023) empowers Floridians to live local in the communities they serve.

Senate Bill 328 ensures that the Live Local Act is properly implemented in communities across the state, incorporating feedback from all stakeholders to ensure that our local communities can find the right balance between expanding affordable housing opportunities and maintaining the character of their community.

Additionally, this legislation expands tax exemptions for affordable housing developments and provides an additional $100 million in funding for the Florida Hometown Hero Program. This program provides interest-free down payment assistance to income-qualified, first-time homebuyers who live in Florida and work for a Florida-based company.

 

Illegal Immigration Enforcement Measure Passes First Committee Stop

Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice passed Senate Bill 1036, sponsored by Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), with unanimous support.  Senate Bill 1036 enhances penalties for illegal immigrants who commit felonies in the United States.

The crisis at our southern border continues to grow worse each day, and the Biden Administration’s refusal to acknowledge and address the crisis or even enforce current border policies is only compounding the problem. The Florida Senate has taken a proactive approach to thwarting illegal immigration, stopping the infusion of dangerous criminals and drugs into our communities, and curtailing the horrors migrants face on the perilous journey to our borders.

In the 2023 Legislative Session, the Florida Senate passed Senate Bill 1718 which requires businesses with 25 or more employees to utilize E-Verify, establishes stricter penalties for human trafficking, and provides Florida with the tools to understand the cost that illegal immigration has on our state.

Senate Bill 1036 builds upon this essential legislation passed last session by enhancing felony charges for illegal immigrants who reenter the United States after being deported for committing a felony.

As tens of millions of illegal immigrants flood across our southern border each year, with more than the population of Orlando crossing in the month of December alone, the Florida Senate must work to stop the invasion that is bringing weapons, fentanyl, dangerous criminals and potential terrorists into our communities.  This legislation holds those accountable who enter our country not yearning to breathe free, but criminals who seek to take and destroy.

 

AI Transparency Legislation Advances to Final Committee Stop

Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1680, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island), with unanimous support. Senate Bill 1680 provides transparency and accountability measures for artificial intelligence use.

This legislation establishes the Government Technology Modernization Council that will study and monitor the development and deployment of artificial intelligence systems. This council will also recommend policy proposals to protect the privacy of Floridians, ensure that Floridians are free from discrimination and promote the responsible development and deployment of artificial intelligence systems.

Senate Bill 1680 continues the Florida Senate’s crusade to combat the exploitation of children. This legislation strictly prohibits the generation, possession, distribution, or viewing of AI-generated child pornography.

This legislation ensures that the monsters who wish to use AI to exploit and harm our children, families and communities will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Artificial intelligence presents many exciting opportunities for Florida businesses; however, as with any new technology, there are serious risks to the general public that must be addressed proactively. This legislation ensures that Floridians, especially our most vulnerable, are provided with robust privacy protections and shielded from exploitation.

 

1 reply
  1. Dick/Rich Pettingill
    Dick/Rich Pettingill says:

    Fully support your balanced budget and term limit resolutions!

    Pray for your healing re the unfortunate loss of your husband!!

    Rich Pettingill, Naples, FL

    Reply

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