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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Like this year, 2018 legislative session will start in January

The Florida Senate chamber

Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

The Florida Senate chamber



Florida's legislative session will get an early start in 2018, just like this year.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill today that moves the 2018 session's start to Jan. 9.

The Florida Constitution allows the Legislature to start session early in even-numbered years. Otherwise, session begins on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. (The 2017 session will start March 7.)

Lawmakers were divided in moving the session date up for 2018. SB 7076 passed the Senate by a 27-11 vote and the House by a 89-28 vote.

During Senate debate, some senators questioned the cost and need for having an earlier session. Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, responded at the time: "When you’re on spring break with your kids this year, you’ll understand the significance of it."

Scott also signed 16 other bills into law today, including one that helps the families of law enforcement and first responders who are killed on the job.

SB 7012 -- sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, and Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers -- provides the deceased individual's monthly salary to their beneficiaries for their lifetime.

The expanded benefit applies to law enforcement officers, firefighters, corrections officers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and probation officers. The benefit takes effect July 1 and retroactively applies to eligible individuals who were killed in the line of duty on or after July 1, 2013.

"This legislation will ensure that these brave Floridians have the peace of mind knowing that their family will have financial support if the unthinkable were to ever happen," Scott said in a statement today.

Here were all of the new laws Scott approved today. He still has 26 bills pending on his desk from the 2016 session.

-- SB 1386 - Insurance Agents – This bill revises provisions relating to insurance agents and increases the allowable amount of coverage for funeral related expenses.

-- SB 1402 - Ratification of Department of Financial Services Rules – This bill ratifies the Florida Workers’ Compensation Health Care Provider Reimbursement Manual.

-- SB 1412 - Orders of No Contact – This bill clarifies that courts have the discretion to issue an order of no contact to a person on pretrial release.

-- SB 1416 - Public Records – This bill creates a public records exemption that is necessary for the Office of Insurance Regulation to comply with National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ accreditation standards.

-- SB 1422 - Insurer Regulatory Reporting – This bill revises provisions within the Insurance Code relating to solvency requirements and regulatory oversight of insurers by the Office of Insurance Regulation.

-- SB 1432 - Service of Process – This bill allows for substitute service of process at a virtual office, executive office, or mini suite when personal service is not possible.

-- SB 1470 - Crustaceans – This bill revises certain penalties related to stone crab and spiny lobster.

-- SB 1508 - The Airport Zoning Law of 1945 – This bill streamlines the current local airport protection zoning process.

-- SB 1534 - Housing Assistance – This bill makes several changes to laws related to housing assistance and housing for the homeless to give local governments greater flexibility.

-- SB 1602 - Elevators – This bill strengthens elevator safety measures.

-- SB 1604 - Drugs, Devices, and Cosmetics – This bill revises several provisions of the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act.

-- SB 7012 - Death Benefits Under the Florida Retirement System – This bill increases the benefits available to survivors of special risk class members of the Florida Retirement System killed in the line of duty to the full amount of the salary received at the time of death.

-- SB 7022 - A Review Under the Open Government Sunset Review Act – This bill reenacts an existing public records exemption for photographs and video recordings depicting the killing of law enforcement officers.

-- SB 7028 - The State Board of Administration – This bill encourages the State Board of Administration (SBA) to notify companies operating in Northern Ireland of its support of the MacBride Principles and removes one of the requirements that trigger the expiration of the prohibition for the SBA to invest in companies with operations in Iran.

-- SB 7040 - Workforce Development – This bill provides for implementation of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

-- SB 7048 - A Review Under the Open Government Sunset Review Act – This bill reenacts an existing public records exemption for Florida’s seven regional autism centers.

-- SB 7076 - The Legislature – This bill requires the Florida Legislature to convene in Regular Session on January 9, 2018.

[Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2016 11:22am]


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