TThe Florida Legislature completed the 2017 legislative session on Monday, May 8th with the passage of 211 bills - the least in 20 years - and a $82.4 billion budget that will now be sent to the Governor for consideration. The major issues dominating the legislature this year focused primarily around the budget where the House Speaker, Senate President, and Governor differed on proposed funding for major programs such as tourism, health care and the environment.

Now that the House and Senate have reached an agreement on these issues, it will be up to the Governor to either accept the budget or make modifications using his veto powers. Some have even hinted that the Legislature may be willing to come back this summer to override any potential budget vetoes the Governor may make.

In total, the Florida Retail Federation team was actively engaged in more than 40 pieces of legislation and multiple budget issues that impact on our industry. We are extremely pleased with the comprehensive tax package that was approved which includes a reduction in the business rent tax, and sales tax holidays for back-to-school shopping and disaster preparedness.

We successfully helped to prevent the passage of a natural gas bill that would have allowed Florida utility companies to engage in fracking out of state and pass 100% of the costs onto consumers. We successfully opposed legislation to award pre-judgment interest in personal injury cases, and we opposed a measure that would have provided criminals a cost of living increase on the backs of retailers. We also had major legislative wins for FPMA, the Florida Grocers Association, and our Beauty Industry Council.

Please see the comprehensive list below of all 2017 legislation related to the Florida Retail Federation.

GENERAL BUSINESS

Limitations on Property Tax Assessments | SR 76 / HR 21
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: The Governor has signed.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Proposes a constitutional amendment to permanently retain the 10% cap on annual non-homestead assessment increases.

Taxation | HB 7109
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE:  Passed the legislature and is headed to the Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Included in this tax package is a .2% reduction in business rent tax, a three day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday, and a three day back to school sales tax holiday that includes technology.

Veterans Sales Tax Holiday | SB 768 / 1202 & HB 25 / 263
FRF POSITION: Neutral
STATUS UPDATE: This bill was not included in the tax package.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: The bill would establish a sales tax holiday in conjunction with Veterans Day for veterans on certain items.

Sales Tax Collection (out of state) | SB 1184 / HB 1343
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Redefines the term “dealer,” for purposes of the tax, to include certain persons who do not have a place of business in this state and sell into this state certain personal property, products, or services, etc.

Mini Commerce Clause | SB 1158 / HB 17
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: Did not pass. This bill only had one hearing on the House side and due to the extreme opposition from the local governments and lack of support from other business groups, it did not continue to move.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS:Too often businesses are being impacted by new local ordinances that restrict, over-regulate and create financial burdens. In an effort to help minimize the negative ordinances, FRF proposed legislation that would preempt all issues relating to commerce to the state. This would allow businesses to have one statewide policy on commerce issues instead of each and every city and county having their own (67 counties and 391 cities).

Pet Dealers | SB 1466 / HB 979
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Requires pet dealers to only be able to sell dogs from the humane society, animal shelter, or person or entity who has not violated the Federal Animal Welfare Act. It prohibits unlicensed commercial dog breeders from selling dogs to pet dealers and requires pet dealers to retain certain records after sale.

VISIT FLORIDA | SB 1076 / HB 9 / HB 7005
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: VISIT FLORIDA’s advertising budget will be $25 million, which is a significant reduction in funding.  In addition, there may be a significant increase to the regulations with which VISIT FLORIDA will have to comply.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: A reduction in funding likely means the organization will have a narrower scope and potentially a smaller impact.  If you are a tourism impacted retailer that has previously relied on the cooperative marketing efforts of VISIT FLORIDA to drive traffic to your stores, you may experience a corresponding reduction of the positive impact VISIT FLORIDA had previously had on your business.  

Accuracy in Damages | SB 146 / HB 583
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: This bill would have required calculations for damages for medical costs in negligence cases be limited to the actual costs of healthcare services paid by the plaintiff.  By eliminating inaccurate or misleading damages calculations, it would reduce the cost of civil litigation and prevent a windfall to the plaintiff based on inflated and misleading costs.

Disposable Plastic Bags | SB 162 / HB 93
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: The bill received one hearing in the Senate but the bills ultimately died.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Authorizes municipalities to establish pilot programs to regulate or ban plastic bags.

