Florida Legislature 2018: What passed and what failed

Lawmakers filed about 150 fewer bills than the 2017 legislative session and passed about 40 fewer bills.
[SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
[SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
Published March 14, 2018|Updated March 14, 2018

State legislators filed about 1,747 bills in the 2018 legislative session that ended Sunday. Only 11.2 percent, or 196 bills, were passed by both the House and Senate chambers. As of Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott has signed seven and vetoed zero bills.

Related Coverage: Florida's 2018 Legislature was the least productive in two decades


BEVERAGES (FAILED): Repeals limits on size of wine container, which may not hold more than a gallon unless the container is reusable and holds 5.16 gallons; limits size of cider container. (HB 669 / SB 296)


BUDGET (PASSED): Appropriates $88,727,533,353 for fiscal year beginning July 1; increases K-12 spending by $101.50 per student; allocates $400 million for school safety, mental health and other programs in response to Parkland shooting. Includes $100 million for Florida Forever, the state's environmental land buying program, $175 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million to expedite the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee, $30 million for various water projects across the state, $53 million for the state's opioid crisis. (HB 5001 / SB 2500)

Civil Justice

CHILD MARRIAGE (PASSED): Prohibits those younger than 18 from getting married in Florida but allows narrow exceptions for 17-year-olds who can still marry those within two years of them if they take a premarital preparation course, sign a sworn affidavit confirming the union is not coerced and receive counseling if it involves a pregnancy. (SB 140)

DISCRIMINATION (FAILED): Makes sexual orientation and gender identity impermissible grounds for discrimination in public lodging and food service establishments; revises state civil rights and housing laws to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. (HB 347 / SB 66)

HUMAN TRAFFICKING (FAILED): Allowed victims of human trafficking to sue the businesses that profit from it, such as motels and hotels. (HB 167 / SB 1044)


FOOD STAMPS (FAILED): Prohibits food stamp recipients from buying soft drinks. (HB 47)

PAYDAY LOANS (PASSED): Allows payday lenders to make installment loans of $1,000 with repayment over 60 to 90 days; previous law limited loans to $500 with repayment of seven days to a month. (HB 857/ SB 920)

SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS (FAILED): Required cable and trash companies to automatically reimburse customers for missed service, rather than making the customer ask for it. (HB 971 / SB 1368)

CREDIT REPORTING FEES (PASSED): Eliminates the $10 fee that credit reporting companies charge to place a freeze on your credit. (HB 953 / SB 1302)

Criminal Justice

PUBLIC SAFETY (FAILED): Package of criminal justice reforms including the creation of the Florida Correctional Operations Oversight Council, requires each judicial circuit to establish Driver License Reinstatement Days program for people with suspended drivers licenses, gives judges discretion so they don't have to sentence someone to a mandatory minimum for convictions of nonviolent drug trafficking, raises the threshold amounts and revises the types of property that qualify for felony thefts. (SB 1218)

DIVERSION PROGRAMS (PASSED): Encourages local programs to allow certain offenders to be released while awaiting trial with electronic monitoring without paying a bail bond; requires certain arrests records of minors to be expunged upon completion of diversion programs; centralizes criminal justice data. (HB 1197/ SB 1392)

LICENSING AND TRAINING (PASSED): Authorizes the Department of Corrections to contract to provide educational services and licensing in trades for prison inmates. (HB 1201/ SB 1318)

THEFT (FAILED): Raises the threshold amounts and revises the types of property that qualify for felony thefts. (HB 713/ SB 928)

AIRPORTS (PASSED): Makes trespassing on airport property a felony if signs are prominently placed warning people to stay out. (HB 523/ SB 1094)

DEATH PENALTY (FAILED): Abolishes death penalty in Florida and makes life imprisonment without parole the maximum sentence. (HB 6031/ SB 880)

MANDATORY SENTENCES (FAILED): Gives judges more sentencing discretion and eliminates minimum mandatory sentences for non-violent drug trafficking convictions. (HB 481/ SB 694)

CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS (FAILED): Reduces minimum age to work Department of Corrections; prohibits 18-year-olds from having direct contact with inmates. (HB 365/ SB 854)

INTERROGATIONS (FAILED): Requires law enforcement to electronically record interrogations. (HB 929 / SB 1220)


FINANCIAL OFFICER (FAILED): Adds state's chief financial officer, an elected Cabinet position, to consensus economic and revenue forecasting panels. (HB 1421 / SB 792).


