As we’re kicking off the 2020 legislative session, we’re made aware of the priorities of Governor DeSantis. Ther are more than 3,200 bills already filed. But, what about what we want? Pulling information from FAU, Mason-Dixon and Florida Trend, these are the top five issues Floridians would like addressed. Following each one are key proposed pieces of legislation targeting these issues.
#1 Economy: Governor DeSantis’s budget calls for all sales tax holidays from 2019 to remain intact for 2020. The total proposed spending increase in the budget is under 1% and doesn’t call for any tax increases. Florida’s workers' compensation rates for businesses are 7.5% lower, acting effectively as a tax break for businesses. Governor DeSantis has proposed keeping Visit Florida intact with the same $50 million funding level from 2019’s record year for tourism. Something to keep an eye on is a proposal to regulate online sales taxes more closely. Many small businesses across the state aren’t collecting and/or paying state sales taxes for online purchases. As consumers, we’re expected to pay sales taxes to the state for online purchases in which it isn’t collected, which almost never happens. That process is likely to be addressed during the session.
#2 Environment: Governor DeSantis fought for and received record funding for environmental issues in 2019. This included funding to combat toxic algae blooms, address discharges from Lake O’, the Everglades restoration project, etc. He’s stated the funding follow-through must continue in 2020. Added to the agenda are items identified by the newly appointed Chief Science Officer and Algae Task Force which include addressing stormwater systems, increased penalties for violators dumping contaminates in waterways, including local governments and concerns of sea-level rise.
#3 Healthcare: Key proposals to watch include enabling nurses to provide additional medical care services without a doctor having to be present and for pharmacists to be able to prescribe certain drugs independent of a doctor’s visit. Both of these proposals are aimed at providing quicker, cheaper healthcare options for Floridians.
#4 Education: The top education priority at the onset is teacher pay which we’ve recently discussed. Increases up to 26% have been proposed by Governor DeSantis as he appears ready to provide the greatest increase in teacher pay in the state’s history. This is aimed at attracting and retaining teachers in Florida. It’s far from the only education agenda item. Education Secretary Richard Corcoran was tasked by Governor DeSantis a year ago to create a curriculum to replace Common Core in Florida. Governor DeSantis is set to roll those recommendations out. Stand by for news.
#5 Insurance: A key bill to watch is one that would prevent DNA companies like 23&Me and Ancestry from selling/sharing genetic information from customers to third parties. This includes insurance companies which have used collected data for insurance policy determinations for many Floridians. Additionally, after last year’s AOB reform for home insurance policies, it appears a similar proposal aimed at curbing windshield replacement abuse could be coming. Under the proposal, auto glass companies wouldn’t be able to incentivize customers to have their windshields replaced.
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