Florida Legislature 2017: What passed and what failed

Lobbyists track the action in the Florida Senate during the final week of the Florida Legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
Lobbyists track the action in the Florida Senate during the final week of the Florida Legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
Published May 11, 2017

State legislators filed about 1,900 bills in the 2017 session. Only 12.6 percent, or 234 bills, were passed by both the House and Senate chambers. As of Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott has signed 20 bills.


AMUSEMENT PARKS/RESTAURANTS (FAILED): Would allow theme parks that are at least 25 acres and draw 1 million visitors a year (Universal Studios, Disney World, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens) to let beer manufacturers participate in up to 25 events or promotions a year and to remove a limit on wine bottle sizes, allowing the sale of brands such as Nebuchadnezzar, while making it easier for consumers to take open wine bottles to restaurants, eliminating a provision requiring that bottles be purchased with a full course meal. (SB 388)

GLASSWARE (FAILED): Would let beer distributors provide free glassware to bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants would be allowed to accept up to three cases of 24 glasses advertising up to three brands from each manufacturer. (HB 423/SB 1040)

LIQUOR WALL (PASSED): Repeals a decades-old state law requiring stand-alone liquor stores and the prohibition of the sale of liquor from big grocery chains such as Walmart and Target. (HB81/SB 106)


BUDGET (PASSED): Appropriates $82.4 billion budget for fiscal year that begins July 1 (SB 2500)


BARAHONA CLAIM BILL (PASSED): Awards $3.75 million in legal damages to Victor Barahona, the survivor of a horrific child abuse case that took the life of his twin sister, Nubia. (SB 18)

LGBT ANTI-DISCRIMINATION (FAILED): Makes discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal in employment, housing, restaurants and other public facilities. (SB 666/HB 623)

LGBT HOUSING ANTI-DISCRIMINATION (FAILED): Makes discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal in housing only. (SB 742/HB 659)


ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS (FAILED): Changes a policy that allows homeowners in need of property repairs to sign over benefits to contractors, who then pursue payments from insurance companies, to curb litigation claims. (HB 1421/SB 1218)

BOAT REGISTRATION (PASSED): Expands registration-fee discounts for boat owners who have locator beacons. (HB 711)

CAR INSURANCE (FAILED): Eliminates requirement that motorists carry personal injury protection as part of their car insurance, which should lower costs for people who carry bodily injury protection, but increase them for people with policies covering the bare minimum. (HB 1063/SB 1768)

FRACKING INVESTMENTS (FAILED): Allows electric utilities that generate at least 65 percent of their power using natural gas to bill customers up to $500 million annually for fracking investments in other states. (HB 1043/SB 1238)


BODY CAMERAS (SIGNED INTO LAW): Allows law enforcement officers to review footage from their body cameras before filling out reports. (HB 305)

CIVIL CITATIONS (FAILED): Requires law enforcement to use diversion programs for young, first-time offenders as an alternative to arresting them. (HB 301)

DEATH PENALTY (SIGNED INTO LAW): Requires juries to vote unanimously to sentence someone to death and allows death-row cases to move forward once again in Florida. (SB 280)

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (FAILED): Requires first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their cars for six months after conviction. (SB 918/HB 949)

HEROES (FAILED): Would make it a third-degree felony to deface a statue or memorial for a hero, or military veterans. (SB 418/HB 529)

MURDER WITNESSES (SIGNED INTO LAW): Shields from disclosure the identity of murder witnesses in public records for two years after the crime. (HB 111)

GROVELAND FOUR (PASSED): Senate and House formally apologize for the prosecution and persecution of four black men accused of raping a white woman in 1949, asks Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to posthumously pardon Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas. (HCR 631)


WAGE DISCRIMINATION (FAILED): Makes it easier for women to sue over being paid an inequitable wage. (SB 410/HB 319)


K-12 EDUCATION (PASSED): Part of the 2017-18 budget package, calls for $419 million in K-12 public school spending and myriad policy -- including requiring daily recess for traditional public schools and eliminating one standardized exam, among other testing reforms. Its main features are a new $140 million "Schools of Hope" program that is largely an incentive for new specialized charter schools to compete with failing traditional public schools, $234 million in expanding the "Best & Brightest" bonuses for teachers and principals, and changes to a funding formula that will now require school districts to share local capital dollars with charter schools. (HB 7069)