K-12 EDUCATION (SIGNED INTO LAW) Creates voucher-like scholarships to pay for students who are bullied in public schools to attend private schools; requires teachers' unions to have 50 percent of all eligible members pay dues; requires all schools to "conspicuously" display the state's motto, "In God We Trust;" allows tenants of commercial property to direct tax revenue of up to $57.5 million in rent into the account for two scholarship programs. (HB 7055)

HIGHER EDUCATION (SIGNED INTO LAW): Permanently expands Bright Futures merit scholarships to cover the full tuition and fees for top students and 75 percent of tuition and feeds for above-average students. For the first time, allows the scholarship to cover summer classes. Doubles the state match for scholarships awarded to first-generation students and establishes a scholarship program for students from farmworker families. Requires universities to use a four-year graduation rate in its performance-based funding formula, instead of six year. Eliminates free speech zones. Consolidates the University of South Florida campuses, eliminating the independence of the USF St. Petersburg campus from Tampa. (HB 423/ SB 4)

EXCESS HOURS (PASSED): Eliminates the financial penalty for students who take too many classes while earning baccalaureate degrees if they graduate within four years. Previously, university students taking more than 132 credit hours of classes for a major requiring only 120 paid double. (HB 565/ SB 844)

BUSING (FAILED): Requires that buses be available for students who live more than 1.5 miles from school, not 2 miles as is currently required. Buses would also be available to students who face dangerous walking conditions to school. (HB 1299/ SB 188)

SCHOOL DISTRICT ACCOUNTABILITY (SIGNED INTO LAW): Requires large school districts to employ an internal auditor, and triggers an investigation into districts that are unable to pay debts and liabilities and mandates that they withhold the salaries of certain superintendents and school board members who oversee districts that have financial emergency conditions. Also prohibits former elected superintendents to lobby school districts, aligns school board member salaries with beginning teacher salaries. (HB 1279)

FINANCIAL LITERACY (FAILED): Establishes a half-credit high school graduation requirement of a financial literacy course. (HB 323/ SB 88)

FREE SPEECH (PASSED IN OTHER BILL): Bans 'free speech zones' on college campuses. (HB 909/ SB 1234)

RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION (FAILED): Places stricter limits on the use of restraint and seclusion of students with special needs who are considered a threat to themselves or others. (HB 63/ SB 260)

APPRENTICESHIPS (PASSED): Allows high school students to count credits earned in approved apprenticeships toward their graduation requirements. (HB 577/ SB 856)

SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS (FAILED): Sets limits on the number of consecutive terms a school board member can serve. Would require voter approval. (HJR 1031 / SJR 194)

MENTAL HEALTH (PASSED IN OTHER BILL): Expands mental health services in public schools. (HB 5101/ SB 1434)

ACCOUNTABILITY (PASSED IN OTHER BILL): Revises and strengthens oversight rules for private schools that accept tax credit scholarships, including provisions for teacher qualifications. (SB 1756)

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS (FAILED): Gives school district residents the opportunity to recommend textbooks and other materials for possible adoption. (HB 827 / SB 1644)

DIFFERENTIAL FUNDING (FAILED): Requires a regular review of formulas used to set school district funding levels. Some district leaders complained that the current model unfairly takes local tax revenue out of their districts. (SB 824)

ETHICS (PASSED): Prohibits certain conduct with students by authority figures; requiring school districts to adopt certain standards of ethical conduct. (HB 495/ SB 736)


CABINET (FAILED): Prohibits Cabinet members from accepting campaign contributions during regular or extended legislative sessions. (HB 707/SB 1474)

RESIGN-TO-RUN (PASSED): Requires elected officials to resign their positions at least 10 days before qualifying to run for federal office. (HB 105/SB 186)

VOTER ROLLS (PASSED): Allows the state Division of Elections to join multi-state consortium to exchange voter information with other states. (HB 85/SB 276)


FRACKING (FAILED): Bans the oil- and natural-gas drilling known as fracking. (HB 237/SB 462)


ETHICS REFORM (FAILED): Major package of reforms including restricting the use of campaign funds to defend legal claims, tightens rules and reporting requirements on contractors doing business with the state, removes restrictions on state employees lobbying the legislature, broadens the Code of Ethics to prohibit sexual harassment by state employees and requires new agency policies and a task force to address sexual harassment. (HB 7007)

WORKPLACE HARASSMENT (FAILED): Clarifies the state policy against sexual harassment, revises requirements for lobbyist registration for the executive branch of the Constitution Revision Commission, requires the Commission on Ethics to report findings when there are certain violations of law. (SB 1628)


GAMING COMPACT (FAILED): The Seminole Tribe would pay Florida $3 billion over seven years in exchange for permission to play craps and roulette in the tribe's five casinos, including Tampa's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It would also allow the tribe to exclusively offer slot machines outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Pari-mutuel facilities would be barred from offering "designated player" card games. (HB 7067/ SB 840)


