Recent Highlights from the 2014 Florida Legislative Session

April 28, 2014

Community Association Management. Two hours of debate occurred in the Florida House last week over the regulation of community association managers, the fees that can be charged for their services, and their ability to indemnify themselves from losses at the association’s expense. The debate was described as a food fight. HB 7037 was amended in the House, and SB 1466 is waiting to be heard on the latest changes in Senate.

Charlotte’s Web. After compassionate testimony in several committee meetings in both houses from parents of children who suffer from seizures, a medical marijuana bill has a chance to pass. The bill, SB 1030 by Senator Bradley, authorizes physicians to prescribe cannabis for patients suffering for a physical medical condition, in a non-smoking form. Even though the Federal Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve this, the Florida Senate was focused on alleviating the pain and suffering of the children, as recommended by their doctors.

Florida Law License for “Unauthorized Immigrants”.  After over an hour of debate occurred in the Florida Senate last week, which included quotes from the Bible and the Statute of Liberty, an amendment to a Family Law bill, SB 755 by Senator Soto, was approved by the Florida Senate. The amendment provides that the Supreme Court of Florida may admit an applicant who is an unauthorized immigrant brought to Florida as a minor, has resided in Florida for more than 10 years, and has otherwise fulfilled all the requirements for admission to the practice of law.

In-State Tuition for Postsecondary Schools. Offering in-state tuition to students who are undocumented for federal immigration purposes was a hot topic all session. Over 50 students gathered in the Capitol to urge support. The bill, HB 851 by Representative Nunez, has cleared the Florida House, but the Senate version, SB 1400 by Senator Latvala, is being blocked in the Senate. The Governor is said to be “comfortable” with this legislation.

Security Breaches. As a result of the Target data breach that affected over 40 million of their customers during the Christmas 2013 shopping season, HB 7085 by the Civil Justice Subcommittee and SB 1524 by Senator Thrasher emerged. These bills create the Florida Information Protection Act of 2014. The bills require notice of a security breach in a computer system that contains personal information to be given to the Department of Legal Affairs and affected persons.  The bill passed the Senate, and is on the calendar in the House.

Local Government Pension Reform. Municipal pensions are a “ticking time bomb” as described by Senator Bradley. Over 60% of the cities will not be able to meet the promises they made to police and fire professionals. HB 7181 by the State Affairs Committee and SB 246 by Senator Ring, which attempt to dismantle the time bomb, are moving rapidly through the legislative process.