Author: Nick Robinson
Published May 20, 2014
The Florida Legislature just concluded another session in Tallahassee. Each year, one of the most important things the legislature does is pass a budget. This year, they have once again produced a budget that is balanced and what the House Majority leader’s think is a fiscally responsible one. Among the notable accomplishments in this years budget is it provides the most K-12 state funding in history, and increases funding to serve our most vulnerable populations, such as Floridians with disabilities and children in the state’s juvenile welfare system. This years budget also leaves 3.1 billion in reserves, while providing $500 million in tax and fee cuts, the largest in over a decade.
In addition to the budget the Legislature passed several other important bills this session. Below is a recap of some of the bills that should get most Floridians attention:
Florida G.I. Bill, HB 7015: Increases educational and employment opportunities for our brave men and women in uniform. Signed by Gov. Rick Scott on March 31, it will establish Florida as the top “Welcome Home” state in the nation for veterans, military personnel and their families.
$500 million in tax and fee cuts, SB 156 & HB 5601: SB 156 cuts a significant portion of the taxes, fees, and surcharges related to registering a motor vehicle. On average, Floridians will see their registration costs reduced by $25.05 for heavyweight vehicles, $21.55 for middle-weight vehicles, and $18.55 for lightweight vehicles. HB 5601 includes significant tax cuts and spending aimed at providing over $105 million in savings and encourages job creation in the state. The tax cut package includes a “back to school’ sales tax holiday in August, a “hurricane preparedness” sales tax holiday from May 31 to Jun 8th for supplies such as fuel tanks, flashlights, etc., a sales tax holiday for energy-efficient and water-efficient appliances, a sales tax exemption for children’s car seats and youth bicycle helmets, a sales tax exemption for certain prepaid college meal plans, and a $37.5 million increase in the tax credit cap for the New Markets Program to encourage job creation in low-income communities.
Florida’s Response to Common Core, HB 7031: removes the references in Florida Statues to the Common Core standards that were placed in law last year. HB 1642: Simplifies school grade calculations for grades K-12 to focus more closely on student performance, graduation and acceleration toward college credit and industry certification. SB 864: makes clear that instructional materials and curriculum choices are the constitutional responsibility of district school boards. SB 188: Prohibits any agency or institution from collecting information regarding the political affiliation, voting history, religious affiliation, or biometrics of a student or the student’s parent or sibling.
Keeping E-Cigarettes out of the hands of Minors: SB 224: Creates a new law similar to current laws related to tobacco products for persons under the age of 18 to now prohibit selling, giving, or using nicotine dispensing devices, including e-cigarettes, to and by persons under the age of 18, and provides penalties for such violations.
This is just a recap of some of the bills that the Florida House and Senate passed this legislative session. For more information on all the bills passed or failed, you can visit www.myflorida.com.