The final countdown: A quick peek at some outstanding issues headed into last week of Session
Kathleen Passidomo. Image via Colin Hackley.

Headed into the last week of the 2023 Session, some priority bills are still not aligned.

The Legislature this Session has passed bills addressing guns, abortion, the death penalty, lawsuit limitations, and affordable housing. Headed into the last week of the 2023 Session, some priority bills are still not aligned.

Here’s a quick look at some unresolved issues:

— A ban on gender-affirming care: Both the House and Senate have passed controversial bills prohibiting doctors from offering gender-affirming care to minors, which can include puberty blockers and, in limited instances, surgeries for minors. The bills, however, are not aligned because the House bill (HB 1421) includes a provision that bans insurance private insurance companies from including coverage for any gender-affirming care in the policies they write in Florida. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said she disagrees with the ban. Another difference in the bills is the House proposal bans minors from taking hormones for gender-affirming care after Dec. 31, 2023. The Senate bill (SB 254) allows the state’s medical boards to develop policies for minors who have already started taking the hormones.

— Tax package: The two chambers have drawn up tax cut proposals that mirror each other but have a few major differences. The House, in its proposal (HB 7063), wants to cut the state tax on commercial leases from 5.5% to 4.5% in July of this year. Gov. Ron DeSantis did not propose the tax cut, and it is not currently included in the Senate package (SB 7062). The House and Senate tax bills are also not aligned on the total cost. The Senate bill reduces tax revenue by $1.14 billion, while the House bill is nearly $1.38 billion.

— Data privacy: DeSantis earlier this year called for legislators to pass a “digital bill of rights” that would give Floridians more control over their data and would impose new regulations on tech companies such as Google. Previous attempts to pass a data privacy bill have floundered over whether the legislation would include a right to sue. The Senate on Friday passed its latest version (SB 262), but critical differences remain with a House bill (HB 1547) that has yet to be heard on the House floor.

— Eyeball wars again: Passidomo is the driving force behind legislation that spells out in statutes which can be called a physician. SB 230 essentially bans anyone but medical doctors and osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, dentists and podiatrists from being called physicians. The House counterpart (HB 583) does the same but also allows optometrists to use the terms “optometric physician” and “doctor of optometry.” House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Rep. Randy Fine tried to derail Passidomo’s priority bill earlier this month by supporting an amendment to the House bill that would have deepened the divide between the two proposals by adding acupuncturists to the list of professionals who could describe themselves as physicians and doctors.

— Local matters: Two substantial local issues must be resolved in the final week. Last Thursday, the House passed a local bill (HB 1645) that would transfer control of Gainesville Regional Utilities from city officials to a new board appointed by the governor. House Democrats largely opposed the measure, but it’s unclear how much opposition there will be in the Senate. Another major local issue is the final resolution on how to refund transportation taxes paid by Hillsborough County residents. The tax was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in 2021. The House has included a sales tax holiday for Hillsborough residents in its tax cut package, HB 7063. But the Senate included in its budget implementing bill, SB 2502, authorization for the Department of Revenue to refund money to county residents.

Florida Politics reporter Gray Rohrer contributed to this report.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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