Pre-Judgement Interest | SB 334 / HB 469
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: The bill advanced in the Senate but died in the House because of strong opposition.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Requiring a court to include prejudgment interest on economic damages, noneconomic damages and attorneys' fees and costs in the final judgment of a negligence action as a result of a personal injury.

Minimum Wage Increase | SB 160 / HB 945
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: This bill would change the calculation of and increase the minimum wage by $1, $1.50 and then according to the rate of inflation every September.

Employment Discrimination | SB 410 / HB 319
FRF POSITION: Neutral
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and prohibits an employer from providing less favorable employment opportunities to employees based on their sex or gender identity.

Medical Marijuana Implementing Bill | SB 406 / HB 1397
FRF POSITION: Neutral
STATUS UPDATE: Failed to pass in the final hours of Session.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: FRF worked to include language in the bill that would protect employers and their substance abuse programs. Specifically, it ensures that terminating an employee for violating a substance abuse policy does not create a cause of action against the employer.

Deregulation of Occupations and Professions | SB 802 / HB 7047
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: This bill passed the Senate but died in the House.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: If passed, this bill would inflict severe cuts in the required education hours for barbers, restricted barbers, and nail and facial specialty licenses.

Pregnancy Parking Spaces and Breastfeeding Rooms at Retail Establishments and Restrooms | SB 650 / HB 669
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Required designated parking spaces for expectant mothers for certain retail parking lots. Required certain retailers to provide and maintain breastfeeding locations.

Accessibility of Places of Public Accommodation | SB 1398 / HB 727
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Enables businesses to have their premises evaluated by an expert for compliance with ADA requirements and file remediation plans if the business is not in full compliance.  If a remediation plan is filed, a business who is subject to an ADA suit may present the plan to the court as evidence that the suit has not been filed in good faith.

Franchises | SB 750 / HB 1069
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: Did not pass due to strong opposition. Received only one hearing in the Senate.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: This bill would regulate the relationship between a franchisee and a franchisor as it relates to preventing a sale or transfer, unlawful or unfair termination, purchasing inventory and many other regulations.

Prudent Utility Investments in Natural Gas | SB 1238 / HB 1043
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: This bill advanced in the Senate and the House but died due to FRF’s strong opposition. .
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Allows Florida Power and Light to engage in fracking out of state and pass 100% of the costs onto consumers.

Workers' Compensation Insurance | SB 1582 / HB 7085
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: The Legislature was unable to agree on reforms to the workers’ compensation system, and no bill passed.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Without meaningful reforms, we expect that workers’ compensation rates will continue to rise.  We will continue to work diligently on this issue.

Pro-Growth Tax Reform | HB 7089
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: This bill passed the House but died because it did not have a Senate companion.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Urges Congress to support pro-growth tax reform.

Preemption on Construction and Signage | SB 1312 / HB 1021
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: These bills were amended to include a preemption on local governments from passing any ordinance or building code requirements that would impact corporate branding for a franchise or impose any requirement on the design, construction, or location of signage advertising the retail price of gasoline.

Open Carry | SB 140
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Authorizing persons holding licenses to carry concealed weapons or firearms to carry concealed weapons or firearms in secure and restricted areas of seaports and at school-sponsored events or on school property; authorizing persons holding licenses to carry concealed firearms to carry concealed firearms in pharmacies.

Drones | SB 832 / HB 1027
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Creates a preemption prohibiting local government from passing any ordinance that would impact the flight and sale of a drone.

FPMA - FLORIDA GROCERS ASSOCIATION

Beer Glassware | SB 1040 / SB 388 / HB 853
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: This bill died. This bill passed the House and Senate but the House amended the bill and the Senate did not concur with final bill.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: This bill would have allowed vendors licensed to sell malt beverages for on premises consumption to accept glassware (limits to three cases) from a distributor, at no charge.  

Public Notification of Pollution | SB 532 / HB 1065
FRF POSITION: Neutral
STATUS UPDATE: The language of the bill was amended onto SB 1018, which did pass the Legislature and is headed to the Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Requires an owner or operator to report pollution release to the Dept. of Environmental Protection within 24 hours after discovery of such pollution release.

