Relating to Homelessness
SB 1090 (Sen. Latvala) and HB 979 (Rep. Peters)

  • Summary: Requires the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to distribute four percent of funds from the Local Government Housing Trust Fund to DCF and DEO annually; of this total, ninety-five percent is directed to DCF to be provided to grantees, and five percent to DEO to provide training and technical assistance to lead agencies. Directs the DCF Office on Homelessness to provide annual homeless challenge grants to lead homeless agencies; award levels are based on total population within the continuum of care area and the varying degrees of homelessness; to qualify for a challenge grant, a continuum of care plan must establish a coordinated assessment of central intake system for assessment and referral, as well as provide matching funds (from local or private funds).
  • Status: SB 1090 passed unanimously out of Children, Families, and Elder Affairs and is now in Senate Appropriations. HB 979 passed unanimously out of its first two committees, includes House Appropriations, and is now in House Economic Affairs.

Relating to Substance Abuse Services
SB 582 (Sen. Clemens) and HB 479 (Rep. Hagar)

  • Summary: Requires DCF to regulate sober house transitional living homes:
    • Sober house transitional living homes would be required to obtain a valid certificate of registration from DCF annually.
    • Sober home owners and operators would be subject to level 2 background screenings as a prerequisite for registering with DCF.
    • Advertisements for sober homes must include the DCF registration number.
    • The bills also create penalties for failure to register and violation of the sections.
  • Status: Both bills have been referred to three committees of reference.  SB 582 passed unanimously out of its first two committees and is now in Senate Appropriations.  HB 479 passed unanimously out of its first committee of reference, and is now in House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; however, HB 479 was amended to create a voluntary certification process for recovery residences rather than a required state registration. HB 479 passed unanimously out of all committees of reference and is now on second reading in the House.

Relating to Medical Examiners                                                         
SB 584 (Sen. Lee) and HB 301 (Rep. Spano)

  • Summary: Section 406.11, F.S., requires medical examiners to determine and verify the cause of death in certain cases.  Additionally, medical examiners must determine cause of death whenever a body is to be cremated, dissected, or buried at sea. The purpose of s. 406.11 is to preserve evidence in the event that a body is necessary for forensic examination. Many county medical examiners charge a cremation approval fee when a cremation is requested in order to cover the costs of the additional steps that are necessary to comply with the statute. HB 301 by Rep. Spano and SB 584 Sen. Lee would prohibit a medical examiner or county from charging a user fee for an examination, investigation, or autopsy performed pursuant to s. 406.11. Thus, county medical examiners would no longer be able to assess even a nominal fee for performing these statutorily mandated tasks.  The bills would have a collective impact of just under $4 million, based on fees charged in 2013.
  • Status: HB 301 passed unanimously in House Health Quality, and is now in Local and Federal Affairs.  FAC has proposed language to carve out cremation approval fees from the prohibition, but neither sponsor has been amendable. SB 584 has not yet been heard in its first committee. Both bills were temporarily postponed in their first committees of reference; however, Rep. Roberson did add language establishing a $50 cap on medical examiner approval fees to HB 819, relating to the department of health.  As of now, the Senate has not accepted that language onto the companion bill. 

Relating to Gasoline Stations                                                                       
SB 1184 (Sen. Brandes) and HB 185 (Rep. Danish)

  • Summary: Requires self-service gas stations to place a blue, 15-square inch decal displaying the international symbol of accessibility, a telephone number that a vehicle operator can call to request assistance, and the phrase “call for assistance” on each gas station pump.  Requires DACS to confirm that gas stations are properly displaying the decals on their pumps during normally scheduled inspections. Preempts all local government laws and regulations related to fueling assistance at self-service gas stations.
  • Status: HB 185 has passed all committees in the House; Rep. Beshears offered an amendment to grandfather in existing local ordinances, but it was narrowly defeated. SB 1184 passed its first two committees.  In Senate Agriculture, Sen. Bullard offered an amendment to grandfather in existing ordinances, but it was not considered; the bill passed 4-2, and was re-referenced to Community Affairs, although the committee did not vote on the bill during its last meeting. 

Relating to Florida Clean Indoor Air Act                                         
SB 342 (Sen. Bradley) and HB 309 (Rep. Edwards)

  • Summary: Currently, s. 386.209, F.S., preempts regulation of smoking to the state, except that school districts may further restrict smoking on their own property.  SB 342 and HB 309 amend s. 386.209 to allow a county or municipality to further restrict smoking on county- or municipal-owned playground areas, provided that:
    • No smoking signs clearly delineate where smoking is restricted;
    • When enforcing an ordinance, a law enforcement officer must first advise the person of the penalties for violation, direct the person to stop smoking, and request that he or she leave the premises prior to issuing a civil citation.
  • Status: SB 342 passed unanimously out of its first committee of reference, Senate Regulated Industries. HB 309 has not yet been heard in its first committee of reference, House Health Quality Subcommittee. Although bills repealing the state smoking regulation preemption have failed for the past two years, SB 342 and HB 309 are far more limited their application and more likely to move through the House and Senate. FAC has been working with stakeholder to collect support letters and resolutions in support of the legislation.  As of March 6, HB 309 has 11 bipartisan cosponsors, but has not yet been heard in committee.     

Relating to Nicotine Products & Nicotine Dispensing Devices                
SB 224 (Sen. Benacquisto) and HB 169 (Reps. Artiles and Renuart)

  • Summary: SB 224 and HB 169 prohibit the gift, sale, possession, or use of nicotine dispensing devices (including electronic cigarettes), to minors.  HB 169 contains language that preempts to the state the regulation of sale of tobacco and nicotine products. This could possibly impact the counties who have, or are currently considering, ordinances addressing the sale, marketing, and merchandising of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products; however, the bill sponsor stated during the meeting that he will continue to work on the preemption language to address stakeholder concerns. 
  • Status: The efforts to restrict the gift or sale of e-cigarettes to minors are widely supported and both bills have broad support.  SB 224 has already passed the full Senate.  HB 169 did not originally include any preemption language; it passed Regulatory Affairs with five no-votes.  Rep. Artiles has proposed a compromise amendment that grandfathers in ordinances relating to nicotine dispensing devices (e-cigarettes, etc.) that were enacted prior to December 31, 2013; however, his proposals continues to preempt the regulation of the sale of tobacco products.