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Florida Legislature 2019: What passed and what failed

Lawmakers passed about 10 percent of 1,861 bills that were filed.
The Florida Capitol looking east from the Florida Supreme Court. May, 1, 2019. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published May 6
Updated May 7

When the dust cleared Saturday afternoon in the Florida Legislature, lawmakers had passed 195 bills. Most now await the signature of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The highlights of the Republican-led Legislature’s work include a ban on “sanctuary cities,” several rollbacks of health care regulations, a controversial roads project and a narrow interpretation of Amendment 4.

In all, slightly fewer bills were passed than the prior year, when the body passed just 200 (excluding one-chamber resolutions), the low point in a 20-year trend of fewer and fewer bills. Of 1,861 bills filed (excluding local appropriations projects), lawmakers passed about 10 percent.

No event interrupted the 2019 session like the Parkland shooting did 2018’s. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School brought that session to a virtual halt as lawmakers scrambled to draft gun control and school safety measures.

Those efforts were extended with the expansion of the “Guardian program” to allow teachers to carry guns in school, if their district opts in to the program.

What follows is a list of some of the 2019 legislative session’s most notable bills.

Abortion

FETAL HEARTBEAT ABORTION (FAILED): Blocks physicians from performing abortions if fetal heartbeats have been detected. Would lead to third-degree felony charges for any “person who knowingly or purposefully performs or induces an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being whose fetal heartbeat has been detected.’ (HB 235 / SB 792)

PARENTAL CONSENT (FAILED): Requires minors to obtain parental consent or judicial order waiving consent before getting an abortion. (HB 1335 / SB 1774)

Agriculture

HEMP (PASSED): Authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to administer a state hemp program and sets up rulemaking and a board of experts to develop the system.(SB 1020)

Budget

BUDGET (PASSED): Sets aside $91.1 billion for spending on education, health care, transportation, corrections, safety-net programs and other expenses. Includes an increase of $243 in per-pupil education spending. Keeps the state-funded tourism agency Visit Florida running through 2020 with $50 million for the next fiscal year. Shifts reimbursement funding to hospitals for Medicaid cases, but without dramatic reductions to hospitals that take the most uninsured and under-insured patients. Sets aside $500,000 for a permanent memorial in honor of the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. (SB 2500)

Corrections

DRONES, GUARD AGES (PASSED): Prohibits flying drones near detention centers while lowering the minimum ages of guards from 19 to 18. (HB 7057)

WOMEN INMATES (PASSED): Requires correctional facilities to provide incarcerated women with certain health care products, subject to certain requirements; providing requirements for male correctional facility employees in certain circumstances; requiring documentation of certain incidents involving male correctional facility employees. (HB 49)

Criminal justice

CHILD-LIKE SEX DOLLS (PASSED): Criminalizes the possession and/or sale of sex dolls that resemble children. (B 160)

FELONY THEFT THRESHOLD (PASSED): Increases the amount of a theft that it would take to be charged with a felony from $300 to $750, the first time it has been raised since 1986. It also eliminates or reduces driver’s license suspensions as a criminal penalty (HB 7125)

POLICE DOGS, HORSES: (SIGNED): Increases penalties for people who injure or kill dogs or horses that work with first responders, upping potential prison time from five to 15 years. (SB 96)

Education

ANTI-SEMITISM (PASSED): Requires schools and colleges to address allegations of anti-Semitism in the same way they address racism. (HB 741)

BRIGHT FUTURES (PASSED): Raises the requirements for the merit-based Bright Futures scholarships. For students an “Academic” scholarship, which covers full tuition and fees at state universities and colleges, the required SAT score would rise from 1290 to around 1330. For the second-tier “Medallion” award which covers 75 percent of tuition and fees, the benchmark would climb from 1170 to about 1200. (SB 190)

CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION (PASSED): Expands apprenticeship programs, adds career planning support for students, offers to replace a science graduation credit with a computer science course. (HB 7071)

