Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2023 Legislative Regular Session:
The Last 24
Progressive principles in banking have been a frequent target of Gov. Ron DeSantis, and a new proposal to remove them from state investments is ready for the House floor. Rep. Bob Rommel’s bill (HB 3) aims to “protect Florida retirement accounts and state investments from financial discrimination by eliminating the consideration of environmental and social governance (ESG) investment strategies” and “protect Floridians from being denied loans based on their political or social beliefs.” In a fiery close, Rommel linked ESG to “Marxism,” before contending that the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in recent days suggested that “if you go woke, you will go broke.” The bill, a sequel to last year’s ban on ESG investments on the state level, such as in pension funds, cleared the State Affairs Committee on a 13-6 party-line vote. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Journalism 101? Legislation (HB 991) that would make it easier to sue journalists for defamation was approved by its first House panel.
Fixing the cracks: The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee approved a bill (HB 541) aimed at reducing the number of vehicle glass repair claims that end up in court.
Don’t Say Gay, Part Deux: A proposal (HB 1223) to further limit acknowledgment of LGBTQ students and teachers in public schools is now moving through the House.
Chop shop: A bill (SB 306) seeking to stop catalytic converter thievery is advancing — and it’s got some bipartisan momentum.
Gas tax: Members of the Senate Committee on Transportation cleared a bill (SB 322) that would extend the existing tax exemption on natural gas fuels for two years.
Raising the bar: A bill (HJR 129) that would ask voters to raise the threshold for ballot amendments to pass is advancing in the House.
Clots kill: A House spending panel gave the nod to a bill (HB 483) that creates a pulmonary blood clot and embolism policy work group.
Dads’ rights: A bill (SB 1146) that would make it easier for an unwed father to be involved and have a say in the life of his child advanced through a Senate committee with a unanimous vote.
Feeding the troll: Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia mocked Democratic Sen. Geraldine Thompson’s amendment to his bill (SB 1248) ‘canceling’ the Democratic Party.
Once bitten …: Legislation (SB 1266) looking to impose stiffer penalties on those who illegally deal in venomous reptiles unanimously passed a Senate committee.
Quote of the Day
“If I wanted to spend my time in a retirement community, I’d definitely choose The Villages over the Senate.”
— U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, declining to challenge U.S. Rick Scott in 2024.
Bill Day’s Latest
Javi Correoso oversees Uber’s Policy and Communications for the South Region. He recently spoke with Florida Politics about the bills that Republican legislative leaders have been fast-tracking through their respective chambers. The Senate Judiciary Committee is discussing SB 236, by Sen. Travis Hutson, as this newsletter is published. The House, meanwhile, is slated to consider the counterpart, HB 837 filed by Rep. Tommy Gregory and Tom Fabricio on the floor Thursday. Proponents and opponents alike acknowledge that the bills would make the most far-reaching changes to the way lawsuits are filed and litigated in Florida in more than 20 years.
Q: Uber is supporting the large tort package moving through the House and Senate. Can you explain Uber’s support of the bill?
Correoso: A lot of companies who may have a stake in this may not be as out front as Uber is when it comes to this bill. Or maybe they are supporting it through business organizations or trade groups, etc. We’ve made a decision to be completely transparent and public in supporting this bill because we have been targeted by greedy trial lawyers. And there is no other company I can think of right now whose name is on hundreds of billboards in this state, whose name is in thousands of TV and radio commercials across this state, encouraging our riders and drivers to sue us. I think our perspective on this, in my opinion, is the most unique perspective in this debate because this is a debate that has been long dominated by the insurance companies and the Florida Justice Association. We are coming at this from a consumer perspective because we are the largest consumer of auto insurance in the state of Florida. And so for us, we are able to compare the costs of insurance in the state of Florida, the amount of litigation in the state of Florida — particularly around third-party bad faith, which is really unique to just three states: Florida, Louisiana and Nevada — and we are able to compare and contrast the cost associated with insurance in Florida, the amount of litigation in Florida, what our riders are having to pay in Florida, to the other markets in which we operate. And Florida is a complete outlier. You see it in Miami, Orlando and Tampa where you have billboards and commercials targeting Uber. I know we all see the personal injury advertisement, but we have reached the point now where we, as a company, are being targeted. There are ads everywhere that now say, ‘Been in an Uber accident? Call X, Y, Z law firm.’ And that’s because the $1 million coverage that we have is way more than any other driver on the road is required to have. It has become a bucket of coverage for the trial lawyers to chase. And that’s why we are supporting this legislation. I know this is a very complex bill. There are a lot of components to the bill that, to be completely transparent, do not impact our industry.
Q: So the medical charges portion of the bill, for instance, and what juries can see is not an issue for you?
Correoso: That is correct. Third-party bad faith is why we are supporting this legislation.
Q: What guarantees do you have that the insurance costs would be lowered if this bill were to pass? Because there’s nothing in this bill that mandates rates be lowered.
