• Florida Policy Watch

FL Legislative Roundup: Session Week Two 3/8 - 3/12

Updated: Mar 15

TALLAHASSEE, FL - This week in the Florida Legislature: the DeSantis Anti-Protest Bill (HB1/SB484) passes House Judiciary and is on its way to the House Floor despite massive public outcry; the Senate Rules committee merges the COVID Liability bills making a massive COVID liability shield for businesses, government agencies, nursing homes, schools, religious organizations and healthcare facilities; the Governor's attack on vote-by-mail (SB90) continues to its third and last committee in the Senate; the union busting bill (SB78/HB947) passed its first of two House committee meetings; ALEC attack on public education in the voucher bill (SB48) and tax fund credits (SB7052) moves closer to the Senate Floor; an anti-environment preemption bill (SB856/HB839) that prohibits local municipalities from promoting 100% clean energy passed House and Senate committees and is already on agenda for its next Senate Committee this week; anti-sex and reproductive health education bill (SB410/HB545) passed its first of two House Committees; pro-guns in religious organizations bill moves quickly and is only one committee meeting away from the House and Senate Floor; and the "Drones" bill that gives law enforcement the right to use drones without a warrant is getting fast tracked despite its unconstitutional challenge to the right to privacy.


Bill: HB1/SB484 DeSantis Anti-protest Bill

Category: First Amendment, Free Speech, Racial Justice, Criminal Justice

This Week: Passed its final House Committee, House Judiciary (10-5) on Wednesday, March 10 where it was amended and is on its way to the House Floor. Still no agenda assignment on the Senate side. Amended version is not much better than the original version.

Summary: This (now 58 page) bill criminalizes the first amendment right to protest and legalizes the use of a vehicle to run over protestors (Stand Your Ground Law where the car is the gun). The bill also increases penalties for defacing monuments and contains a preemption clause that limits state funding to local municipalities that choose to defund police. It allows for civil lawsuits of local municipalities by individuals if they “fail to provide police protection” thus encouraging the over policing of events. The bill also creates a new criminal offense of “mob intimidation,” defined as a group of three or more people who act with a “common intent” to compel “or attempt to compel” another person to “do any act” or “assume or abandon a particular viewpoint.” The offense is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/3eczAsM

Actions: Tweet at the bill sponsors and call them and tell that you OPPOSE HB1/SB484: Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin - @RepJuanFBarquin, 850-717-5119 or 305-222-4119 and Senator Burgess - @dannyburgessfl, 850-487-5020 or 813-779-7059.

Bill: SB90 Vote-by-Mail Ballots

Category: Voting Rights, Elections

Status This Week:. Passed its second committee (of three) assignment in the Senate, the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee (4-2) and is now in its third and final Senate committee (Senate Rules).

Summary: Despite the fact that the majority of Republicans who have voted on this bill admit that there is nothing wrong with the vote-by-mail ballot system in Florida this bill creates more vote-by-mail restrictions and processes for voters thus creating a deterrent to the vote-by-mail system. Specifically it: Limits the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next regularly scheduled general election; requires vote-by-mail ballot requests to include additional identifying information regarding the requesting elector; prohibits the use of drop boxes for the return of vote-by-mail ballots, etc.

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/30FZFIx

Actions: Send an email to the bill’s next Senate Committee HERE. Then tweet the letter and call the bill sponsor and chair of the rules committee. Bill sponsor, Senator Dennis Baxley - 850-487- 5012 (Tally office), @dennisbaxley (Twitter) and Chair of the Rules Committee, Senator Kathleen Passidomo - 850-487-5028 (Tally office), @kathleen4SWFL (Twitter)

Bill: HB7/SB72 COVID Liability Immunity for Corporations and Government Agencies

Category: COVID, Workers Rights, Amendment 7, Corporate Corruption, Criminal Justice, Education

This Week: Passed its third and final Senate Committee, Senate Rules, on Thursday, March 11. In the Senate Rules Committee the bill was amended to include all of SB74, making it a much larger bill covering healthcare facilities and nursing homes as well as businesses, schools, government agencies (like the Department of Corrections and Department of Education) and religious institutions. It is now heading to the Senate Floor as a combined bill. Reminder the bill passed in the House as HB7 on 3/5/2021.

Summary: This legislation essentially creates civil lawsuit immunity for corporations, government agencies, and schools with no way to hold them accountable for negligence around COVID-19 including protection of employees, clients and consumers. SB72 is backed by for-profit and industry related corporations and puts profits before people. On the Senate side the bill has been merged with SB74 the COVID Liability Immunity for healthcare facilities and nursing homes and is on its way to the Senate Floor.

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/38ddeTS

Actions: 1) Send an email to your Legislators and demand that they oppose HB7/SB72.

Bill: SB498/HB259 - Guns in Religious Institutions Bill

Category: Guns

Status This Week:. Passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee (second of three) on 3/9/2021 and is now in Senate Rules. Passed the House Education and Employment Committee (second of Three) on 3/10/2021 and now in House Judiciary.

Summary: Allows for the conceal carry of weapons and firearms in religious institutions (currently prohibited) in Florida.

Link to More Information:https://bit.ly/3lgI03R

Bill: SB7052 Florida K-12 Education Tax Credit Fund

Category: Education, Privatization of Education, Poverty, Racial Justice

This Week: Passed by Senate Appropriations and was adopted as Appropriations Committee Bill. Placed on Senate Calendar, on 2nd reading and on its way to Senate Floor.

Summary: Providing trust fund tax credits for education without accountability or regulation and then exempting the trust fund from the general revenue service charge; requiring any balance in the trust fund at the end of any fiscal year to remain in the trust fund and be available for carrying out the purpose of the trust fund without accountability and regardless of whether the family chooses to return to public school. Basically further corporatization of public funds for education and taking money from the poor and moving it to private “rich” schools without any accountability.

