November 15, 2019
Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee
SB 508 (Sales Tax Absorption) by Senator Baxley was heard for the first time. The bill authorizes dealers to advertise or hold out to the public that they will absorb all or part of sales & use tax on taxable transactions, or refund any part thereof to purchaser. The bill prohibits dealers from implying that the transaction is exempt or excluded from the tax. The bill passed unanimously.
SB 524 (Sales Tax Holiday for Disaster Preparedness Supplies) by Senator Gruters was heard for the first time. The bill establishes an 18-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday, from Friday, May 29 to Monday, June 15, 2020, for certain disaster preparedness supplies. The Revenue Estimating Conference has not yet met regarding the bill. The bill passed unanimously.
SB 542 (Back-to-school Sales Tax) by Senator Perry was heard for the first time. The bill establishes a 10-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday, from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 9, 2020, for certain clothing and school supplies, and a 9-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday, from Saturday, August 1 to Sunday, August 9, 2020, for certain personal computers and personal computer-related accessories. The Revenue Estimating Conference has not yet met regarding the bill. The bill passed unanimously.
SB 576 (Research and Development Tax Credit) by Senator Gruters was heard for the first time. The bill increases the annual limit for research and development (R&D) tax credits on corporate income taxes to $50 million from $9 million, and provides that the first $10 million must be allocated to qualified businesses in the cleantech industry. The increased annual limit of $50 million will apply to the taxable year beginning January 1, 2020, and to all taxable years thereafter. The bill also expands the types of businesses eligible to receive the tax credit. The Revenue Estimating Conference has not yet met regarding the bill. The bill passed unanimously.
Senate Education Committee
SB 130 (Florida Job Growth Grant Fund) by Senator Hutson was heard in its second committee stop. The bill authorizes the Governor to approve workforce training grants to charter schools that exclusively offer the Career and Technical Education graduation pathway option under the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund which promotes public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. The bill passed unanimously.
House Civil Justice Committee
HB 175 (Housing Discrimination) by Representative Davis clarifies that complainants alleging housing discrimination do not have to exhaust administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations prior to filing a civil case in court. Federal funding for FHCR is tied to passage of the bill. The bill passed unanimously.
HB 195 (Public Records) by Representative Ray Rodrigues was heard in its second committee stop. The bill prohibits an agency or local government from responding to a public records request by filing a civil action against the individual or entity making the request. FAC raised concerns with the bill’s complete prohibition on local governments filing declaratory judgment actions against requestors, particularly in those cases in which the release of the documents is contingent upon a court order. The bill passed unanimously.
HB 301 & HB 303 (Repeal of the Constitution Revision Commission) by Representative Drake was heard for the first time. The bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Constitutional Revision Commission. Critics want to abolish the commission or limit proposed amendments to a single subject limitation similar to the legislature. HB 301 passed 9-2 with Representatives Diamond and Antone voting no. HB 303 passed with Representative Diamond voting no.
Senate Ethics & Elections Committee
SPB 7006 (Penalties for Violations of the Constitutional Prohibition Against Abuse of Public Position) by Ethics and Elections was introduced this week. The bill implements Amendment 12 approved by the voters in 2018. The amended constitutional language prohibits a public officer or public employee from abusing his or her public position in order to obtain a disproportionate benefit. The bill passed unanimously.
In Other News...
While neither the House nor the Senate have filed their tax packages for the upcoming session, several bills are moving through the committee process. Provisions from past tax packages such as the “back-to-school” sales tax holiday and the “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday can be expected to be included in some form. Additionally, Senator Gruters told committee members that the Research and Development Tax Credit is “one of the most important.” Clearing early committee hurdles is typically seen as a positive sign the provision will be included in the final product.