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Weekly Legislative Update from April 5, 2019

Legal & Judicial

HB 1161 – Relating to Malt Beverages

On Monday, April 1HB 1161 by Representative Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers) was heard before the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and was reported favorably with 12 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

This bill creates a process for returns of malt beverages by a vendor to a distributor for an exchange of product, a refund, or a credit. A vendor may return malt beverages to a distributor if the malt beverages are a “damaged product,” an “out-of-code” product,” or an “undamaged product.” An “out-of-code product” is a malt beverage that has exceeded the manufacturer’s code date indicating the product’s freshness and availability for purchase at retail. A distributor is not required to accept a return request. A product may not be returned because it is overstocked or slow-moving or because there is only limited or seasonal demand for the product. Under the bill, a vendor may request return of undamaged product to a distributor only for exchange of product or for credit and an out-of-code product may be returned to a distributor only for an exchange of product.

HB 1161 will now move to the House Commerce Committee.

AIF supports legislative efforts to revise outdated laws that impose burdens and restrictions on any sector of the business community, including vendors and distributors of malt beverages.

SB 7096 – Relating to Constitutional Amendments

On Monday, April 1, SB 7096, sponsored and heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee, was reported favorably with 4 yeas and 2 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

This bill changes the process for amending the constitution by citizen initiative by:

  • Requiring petition gatherers to be Florida residents and registered with the Secretary of State;
  • Disqualifying petitions collected by unregistered petition gatherers from counting toward the number of petitions required for an initiative amendment to appear on the ballot;
  • Prohibiting compensation to petition-gatherers on a per-signature basis; and
  • Requiring the ballot for an initiative amendment include:
    • A bold-font, capitalized statement regarding the financial impact to the state if the Financial Impact Estimating Conference determines that the measure will increase costs, decrease revenue, or have an indeterminate fiscal impact;
    • A “yes” or “no” determination by the Florida Supreme Court as to whether the policy in the amendment could instead be accomplished by the Legislature instead of through the initiative amendment; and
    • The name of the amendment’s sponsor and the percentage of contributions received by the sponsor from in-state contributors.

AIF supports legislation that adds transparency and accountability to amending the Florida constitution by citizen initiative.

HB 431 – Relating to Liens Against Motor Vehicles and Vessels

On Wednesday, April 3, HB 431 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) was heard in the House Judiciary Committee and was reported favorably with 17 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

Currently, towing companies and auto repair shops, among others, may impose a lien on automobiles for towing and storage charges, as well as unpaid repair costs. The current statute requires the lienor to give the auto owner and all parties that have a financial interest in the auto notice of the lien and the public sale of the auto to cover paying off the lien.

Unfortunately, some “bad actors” in Florida have been abusing our current system by:  

  • Manipulating the time period for sending the notice of lien and notice of sale to eliminate the owner or finance company’s ability to pay the charges and recover the auto;
  • Sending empty envelopes to the entity that has lien on the auto for providing the financing of the auto;
  • Imposing very high administrative fees for perfecting the lien and enforcing the lien;
  • Adding unreasonable or fraudulent charges to the towing or repair bill to justify the sale of the auto and keeping all proceeds of the sale.

HB 431 will now move to the House floor. 

AIF supports legislation that prevents the increase in insurance rates caused by bad actor companies taking advantage of the current lien laws.

HB 1235- Relating to Legal Notices

On Wednesday, April 3, HB 1235 by Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) was heard in the House Judiciary Committee and was reported favorably with 11 yeas and 7 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, spoke in opposition to this legislation.

The Florida Constitution requires public notice be given for meetings at which official acts are to be taken or where public business is to be conducted. This bill requires each state or local government agency to publish legally required notices and advertisements on their official website. Each government agency must publish notice at least once a year in a newspaper of general circulation, a newsletter or periodical, or other publication mailed and delivered to all residents and property owners in the government’s jurisdiction.

HB 1235 will now move to the House State Affairs Committee.

AIF opposes internet-only public notice, as it eliminates the wide net that is cast by print media and the internet combined. Because webpages are present one day and gone the next, the internet is an inherently unreliable platform for critical information. As Florida is predominately a small business state, citizens and business owners must be able to access these public notices both in print and digital form.

HB 107 – Relating to Use of Wireless Communication Devices While Driving

On Thursday, April 4, HB 107 by Representative Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) was heard in the House State Affairs Committee and was reported favorably with 20 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

The Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law prohibits a person from texting, emailing, and instant messaging while driving but is considered a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement cannot stop a driver solely for texting. This bill makes the use of a wireless communication device while driving a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to stop individuals for wireless device usage while behind the wheel.

HB 107 will now move to the House floor.

AIF supports legislation that addresses the issue of distracted driving and will ensure public safety for businesses and Floridians operating on our roadways.