A data privacy bill prioritized by House leadership is dead for the second year in a row.
The Florida House last week passed the bill (HB 9) in a 103-8 vote. But enforcement issues in the bill always caused consternation in the Senate. That led to the bill dying near the end of the 2021 Legislative Session, and now meeting the second fate days out from Sine Die this year.
Florida TaxWatch, in an independent analysis of the bill’s fiscal impact, estimated a potential $21 billion hit to Florida’s economy if the House bill became law. In particular, it looked at new privacy restrictions on businesses that would reduce Florida’s gross operating surplus, the total profit of private enterprise sans immediate costs and workers, by 3.9%.
Among the greatest industry fears have been compliance costs, particularly for smaller companies, and the potential for consumers suing businesses for sharing personal information.
The legislation was originally announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2020 amid public skirmishes with Big Tech, with the Governor promising to protect Florida’s personal information from being exploited.
It’s been a chief priority this year for House Speaker Chris Sprowls, and was viewed as a major bargaining chip in budget negotiations. Notably, the bill’s death comes as those negotiations failed to reach a conclusion soon enough to guarantee the 2022 Legislative Session ends on time. Senate President Wilton Simpson announced the Legislature will have to return on Monday to vote on a budget, three days after the scheduled ending of Session.
Rep. Fiona McFarland, a Sarasota Republican who carried the bill both last year and this year, responded to news of Senate reluctance about the bill by quoting Winston Churchill.
“Never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense,” she texted Florida Politics.
That came from the famed “Never Give In” speech the British Prime Minister gave in 1941 during World War II and the fight against the rise of the Third Reich.