Crisafulli Update: Key Pieces of House Legislation Passed
By Rep. Steve Crisafulli // March 9, 2014
Session Week 1 Legislative Update
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Tuesday marked the opening day of the 2014 Legislative Session, the 116th Regular Session of the Florida Legislature since statehood in 1845.
After opening remarks by House Speaker Will Weatherford reiterating the House and Senate’s joint legislative agenda and the State of the State address by Governor Rick Scott, the Florida House immediately got to work, passing several key pieces of legislation on the House floor.
Honoring Our Military and Veterans
On the first day of the legislative session, we addressed one of our highest obligations as elected officials – taking care of the brave men and women who serve our country in uniform and defend our freedoms around the world – by passing the Florida G.I. Bill.
Florida prides itself on supporting our troops. We want our heroes to be able to come home to our state and adjust to civilian life more easily. The House passed this bill to make Florida the “welcome home” state for our veterans.
The Florida G.I. Bill accomplishes this by making it easier for our veterans and their spouses to obtain a higher education through the expansion of online course offerings and the waiving of out-of-state fees for veterans who aren’t Florida residents. The bill also incentivizes the hiring of veterans and makes it easier for veterans to obtain professional licenses.
In addition to showing our appreciation for our military men and women and their families, the House also passed important ethics reforms to improve citizens’ trust in government.
The Florida Constitution requires that a legislator live in the district he or she represents. Unfortunately, some have taken advantage of loopholes to skirt this important constitutional provision. To address this issue, the House and Senate passed a joint rule, House Current Resolution (HCR) 8007, to clarify the constitutional requirement that legislators must reside in their legislative districts. During Organizational Session, the joint rule requires each legislator to affirm in writing that he or she is an elector and legal resident of his or her district.
I expect this year’s legislative session to be very productive, and the House has already wasted no time tackling many important issues facing our state. Here is a quick summary of some of the notable legislation House committees debated and voted on this week.
The Insurance and Banking Subcommittee passed House Bill (HB) 879, the Florida Flood insurance bill, to help save Florida homeowners from incredibly steep increases in flood insurance rates under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Currently, thousands of Floridians face substantial flood insurance premium rate increases due to the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Act). The Act eliminates subsidized rates for several types of flood insurance policies, forcing policyholders to begin paying full-risk rates, which are significantly higher. These drastic rate increases are unaffordable for hardworking Florida families and could jeopardize the recovery of Florida’s housing market.
HB 879 creates laws governing the sale of flood insurance by private-sector insurance companies in our state. This bill will invite more competition to the marketplace and provide consumers with more affordable options when they are make decisions on purchasing flood insurance.
PROTECTING VULNERABLE FLORIDAINS
Several bills (HB 7019, HB 7021, HB 7025, and HB 7027) which will strengthen laws to help protect children from sexually violent predators passed through the House Judiciary Committee, their final committee stop before the House floor. These bills will ensure that sexually violent predators get punished to the fullest extent of the law and are unable to reoffend.
PROIDING EVERY CHILD EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY
The House Finance and Tax Subcommittee passed Committee Bill FTSC 14-02, which is designed to help expand educational opportunities to additional hardworking families so that their children can escape failing schools and obtain a great education.
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program has already helped over 60,000 students receive the best education possible by assisting them in being placed outside of areas with a struggling school system. The expansion of this program will give parents a choice for their children when it come to education, regardless of their zip codes.
I believe this important bill will create opportunity for thousands of Floridians by empowering them with a great education that prepares them for success in their lives and in their careers.