2021 5th Committee Week Update: Prepared by Converge Government Affairs

The Senate has issued COVID-19 guidelines for session, which are essentially a continuation of the protocols that have been in place through committee weeks. Notably:

In-Person Meetings: Senate areas will remain closed to visitors. Senators and professional staff are encouraged to meet with members of the public via phone, teleconferencing, or outdoor (social distance) meetings. 
Committee Room Admittance: In-person committee viewing will remain limited to Senators, staff, subject matter experts invited to present information before the committee, and members of the media. Public Testimony will continue to be accepted from the Civic Center.
Gallery: The public gallery will be closed.

On Thursday, Julie I. Brown was announced as the new head of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Brown has served on the Public Service Commission since 2011 and chaired the commission from 2016 to 2018. 

Florida's expected shipment for this week of 200,000 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines continue to be delayed by winter storms around the rest of the country. "It's basically sitting in the FedEx warehouse," Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news briefing in Pinellas Park Thursday, adding that it could be Monday before the vaccine arrives. "If you had an appointment and the Moderna hasn't come, just hang in there." 

Republican leadership is again exploring whether to impose caps on the level of euphoria-inducing THC in cannabis products. House leaders have pushed for a couple of years to limit the level of THC in smokable medical marijuana, but the Senate has blocked a THC cap. The House member who led the charge in the past, is now in the Senate, Sen. Ray Rodrigues. 




Key Bills:

HB 7, SB 72  - Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19

HB 7:  Favorable with CS by Judiciary Committee; 14 Yeas, 7 Nays (last committee)
SB 72: Temporarily Postponed by Commerce and Tourism (2nd of 3 committees)

These bills provide several COVID-19-related liability protections for businesses, educational institutions, government entities, religious organizations, and other entities. Under the bill, a covered entity that makes a good faith effort to substantially comply with applicable COVID-19 guidance is immune from civil liability from a COVID-19-related civil action.

The bill also provides that for any COVID-19-related civil action against a covered entity, a plaintiff must:

  • Plead his or her complaint with particularity.
  • Submit, at the time of filing suit, a physician's affidavit confirming the physician's belief that the plaintiff's COVID-19-related injury occurred because of the defendant's conduct.
  • Prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant was at least grossly negligent.

The bill's liability protections do not apply to a health care provider, such as a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, or other healthcare-related entity. The bill provides a one-year statute of limitations for COVID19-related claims. For a plaintiff whose cause of action has already accrued, the one-year period does not begin to run until the bill becomes effective. 

HB 3395 - Florida Swims: Swimming Lessons

No movement

Appropriates $200,000 to fund the Florida Swims: Swimming Lessons.

SB 124, HB 703 - Residential Swimming Pool Safety

No movement

Requiring that new residential swimming pools meet 2 safety requirements, rather than just 1, to pass the final inspection and receive a certificate of completion. Prohibiting a property owner from transferring ownership of a parcel that includes a swimming pool unless certain the new requirements are met.


SB 332 - Unlicensed Contracting

No movement

Revising the criminal penalties for persons who engage in contracting or advertise themselves as contractors without proper registration or certification.


SB 338 - Specialty Contracting Services 

No movement

Allows swimming pool contractors to use individuals who will work under the supervision and scope of the contractor’s license. Similar to the Jim Walters exemption, safety, and quality will be ensured by requiring oversight of these individuals by a licensed swimming pool contractor. 

SB 344, HB 471 - Legislative Review of Occupational Regulations

No movement

Establishes a schedule for systematic review of the costs and benefits of occupational regulatory programs. The Legislature intends to review each program before the scheduled date on which each occupational regulatory program is set to expire through scheduled repeal to determine whether to allow the program to expire, renew the program without modifications, renew the program with modifications, or provide for other appropriate actions.

Any occupational regulatory program that expires through scheduled repeal in accordance with this act may not be subsequently regulated by a local government. The regulation of any occupation repealed by this act is preempted to the state unless local regulation of such occupation is expressly authorized by law.

SB 358 - Water Safety

SB 358: no movement
HB 1119: filed

Requiring district school boards and the governing authorities of private schools to require children going into kindergarten to present a water safety and swimming certificate beginning in a certain school year. Providing an exemption from certain water safety and swimming certifications for a child whose parent follows a specified procedure. Takes effect beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. 

SB 366 - Apprenticeship and Pre Apprenticeship Training 

No movement

Revising the general duties of the Department of Education about apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs; revising the membership of the State Apprenticeship Advisory Council; providing that apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program sponsors are responsible for the selection and training of certain personnel, as approved by the department.


SB 378, HB 585 - Payment for Construction Services

SB 378: Favorable with CS by Governmental Oversight and Accountability; 6 Yeas, 0 Nays (2nd of 3 committees)
HB 585: No movement

Increasing the interest rate for certain payments for purchases of construction services; specifying that a person, firm, or corporation who fails to make certain payments relating to public projects commits misapplication of constructions funds and is subject to criminal penalties; increasing the interest rate for overdue payments for the purchase of construction services.

SB 902, HB 463 -  Public Pool Regulations

No movement

Exempts from supervision or regulation pools serving condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ associations with no more than 32 units or parcels, which are not operated as a public lodging establishment. 
The addition of homeowners’ associations is the key change in this bill


HB 401, SB 1146 - Florida Building Code

No movement, 

The department may not require compliance with rules relating to swimming pool lifeguard standards for pools serving assisted living facilities.


SB 268, HB 735 - Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing

No movement

The licensing of occupations is expressly preempted to the state. Current local government licensing of occupations expires on July 1, 2023.

SB 270, HB 21-  Construction Defects

HB 21: On Favorable by Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee; 10 Yeas, 8 Nays (1st of 3 committees)
SB 270: Favorable by Judiciary; 9 Yeas, 1 Nay (1st of 3 committees)

Establishes additional requirements for submitting a construction defect claim.

SB 960 - Residential Swimming Pools

No movement

Requires a home inspector to report whether a swimming pool meets the requirements for pool safety devices. Requires pools with a young child at the residence to have a barrier in place any time the pool is not being used. The seller of a home with a pool must provide the buyer with information on the requirements for pool safety in law.


SB 1042, HB 791 - Vocational Pathways

No movement

The bill is aimed at enhancing existing Career and Technical Education and apprenticeship
programs overseen by the Florida Department of Education. Additionally, it will ensure more
postsecondary pathways are accessible to empower Florida’s students.