HIGHER EDUCATION (PASSED): Part of the 2017-18 budget package, calls for numerous reforms to the state college and university system. Modifies college and university performance metrics to encourage on-time graduation, increases student financial aid and expands the Bright Future scholarships to cover 100 percent of tuition, promotes faculty recruitment, limits college and university foundations from using taxpayer money, renames the state college system as the "Florida Community College System" and modifies oversight and operations of the colleges, including by setting limits on what four-year degrees each can offer. (SB 374)

RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION (PASSED): Fortifies the right of students to express their religious beliefs in public schools, while requiring school districts to adopt policies allowing "limited public forums" for students to pray at school events. (SB 436)

TEXTBOOK CHALLENGES (PASSED): Makes it easier for parents and school district residents to challenge educational material used in classroom instruction or school libraries, including books, pamphlets and presentations a parent finds objectionable, offensive or inappropriate for the age of the student. (HB 989)

COMPUTER CODING (FAILED): Addressed how computer coding is viewed in public schools. The Senate bill allows it to be counted as a foreign language; the House bill calls on the Department of Education to better encourage computer science education. (SB 104 / HB 265)

OFF-CAMPUS LUNCH (FAILED): Proposes to restrict public high school students in the state's eight largest school districts from leaving school during lunch unless they have written permission from a parent. (SB 148 / HB 85)

FINANCIAL LITERACY (FAILED): Requires future high school students to earn a half-credit in financial literacy before graduating. (SB 392/HB 955)

TUITION FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS (FAILED): Repeals a 2014 law granting in-state tuition rates to undocumented students. (SB 82)


MAIL BALLOT DROPOFFS (FAILED): Allows voters to drop off mail ballots at early voting sites in their home counties (SB 726).

REDISTRICTING (FAILED): Requires that any challenges to redistricting maps be filed within 60 days of their approval, suspends litigation within 71 days of an election and subjects judges to cross-examination. (SB 352)

JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS (FAILED): Asks voters to amend state Constitution to set 12-year term limits for Supreme Court and appellate judges, who now face merit retention elections every six years. (HJR 1)


EVERGLADES CLEANUP (SIGNED INTO LAW): Converts land owned by the state south of the Everglades, which is currently leased by Florida Crystals and Duda & Sons, into a 14-feet deep storage reservoir to store and clean water from Lake Okeechobee that flows into Florida Bay. This was a compromise from Sen. President Joe Negron, who initially wanted to buy 60,000 acres from private sugar farmers for a much larger price of $2.4 billion. The proposed reservoir, and possible later expansion, would cost $1.5 billion. (SB 10)

PLASTIC BAGS (FAILED): Allows cities to regulate or ban use of disposable plastic bags (SB 162/HB 93)

SOLAR AMENDMENT (PASSED): Enacts publicly approved constitutional amendment that allows people and businesses to install solar panels without their property tax bills going up, though amendments add hurdles for companies seeking to do the work that backers of those amendments said were needed for consumer protection. (SB 90)


GAMING COMPACT (FAILED): Extends an agreement by seven years giving the Seminole Tribe of Florida exclusive rights to offer slots outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties in exchange for $3 billion. (HB 7037)

GAMING EXPANSION (FAILED): Gives Miami-Dade and Broward counties each an additional slot casino, the Seminole Tribe would have seven full-scale casinos, and horse and dog tracks in at least eight counties would get new slot parlors. (SB 8)

LOTTERY WARNING (PASSED): Players of the state lottery would be warned about the addictive nature of state-sponsored games. Vendors and retailers would be required to print or place warnings on all lottery tickets stating "Warning: Gambling can be addictive." (HB 937/SB 1370)


VACATION RENTALS (FAILED): Prevents cities and counties from passing new regulations on vacation rentals of private homes such as those offered through Airbnb and HomeAway, and voids restrictions passed after June 1, 2011. (HB 425/SB188)

