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Capitol Reports » LWVFL Capitol Report: April 16, 2021

LWVFL Capitol Report: April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

Around the Capitol

As the legislature moves through the another week of session filled with committee meetings, floor sessions and respective budget discussions, Capitol Alliance Groups is working closely on the moving the needle on the League’s top priorities and monitoring amendments and legislation that might be poised to slip quietly onto bills. 

Budget Updates: The House finalized their primary budget of $97 billion dollars on April 9th in their Appropriations Committee. The minority party came out in opposition due to the plan being tied to sweeping online sales tax collection proposal, insisting that the$1 billion in new revenue from online sales ought to benefit citizens rather than offset unemployment fees for employers.
The budget, as passed through the House Appropriations Committee, would permanently cut money that goes to Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund but it’s been reported that a deal has been reach to ensure $200 million will go towards it. This budget does have some small wins including a provision that expands Medicaid for children and mothers for an additional year. Some legislators argued making the extension permanent, since the American Rescue Plan allocated funds to expand it.

Top Priority Opposition — Election Changes Legislation(Senate Bill 90 + House Bill 7041)

  • Senate Bill 90

Senate Bill 90 was heavily modified in its scheduled hearing in Senate Rules Committee on April 14th. The bill, after being amended, was temporally postponed again before a vote was taken. The bill will likely be heard again in the next meeting of the Senate Rules committee.
The amendments made the bill less draconian as a whole. The bill’s heavily modified state comes after demands from the League and other voting advocates. Unfortunately, as amended, it continues to pose challenges for disabled and older voters as well as creates hurdles for voters overall and Supervisors of Elections. The League will continue to oppose it.

  • House Bill 7041

House Bill 7041 has not yet been scheduled for the next hearing in the State Affairs committee. We continue to watch it closely.

Top Priority Opposition — Anti-Protest Legislation(House Bill 1/Senate Bill 484)
With heavy hearts we share that as some expected House Bill 1, the egregious and anti-American protest bill has passed the Senate. The bill passed 23-17 with Sen. Jeff Brandes being the only majority party Senator breaking party ranks.
The bill previously passed the House and now heads to the Governor. We will continue to monitor the bill but expect the Governor to sign it in the coming days or weeks. Litigation on the measure is almost a guarantee.

Other Voting Rights & Election Legislation

  • House Bill 699/Senate Bill 1890 – Campaign Financing

The legislature has made this process for a citizens initiative extraordinarily expensive and now, they want to cap contributions only to amendments proposed by initiative.
HB 699/SB 1890 would be the death knell of ballot initiatives. The bills cap contributions to a political committee that sponsors a constitutional amendment proposed by initiative to 3,000 until the Secretary of State has issued a certificate of ballot position and a designating number for the proposed amendment. Raising the amount of money to get enough signatures through the proposed capped donations would likely be impossible.
HB 699 was to be heard on the House floor but was temporarily postponed, it will likely return so we will continue to monitor. SB 1890 unfortunately passed the Senate on April 15th.

Natural Resources Legislation

  • Senate Bill 64 – Reclaimed Water

This bill, a priority bill which the League supported, has passed both chambers and will now go to the Governor for final approval. The bill will greatly increase the use of reclaimed storm water. Municipalities are required to report their reuse and discharge rates for reclaimed water. There is some concern about using reclaimed storm water as potable water, but it must meet all of criteria under the Safe Drinking Water Act if it is to be reused in this way. The emphasis in this bill was on reuse for irrigation and process/cooling water.

  • House Bill 919 – Preemption Over Restriction of Utility Services

HB 919 (and SB 1128) prohibits local governments from restricting or prohibiting the types or fuel sources of energy production used, delivered, converted, or supplied by certain entities to customers and voids some existing policies. In other words, this bill prohibits any local jurisdiction from banning a type of fuel or source of energy production, such as natural gas, inside homes and buildings. Further, this bill would void every existing local renewable energy initiative and years of carefully developed public energy policy.
The League opposes this measure because it will prevent municipalities from moving away from outdated, fossil-fuel energy sources to modern, clean-energy sources. Burning fossil fuels releases methane gas, which is harmful to the environment and to human and animal respiratory systems.
The bill passed on a a party line vote when heard on April 14th in the House Commerce Committee. It now awaits to be scheduled for a floor vote in the House and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Rules committee on April 20th (the final committee stop within the Senate).

  • HB 839 – Express Preemption of Fuel Retailers and Related Transportation Infrastructure

House Bill 839 (and SB 856) prohibits a local government from banning fuel retailers and related infrastructure overtly or on a de facto basis. It is a clear attack on home rule and the League obviously opposes this measure. Further, local governments cannot require fuel retailers to install or invest in a particular kind of fueling infrastructure, including, but not limited to, electric vehicle charging stations. This bill is a reaction to a Tampa City Council member making plans (which he later dropped) for a resolution to ban new gas stations after 2030.
The bill passed on a party line vote when heard on April 14th in the House Commerce Committee. It now awaits to be scheduled for a floor vote in the House and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Rules committee on April 20th (the final committee stop within the Senate).

The League of Women Voters of Florida encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund works to register voters, provide voters with election information through voter guides as well as candidate forums and debates.

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