September 20, 2019
Senate Infrastructure & Security Committee
The Senate Infrastructure & Security Committee met on Monday, September 16th for presentations and the convening of a panel to discuss the recent outbreak of mass attacks and targeted violence that have been occurring across the state and country. Representatives from academia, law enforcement, the mental health field, and judicial fields were present. Topics discussed included statistical trends, the role of the internet in hate crimes, and solutions such as behavioral assessment teams. Some panelists included Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, and Dr. Jillian Turanovic of FSU. Chairman and Senator Tom Lee also posited to panel members to consider why the Legislature is not considering stricter gun regulation as a possible solution.
Senate Education Committee
The Senate Education Committee met on Monday, September 16th, to discuss an update on K-12 school safety and security issues with the passage of SB 7026 (2018) and SB 7030 (2019). Implementation has continued with mental health education for staff and students, as well as consideration of the role of telehealth. Further updates were given on the Guardian program and training. Discussions also touched on the Department’s decision to exclude some information from reporting requirements due to security concerns.
Senate Health Committee
On Tuesday September 17th, the Senate Health Policy Committee received a presentation by the Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, providing an update on the implementation of the requirement for emergency generators at health care facilities following Hurricane Irma.
House Judiciary Committee
On Tuesday September 17th, the House Judiciary Committee held an implementation update on the new criminal justice database and uniform arrest affidavit following the passage of the criminal justice reform package, HB 7125, in 2019. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement CJIS Director Charles Schaeffer reported that the process of building the database is progressing but slowly as a result of protecting immense amounts of sensitive data. Concerns have arisen over the timely implementation of the database, especially with the role it may play in the implementation of Amendment 4 and the restoration of felon voting rights.
FDLE has reviewed the arrest affidavits of 56 of 67 sheriffs’ offices to begin coalescing their planned uniform arrest affidavit for use across the state. Martin County Clerk Carolyn Timmann provided the needs of the clerks of courts on both database and arrest affidavit issues going forward.
Senate Children, Families, & Elder Affairs Committee
The Senate Children, Families, & Elder Affairs Committee convened a panel regarding suicide and mental health on Tuesday, September 17th. The panel brought together various stakeholders including survivors and health care providers, as well as state officials representing public schools, substance abuse, and veterans’ affairs. Panelists discussed current problems in suicide prevention including substance abuse, the role of the internet, and the heightened rate of suicide amongst veterans.
Senate Judiciary Committee
SB 118 – Security in Trial Court Facilities by Sen. Gruters was heard for its first committee stop on Tuesday, September 17th in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill specifically requires the sheriff of each county to confer with his/her board of county commissioners and the chief judge of that judicial circuit to develop a comprehensive safety plan for the courthouse facilities. FAC staff waived in support of the legislation. The bill passed unanimously through committee, and has two further committees of reference. Similar bill, HB 131 – Security in Trial Facilities by Rep. McClain has not yet been referred to committees.
House Local, Federal, & Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee
The House Local, Federal, & Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee heard two presentations on affordable and workforce housing. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s Executive Director Trey Price presented on Florida’s approach to affordable housing. The update focused on the primary delivery system, the private sector, including public/private partnerships. The Corporation emphasized the use of loans over grants in administering the program. The subcommittee also heard a presentation highlighting strategies local governments use to incentivize these programs and available resources.
House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee
The Department of Economic Opportunity presented its budget requests to the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee for FY 2020-21 on Wednesday, September 18th. DEO is requesting an increase in the Job Growth Grant Fund to $85 million after three years of overwhelming community demand. DEO also requested $50 million for Visit Florida; $10 million for Enterprise Florida; $7 million for the Space Florida Aerospace Financing Fund; and $28.1 million to fund the Economic Development Toolkit.
House Business & Professions Subcommittee
The Florida Board of Professional Engineers, and the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation offered an implementation update for HB 447 (2019). HB 447 allows for the Florida Building Commission to update building codes without a specific Florida need being identified. This provision will go into effect at the end of 2020 and does not pertain to the 2020 triennial update. The provision allows for discretion when adopting new codes so long as they do not violate preexisting wind and water intrusion requirements and still maintain certain federal benefits such as funding.
Next, the Florida Building Commission and the University of Florida provided an overview of their report on Hurricane Michael. UF professor David Prevate presented on the effectiveness of the statewide building code for building structures during Hurricane Michael; the effectiveness compared to homes built before code implementation; and the need to continually update statewide code.
Furthermore, a panel discussion was held on the subject of tiny homes with representatives from the Florida Building Commission, local governments, and private industries. Panelists discussed state and local regulations as well as benefits and obstacles to the industry.
House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee was provided an update on the implementation of new restrictions on wireless communications while driving on Wednesday, September 18th by Chief Mark Brown of the Florida Highway Patrol. The restrictions were put into place following the passage of HB 107 (2019). Chief Brown provided information including that counties can establish additional financial penalties for offenders, how the highway patrol is spreading awareness particularly to minority communities, and some of the bill's glitches that FHP is discovering as it conducts initial implementation.
House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee
The House Banking and Insurance Subcommittee heard an update from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund’s (FHCF) Chief Operating Officer Anne Bert on Wednesday, September 18th. The presentation updated the committee on the implementation of HB 301 (2019). The bill increased reimbursement for loss adjustment expenses from 5% to 10% of reimbursed losses for contracts moving forward.
The presentation focused on the estimated losses to the Cat fund from previous storms, Hurricanes Michael and Irma, and projections of the balance of the fund. Committee members asked about the hypothetical impact if Hurricane Dorian had hit the state as well as past hurricanes (2004-05). While estimated losses could have been great, CEO Bert explained the impacts to the fund could have been covered and stressed the importance of having a healthy reserve.
Senate Transportation, Tourism, & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee
Jaimie Ross of the Sadowski Coalition gave a presentation to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, & Economic Development on Wednesday, September 18th. She reinforced the necessity to stop sweeping the Sadowski Trust Fund. A subsequent presentation on affordable housing needs was given by Anne Ray of the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida such as the problem of student homelessness, and the need for smaller and more accessible housing options.