SESSION (PASSED): Starts the 2020 legislative session in January. Sessions typically start in March, but the Florida Constitution allows lawmakers to approve a January start in even-numbered years, when elections take place and lawmakers want to return to the campaign trail sooner. Lawmakers can't raise campaign cash during the 60-day session. (HB 7045)

VACATION RENTALS (FAILED): Preempts local regulation of vacation rental properties such as those offered through Airbnb and HomeAway. (HB 773/ SB 1400)

VEGETABLE GARDENS (FAILED): Prevents local governments from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties. (SB 1776)

DRUG CONTROL (FAILED): Revives the statewide Office of Drug Control, which Gov. Rick Scott eliminated in 2011. (HB 865 / SB 1068)


ASSAULT WEAPONS (FAILED): Prohibits sale or possession of assault weapons. (HB 219/ SB 196)

CHURCHES (FAILED): Allows people with concealed weapons licenses to carry guns at churches and religious institutions that share property with schools. (HB 1419/ SB 1048)

BACKGROUND CHECKS (FAILED): Requires state to approve concealed weapons permits in 90 days regardless of whether background check is completed. (Stripped from SB 740, which addresses the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and passed.)

SCHOOL SECURITY (SIGNED INTO LAW): Allows school districts to let trained employees who are not exclusively teachers to carry concealed weapons in school; raises age requirement for gun purchases from 18 to 21; imposes three-day waiting period for rifles and other long guns; allows police to seize weapons from those who pose danger to themselves or others; bans sale of bump stocks. (HB 7101 / SB 7026)

Health care

ABORTION (FAILED): Restricts the most common type of second-trimester abortions. Imposes new restrictions on doctors performing certain abortions. Allows exceptions when women's lives are in danger and no other medical procedure is viable. (HB 1429/ SB 1890)

BIRTH CENTERS (FAILED): Allows "advanced" birth centers that would be able to perform cesarean sections and epidurals, and keep women up to 48 hours following vaginal deliveries and 72 hours following c-sections. Currently, women can plan to give birth at three types of locations: home, a licensed birth center and a hospital. Birth centers can only treat only women who are considered to have low-risk pregnancies. (HB 1099 / SB 1564)

DIRECT PRIMARY CARE (PASSED): Allows physicians, chiropractors and group practices to sign agreements with patients that let them charge patients monthly fees in advance of providing services, ostensibly to provide services later at no additional charge. Ensures that these "primary-care" agreements don't violate insurance agreements. (HB 37 / SB 80)

MEDICAL MARIJUANA (PASSED): Repeals a provision in state law that requires black farmer applications to be members of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association Florida Chapter. Currently, the state must issue a new medical marijuana license to a black farmer who is also a member of the association. (HB 6049 / SB 1134)

MINISTRIES (PASSED): Would increase enrollment in health-care sharing ministries, which have been exempt from Florida's insurance code, and limits participation to people who share the same religious beliefs. Broadens current law to include people with the same set of ethical or religious beliefs. (HB 1021/ SB 660)

NEEDLE EXCHANGE (FAILED): Initially called for the statewide expansion of a pilot needle-exchange program run by the University of Miami. Was changed to limit the expansion to Broward and Palm Beach counties. (HB 579 / SB 800)

OPIOIDS (PASSED): Limits opioid prescriptions to three-day supplies for treatment of acute pain, though seven-day supplies would be allowed for medical reasons. The restrictions won't apply to patients suffering pain from cancer, terminal illness, palliative care or serious traumatic injuries. Authorizes $53 million on treatment and prevention. Requires practitioners to consult the state's prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing or dispensing. Authorizes the health department to share information with other states. (HB 21 / SB 8).

PRESCRIPTION COSTS (PASSED): Requires pharmacists to advise people about the costs of prescriptions and whether a patient's cost sharing obligation exceeds the retail price of a drug in the absence of prescription drug coverage. (HB 351 / SB 1494)

VETERANS (FAILED): Authorizes Florida to negotiate with the federal government to see if the state could offer managed health-care programs to veterans and their families as an alternative to the health system provided by the federal Veterans Administration, which serves 1.5 million Floridians. (HB 403/ SB 440)

TRAUMA CENTERS (PASSED): Revamps rules and regulations, and recognizes trauma centers at some HCA Healthcare facilities across Florida, while aiming to stave off litigation over the issue. Puts the statewide cap on trauma centers at 35, with a possible 36th for Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. (HB 1165/ SB 1867)

CRIMINAL BACKGROUNDS (FAILED): Loosens background check requirements for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, allowing them to work in drug treatment facilities. (HB 1069 / SB 1418)


LIVING FACILITIES (PASSED): Requires assisted living facilities to have backup power sources, ratifying a rule issued by Gov. Rick Scott after Hurricane Irma. It would cost the state's 3,000 assisted living facilities about $243 million to comply. (SB 7028)

