Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2022 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
At a news availability with Democratic leadership, Rep. Fentrice Driskell laid out concerns that a bill advanced by the House Redistricting Committee (HB 7503) takes a risky approach. Specifically, she’s concerned that the House seems poised to attach two maps to a bill that could go to the Governor. The two-map solution will set out a fallback plan if the courts say maps must retain a configuration similar to Florida’s 5th Congressional District. In that event, the bill offers a secondary map (H 8015). Driskell doesn’t know if this strategy will cut it. But the Senate appears willing to entertain the path when reapportionment leaders in both chambers come together in conference. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Homefront. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called for Florida to divest from Russian investments.
Confirmations, Part I. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee advanced Todd Inman’s confirmation as Department of Management Services Secretary.
Confirmations, Part II. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee recommended the chamber confirm Melanie Griffin as Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary.
Making bank. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political committee has collected at least $11 million so far this year.
Quote of the Day
“If there are people who honestly believe that you choose to be gay, then you would also have to accept and believe that millions of people choose to be abused, to be bullied, to be ridiculed, to be told they’re different, to be cast aside. Let me just say this: Why are we picking on people?”
— Sen. Jason Pizzo, speaking against the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
Bill Day’s Latest
HB 7071, which would implement several tax holidays and put in place a two-year period where Floridians do not have to pay sales taxes on purchasing impact windows and doors, is set to be passed on the House floor tomorrow after receiving unanimous support at its committee stop.
Florida Politics spoke with Jeff Jackson, president and CEO of PGT Innovations, the largest manufacturer of impact-resistant windows and doors in Florida, about how the bill impacts manufacturers and consumers preparing for hurricane season for the next several years.
Q: Why are impact windows and doors important in the State of Florida?
Jackson: History has shown us that no home in Florida is 100% safe from experiencing a hurricane. Hurricane Irma traveled up the center of the state and was so large that it covered Florida from coast to coast. Impact-resistant products can offer significant, proven protection for homeowners, including preventing debris from entering a dwelling, keeping intense winds out, and thereby protecting lives and property. The past has shown us that when hurricane-force winds enter a building, the damage caused is devastating. In addition, impact-resistant products have the potential to reduce home insurance premiums and provide passive protection, meaning once the windows are securely shut, there is no additional effort needed to protect a home. This can mean peace of mind for snowbirds or anyone not home when the storm hits. And finally, besides the home hardening and hurricane protection that IR products provide, they also give the secondary benefits of noise reduction, energy efficiency, and intruder deterrence.
Q: How does HB 7071 help those looking to get weather emergency upgrades to their home?
Jackson: First, the bill supports the Rebuild Florida initiative, which was created by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to help Florida’s long-term recovery efforts from recent hurricanes. It also allows homeowners to enjoy the tax exemption on impact-resistant products from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2024. The time frame is important because the purchase process of those products typically includes significant research by homeowners. It’s not usually a decision that is made lightly, as it is a home renovation project. It also allows homeowners to budget for and purchase the products over time. The legislation also complements the annual “Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday” that has been in place for many years and benefits Florida homeowners with tax exemptions on items such as generators, batteries, flashlights, etc. The difference versus the items covered by the “Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday” is that impact-resistant products add value to a home and continue to be used on a daily basis long after the effects of a storm have passed.
Q: How do you anticipate the legislation will affect the state’s impact window and door industry?
Jackson: As the market demand for building products continues to be strong, it is difficult to measurably determine the impact solely from this; however, we expect that homeowners will want to add to the value of their home and demand will increase. Florida homeowners know that their homes and other valuable assets need protection from severe weather such as hurricanes. The savings from this bill may encourage homeowners to choose the most effortless form of hurricane protection for their property. This bill may also educate new Floridians on the importance of protecting their homes from storms which they may have never experienced before.
Clerks of court have many duties. In addition to their judicial functions, they are also “ex officio” clerks for their local county commission, where they serve as an auditor, recorder, and custodian of all county funds.
And that’s just the brief version — the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Judicial Personnel calculated that the clerks perform 926 different constitutional and statutory functions and duties. That number only grows based on changes to legislation, regulations and reporting requirements.
With so many responsibilities, county clerks of court keep tabs on several bills each Session. This year, their most-watched bills are HB 397/SB 552, which would add a few more tasks to clerks’ to-do lists.
The legislation would require clerks to make recommendations to the Legislature on how funds collected by clerks should be disbursed, recommend budget increases to account for new judgeships, and develop a budget request that includes reimbursements for certain no-fee cases related to mental health and substance abuse.
Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers — an organization that represents the state’s 67 county clerks of court — has a team in the Capitol to make sure that clerks’ voices are heard while the bill moves through the committee process.
The in-house team includes CEO Chris Hart IV, Jason Harrell, Stormie Knight and Morgan Parrish. The organization also has nine contract lobbyists helping it out in the Capitol: Marty Fiorentino, Davis Bean, Joseph Mobley, Mark Pinto and Shannan Schuessler of The Fiorentino Group; and David Browning, Nelson Diaz, Mary DeLoach and Nicole Kelly of The Southern Group.
The Next 24
— The Senate will hold a floor session at 10 a.m. Bills on the agenda include a measure (SB 364) to lower the pre-order threshold and extend the qualification deadline for new specialty plates approved by lawmakers before the pandemic.
— The House will hold a floor session at 10 a.m. Bills on the agenda include a utility-backed plan (HB 741) to change the state’s net metering rules.
— The Senate Rules Committee will consider a bill (HB 7) that would regulate how race-related issues are discussed in schools when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will meet in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building. The meeting begins 15 minutes after the Senate Rules Committee meeting adjourns.
— House Rules Committee will meet in Room 404 of the House Office Building. The meeting starts 15 minutes after the House floor Session adjourns.