Passidomo Legislative update April 17

This weekend, we began the budget conference.  The Florida Senate and House come together to resolve differences between the two chambers’ versions of the state budget.

Each chamber passed a version of the state budget last week, but a lot has changed since then.  While we planned for a major budget shortfall, the most recent revenue estimate for FY 2021-2022 projects Florida will receive $2 billion more in revenue than the most recent estimate.  The increase is a result of federal relief funding and higher tax revenues expected as we continue to recover and rebuild our economy from COVID-19.  While the latest revenue projection is a strong improvement, we have important decisions to make about how we fund the many priorities and challenges our state faces.  We must ensure that every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely and provides a strong return on investment for Floridians.

While the budget process moves forward, we continue to hear important legislation on the Senate floor. Below is an update on activities this week.  To search and follow any of the proposed legislation for the 2021 session, you may view them here:


  Florida COVID-19 Vaccine Update

As of Thursday, April 15, 11,956,854 vaccine doses have been administered in Florida.  There are now 6,942,405 individuals who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 in Florida.

Remember, all individuals aged 18 and older are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. You may watch the Governor’s previous announcement here.

Check the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 website for the latest information.



  COVID-19 Update: Florida Case Data

As of April 15, there have been 2,148,448 positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Florida, including 32,713 in Collier County, 4,554 in Hendry County and 63,558 in Lee County.

As of April 14, the state’s positivity rate for new cases is 6.66%.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance, you can visit the Florida Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 webpage.

For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), please visit the CDC COVID-19 website.



  Senate Passes Legislation to Repeal Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law

This week, the Florida Senate passed Senate Bill 54: Motor Vehicle Insurance by Senator Danny Burgess.

Florida is one of only two states that does not currently require drivers to carry liability coverage that immediately kicks in if they cause bodily injury or death.

SB 54 transforms ineffective and outdated insurance practices to result in a more stable insurance market and better outcomes for all insured Floridians.

This legislation repeals Florida’s No-Fault Law and instead enacts a bodily injury liability system, providing fairness to insured drivers and placing liability on the at-fault party in an accident.

Enacting Senate Bill 54 will ensure more significant bodily injury liability coverage for Floridians and require insurance companies to offer first-party medical coverage (MedPay) of $5,000 or $10,000 to all drivers.

Senate Bill 54 also reforms bad faith actions in order to reduce litigation by providing a set of standards that will govern the conduct of both parties during the claims handling process.



  Measure to Preserve First Amendment Rights, Combat Violent Riots Passes Florida Senate

Our constitutional right to protest has played a critical role in the great history of American democracy.  Every American has the right to peacefully protest, however, there is absolutely no excuse for destroying property or attacking law enforcement in the course of exercising your constitutional right.

While violence and destruction from dangerous riots have plagued our state, Washington D.C., and cities around the country over the last year or more, the Florida Legislature is taking action now to ensure public safety and safeguard the First Amendment right of all Americans to peacefully protest.

House Bill 1: Combating Public Disorder, presented by Senator Danny Burgess, passed the Florida Senate and will now be sent to the Governor’s desk.

House Bill 1 upholds the rule of law and protects law enforcement officers from violent attacks.  The legislation increases criminal penalties for violence, burglary, and destruction during a riot, allows law enforcement to prohibit individuals from blocking traffic and obstructing roadways if a permit has not been obtained, provides for a six-month mandatory sentence for battery against a law enforcement officer during a riot, creates a process to reject efforts to defund the police, and makes doxing a first-degree misdemeanor.

Rioting, violence and destruction silences those protesting peacefully, and will not be tolerated here in Florida.



  Senate Committee Reaffirms Commitment to Support Our Veterans and Their Families

The Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Kelli Stargel, unanimously approved Senate Bill 260: Services for Veterans and Their Families, by Senator Gayle Harrell.