BUSINESS REGULATION (FAILED): Repeals local government regulations in 2020 and requires they seek legislative approval for new ordinances that affect businesses. (HB 17)

LOBBYING BAN (FAILED): Extends lobbying ban on legislators who leave office from two years to six. (HJR 7001)

LOBBYING DISCLOSURE (FAILED): Adds lobbying and disclosure rules for local governments and officials. Strengthens lobbying and disclosure rules for local governments and officials. (HB 7021)

WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY (PASSED): Limits local governments from regulating types of equipment known as "small wireless facilities" in public rights of ways that are used for new 5G wireless technology. (HB 687)


STAND YOUR GROUND (PASSED): Makes it easier for people accused of violent crimes -- including murder -- to claim they acted in self-defense by shifting the burden of proof to prosecutors in pre-trial hearings, where state attorneys would have to prove by "clear and convincing evidence" why the defend shouldn't get immunity from prosecution. (SB 128)

REVISE 'STAND YOUR GROUND' DEFINITION (PASSED): Clarifies Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law by removing the requirement that a person first be attacked in their home or vehicle before using or threatening to use force. (SB 1052)

GUNS IN COURTHOUSES (FAILED): Allows concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns into courthouses and temporarily surrender and store the guns at a security checkpoint. (SB 616)

GUNS IN RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS (FAILED): Creates an exception to the statewide ban on guns in schools by letting private schools with "a religious institution ... located on the property" have the option of allowing concealed weapons on the premises, as any other private property has the right to do. (SB 1330 / HB 849)

POLICE WAITING PERIOD EXEMPTION (FAILED): Proposes and implements a constitutional amendment to exempt law enforcement officers from the mandatory three-day waiting period for purchasing handguns. (SJR 910 and SB 912 / HJR 291 and HB 673)

OPEN CARRY AND CARRYING CONCEALED (FAILED): Allows open carrying of handguns by the state's 1.7 million concealed weapons permit-holders, including in elementary and secondary schools, public college and university campuses, airport passenger terminals, legislative meetings, meetings of municipal, county, school or special district boards, and career centers. (SB 140)

GUN STORAGE (FAILED): Would tighten language in an existing law that requires guns to be locked in a gun safe or have a trigger lock when around children age 16 or younger. (SB 142 / HB 835)

GUNS IN THEATERS (FAILED): Prohibits concealed-weapons permit holders from carrying in performing arts centers or theaters. (SB 170)

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN (FAILED): Bans many specific assault-style firearms and "parts that convert a firearm into an assault weapon," such as large-capacity magazines. (SB 254 / HB 167)

GUN BAN LIABILITY (FAILED): Makes a private "business, organization, or entity" that bans concealed weapons liable for any injury or damage caused by a person or animal, if the incident "could reasonably have been prevented" had the permit-holder not been required to be disarmed. (SB 610 / HB 819)

GUNS IN AIRPORTS (FAILED): Lifts a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in passenger terminals and non-"sterile" areas of airports, which are locations outside of security checkpoints. (SB 618 / HB 6001)

GUNS IN LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS (FAILED): Lifts a current ban, allowing concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in meetings of the Legislature, which include formal sessions and committee hearings. (SB 620)

GUNS ON CAMPUS (FAILED): Lifts a current ban, allowing concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns on public college and university campuses. Senate version still bans taking firearms into any K-12, college or university athletic event "not related to firearms." (SB 622 / HB 6005)

GUNS IN GOVERNMENT MEETINGS (FAILED): Lifts a current ban, allowing concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in meetings of any municipality, county, school district or special district. (SB 626)

GUNS IN CAREER CENTERS (FAILED): Lifts a current ban, allowing concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in career centers. (SB 640)

REDUCED PENALTIES FOR OPEN CARRY (FAILED): Reduces the penalties for displaying a concealed gun. Explicitly protects from arrest concealed-weapons permit-holders who briefly display a concealed gun. Originally also let members of the Florida Cabinet — the state chief financial officer, attorney general and agriculture commissioner — who have a concealed weapons permit carry concealed "anywhere they are not prohibited by federal law." (SB 646 / HB 779)