CHARTER AUTHORIZERS (FAILED): Allows charter school authorizers other than school districts, which currently hold the sole right to approve charters. (HB 1197/ SB 1668)

COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION (FAILED): Makes the Commissioner of Education an elected position, returning it to the Florida Cabinet. (HJR 1309 / SJR 422)

DISQUALIFIED TEACHERS (FAILED): Creates lists of people disqualified from working in the state’s public, private and charter schools. (HB 1127 / SB 1444)

FINANCIAL LITERACY (PASSED): Requires all school districts to offer a financial literacy course consisting of at least one-half credit as an elective. (HB 7071)

GUARDIANS (PASSED): Expands the school guardian program to allow trained teachers in certain school districts to volunteer to carry weapons. (SB 7030)

MILITARY UNIFORMS (PASSED): Requires school districts to allow authorized students to wear military dress uniforms at high school graduations. (SB 292)

PARENTAL RIGHTS (FAILED): Creates a new section of Florida law that would create a parental “bill of rights,” establishing parents’ authority to direct “the education and care” of their child as well as their “moral and religious training.” (HB 1171 / SB 1726)

REFERENDUM MONEY (PASSED): Requires school districts to share future local referendum money with charter schools. (HB 7123)

SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS (FAILED): Limits the terms of school board members to eight years. Would require voter approval. (HJR 229 / SJR 274)

SCHOOLS OF HOPE (PASSED): Expands the “Schools of Hope” program that lets charter schools open near consistently low-performing public schools. Allows charter school operators to open schools “opportunity zones,” a term from President Trump’s 2017 tax bill designed to boost investment in economically poor areas. (SB 7070)

SCHOOL STRUCTURES (FAILED): Requires certain new school facilities be constructed in compliance with public shelter design criteria. (HB 1233 / SB 586)

SPANKING (FAILED): Bans corporal punishment as a disciplinary option for teachers and principals. (HB 1361 / SB 1120)

SPENDING (FAILED): Requires 80 percent of state education funding to be spent on teachers’ salaries and bonuses, classroom supplies, technology for students and tutoring, in lieu of administration. (HB 1434)

TEACHER TESTING (PASSED): Eases the testing requirements attached to teacher certification. (SB 7070)

TUITION SURCHARGE (FAILED): Changes the rules when universities may add a tuition surcharge to Florida resident students (HB 257 / SB 280)

UNIVERSITY SURVEYS (FAILED): Requires universities to conduct “intellectual freedom” surveys that measure "the extent to which competing ideas, perspectives, and claims of truth are presented" on campus and whether the university community feels "safe and supported in exploring and articulating their beliefs and viewpoints" in the classroom. (HB 839 / SB 1296)

VOUCHERS (PASSED): Creates a scholarship program for private schools for families of four who make roughly $77,000 a year or less, using public money. (SB 7070)

WATER FILTERS (FAILED): Requires schools built before 1986 to install water filters at all drinking fountains in an effort to reduce lead. (SB 66 / HB 545)

WORKFORCE EDUCATION (PASSED): Requires middle school students to take a course in career education planning, allows certain course substitutions for high school graduation requirements, requires high schools to offer a financial literacy elective course, create a career and technical education high school graduation pathway, establishes degree articulation agreements between colleges and universities. (HB 7071)

Elections and campaigns

AMENDMENT 4 (PASSED): Requires felons to pay restitution, fine and fees before they can register to vote after the passage of last year’s Amendment 4 ballot measure. (HB 7089 / SB 7086 / SB 7066, amended)

BUNDLING (FAILED): Prohits the Constitutional Revision Commission from bundling multiple topics onto a constitutional amendment proposal. (SJR 74 / HB 53)

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (FAILED): Prohibits Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or member of Cabinet from soliciting or accepting contributions during regular, extended, or special legislative session; provides penalties. (HB 55 / SB 396)