Tobacco Sales - 21 | SB 1138 / HB 1093
FRF POSITION: Neutral
STATUS UPDATE: These bills are dead and did not receive a hearing this year.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Increases the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Payment Card Offenses | SB 766 / HB 343
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Prohibits the sale, possession, or delivery of a skimming device and creates penalties for these offenses.

Vendor Licensed Under Beverage Law (The Wall) | SB 106 / HB 81
FRF POSITION: Neutral
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: The bill prohibits package store permits within 1,000 feet of schools. Existing licenses are grandfathered in. Creates a four-year phase in repeal of “the wall.” Mini liquor bottles must be in a restricted area. Gas stations are excluded unless they are 10,000 square feet or larger. A glitch was created in the bill that would’ve restricted minors from selling wine and beer. Subsequently, HB 689 was passed and reverted back to current law on this issue.

Warning Labels on Lottery Games | SB 1370 / HB 937
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: FRF was successful in removing the retailer requirements within this legislation.  Requires vendors of lottery tickets to place or print a warning on all lottery tickets and advertisements that says: “WARNING: GAMBLING CAN BE ADDICTIVE.”

Fuel Storage and Ethanol Corrosion | SB 1278 / HB 1353
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: This bill received one hearing in both the House and Senate, but ultimately died. However, language was amended onto SB 1018 that will require the Department of Environmental Protection to study this issue. This study could lay the foundation for tackling the issue in future sessions.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Appropriates funds to study the damage of ethanol on underground storage tanks and their fixtures by December of 2017.

Restriction of SNAP Benefits | SB 1260 / HB 593
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: This bill received one hearing in both the House and Senate but died due to FRF’s opposition.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Prohibits the use of EBT cards for soft drinks or candy.

Small Food Retailers | SB 1592 / HB 1083
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: This bill moved throughout both the House and Senate but died in committee.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Establishes the Healthy Food Assistance Program to provide a process for small food retailers to receive assistance for projects that increase the availability and sales of fresh and nutritious food, including fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafood in low income and moderate-income communities.

LOSS PREVENTION

Juvenile Civil Citation | SB 196 / HB 205 / HB 213
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: This bill passed the Senate but died in the House.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Requires establishment of a civil citation program or diversion program for juveniles in each county. FRF opposed this bill because it did not require law enforcement to check the system for repeat offenders who had previously received civil citations.

Pre-Arrest Diversion Programs | SB 448 / HB 367
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE: This bill passed the Senate but died in the House.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Encourages local communities and educational institutions to implement pre-arrest diversion programs for adults and authorizes law enforcement officers to issue civil citations at their discretion. FRF opposed this bill because it did not have a statewide tracking system, nor did it require law enforcement to check the system for repeat offenders who had previously received civil citations.

Decreasing Penalties for Certain Criminal Acts | SB 608 / HB 693 / SB 1102
FRF POSITION: Opposed
STATUS UPDATE:
This issue died by being amended out of the House bill.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: The original bill increased the felony threshold from $300 to $600 and grand theft from $300 to $1,000.

PHARMACY

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program | SB 840 / HB 557
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Revises requirements for reporting dispensing of controlled substances to the PDMP “no later than the close of the next day.”

MedSync | SB 800 / HB 1191
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: Passed legislature and headed to Governor for final action.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: Requiring health insurers and HMOs to offer medication synchronization to allow insureds and subscribers to align refill dates for certain drugs at least once a year.

Fail-first Protocols | SB 530 / HB 877
FRF POSITION: Neutral
STATUS UPDATE: This bill died. It passed the Senate but did not pass the House.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: The bill creates an expedited, standard process for the approval or denial of prior authorizations and protocol exceptions to provide greater transparency for consumers and providers regarding policies and procedures.

Pharmacist Collaborative Practice | SB 1180 / HB 7011
FRF POSITION: Support
STATUS UPDATE: The Senate bill never received a hearing and the House bill died on the calendar.
HOW THIS COULD IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS: The Senate version was an expansion on collaborative practice that would’ve allowed pharmacists to expand their role in testing and diagnosing of certain conditions.  The House version was limited to only allowing pharmacists to administer a flu test.