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Recap of Recent Florida Legislative Special Session

Even though Florida Democrats were mostly talking about Disney and Reedy Creek, several pieces of legislation passed during Special Legislative Session 2023B that Republicans were proud of accomplishing.

To complete the special session, the Florida House passed bills protecting voter integrity, providing hurricane relief, reorganizing special districts, reforming NIL, and tackling illegal immigration.

“We set out to accomplish a great deal during the Special Session, and we delivered. I’m proud of the work from our bill sponsors and committees this week to address ongoing concerns of our special districts, prosecution of election crimes, and controlling illegal immigration,” said Republican House Speaker Paul Renner. “We were also able to provide funding for communities affected by recent hurricanes and to give our college student-athletes the tools they need to compete on and off the field.”

The legislation from the recent Florida special session includes:

  • House Bill 1B, Emergency Management (Rep. Giallombardo) – This bill provides additional resources to support ongoing relief and recovery for communities impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. The bill includes additional funding for the Governor’s Emergency Response and Preparedness Fund, as well as funding for a Local Government Bridge Loan Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity.
  • House Bill 3B Statewide Prosecutor (Rep. Fernandez-Barquin) – The legislation clarifies the Office of Statewide Prosecution’s jurisdiction to prosecute crimes involving elections for federal or state office, and petition activities.
  • House Bill 5B, Illegal Immigration (Rep. Snyder) –To help mitigate the ongoing impacts of unauthorized aliens coming to the State of Florida, the legislation creates the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program within the Division of Emergency Management to facilitate the voluntary transport of unauthorized migrants who have been processed by the federal government and released into the United States.
  • House Bill 7B, Intercollegiate Athletics (Rep. LaMarca) This legislation addresses how college athletes can be compensated for the use of their names, images and likenesses, and updates state law to align with the recent enactment of NCAA regulations regarding athlete compensation.
  • House Bill 9B, Reedy Creek Improvement District (Rep. Hawkins) – Revises the governance and powers of Reedy Creek Improvement District, while protecting local taxpayers from the District’s debts. All House Democrats from Orange County and Osceola County opposed this legislation.
  • House Bill 11B, Sunshine Water Control District (Rep. Daley) – This bill reauthorizes the Sunshine Water Control District.
  • House Bill 13B, Eastpoint Water and Sewer District (Rep. Shoaf) – This bill revises and reauthorizes the Eastpoint Water and Sewer District.

Here’s what the sponsors of the legislation had to say:

“Hurricanes Ian and Nicole brought a lot of water, wind, and uncertainty to our shores. But the response has been incredible. We are Florida Strong because our state comes together when we need each other most,” said Coral Gables State Rep. Mike Giallombardo, sponsor of House Bill 1B. “Thanks to my colleagues, our Senate sponsor, Speaker Renner, and Governor DeSantis, we are providing additional resources to support ongoing relief and recovery for communities impacted by these recent storms. Putting additional funding into the Governor’s Emergency Response and Preparedness Fund and the Local Government Bridge Loan Program will lift up our people and communities that need it most.”

“Protecting the all-important right to vote ensures that our representative democracy thrives,” said Miami State Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin, sponsor of House Bill 3B. “Our values and vote are diminished when people commit election fraud. By clarifying the Office of Statewide Prosecution’s jurisdiction to prosecute crimes involving elections for federal or state office, we are taking a significant step to safeguard the bedrock of the American system of government.”

“Border patrol encounters and illegal entries into the United States are at an all-time high because Washington refuses to act. Florida will not allow the Biden administration’s failures to threaten the safety and well-being of our citizens,” said Stuart State Rep. John Snyder, sponsor of House Bill 5B. “The Division of Emergency Management is well positioned to operate the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program to facilitate the voluntary transport of unauthorized migrants. I am grateful that we have leaders in the free state of Florida like Governor DeSantis and Speaker Renner who honor their duty to protect our state and do what’s right.”

“Thanks to the support of past leaders and Governor DeSantis, we took proactive steps to provide college athletes opportunities to be compensated for the use of their names, images, and likenesses in commercial interests,” said Lighthouse Point State Rep. Chip LaMarca, sponsor of House Bill 7B. “However, when the NCAA issued new regulations regarding athlete compensation, Florida’s university athletes were put at a competitive disadvantage. In Florida, we do not wait to take action, and this legislation ensures our collegiate teams remain competitive.”

“We promised transparency and accountability in how our special districts operate. HB 9 delivers on that promise while also ensuring that local residents are not shouldered with the burden of the district’s debts,” said St. Cloud State Rep. Fred Hawkins, sponsor of House Bill 9B. “This legislation was a well thought out approach to modernize the district and eliminate special advantages that are not available to anyone else.”

“The Sunshine Water Control District is a valuable part of our local infrastructure, which provides surface water management services to portions of Broward County,” said Sunrise State Rep. Dan Daley, a Democrat and sponsor of House Bill 11B. “Thanks to the support of my colleagues in the House and Senate, the district will continue to provide the high-quality service we have come to expect since 1963.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve my community and present this local bill re-establishing the Eastpoint Water and Sewer District,” said Port St. Joe State Rep. Jason Shoaf, sponsor of House Bill 13B. “The district provides an important function providing potable water and preserving our rivers, estuaries, and ecosystem.”

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