PETITION DRIVES (PASSED): Requires citizen-led attempts to change the constitution to use only Florida residents on petition drives and to register with the Florida Secretary of State, which would prevent the involvement of out-of-state firms in petition drives. (SB 7096 / HB 7111)

PUBLIC FINANCING (FAILED): Repeals public campaign financing in Florida. (HJR 613 / SJR 270)

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS (FAILED): Requires that each county supervisor of elections enters into an agreement with the clerk of the circuit court to receive, on a monthly basis, a list of potential jurors who have identified themselves as undocumented immigrants. (HB 131 / SB 230)

VOTER RECORDS (PASSED): Creates a public records exemption for information related to a voter registration applicant’s or voter’s prior felony conviction and for information on preregistered voter registration applicants who are 16 or 17 years old. (HB 281)

Environment

FRACKING (FAILED): Bans fracking, a process where water, sand and chemicals are injected underground to loosen, or fracture, rock layers in the crust to release trapped natural gas and oil. (HB 239 / SB 146)

PLASTIC BAGS (FAILED): Authorizes coastal municipalities to establish pilot programs to regulate or ban disposable plastic bags; collect data and complete a report by April 1, 2022 about the effectiveness of the ban. (SB 694)

PLASTIC STRAWS (PASSED): Prohibits local government entities from adopting or enforcing ordinances and regulations relating to single-use plastic straws. (HB 771)

RECYCLABLE MATERIALS (PASSED): Require municipalities to address contamination of recyclable materials. (HB 771)

RED TIDE (PASSED): Investments of $3 million per year for six years in red tide mitigation. (SB 1552)

SUNSCREEN (FAILED): Prohibits local governments from banning the sale of certain sunscreens. Government entities that violate the moratorium would face fines. (HB 1299 / SB 588)

WASTEWATER (FAILED): Prohibiting the construction of new deep injection wells for domestic wastewater discharge or the expansion of existing wells. (SB 1568)

WELLS (FAILED): Allow anyone fearing contamination to request the health department test their water source, requires samples be analyzed no more than three business days later. (SB 1100)

Ethics

BLIND TRUST (PASSED): Prohibits public officials from placing their assets in blind trusts. (SB 702)

CONFLICT OF INTEREST (FAILED): Prohibiting a state public officer from voting in an official capacity on any measure that he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of certain principles, parent organizations or subsidiaries of a corporate principal, relatives, or business associates of the officer; revising disclosure requirements applicable to state public officers in the event of a voting conflict, etc. (SB 1008)

Gambling

LOTTERY (PASSED): Requires vendors of lottery tickets to prominently display a warning that the lottery is addictive on all tickets and that the Lottery Department put the same warning on ads and promotions. (HB 629)

Governance

AFFORDABLE HOUSING (PASSED): Limit the ability of local governments to set ceilings for rents or home sale price. (HB 7103)

CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION (FAILED): Eliminates Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, a panel that meets every 20 years to place constitutional amendments on the ballot. (HJR 249 / HB 251 / SJR 362)

SCOOTERS (PASSED): Limits how local jurisdictions can regulate motorized scooter sharing services by establishing instead a statewide framework that would regulate the system. (HB 453)

TOBACCO (FAILED): Prohibits local governments to regulate tobacco or its use, such as the raising of the age limit from 18 to 21. (HB 1299 / SB 588)

VEGETABLE GARDENS (PASSED): Prevents local governments from regulating residential vegetable gardens. (SB 82)

Guns

ASSAULT WEAPON BAN (FAILED): Prohibits sale, transfers, or possession of assault weapon or large-capacity ammunition magazine. (HB 455 / SB 466)

CHURCHES ON SCHOOL PROPERTY (FAILED): Allows concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns at churches or other religious entities that are on the campuses of schools. (SB 1238 / HB 403)

