HomeHome InsuranceFlorida Legislature OKs budget, tax breaks and goes home – Orlando Sentinel

Florida Legislature OKs budget, tax breaks and goes home – Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature adjourned Friday after approving a $117.4 billion budget, $1.5 billion in tax breaks, a second year of commuter toll discounts and a flurry of other bills.

Lawmakers also approved the broad-ranging Live Healthy Act, a signature goal of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples. It has a $717 million budget to provide greater access to health care by increasing the number of physicians, nurses and other health professionals in the state.

The tax break package includes sales tax holidays for school supplies, hurricane preparation, tool purchases and summer fun. Lawmakers allocated $450 million to provide a 50% discount to motorists who use the state’s toll roads at least 35 times a month, reviving a program from last year.

State workers will get 3% raises with additional money for Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agents, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services employees and prison officers.

“It’s an example of what can be accomplished when you put aside competition and collaborate … to address the real needs of Floridians,” said House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast. “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished. We delivered for Florida.”

10 big things approved by the Florida Legislature this year

This year’s session was different from past ones in several ways. There was a greater spirit of bipartisan cooperation. There was less focus on the divisive “culture war” issues that critics contend Gov. Ron DeSantis had used to propel his political ambitions as a presidential candidate.

Lawmakers did not pass a proposed total abortion ban offered in the early days of the session. Nor did they preempt local ordinances protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination and or lower the legal age of 21 to buy a rifle.

Also notable was that DeSantis largely did not dictate the agenda. He laid out his budget proposals, many of which were adopted, including additional funding for teacher raises. And he expressed his support for proposals already introduced by lawmakers.

During a news conference after the session ended, DeSantis pushed back on the notion that he didn’t exert the same power that he did over previous sessions.

“Everything that we set out to do, we’ve accomplished,” he said. “100% of the promises have been delivered on. All our big-ticket items that we set out to do — the teacher pay increase, the toll relief, the tax relief … law and order — all that was done.”

The Legislature agreed with the governor’s proposal to offer a one-time tax reduction on the premiums of homeowner insurance policies. The tax cut amounts to an average savings of $60 per homeowner, and $75 for those with flood insurance, Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said.

DeSantis flexed his power by vetoing House Speaker Paul Renner’s social media ban for young teenagers, which was sent back to be revised so that parents of 14- and 15-year-olds could decide to allow them to sign up.

He put the kibosh on a proposal to have Florida taxpayers foot the bill for former President Donald Trump’s legal costs just a day after suspending his campaign for the GOP primary for president.

In the final days, bills were passed to deregulate public schools, preempt local regulation of electric vehicle parking spaces and ban lab-cultivated meat.

Friday was the last chance to see whether several controversial bills would make it across the finish line, including raising the legal age to become a stripper from 18 to 21. The bill was approved as part of a larger human trafficking bill.

A defamation bill that would have made it easier for prominent people and public officials to sue the news media died. A rare alignment of conservative media, mainstream outlets and First Amendment advocates objected to that measure.

Lawmakers made last-minute compromises to push through a bill that preempts most city and county labor regulations, doing away with local living wage laws on Sept. 30, 2026, when the state’s minimum wage reaches $15 an hour. It also preempts any local workplace heat regulations.

Another compromise eliminated language that would have allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to work past 11 p.m. on school nights. The bill says they can work no more than 30 hours on a school week, and no more than eight hours a day except on Sundays and holidays, unless they get parental permission to work longer hours.

Lawmakers failed to tackle important pocketbook issues, such as addressing soaring property insurance rates and expanding Medicaid coverage, said House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa.

“Florida is in an affordability crisis, so it truly was a session of missed opportunities,” she said. “For me, it’s really ending with a whimper. … We didn’t have Gov. DeSantis’ thumbs on the scale as much. I think he was trying to figure out how to recover from his failed presidential campaign.”


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