The legislation authorizes the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to create the Florida Veterans’ Care Coordination Program to provide both veterans and their families with dedicated behavioral health care referral services, primarily for mental health and substance abuse.

Through the program, a veteran may call a separate veteran-dedicated support line to receive assistance and support from a fellow veteran who is trained to respond to the calls for assistance.  The Florida Senate is committed to ensuring Florida remains the number one state in the nation for our military and veteran communities and their families.



  Senate Approves Bill to Help Save Lives of Police Canines

The Florida Senate is enhancing care and protections for our hardworking police canines.

Senate Bill 388: Injured Police Canines, by Senator Tom Wright, gained unanimous support in the Senate.  The bill allows for a police canine injured in the line of duty to be transported in an emergency vehicle to a veterinary clinic or similar facility if no person requires medical attention or transport when the canine needs it.

Senate Bill 388 also authorizes Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics to provide emergency medical care to the injured police canine at the scene of the emergency or while being transported.



  Life-Saving Legislation Passes Committee

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, chaired by Senator Doug Broxson, unanimously approved Senate Bill 280: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training in Public Schools, by Senator Dennis Baxley, a potentially life-saving measure to require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in schools.

The legislation requires school districts to provide basic training in first aid, including one hour of hands-only CPR instruction, for all students in grades 9 and 11.  The legislation also encourages school districts to provide this critical training for students in grades 6 and 8.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death for student-athletes.

Bystander CPR can double or triple a person’s chances of survival if started immediately, but one major barrier to bystanders providing this lifesaving care is a lack of training.  Senate Bill 280 seeks to lower that barrier and ultimately save lives.



  Legislation to Ensure Medicaid Coverage for Former Foster Youth Advances

Gaining unanimous support in the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senate Bill 1526: Medicaid Coverage for Former Foster Youth, by Senator Ileana Garcia, will assist former foster young adults in maintaining their Medicaid coverage.

The legislation helps ensure young adults who have aged out of foster care continue to be provided Medicaid coverage until age 26 by directing the Department of Children and Families and community-based care lead agencies to develop a program and conduct outreach for eligible young adults to facilitate their continued coverage.

Currently, Florida requires young adults who have aged out of foster care to apply for Medicaid continuing coverage and to re-apply or re-certify each year through the maximum age of 26.

Young people are often not aware of their eligibility or have difficulty navigating through the administrative process to obtain and maintain their coverage. Senate Bill 1526 ensures Florida’s former foster youth receive the care and coverage afforded to them.



  Online Sales Tax Bill Sent to Governor DeSantis’s Office This Week

On Monday, the Florida Legislature sent Senate Bill 50: Online Sales Tax by Senator Joe Gruters to the Governor’s office. When a bill is submitted to the Governor’s office, there is a seven-day period in which the Governor may choose to sign the legislation into law or veto the bill.

Under the law, online purchases are not tax-free. Every time government turns a blind eye on collecting taxes, we put a greater burden on the businesses and Floridians who are following the law. Making sure out-of-state businesses are collecting and remitting taxes that are owed is the right thing to do.

SB 50 will help to prevent an unexpected tax hike on Florida businesses, creates a fair playing field for in-state businesses, and creates a revenue stream to replenish the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund to support Florida workers seeking re-employment.



  Alcohol-To-Go Legislation Passes Both Florida Chambers

This week, the Florida House passed SB 148: Beverage Law by Senator Jennifer Bradley in a 115-1 vote.

The legislation would allow restaurants to package alcoholic drinks or bottles as part of to-go meals.

The bill aims to support restaurants by allowing alcoholic drinks or bottles as part of take-home meals.

The bill limits the “to-go” option to licensed restaurants, caps individual container sizes at 32 ounces and requires motorists to place the drinks in locked compartments, vehicle trunks or an area behind the last upright seats in vehicles.

In order to purchase drinks to-go, SB 148 also requires at least 25% of an individual’s takeout order to include non-alcoholic beverages or food items.

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