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (FAILED): Revises prohibition on sale or transfer of firearms to persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses; prohibits persons convicted of misdemeanor offense of domestic violence from possessing firearm or ammunition; requires persons convicted of misdemeanor offenses of domestic violence to surrender all firearms & ammunition. (HB 941 / SB 1206)

Healthcare

AMBULATORY SURGERY CENTERS (PASSED): Allows patients to stay up to 24 hours in ambulatory surgery centers. (HB 843)

CERTIFICATE OF NEED (PASSED): Removes a requirement that general hospitals apply and obtain approval from the state to build or expand (HB 21)

CONVERSION THERAPY (FAILED): Prohibits the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation, for an individual who is younger than 18. (SB 84 / HB 109)

CULTURE SURVEYS (FAILED): Requires the state to develop surveys that assess patient safety culture in hospitals; requires health care facilities to complete the surveys and submit the data. (HB 319 / SB 1194)

DRUG IMPORTS (PASSED): Allows drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be imported into Florida by Canada and other countries. (HB 19)

FIREFIGHTERS (SIGNED): Provides certain benefits to firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer and benefits to the families of firefighters who die as a result of cancer or cancer treatment. (SB 426)

HEART SURGERIES (PASSED): Increases oversight of pediatric heart surgeries by letting team of doctors make unannounced visits to struggling programs and review death records. (HB 843)

HPV SHOT (FAILED): Expands school immunization requirements to include a vaccine for human papillomavirus. (SB 356 / HB 245)

MEDICAID CLAIMS (FAILED): Would permanently shorten how long patients can have Medicaid cover past healthcare bills. (SB 192)

OPIOID LAWSUIT (PASSED): Would allow state lawyers to access a Florida Department of Health database of patients’ opioid prescriptions. State Attorney General Ashley Moody needs the database for a lawsuit alleging Walgreens and CVS “raced to sell as many opioids as possible” in Florida while failing to stop suspicious shipments of drugs. (HB 1253)

NEEDLE EXCHANGE (PASSED): Expands the pilot needle exchange established in Miami-Dade County by allowing other counties to create their own programs with the approval of their county commissions. (SB 366)

PLASTIC SURGERY (PASSED): Tightens regulations for offices and clinics performing plastic surgeries. Requires those that are not completely owned by a licensed doctor to show financial responsibility for claims against them (SB 732)

TELEHEALTH (PASSED): Establishes a regulatory framework for telehealth. (HB 23)

Human rights

DISCRIMINATION (FAILED): Provides that sexual orientation and gender identity are impermissible grounds for discrimination in public lodging establishments and public food service establishments; revises provisions of Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 and Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity; provides exception for constitutionally protected free exercise of religion. (HB 485 / SB 430)

HUMAN TRAFFICKING (PASSED): Requires police, hotel employees and massage parlor workers to get training in how to look for signs of human trafficking. (HB 851)

SEXUAL HARASSMENT (FAILED): Requires Florida Commission on Human Relations to create & publish model sexual harassment prevention policy & model sexual harassment prevention training program; requires employers to use model policy & program. (HB 417 / SB 1580)

Hurricanes

AID AND TASK FORCE (FAILED): Pumps $315 million into helping the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael. Establishes a task force to consider changes to local, state and federal response policy. (SB 1610)

PETS (FAILED): Imposes a year in jail or up to a $5,000 fine for people who leave their pets restrained outside or unattended during a hurricane or another natural or manmade disaster. (HB 379 / SB 1738)

Immigration

SANCTUARY CITIES (PASSED): Prohibits local governments from not cooperating with federal officials, which would require local law enforcement to hold undocumented workers at least 48 hours past their detainer sentences while awaiting federal authorities to pick them up for deportation. Gives the Florida attorney general the power to pursue civil action against governments that don’t cooperate. (SB 168)

Insurance

ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS (PASSED): Limits attorneys fees in disputes over assignment of benefits between insurance companies and contractors and authorizes policies that aren’t subject to assignment of benefits. (HB 7065)

GENETIC TESTING (FAILED): Restricts insurance companies from using genetic testing information in selling policies or setting rates. (HB 879 / SB 258)

PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (FAILED): Eliminates Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system, where drivers are required to carry personal injury protection coverage to help pay medical bills after accidents. (HB 733 / SB 1052).