NURSING HOMES (PASSED): Requires nursing homes to have backup power sources that can control indoor temperatures for 96 hours after an outage and sets the ambient temperature at 81 degrees. (HB 7099/ SB 7030)

RAIL CARS (FAILED): Authorizes a study of moving fuel-filled rail-tank cars into areas that are getting evacuated ahead of a hurricane in an effort to avoid runs on gas stations. (HB 7083 / SB 700)


SANCTUARY CITIES (FAILED): Requires local governments to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention requests; repeals sanctuary policies. (HB 9/ SB 308)


CAR INSURANCE (FAILED): Repeals Florida's no-fault insurance system that requires drivers to carry $10,000 in personal-injury protection (PIP) to cover medical bills in accidents and requires drivers to carry medical payment coverage as replacement. (HB 19/ SB 150)

WORKERS COMPENSATION (PASSED): Provides expanded benefits to first responders who have job-related post-traumatic stress disorder. In Florida, injured workers can't obtain workers' compensation benefits for mental or nervous injuries. (HB 227/ SB 376)

DENIALS (FAILED): Curbs the ability of health insurers and HMOs to retroactively deny claims. Currently, health plans can retroactively deny claims up to one year after payment if patients are determined to be ineligible. (HB 217/SB 162)

FLOOD INSURANCE (PASSED): Requires homeowners' insurance policies to disclose in bold 18-point font that hurricane insurance does not include flood insurance. (HB 1011 / SB 1282)


PUBLIC UNIONS (FAILED, but some of the language was included in HB 7055): Requires unions to include in annual financial reports the number of employees in the bargaining unit who are eligible for representation and the number of employees who are represented by the organization, specifying the number who pay dues and the number of members who don't. The union's certification would be revoked if it does not submit the information, except for unions that represent police, correctional officers or firefighters. (HB 25)

Public records and meetings

VICTIMS (SIGNED INTO LAW): Shields the home addresses of victims of mass violence. (HB 7105/ SB 7024)

ARMED STAFF (SIGNED INTO LAW): Withholds the identities of armed school staff who are trained as part of the state's new "guardian" program. (SB 1940)

Social services

VETERANS (SIGNED INTO LAW): Eases licensing fees and requirements for certain military members, veterans and their spouses while establishing March 25 as "Medal of Honor Day" that allows classroom instruction related to the values of recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor." (HB 29)


SUPERMAJORITY VOTE (PASSED): Requires two-thirds vote of both houses of Legislature for future increases in state taxes or fees, subject to approval of 60 percent of voters on November ballot. (HB 7001 / SB 1742)

TAX CUTS (PASSED): Cuts taxes by $168.6 million, including tax breaks on agricultural fencing materials purchased for repairs after Hurricane Irma, citrus packing houses interrupted by Irma or damaged by citrus greening and fuel spent on transporting agricultural products after the storm; adds property tax break for homeowners displaced by Irma, nursing homes that buy electric generators; adds 18 percent reduction in penalties for non-criminal traffic infractions for motorists who attend driving school; includes back-to-school holiday exempting sales tax on clothing costing $60 or less and school supplies or $15 or less and reduces sales tax on business rents. (HB 7087)


AIRBOAT OPERATORS (PASSED): Requires commercial airboat operators to complete a state-approved course before taking on passengers. Failure to do so would result in a $500 fine or up to 60 days imprisonment. (HB 1211/ SB 1612)

LICENSE TAGS (FAILED): Creates new specialty license tags for University of Georgia, Auburn University, University of Alabama, Beat Childhood Cancer, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Dan Marino Campus, Donate Life Florida, Ducks Unlimited, Florida Bay Forever, Florida Beekeepers Association, The Highwaymen and Medical Professionals Who Care. (HB 1287/ SB 160).

PASSENGER RAIL (FAILED): Forces the new Brightline rail service, not local governments, to pay hundreds of millions for crossing upgrades and maintenance. (HB 525/ SB 572)

TEXTING (FAILED): Allows police to cite drivers for texting without requiring another reason to stop motorists. (HB 33/ SB 90)


DAYLIGHT SAVING (PASSED): Asks Congress to put Florida on permanent daylight saving time so that residents do not have to reset clocks twice a year. (HB 1013/ SB 858)

PINELLAS CONSTRUCTION (PASSED): Strips Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board of independence and places it under control of County Commission; requires board audits. (HB 1137/ SB 402)

SLAVERY MEMORIAL (PASSED): Creates first Florida Slavery Memorial at Capitol complex in Tallahassee. (HB 67/ SB 286)

MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE (PASSED): Replaces one of Florida's two statues in the U.S. Capitol. A statue of civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune will replace the likeness of a Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. (HB 139/ SB 472)

The News Service of Florida and the Associated Press contributed to this report.