2021 Legislative Session Update

8th Week: April 19, 2021 – April 23, 2021 By: Dallas J. Thiesen

The 2021 Florida Legislative Session is in its final week. The legislature fully focusing in on passing the 2021 state budget and finalizing substantive bills that completed the policy committee process. FSPA actively advocating for more career and technical education funding in the budget as well as State funding for swimming lessons and apprenticeship programs. FSPA continues to fight to a subcontractor licensing exception for swimming pools subcontractors, negotiations to get SB 338 and HB 1431 over the finish line have resulted in the bill language from SB 338 and HB 1431 being amended into a bill focused on limiting local trade licensing.  FSPA is also fighting for the creation of the Florida Swims License Plate that will help fund the Florida Swims Foundation and expand the funds available for swimming lessons, the Senate license plate bill passed the Senate last week and is now awaiting evaluation by the House of Representatives.


FSPA Bills

Swimming Pool Sub-Contractor Exemption (Jim Walter Exemption)

SB 338 by Senator Gruters

HB 1431 by Representative McClure


Summary:  Exemption for swimming pool and spa contractors to the hire of sub-contractors who do not have an occupational licenses.  This is the same exemption that Florida home builders have enjoyed for years known as the “Jim Walter Exemption.” Sub-Contractors will now be able to perform work for a license swimming pool contractor within the scope of that contractor’s license regardless of the sub-contractors' license status. This bill will not eliminate Swimming Pool Specialty Subcontractor Licenses, but will simply eliminate the need for a sub-contractor to be licensed independently of the swimming pool contractor that hired them.

The language of SB 338 and HB 1431 has now been amended in to SB 268 as the final bill to carry the swimming pool sub-contractor exemption.

SB 268 / HB 735 Summary (Local Licensing Preemption): This would end local occupational licensing by preempting the creation or enforcement of occupational licensing by cities and counties.

Bill Status:               SB 268:         On Senate Special Order Calendar 4/26/2021

   HB 735        Passed by the House and Received by Senate


Bill Status:                 SB 338:          Language Amended into SB 268

                                    HB 1431:       No Movement / Language Amended into SB 268



Childhood Learn to Swim Appropriation    

HB 3395 by Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff and Senator Tom Wright


Summary: $200,000 appropriations request for the Florida Swims Foundation to support and expand existing childhood learn to swim programs in Broward, Hillsborough, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Pasco, Volusia, and Pinellas Counties.

The goal of this appropriation is to identify and multiply the effectiveness of childhood learn to swim programs that have the potential be scaled up for statewide implementation. This is the first step in FSPA’s goal of ensuring that every child in Florida has the opportunity to learn to swim before they enter kindergarten.

Bill Status:               HB 3395:       Now in Health Appropriations Subcommittee.   


Florida Swims License Plate

SB 676 by Senators Baxley, Harrell, Pizo, Stewart, Berman, Garcia


Summary:  This bill would create a Specialty License Plate for FSPA’s Florida Swims Foundation. The Plate would provide a consistent yearly source of income from Specialty License Plate Sales to support the mission of the Florida Swims Foundation.

Bill Status:               SB 676:          Passed Senate 39 YEAS / 0 NAYS on 4/22/2021


Bills to Watch

Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19

SB 72 by Senator Brandes

HB 7 by Representative McClure


Summary: Will establish special pleading requirements for COVID-19 related injury lawsuits set the standard of negligence and evidence that a plaintiff must prove to succeed with their claim, and set a statute of limitations for injury claims related to COVI-19. The goal of these bills is to protect all business owners and operators from frivolous litigation when operating their business in good faith compliance with government health standards during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill Status:               SB 72:            Approved by the Governor.

  HB 7:              Laid on the Table.



Water Safety

SB 358 by Senator Berman

HB 1119 by Representative Daley


Summary: SB 358 and HB 1119, after being amended via committee substitute these bills would require school districts to provide water safety information and information on local swimming lesson resources to parents upon the first enrollment of their children into a Florida school. Prior versions of SB 358 would have required parents to provide proof swimming lesson completion upon their child’s entry in to school.

Bill Status:               SB 358:          Passed Senate 40 YEAS / 0 NAYS on 4/21/2021

 HB 1119:       Now in Education & Employment Committee / Not heard by Committee.


LP and Natural Gas Local Preemption

SB 856 by Senator Hutson

HB 839 by Representative Fabricio


Summary: Preempts local governments from regulating energy infrastructure including LP and Natural Gas.

Bill Status:               SB 856:          Laid on the Table

HB 839:         Passed by House and Senate. Ordered Enrolled 4/26/2021



Unlicensed Contracting

SB 332 by Senator Perry

HB 1169 by Representative Stevenson


Summary: Revises the criminal penalties for unlicensed contracting or advertising without proper certification. Offenses worth less than $1000.00 would be charged as a misdemeanor; offenses between $1,000.00 and $20,000.00 would be charged as third degree felony; offenses between $20,000.00 and $200,000.00 would be charged as second-degree felony; and offenses between over $200,000.00 would be charged as first-degree felony.

Bill Status:               SB 332:          No Movement

  HB 1169      No Movement



Occupational Licensing Sunset

SB 344: Senator Diaz

HB 471 by Represented Rizo


Summary: An extreme set of bills that would sunset all occupational licensees in the state of Florida at staggered dates unless the legislature reauthorized the licensing schemes. Under these bills, all construction contracting licensing would sunset on July 1, 2025.

Bill Status:               SB 344:          Now in Appropriations Committee

  HB 471:         No Movement.


HOA Public Pool Exemption

SB 902 by Senator Rodrigues

HB 463: Representative Roach


Summary: Would create an exemption from Department of Health oversight for community pools that serve Home Owners Associations with less than 32 single-family parcels.

Bill Status:               SB 902:          Laid on the Table

  HB 463:         Passed House and Senate. Ordered Enrolled on 4/22/2021.



Construction Defects

SB 270 by Senator Perry

HB 21: Representative Andrade


Summary: Would establish additional requirements for plaintiffs wishing to bring construction defects lawsuits.

Bill Status:               SB 270:          No Movement.

  HB 21           No Movement.


If you have any questions, concerns, or comments these bills or any other government affairs issue please reach out FSPA Government Affairs Manager Dallas Thiesen at dallas@floridapoolpro.com or at 941-952-9293.