Marijuana

LOW THC (FAILED): Caps at 10 percent the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, the naturally occurring element in marijuana that produces a high. (HB 7117)

RECREATIONAL POT (FAILED): Makes recreational marijuana legal (HB 1117 / SB 1780)

SMOKING (SIGNED): Repeals a ban on smokable medical marijuana. (HB 7015/ SB 182)

Public records

LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES (SIGNED): Expands exemption for employees who work for law enforcement, which previously only kept private the addresses of officers. Expansion includes exempting the addresses of civilians who work at law enforcement agencies, too. (SB 248)

MASS SHOOTINGS (PASSED): Would prohibit the disclosure of photos, video or recordings that capture a mass shooting. (SB 186)

UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS (FAILED): Exempts the names of candidates applying to be college or university presidents from public records requirements. The names of finalists would be made public at least 30 days before a final vote, but names of those not chosen would never be revealed. (HB 7115)

Smoking and vaping

NICOTINE (FAILED): Requires businesses that sell nicotine products to obtain licenses as tobacco dealers. (HB 1125 / SB 1046)

SMOKING AGE (FAILED): Raises the minimum age to smoke tobacco or any electronic device in Florida from 18 to 21. Also prohibits local governments from dealing with the age to purchase tobacco or vaping products. (HB 1041 / SB 1618)

VAPING (SIGNED): Implements constitutional amendment that banned vaping in indoor workplaces. (SPB 7012)

Taxes

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SALES TAX (PASSED): Exempts sales taxes on clothes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less, and personal computers costing $1,000 or less from Aug. 2 to Aug. 6. (HB 7123)

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS (PASSED): Offers seven-day sales tax breaks, from May 31 through June 6, for items related to hurricane preparation. (HB 7123)

COMMERCIAL LEASES (PASSED): Reduces the sales tax on commercial leases from 5.7 percent to 5.5 percent. (HB 7123)

HURRICANE MICHAEL EXPENSES (PASSED): Refund for taxes paid on fuel for agricultural shipments and debris removal between Oct. 10, 2018 and June 30, 2019 in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden,Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton and, Washington counties. Farmers could get refunds for repairs to buildings damaged by the storm. (HB 7123)

ONLINE RETAILERS (FAILED): Requires nearly all online retailers start collecting Florida sales taxes. Much of the money would be given away through tax cuts. (SB 1112)

Transportation

RED LIGHT CAMERAS (FAILED): Prohibits red light cameras from being used to ticket drivers. (HB 6003 / SB 306)

RIDE SHARES (PASSED): Allows Uber, Lyft and other ride share services to provide non-emergency trips to the hospital for Medicaid patients. (HB 411)

ROAD MEMORIAL (FAILED): Names stretches of highways, roads and bridges after police officers killed in the line of duty and also a former state senator and Florida Power & light lobbyist Chris Smith. (HB 295 / SB 100)

TEXTING (PASSED): Makes driving while texting a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can stop motorists for just that offense. (HB 107)

TOLL ROADS (PASSED): Extends the SunCoast Parkway from Tampa Bay to the Georgia border, a new corridor from Polk to Collier counties, and extend the Florida Turnpike west to connect to the SunCoast. (SB 7068)

Utilities

RENEWABLE ENERGY (FAILED): Directs state to develop unified statewide plan to generate state's energy from renewable sources by specified dates; requires state & public entities to cooperate as requested; provides plan requirements; requires office to submit plan & updates to Governor & Legislature. (HB 1291 / SB 1762)

UNDERGROUND POWER LINES (PASSED): Creates a new process for utilities to pass along costs to customers for storm protection projects, such as installing underground power lines. (SB 796)

-- The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.


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