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/2OtI0AS

Bill: HB7005/SB74 COVID Liability Immunity for healthcare facilities including nursing homes

Category: COVID, Workers Rights, Amendment 7, Corporate Corruption, Healthcare, Seniors

This Week: Passed in Senate Rules committee by being added into SB72 (COVID Liability Immunity for businesses and government agencies). Is ready to go to the Senate Floor as a combined bill. Passed out of its final House Committee, House Judiciary, on 3/11/2021 and is heading to the House Floor.

Summary: This legislation essentially creates civil lawsuit immunity for healthcare facilities and nursing homes leaving patients with no way to hold healthcare providers accountable for negligence around COVID-19 treatment and spread within the facilities. This is particularly worrisome for nursing homes in Florida who have a track record of profit driven care-related problems. Roughly 70% of nursing homes in the United States are for-profit, and recent reports show that that these for-profit nursing homes are cited for violations at a higher rate than nonprofit facilities and things got worse after the virus hit. SB74 is backed by for-profit and industry related healthcare corporations and will, like its corporate counterpart HB7/SB72, put profits before people and patients, seniors,and employees of these agencies with no way to hold the profit driven healthcare facilities accountable for negligence during the pandemic.

Link to More Information:https://bit.ly/3ruhy8I

Bill: SB410/HB545 Reproductive Health and Disease Education

Category: Women’s Rights, Reproductive Justice, Gender Justice, Sex Education, HIV,

Status This Week:. Passed its first (of two) House committees, Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee on Thursday, March 12 and its second and final House committee (Education and Employment Committee). Still no movement on the Senate side.

Summary: Senate Bill 410 would require parents/guardians to proactively

opt-in to sexual health education for their student. The standard now is to opt out. Providing young people with the information they need to make responsible decisions about their sexual health is critical to reducing unintended teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Scientific evidence shows that comprehensive sex education helps young adults withstand pressures and promotes healthy, responsible and mutually protective relationships.

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/3lcHjsc

Bill: SB78 Union Busting Bill aka “Dues and Uniform Assessments”

Category: Workers Rights, Labor

This Week: Continued to be postponed in Senate Rules its third (and last) Senate Committee meeting on 3/4/2021 and passed its first (of two) House committee meetings, House Government Oversight, on Monday, 03/08/2021.

Summary: Instead of working to help Floridians impacted by COVID-19, our legislature is taking advantage of low worker turnout at the state legislature to pass SB78 “Dues and Uniform Payments”. This legislation is essentially a union busting bill that requires public employees, including teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers, to reauthorize union membership annually and requires a separate authorization for deductions increasing the administrative tasks and labor of unpaid union volunteers and administrative staff at schools, public offices, law enforcement agencies and frontline workers.

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/2YUUUK8.

Bill: SB856/HB839 State Preemption of Energy Infrastructure Regulations

Category: Environmental Justice, Home Rule, Climate Justice, Preemption, Clean Energy

This Week: Passed its first House and Senate Committees. Now on agenda for Senate Community Affairs on March 16th at 9:00 am.

Summary: Retroactively prohibits local governments from passing any law, ordinance, regulation, policy, or resolution that prohibits, restricts or requires the construction, expansion, upgrading, or repair of energy infrastructure. The bill also preempts to the state all regulation over the construction of "energy infrastructure" which is broadly defined to include any infrastructure involved in the production, import, storage, or use of energy (drilling oil wells, solar panels, the location of gas stations, and more).

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/3bZL2VC

Bill: SB48 School Choice and Voucher Bill - Privatization of Education

Category: Public Education, Student’s Rights, Equity

This Week: Passed in its final Senate committee (Appropriations) and was adopted as a committee substitute in Appropriations on 03/04/2021, Committee Substitute adopted by Senate Appropriations on 3/10/2021 - now heading to the Senate Floor.

Summary: Instead of supporting public school students with more funding and teacher support our legislature is fast-tracking a massive 158 page school choice voucher bill that will redirect public funds into corporate backed private non-profit, for-profit and religious schools. This voucher bill streamlines the state’s five voucher programs into two placing scholarship funding and school funding in the dark without accountability.

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/2N3gt8G

Actions: Call and tweet at the bill sponsor - Senator Manny Diaz: 850-487-5036 and @senmannydiazjr

Bill: CS/SB 44 Drones

Category: Criminal Justice, Privacy, First Amendment

This Week: Passed its third and final committee on 3/4/2021 and is headed to the Senate Floor. Committee Substitute by Rules read for the first time this week.

Summary: Allows law enforcement and fire departments to use drone surveillance without a warrant..

Link to More Information: https://bit.ly/38F6Kxn

Full Bill Tracker

Tracker lists bills by their current status, prioritizing bills that are moving the fastest.

Allied Actions this COMING Week

1) Equality Florida Virtual Lobby Day Visits (3/15 - 3/17) ... Read MORE

2) Catalyst Miami at the Capitol (3/16-3/18).... Read MORE

3) Florida Housing Justice Alliance Lobby Days (3/15-3/19) ... Read MORE

4) Broward Days (3/15/2021)... Read MORE

5) Mom's Demand Action Virutal Advocacy Day (3/15/2021) ... Read MORE


SB90 - Vote-by-Mail - Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature are making it harder for voters to vote-by-mail. Email SB90's next committee and tell them to VOTE NO on SB90 and focus on things we really need like unemployment, housing, jobs, and small business support.

Write a letter here:

LEGISLATIVE WEEK TO COME (click for more information)

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