Friday completes the second to last Interim Committee Week in Tallahassee with one more remaining ( Feb. 15th-19th) before Regular Session begins on March 2nd. Bills and special member budget projects continue to be filed by the hundreds with an estimated 3,200 or so total expected this Session. Members have spent the interim committee weeks listening to budget presentations from the Governor's office and various agencies and passing legislation through committees in advance of Session. Below are some major bills that moved through committee this week.


SB 52 Postsecondary Education contains provisions to help postsecondary institutions provide certain educational and financial benefits and supports to students and employees.

The bill:

  • Establishes the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program to reimburse eligible postsecondary institutions for tuition and related costs for dual enrollment courses taken by certain students, and specifies reporting, rates, and timeline.
  • Authorizes a university board of trustees to implement a bonus scheme based on awards for work performance or employee recruitment and retention, allowing the university to target certain employees for bonuses. Bonus plans must be approved by the Board of Governors.
  • For the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program is estimated to cost $28.5 million

SB 264 Higher Education adds requirements designed to protect the expression of diverse viewpoints at Florida College System (FCS) institutions and state universities.

The bill:

  • Requires each FCS institution and state university to annually assess the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at that institution using a survey adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) or the Board of Governors of the State University System (BOG), as applicable.
  • Specifies that the SBE, the BOG, FCS institutions, and state universities may not shield students from protected free speech.
  • Includes in the definition of protected expressive activities the recording and publishing of video and audio recorded in classrooms, and clarifies that protected expressive activities include the non-consensual recording and publication of video and audio recorded in outdoor areas of campus and in classrooms.

Both bills passed the Senate Education Committees this week and have two committee references left respectfully.

HB 259 Safety of Religious Institutions authorizes a licensee to carry a concealed firearm for any lawful purpose, including safety, security, and personal protection, on any property owned, rented, leased, borrowed, or lawfully used by a church, synagogue, or other religious institution unless the religious institution has a posted policy specifically prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms. The bill does not limit the property or contractual rights of any property owner to exclude a person carrying a firearm from his or her property. Religious institutions and owners of property borrowed or used by a religious institution may continue to prohibit firearms as they choose.

The bill passed the House Justice Subcommittee 14-3. The bill has two committee references remaining.

Economic Development

HB 219 Vacation Rentals legislation is back this year in an effort to preempt local government regulatory control to the state of vacation rentals.  Florida already bans local governments from passing ordinances to outlaw vacation rentals. The bill would prohibit local government regulation passed since 2011 for the frequency and duration of rentals.

Specifically the bill:

  • Defines the term "advertising platform;"
  • Preempts to the state the regulation of advertising platforms;
  • Requires that users of advertising platforms include license and tax identification information in a vacation rental listing and provide certain information to the Division on a regular basis;
  • Requires advertising platforms to collect and remit taxes due under chs. 212 and 125, F.S.;
  • Grants the Division certain enforcement mechanisms relating to unlicensed activities;
  • Clarifies the scope of the state preemption of vacation rentals, and prohibits local laws, ordinances, or regulations that allow or require the inspection or licensure of public lodging establishments, vacation rentals, and public food service establishments;
  • Specifies that local regulations which apply uniformly to all residential properties are not subject to preemption;
  • Specifies that the bill does not supersede the authority of condominiums, cooperatives, or homeowners' associations to restrict the use of their properties;
  • Requires vacation rental operators to display license and tax identification information; and
  • Requires advertising platforms to adopt an anti-discrimination policy.

HB 219 passed the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee by a narrow margin, 10-7. The Senate companion SB 522 is up in on Tuesday in Regulated Industries.

COVID Liability

SB 74 COVID-19-related Claims Against Health Care Providers limits civil claims against health care providers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.The bill requires the claimant to prove that the health care provider was grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct in failing to substantially comply with government health standards or guidance, in interpreting or applying the standards or guidance, or in the provision of a novel or experimental treatment. Additionally, a health care provider is immune from civil liability if supplies or personnel were not readily available to comply with the standards or guidance. A COVID-19-related claim against a health care provider must be commenced within 1 year.

SB 74 passed 6-4 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has two more committee stops.

*Summaries provided by House and Senate bill analyses 

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