HB 9 – Relating to Damages
On Thursday, February 20, HB 9 by Representative Tom Leek (R-Daytona Beach) was heard by the House Commerce Committee and was reported favorable with 15 yeas and 9 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.
A tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. The purpose of tort law is to fairly compensate a person harmed by another person's wrongful acts, whether intentional or negligent. In a negligence action in Florida, the compensation a plaintiff recovers is reduced to the extent the plaintiff or a third party contributed to the injury.
A healthy tort liability system benefits society as a whole by compensating injured parties fairly, resolving disputes, and discouraging undesirable behavior. A flawed tort system generates exorbitant damages and unpredictability, causing:
- Increased economic costs and increased risks of doing business;
- Higher insurance premiums;
- Increased healthcare costs and declining availability of medical services; and
- Deterrence of economic development and job creation activities.
The bill modifies the damages recoverable in certain tort actions by requiring a jury to consider an estimated value of medical services based on an independent database reporting medical costs charged and paid. This ensures the jury does not rely solely on the amount billed by the provider of medical or health care services to determine damages.
HB 9 will now move to the House Judiciary Committee.
AIF supports legislation that creates transparency and ensures accuracy in damages, thereby reducing the cost of insurance premiums for Florida businesses.
HB 1193 – Relating to Deregulation of Professions and Occupations
On Thursday, February 20, HB 1193 by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) was heard by the House Commerce Committee and was reported favorable with 23 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.
An occupational or professional license is a form of regulation that requires individuals who want to perform certain types of work, such as contractors and cosmetologists, to obtain permission from the government to perform the work. In the 1950s, less than five percent of U.S. workers were required to have an occupational license to do their jobs. Since then, the number of workers required to have a license has risen to more than one-quarter of U.S. workers, and an estimated 28.7 percent of the Florida workforce requires a license from the state.
In 2015, The White House published a report on the current state of occupational licensing in the nation. The report found that when designed and implemented carefully, requiring occupational licenses offers important health and safety protections to consumers, as well as benefits to workers. However, the report also found that too often licensing requirements are inconsistent, inefficient, arbitrary, and there is evidence that the current licensing regimes in the U.S. raise the price of goods and services, restrict employment opportunities, and make it more difficult for workers to take their skills across state lines.
Specifically, the bill, cited as the “Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act,” does the following:
- Deregulates: Interior designers and interior design businesses, hair braiders, hair wrappers, and body wrappers, nail polishers and makeup applicators, and boxing announcers and timekeepers.
- Partially deregulates: Talent agents, and labor organizations.
- Eliminates the additional business license for: Architects and landscape architects.
- Reduces the hours of training required to obtain a license for: Barbers, cosmetologists, and specialty salons.
- Adds new ways for out of state professionals to obtain a license in the state for: Veterinarians, construction and electrical contractors, landscape architects, geologists, engineers, certified public accountants, home inspectors, building code professionals, and cosmetologists barbers.
- Reduces the number of members on the Florida Building Commission.
- Authorizes unlicensed individual to provide compensated dietary and nutritional information if such individuals do not represent that they are licensed dieticians or nutritionists.
- Prohibits DBPR from disciplining or revoking a licensee based solely on defaulting on a student loan.
HB 1193 will now move to the House floor.
AIF supports legislative action to lesson burdensome and unnecessary regulations on Florida businesses.
SB 810 – Relating to Tobacco and Nicotine Products
On Thursday, February 20, SB 810 by Senator David Simmons (R-Longwood) was heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee and was reported favorable with 17 yeas and 3 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.
- Increases the minimum age to lawfully purchase and possess tobacco products from 18 years of age to 21 years of age.
- Repeals exceptions allowing persons in the military and emancipated minors to possess or purchase tobacco products under current law.
- Prohibits smoking and vaping by any person under 21 years of age on or near school property, regardless of hours of the day.
- Limits the sale of tobacco products through a vending machine to a location that prohibits persons under 21 years of age on the premises.
- Requires age verification before a sale or delivery to a person under 30 years of age. (This complies with recently enacted federal law.
SB 810 will now move to the Senate floor.
AIF supports moving the legal age of purchasing these products to 21 to align with Federal law.