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PIP Repeal Stalls, Spending Plans Full Speed Ahead
Thursday, 08 April 2021
Friday, April 9, 2021, Tallahassee – Plans proposing to repeal and replace Florida’s decades-old No-fault auto insurance system remained stalled again this week on both sides of the capitol, as lawmakers finished their sixth week of the Legislature’s annual nine-week session. Senators once again deferred consideration of their plan, SB 54, though teed-up and ready for consideration on the floor, while the House plan, HB 719, remained stuck in neutral, waiting for its second of three referenced committee hearings.

But over in the dollars-and-cents lane, it was full speed ahead. Senators gave unanimous approval to their $95-billion budget on Wednesday, while the House followed on Thursday approving their slightly more generous $97-billion plan to likewise fund state government for FY 2021-2022. The Senate president and House Speaker are now in a posture to appoint their respective members to a conference committee to begin work hammering out the differences between the two plans. Standing committees are continuing to finish their meetings as lawmakers shift their focus to both budget work and floor debate.
  
Several other issues of interest to the profession saw action this week, while others remain at a standstill. Here’s the latest as we enter the last third of this year’s session.  

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Budget Plans Readied at Session Mid-point
Thursday, 01 April 2021
Friday, April 2, 2021, Tallahassee – Lawmakers spent most of Wednesday this week, the Session’s mid-point, readying their proposed budgets for state government spending for FY 2021-22. The House-proposed budget was approved in the top House budget committee on Wednesday, while the Senate Appropriations Committee gave a nod to their version on the same day. Both plans are now ready for final consideration by each chamber, after which a conference committee will be formed to start the work of hammering out the differences between the two spending plans.

This week also saw the first bill of the session heading to the Governor’s desk. Providing Florida businesses, healthcare workers, and others with COVID-related liability protections is among the top priorities of Gov. DeSantis this year and on Monday he signed the bill into law. (For complete details see the article below.) 
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Early Budget Plans Unveiled as Session Nears Mid-point
Friday, 26 March 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021, Tallahassee – Lawmakers this week released the earliest drafts of their state government spending plans as we near the halfway point of their 60-day annual legislative session next week. Senate budget chief Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) announced yesterday that the Senate will begin hearings on their plan starting on March 31st.

A bill forcing the collection of sales taxes on online purchases could likely be the first bill to reach the Governor’s desk this session. By at 30 to 10 vote the Senate on Thursday gave their nod of approval to SB 50 offered by Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) which is now headed to the House. Estimates place the value of those collections at close to $1-billion which the Senate plan earmarks to replenish the pandemic-depleted unemployment trust fund saving Florida businesses from unemployment tax increases of up to 700%.

While committees continue to meet for the next several weeks, they will start to wind down their hearings as more time is devoted in both the House and Senate to debating bills on the floor and moving them to final passage. Though anything is still possible, bills that have not started their trek through the committee process will soon litter the landscape, losing their chance for a final blessing. Nevertheless, here’s a look at some of the issues still very much alive – plus several others now on life support – based on lawmakers actions this last week.

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Committee Deliberations Dominate Lawmakers’ Week
Thursday, 18 March 2021
Friday, March 19, 2021, Tallahassee – Legislators finished week three of their annual nine-week session with much of their schedule dedicated to committee hearings on individual member bills, taking public testimony and considering amendments, all readying the proposals for final consideration in both the full House and Senate. During the remaining six weeks, more and more of members’ time will be spent developing a state budget for FY 2021-22 and in full sessions on both the House and Senate floors to consider bills that have successfully navigated the committee process.

As you will see in the key issue updates that follow, this year’s session is already shaping up to be a very active one for your FCA Lobby Team as we continue to track and work on a diverse roster of bills. In addition to the proposals aimed at repealing and replacing No-Fault/PIP auto insurance, there are more than two dozen other bills with direct effect – both positive and negative – on the profession.

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Lawmakers Get to Work, No-Fault/PIP Repeal Advances
Thursday, 11 March 2021
Friday, March 12, 2021, Tallahassee – State lawmakers spent the second week of their nine-week regular session focusing primarily on committee work on individual member bills together with hearing individual appropriation requests. State budget committees also began their early work developing a plan to fund state government, the only exercise the constitution mandates legislators are charged with completing each year.

Committees in both the House and Senate also considered and advanced similar proposals seeking to repeal Florida’s decades-old No-fault/PIP auto insurance system replacing it with a requirement that drivers instead carry mandatory bodily injury coverage. (A complete summary of this issue follows.)

Below you will also find a summary of some of the many bills and issues your Lobby Team is following during this year’s annual lawmaking session. Each week your FCA Lobby Team will be providing you with the latest action on these issues, together with other key issues of primary interest to the profession. 

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