A flurry of bills passing through the Florida legislative chambers this session were signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in recent weeks. Some address insurance reform in the state, while others assist servicemembers in workforce training and ongoing issues at Key Biscayne.
Earlier this month, DeSantis took pen to paper on the state’s budget for fiscal year 2022, which starts July 1. In the budget, $20 million was secured for the Florida Keys Stewardship Act and $5 million for land acquisition in record funding in the program’s five-year existence.
A transportation bill passing the House and Senate does everything from allowing governing bodies to abandon certain roads and rights-of-way to community development districts to vehicles and equipment displaying flashing lights. It also seeks to overturn Key West’s vote to limit the size of cruise ships entering the port. Senate Bill 1194 awaits action from DeSantis, and the Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships is watching closely.
“The governor wants cruise ships sailing on Florida’s beautiful waters again and so do we,” said Arlo Haskell, treasurer for Safer, Cleaners Ships. “All we are saying is send us your smaller ships so we can hold on to the dramatic water quality improvements we’ve seen over the past 15 months.”
On June 11, DeSantis signed Senate Bill 76, which includes provisions protecting consumers from unlicensed adjusting and contracting and solicitation fraud. According to FIRM, these provisions will be a deterrent to out-of-state contractors looking to cash in after a storm.
Legislation also expressly disallows contractors, public adjusters, and companies from using prohibited advertisements that encourage Floridians to make an insurance claim for roof damage. Those violating the law face up to a $10,000 fine.
“Since my first days in office, I have been committed to doing whatever it takes to reduce the burden of property insurance on Florida families,” DeSantis said. “That includes signing into law historic reforms to the assignment of benefits process and appointing principled justices to our state courts.”
A proposal within the bill to create a roof reimbursement schedule didn’t make the final bill. As a result, homeowners will receive full reimbursement they’re entitled to receive. Legislation originally had a schedule of depreciation for roofs older than 10 years: 70% replacement value for a metal roof type; 40% replacement value for a concrete tile and clay tile roof type; 40% replacement value for a wood shake and wood shingle roof type; and 25% replacement value for all other roof types.
On the environmental front, DeSantis signed House Bill 1177 to address ongoing issues at Biscayne Bay — a vital resource to the economy and ecology of southeast Florida. Specifically, the bill creates a commission that will look to bring stakeholders, from the federal level to local government, together to bolster efforts to protect the bay. Legislation accompanies $20 million in the budget for the bay facing major pollution problems.
“The bay contains the largest passenger port in the world, is an international sailing destination, and plays a critical role in the health of Florida’s coral reef,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. “The bay and reef annually provide well over $20 billion in shoreline protection, fisheries habitat, and recreational opportunities.”
DeSantis also recently signed three military- and veteran-related bills into law to establish a “Purple Star Campus Program.” Bills are geared to help servicemembers gain workforce training and enhance veterans’ preference in hiring. The program designates a military liaison to directly support families; updates the school website with resources for military students and families and offers a student-led transition program to help military students acclimate into a school, among other supportive measures.
Senate Bill 922 gives state and political subdivisions the ability to waive certain postsecondary educational requirements for employment for eligible servicemembers and veterans. It also enhances point preferences given to veterans and their family members when a numerically based selection process is used for hiring.
A Senate bill related to the emergency preparedness and response fund was vetoed on June 8. In a memo, DeSantis said he recommended creation of the fund with the intention of obtaining funding of $1 billion from the coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery fund. DeSantis said federal rules won’t allow use of funds for the preparedness fund, which led to the veto.