(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Today, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released its 2020 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up and highlighted the passage of 11 legislative priorities supported by FTW during the recent session. Throughout the 2020 Legislative Session, lawmakers in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate came together to pass 210 bills, including the General Appropriations Act (HB 5001), setting the state budget at a record $93.2 billion. Last week, FTW issued a statement urging the Florida Legislature to cut spending on member projects to bolster the state’s ability to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said, “The 2020 Florida Legislative Session produced big wins for Florida’s environment, our tourism industry, affordable housing, greater access to medical care, and our taxpayers. We are proud to have once again played an instrumental role in advising the legislature on sound policy that moves Florida forward and provides a clear return on investment for the taxpayers of our state. Now, as the attention of our leaders rightfully turns to the state response to the Coronavirus pandemic, we trust that Gov. DeSantis will use his veto pen judiciously and be mindful of the potential need for even more funding to be available to fight this illness and keep Floridians safe.”
Florida TaxWatch will be releasing its annual Budget Turkey List in the coming weeks.
The below content may also be directly attributed to Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro.
LEGISLATION SUPPORTED BY FLORIDA TAXWATCH PASSED DURING THE 2020 SESSION
Funding for Water Resources – Florida TaxWatch research supported Gov. DeSantis’ recommendation to provide at least $625 million for restoration and protection of the Everglades and other Florida waterways. The Florida Legislature provided that funding.
Clean Waterways Act – SB 712 is a wide-ranging bill that is a big step toward broader protection of our water resources. It implements recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, as recommended by Florida TaxWatch.
VISIT FLORIDA – Florida’s vital tourism marketer was scheduled for repeal on July 1, 2020. The House wanted to let it die. SB 362 will extend it for three years and the new budget will fund it at $50 million.
Safeguarding Funding for Affordable Housing – As Florida TaxWatch recommended, the legislature will not sweep the housing trust funds, making this the first time in more than 10 years that affordable housing will receive all the funds that are supposed to be dedicated to it.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Scope of Practice – HB 607 will allow APRNs to practice to the full extent of their training and education. Florida TaxWatch has supported this as a way to increase access to health care and reduce costs. The bill was quickly signed by the Governor.
Pharmacists Testing and Treatment – HB 389 will also increase health care access by allowing pharmacists under a collaborative agreement with a doctor to provide certain services. They are also now allowed to test and treat minor health conditions like the flu and strep.
School Choice – HB 7067 will add nearly 29,000 new vouchers through the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program. The program has a cap of 18,000. The bill will increase the allowed annual cap growth from .25 percent to 1.0 percent of public-school enrollment.
Tolling of Time Period for Refund Claims – HB 7097 allows for the tolling of the time period for refund claims during the audit protest process. This will avoid a valid refund claim being discovered after the time to file a claim has expired.
Tax Administration Changes Supported by the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate – In addition to the tolling issue above, the tax package includes other tax administration recommendations from the Department of Revenue. Five of these were supported by the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate to increase fairness, reduce the burden on taxpayers, and/or provide clarity. These recommendations were included in his annual report.
Sales Tax Holidays – There will be a three-day Back to School Sales Tax Holiday and a seven-day Disaster Preparedness Holiday. Read here why Florida TaxWatch supports sales tax holidays.
Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative – HB 835 creates the position of Dementia Director within the Department of Elder Affairs to assist with the development of the Alzheimer’s disease state plan, coordinate state policies, collect data on the disease’s impact in the state, increase public awareness and education and help coordinate activities between groups interested in dementia research, programs, and services. Florida TaxWatch finds Alzheimer’s disease research provides taxpayers with the potential for long-term reduction of health care costs and gives needed hope to Florida’s seniors and their families. HB 835 unanimously passed both chambers.
About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute for more than forty years and the trusted eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses. Florida TaxWatch is supported by its membership via voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit www.floridataxwatch.org.
For Immediate Release: Friday, March 20, 2020
Contact: McKinley Lewis, 813.469.4538, firstname.lastname@example.org