ELIMINATE 'GUN-FREE' ZONES (FAILED): Allows concealed guns at Florida's 15 seaports and remove all 15 locations in state law where concealed weapons permit-holders cannot currently carry. Those areas include: police, sheriff or highway patrol stations; jails and prisons; courthouses and courtrooms; polling places; government and legislative meetings; school, college or professional athletic events; public K-12 schools and public college and university campuses; career centers; establishments that serve alcohol; airport passenger terminals and locations where federal law prohibits carrying guns. (SB 908 / HB 803)

MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING (FAILED): Requires someone applying for a concealed-weapons permit to undergo a mental health evaluation done by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist and be deemed "competent and of sound mind." (SB 956 / HB 1355)

REPEAL 'DOCS vs. GLOCKS' (FAILED): Repeals a 2011 state law struck down in federal court that prevents doctors from asking patients about firearm ownership or firearms in the home and from entering such information into medical records. (SB 1518 / HB 6033)

INCREASED PENALTY FOR ADDITIONAL MAGAZINES (FAILED): Increases the criminal penalty by one degree for misdemeanor or felony crimes during the commission of which a person used, or tried to use, a gun that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition without reloading or if they possessed more than one magazine. (SB 1584 / HB 941)


ABORTION LAWSUITS (FAILED): Allows women to sue abortion providers if they have physical complications or feel emotional distress within 10 years of the procedure. (HB 19/SB1140)

CERTIFICATE OF NEED (FAILED): Eliminates a state requirement that hospitals get approval from the Agency for Health Care Administration before they can build any facilities or add types of programs. (HB 7/SB 676)

MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENT (FAILED): Requires able-bodied adults to be working, looking for work or getting job training to qualify for Medicaid. (HB 7117)

MEDICAL MARIJUANA (FAILED): Implements constitutional amendment making medical marijuana available to more people to treat a broader range of illnesses and ailments. (HB 1397)

PRIMARY CARE (FAILED): Allows employers or patients to contract directly with a doctor for primary care. (HB 161/SB 240)

RECOVERY CARE CENTERS (FAILED): Allows surgical centers to keep patients for a full 24 hours and creates new recovery centers that can care for them 72 hours after surgery. (HB 145)

TRAUMA CENTERS (FAILED): Sets new standards for the minimum number of trauma centers each region of the state needs based on population, giving Hillsborough County two and Pinellas and Pasco two between them. (HB 1077/SB 746)


SANCTUARY CITIES (FAILED): Bans communities from being "sanctuaries" for undocumented immigrants by resisting compliance with federal immigration detention requests. Imposes penalties on communities and elected officials that attempt to thwart ban. (HB 697 / SB 786)

HARSHER PENALTIES (FAILED): Subjects undocumented immigrants charged with severe crimes to harsher penalties than citizens or legal residents otherwise face. (SB 120 / HB 83)

REFUGEES (FAILED): Pulls the state of Florida from the federal refugee resettlement program, requiring the feds to instead contract with nonprofits in the state to provide services to people fleeing violence or persecution in their home country. (HB 427)


WORKERS' COMPENSATION (FAILED): Caps fees for workers' attorneys at $150 an hour. (HB 7085), or $250 an hour, which business groups oppose (HB 7085/SB 1582)

PUBLIC-SECTOR UNIONS (FAILED): Automatically de-certifies public-sector labor unions -- except those representing police, firefighters and corrections officers -- if they fail to collect dues from at least 50 percent of the workers they represent. (HB 11 / SB 1292)

RETIREMENT (PASSED): Changes the default retirement options for newly hired public employees, including school teachers, county workers and state employees. New workers who don't purposely join the traditional pension plan or a 401(k)-type investment plan will default into the investment plan. (SPB 7030)

CONTRACTORS (PASSED): Prohibits cities and counties from requiring contractors to provide certain benefits and wages to workers on state-funded public works projects. (SB 534/HB 599).


