First Week of Florida Legislative Session
January 12 was the first official day of the Florida Legislative Session. Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli addressed their respective chambers on that day and Governor Rick Scott made his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate and the Florida Cabinet. Below are highlights from their remarks:
Senate President Andy Gardiner
The Senate President opened the 2016 Session by saying that the House and Senate would finish their business from 2015 – passing a water bill and passing a bill that provides economic independence to people with unique abilities. He pledged to cut taxes again, pass a balanced budget, appropriate unprecedented K-12 per student funding and work on the tools needed to recruit and retain businesses that create jobs and grow Florida’s economy. He closed by saying that he was committed to taking more people with unique abilities off the APD waiting list so they can receive services they need in their homes and communities.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
Speaker Crisafulli covered a broader array of topics in his opening remarks for the Session. He began by identifying the same issues for resolution at the beginning of session as President Gardiner – a comprehensive water bill and more options for students with disabilities, such as allowing them to get a meaningful college education, creating safer more focused learning environments in schools for them by incenting school districts to adopt uniform policies and expanding the Personal Learning Scholarship Account program so disabled children can receive more customized education. Further, he wants to help individuals with disabilities pave a pathway to economic independence by promoting financial literacy, recognizing employers who hire and support the disabled, and making the state a model employer for persons with disabilities.
Other issues the Speaker expects to be tackled during the session are:
- Dedicated funding source to finish restoring the Everglades
- Complying with the constitutional amendment to direct more funding to environmental preservation
- Continuing to lower taxes
- Cutting red tape and creating a forward-looking predictable regulatory framework
- Providing quality education options from preschool through postgraduate school
- Helping struggling students read on grade level, expanding school choice options, making college more affordable, expanding vocational education, ensuring our colleges and universities are helping students get jobs after graduation, and helping universities become national leaders in academics and research.
- Attacking cost drivers and eliminating barriers to healthcare
- Providing direct primary care, Certificate of Need repeal and telemedicine
- Removing the five year waiting period for Kidcare for lawfully residing immigrant children
Governor Rick Scott
The Governor’s State of the State address focused on job growth and making Florida a more competitive state by focusing on two key objectives: a) continuing tax cuts and b) diversifying the economy. The Governor wants the Legislature to cut taxes by $1 billion through a tax exemption for manufacturing machinery and equipment; a 1% decrease in the tax on commercial rents/leases; elimination of the corporate income tax for retailers and manufacturers; a sales tax exemption for college text books; a back to school tax holiday; and a disaster preparedness sales tax holiday. Click here for the presentation he made to the House Finance & Tax Committee about his billion dollar proposal.
Highlights from Capitol Activities
The Legislature passed the priority bills for the Senate President and House Speaker. For the Speaker it was the water bill (SB 552) and for the Senate President it was a bill related to individuals with disabilities (HB 7003). They are now on the Governor’s desk for signing and it set the stage for cooperation the rest of the session.
On Wednesday, January 20, from noon to 2:00 p.m. the House Business and Profession Committee will meet in Room 12 of the House Office Building to hear HB 605 Application for Building Permits.
Bills of interest filed since our last report are below.
House Finance &
Tax Committee and Rep. Rodrigues
Relating to Property
Joint Resolution Property Tax Assessments: Proposes amendment to State
Constitution to allow Legislature to limit growth in assessed value of
homestead & specified nonhomestead property to growth rate in just value
& to prohibit increases in assessed value of homestead & specified
nonhomestead property if just value of property decreases.