Senate Appropriations Committee Sends Budget to Floor for Full Senate Vote
The Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Rob Bradley, passed Senate Proposed Bill 2500: Appropriations, a proposed state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The proposed Senate budget invests in Florida’s teachers, state employees and environment while maintaining $3.5 billion in total reserves.
The state budget includes $500 million for a new Teacher Salary Increase Allocation, along with $325 million in increased flexible funding through the Base Student Allocation, which districts can invest in teachers and school district personnel. $643.6 million is appropriated to address water quality and protection in order to restore and preserve Florida’s unique environment.
The Senate budget also invests in hardworking state employees with $403 million to fund across-the-board salary increases for state employees, as well as health insurance and retirement benefits.
Additionally, the Florida Senate’s budget continues to prioritize critical areas such as hurricane recovery, tax relief for Floridians, protection for Florida’s vulnerable populations, health and human services, transportation and elections security.
- Total Budget: $92.83 Billion
- Reserves: $3.5 Billion
- $2.2 Billion in Environmental Spending
- $25 million increase in the Mental Health Assistance Allocation
- $180 million for school safety officers
- $825 million investment in teachers and school personnel
- 3% Corrections Officer Pay increase, based on longevity
- $50 Million Recurring for Visit Florida
- $4.1 Million Citrus Advertising Promotion
- $368.5 million increase in Department of Transportation Work Program
- $57 million in federal funding awarded to Florida to combat opioid abuse and addiction
Bipartisan Lake Okeechobee Working Group Formed to Push for Science-Based Solutions and Civil Discussion on Water Quality
On Tuesday, I stood with my colleagues and residents who traveled to Tallahassee for the announcement of the Lake Okeechobee Working Group. This unified effort will help advance science-based solutions as we continue our state’s focus on water quality projects in central and south Florida. The goal of the working group is to lend a voice to these communities whose livelihood depends on a healthy Lake Okeechobee.
Members of both parties from both the House and Senate were in attendance at the announcement. Clewiston Mayor Mali Gardner and Scott Martin, champion angler and founder of Anglers for Lake Okeechobee (AFLO), also joined us.
Parental Consent Bill Passes on Senate Floor
The Florida Senate approved Senate Bill 404: Abortion by Senator Kelli Stargel. This legislation requires a parent or guardian to give consent before a physician can perform an abortion on a minor, with the exception of medical emergencies. SB 404 allows a minor to petition any circuit court in the area where she resides for a waiver of consent in order to obtain an abortion.
This legislation also increases the penalty from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony if a health care practitioner fails to provide an infant born alive after an attempted abortion with the same quality and level or care as any other newborn.
SB 404 aims to strengthen family units and ensure parental or guardian involvement and guidance in major decisions of their minor daughter during unplanned pregnancies.
Senate Bill 406, accompanying legislation that exempts the name of minors using the court waiver process from being disclosed in public records, also passed the Senate on a 39-1 vote.
Pro-Law Enforcement Legislation Passes Senate
The Florida Senate unanimously voted to approve Senate Bill 476: Law Enforcement Vehicles, by Senator Ed Hooper. This legislation ensures law enforcement officers have the ability to park their patrol cars at their homes without fear of penalties or fines from homeowners or condominium associations.
SB 476 targets an issue that arose after a Clearwater police officer was threatened with daily fines by her homeowners association for parking her squad car outside of her home. The Florida Senate stands with our law enforcement and is committed to ensuring they feel welcome in our communities and neighborhoods throughout the sunshine state.
Legislation to Strengthen School Safety Advances
The Senate Committee on Infrastructure and Security, chaired by Senator Tom Lee, approved Senate Bill 7040: Implementation of the Recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, presented by Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz, Jr.
The legislation builds on school safety and security by addressing the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission and strengthening mental health coordination, accountability and compliance oversight authority.
The bill seeks to add additional safeguards and clarifications related to the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program training; safe school officer authority and training; school safety reporting and planning; school safety oversight and accountability; and school-based juvenile diversion programs.
Improving the safety and security of Florida’s schools remains a priority to the Florida Senate.
Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans Passes Senate Community Affairs Committee
Senate Bill 1662 by Senator Albritton would allow certain veterans with total and permanent service-connected disabilities to transfer a full homestead property exemption to a new property acquired after January 1 of a tax year.
This bill would allow qualified disabled veterans who move homesteads after January 1 to receive the exemption before the following year.