CAMPUS EMERGENCY PLANS (PASSED): Exempts from disclosure public college and university campus emergency response plans -- including materials such as photographs, presentations, sheltering arrangements, training manuals and equipment and supplies related to emergency response strategies. (HB 1079)

SEALED RECORDS (PASSED): Sets up process to automatically seal criminal history records of adults and minors charged with felonies and misdemeanors if the prosecutor declines to file charges, charges were dismissed before trial, or the person was acquitted or found not guilty. (SB 118)

ATTORNEY FEES (PASSED): Allows judges to refuse attorneys fees in public records lawsuits if the judge determines they are "frivolous" cases or those intending to draw high legal fees from government entities. (SB 80)

LOCAL MEETINGS (FAILED): Would allow one-on-one meetings of two local elected officials to discuss public business -- except for committing to formal action or discussing public spending -- and eliminates the requirement that such meetings be noticed and made open to the public. (HB 843 / SB 1004)

HIGHER EDUCATION SEARCHES (FAILED): Makes secret information about initial applicants for university and state-college presidential positions and other top academic posts, ensuring that only the identities of the final group of applicants for each post would be disclosed. (HB 351 / SB 478)


WELFARE CHANGES (FAILED): Requires poor people who receive cash assistance to seek employment or job training or risk losing their benefits for longer time periods. Also removes people with assets they could sell from the food stamps program. (HB 23)

DRUG TESTING (FAILED): Requires recipients of cash assistance who have a history of drug charges to pass drug tests in order to receive benefits. (HB 1117/SB 1392)


TAX CAP EXTENSION (PASSED): Places the extension of a tax cap on non-homestead properties on the November 2018 ballot. The measure places a 10 percent cap on annual increases in assessed values of homes that are not primary residences. If not approved by voters, the cap would expire on Jan. 1, 2019. (HJR 21)

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION (PASSED): Asks voters, in a 2018 ballot initiative, if they support increasing the homestead exemption on primary residences from $50,000 to $75,000. (HB 7105/SB 1774)

TAX CUT PACKAGE (PASSED): A series of $75 million in tax breaks, including a 0.2 reduction in the state's 6 percent tax on commercial real estate leases. Also, a sales-tax holiday for shoppers, including back-to-school tax holiday, and the elimination of sales taxes on feminine hygiene products and hurricane supplies. (HB 7109)

TAX INCENTIVES (FAILED): Would have abolished 24 different economic development and tax credit programs in Florida including Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. (HB 7005)

ELIMINATES INSURANCE INDUSTRY TAX BREAK (FAILED): Would have eliminated a 1.75 percent tax on property insurance policies that pays for incentives given to insurance companies to employ Floridians. (SB 378)


RIDESHARING (SIGNED INTO LAW): Prohibits local governments from regulating ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft while setting statewide requirements for insurance and background checks for those companies. (HB 221)

HILLSBOROUGH PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION (PASSED): Abolishes the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which regulates taxis, limos and tow trucks and has been feuding with ridesharing companies. (HB 647)

TAMPA BAY AREA REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY (PASSED): Narrows the scope of TBARTA from seven counties to five; chances the second "T" in TBARTA from Transportation to Transit, highlighting the agency's new mission; and restructures the governance of the board so that it includes representation from businesses, not just elected officials. (SB 1672)


CONDO ASSOCIATIONS (PASSED): Reforms state oversight of condo associations and imposes criminal penalties on associations for violations such as electoral fraud, theft of funds and conflicts of interests (HB 1237)

SLAVERY MEMORIAL (FAILED): Creates the first Florida Slavery Memorial at the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. (HB 27/SB 1722)

DOZIER (PASSED): Approves a resolution that apologizes for the mistreatment of juveniles at the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. (HR 1335/SR 1440)

FENTANYL (PASSED): Makes it a felony and imposes minimum mandatory sentences for possessing more than 4 grams of fentanyl or carfentanil, opioids responsible for more than 700 deaths in Florida last year. (SB 150/HB 477)

Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reporters Michael Auslen, Steve Bousquet, Kristen M. Clark, Mary Ellen Klas and Jeremy Wallace contributed to this report.