Correoso: Our perspective on that is if we are able to go through a framework that the vast majority of other states have, the amount of litigation, particularly around third-party bad faith, should be reduced. And every year, when we renew our insurance policy, there’s a process of how that is put out to bid. We’re not just automatically renewing our insurance policy with our current carrier in Florida. We are constantly evaluating, getting prices from different carriers in the state. So our belief is that if this third party bad faith language were to pass and be signed into law that would be a drastic reduction in the amount of litigation and in the amount of insurance costs, particularly around the $1 million policy we have to maintain. So, based on what we pay in other states and based on the framework of litigation in other states we are very confident we will see a reduction in our insurance costs. Since we are a national company that operates in essentially every major city in this country, as part of the competitive process and who we choose to be our insurance carrier, we think we will see that reflected when we renew that policy next year.
A bill that would use cameras to make sure drivers pump the brakes in school zones is speeding through committee, and a new study from BlueLine Solutions shows it could make an immediate impact.
The legislation (SB 588) sponsored by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez would authorize local governments to set up camera-enforced “speed detection systems” within school zones, either on their own or by contracting with a third party.
Rodriguez’s bill was unanimously approved in the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday and is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation. A companion bill (HB 657) sponsored by Rep. Traci Koster will be heard by the House Transportation & Modals Subcommittee when it meets Wednesday.
BlueLine Solutions, which proffers speed enforcement systems, said data it collected earlier this year proves that the bills are needed.
The company clocked drivers for one school week in mid-January and found that of the 7,310 vehicles that passed through during the morning school zone hour, 7,171 (98.1%) were speeding. During the after-school restricted speed limit period, 5,017 of 7,906 vehicles (63.5%) were traveling at a speed of 30 mph or more.
Drivers fared better during the day, with just 1.5% of drivers (931) speeding while school was in session and the regular 45 mph speed limit was in effect. Still, of the speeders observed in the study, nearly two-thirds (64.1%) were traveling at least 21 mph faster than the posted speed limit. Another 22.9% were driving 15-20 mph over the speed limit, while the remainder drove 11-14 mph over the speed limit.
“This study shows a clear need for enforcement of School Zone speed limits,” BlueLine Solutions concluded.
While the public safety argument has helped similar proposals move through committee in past Legislative Sessions, some lawmakers have expressed opposition to camera-enforced systems, and they’ll likely need some convincing before they send the bill to the Governor’s desk.
To help in that effort, BlueLine Solutions has retained lobbyists Ron Pierce, Kaitlyn Bailey, Edward Briggsand Natalie King of RSA Consulting Group as well as Dominic Magnolo of Duane Morris Government Strategies.
The Next 24
8 a.m. — The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 517) that would allow combat medics to obtain nursing credits through the state’s colleges and universities. Room 314, House Office Building, The Capitol.
8 a.m. — The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill that would lower the threshold for a jury to recommend the death sentence in capital murder cases from unanimous to two-thirds. Room 17, House Office Building, The Capitol.
8:30 a.m. — The Senate holds a floor session.
11:30 a.m. — The House Appropriations Committee will take up a bill (HB 401) that would raise the cap on liability for cities, counties and other government entities from $200,000 to $2.5 million. Room 212, Knott Building, The Capitol.
1 p.m. — The Senate Banking and Insurance Subcommittee will consider a bill (SB 1002) that would prohibit the post-loss assignment of benefits on auto glass replacement. Room 412, Knott Building, The Capitol.
1 p.m. — The Senate Education Postsecondary Subcommittee will take up a bill (SB 266) that would eliminate funding for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at Florida’s 12 public universities. Room 110, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
2:30 p.m. — The House Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee will consider legislation (HB 37) that would make local officials fill out a Form 6 financial disclosure, which requires disclosure of their total net worth and all assets and liabilities worth more than $1,000. Room 17, House Office Building, The Capitol.
3 p.m. — The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 827) addressing septic tank pollution that would make all of Florida’s impaired waterbodies eligible for state grant assistance. Room 212, Knott Building, The Capitol.
3 p.m. The House Transportation & Modals Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 657) that would authorize local governments to set up camera-enforced “speed detection systems” within school zones, either on their own or by contracting with a third party. Room 404, House Office Building, The Capitol.
Also, the following committees will meet.
8 a.m. — The House Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee meets. Room 404, House Office Building, The Capitol.
8 a.m. — The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee meets. Room 102, House Office Building, The Capitol.
11:30 a.m. — The House Ways & Means Committee meets. Room 404, House Office Building, The Capitol.
1 p.m. — The Senate Community Affairs Subcommittee meets. Room 401, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
1 p.m. — The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meets. Room 37, Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
3 p.m. — The House Education Quality Subcommittee meets. Room 102, House Office Building, The Capitol.
3:30 p.m. — The Senate Rules Committee meets. Room 412, Knott Building, The Capitol.
Full committee agendas, including bills to be considered, are available on the House and Senate websites.
March 14, 2023 at 6:31 pm
No mention of Home Rule usurping HB 947, moving through Committee tomorrow? This bill is nothing but an attempt to punish a local City for wanting local ordinances respected, as well as safety considered before inappropriate development. Disappointed HB947 is getting so little press coverage, and what it has gotten only promotes the false narrative The State is pushing, rather than the actual facts and data collected by The City.
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