To transfer a homestead property tax exemption under the bill, a qualified disabled veteran would have to receive the exemption on another homestead property in the previous tax year; file an application with the property appraiser describing both properties; and certify under oath that they are qualified to receive the exemption, hold the legal title to the new property and intend to use the new property as a homestead.
Legislation Working to Divert Girls from Juvenile Justice System Passes Senate
Senate Bill 1056: PACE Center for Girls by Senator Wilton Simpson unanimously passed the Florida Senate. This legislation creates Florida statute authorizing the Department of Juvenile Justice to contract with PACE Center for Girls to provide services including education, counseling, training and advocacy to girls and young women as an alternative to commitment and institutionalization.
This legislation would also allow for future recurring funding for these services, provided funds are appropriated.
The PACE Center for Girls (PACE) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide girls and young women an opportunity for a better future and is recognized as a national model for reducing recidivism and improving school success, employment, and self-sufficiency. PACE has 21 centers in Florida, which serve over 3,000 girls and young women per year.
Automated Pharmacy Bill Passes Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee
Senate Bill 708 by Senator Hutson would amend Florida Law to permit a licensed community pharmacy to provide outpatient pharmacy services for the dispensing of medicinal drugs.
This would be carried out through the use of an automated pharmacy system (APS) located inside a pharmacy or if specific requirements are met, inside the same establishment as the community pharmacy.
An APS is a mechanical system that delivers prescription drugs from a Florida-licensed pharmacy and maintains related transaction information.
Bill Passed to Prevent Abuse of Campaign Accounts
Senate Bill 814 by Senator Perry passed unanimously in the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. This bill would prohibit a candidate from being employed by the charitable organization to which he or she donates the funds.
Current law provides that a candidate failing to dispose of campaign funds to a charity in the manner prescribed by statute commits a first-degree misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 814 will be heard next in the Senate Government and Oversight Accountability Committee.
Reclaimed Water Policy Bill Passes First Committee of Reference
Senate Bill 1656 by Senator Ben Albritton is a comprehensive water quality proposal to address how the state manages and reclaims our water supply. The bill would prohibit domestic wastewater treatment facilities from disposing of effluent, reclaimed water or reuse water by surface water discharge beginning in January of 2026 with stated exceptions.
This legislation would:
- Allow potable water reuse;
- Deem reclaimed water to be a water source for public water supply systems;
- Declare potable reuse to be an alternative water supply;
- State potable reuse projects to be eligible for alternative water supply funding; and
- Prohibit the exclusion of the use of potable reuse water from regional water supply planning.
The bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to review existing rules governing reclaimed water and potable reuse for necessary modifications and repeals and to adopt new rules.
It would also require DEP and the state’s water management districts to develop and execute a memorandum of agreement providing for the procedural requirements of a coordinated review of all permits associated with the construction and operation of an indirect potable reuse project.
Welcome to the Florida Senate
The Florida Senate welcomed the following groups to the Capitol:
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University
- Florida Economic Development Council
- Florida International University
- Florida Keys Day
- Florida Latina Institute
- Florida Realtors
- Florida Senate Reunion
- Lauren’s Kids
- League of Women Voters of Florida
- Miami-Dade County
Thank you to Collier County Commissioners Burt Saunders and Bill McDaniel for stopping by the office this week.
The Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) paid me a visit this week. The group was in town for Great American Realtor Days at the Capitol.
It was wonderful to meet with members of the Lee Health Board and their administration team while in Tallahassee for Florida Hospital Association’s Legislative Days.
I was pleased to have had the opportunity this week to sit down with our Adult Education leaders from Collier County Public Schools.
It was great to meet with our leaders of Habitat for Humanity.
What a wonderful opportunity to meet with Dr. Alexis Diaczynsky and Dr. Queanh Phan from Naples during Florida Dental Association Day on the Hill.
Thank you to Ryan Benson from the Collier Building Industry Association and the leadership from the Florida Home Builders Association for stopping by the office this week.
I enjoyed my time meeting with the Bonita Springs-Estero Association of Realtors on Great American Realtor Day at the Capitol.
Grateful to have had the opportunity to speak to the Legislative Committee of the Florida Groundwater Association on behalf of Steven Hilfiker’s invitation.
In the News
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.
Kathleen C. Passidomo
Senate Majority Leader
State Senator, District 28