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Weekly Update from January 12, 2024

The first week of the 2024 legislative session has come to a close. This week, the legislature picked up the slack from the slow moving interim committee weeks of 2023. On Wednesday, January 10, AIF celebrated the return of the Florida legislature with our annual Legislative Reception at AIF headquarters in Tallahassee. A tradition in Tallahassee, the Legislative Reception boasted guests from cabinet officers, legislators, local elected officials, consultants, and AIF member-company representatives.

The AIF Advocacy Team was hard at work throughout the week monitoring bills and appearing before committees. Several items that AIF is tracking made their first committee stop since being filed. On the agenda were bills relating to energy, environmental regulation, criminal justice, and employment. Additionally, the Senate advanced President Kathleen Passidomo’s “Live Healthy” healthcare package to the Senate floor as the House began its work on its companion package in the Select Committee on Health Innovation.  The “Live Healthy Act” is focused on growing Florida’s health care workforce, increasing access, and incentivizing innovation.

Several bills have been filed in both chambers addressing artificial intelligence.  This is a broad area that is of great interest to AIF and the broader business community. Please see the op-ed from our President & CEO Brewster Bevis on the relationship between artificial intelligence and business.  

Opening day speech from Governor Ron DeSantis is available below.

Opening day speech from House Speaker Paul Renner below.

SB 480- Renewable Natural Gas

On Tuesday, January 9, SB 480 by Senator Nick DiCeglie (R-St. Petersburg) was heard by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee and was reported favorably with 7 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), continues to expand its presence in Florida’s economy as it becomes a more practical and cost-effective source of renewable energy. SB 480 would grant public utilities with a cost-recovery mechanism for qualifying RNG infrastructure projects. The bill would also encourage further solutions for the capture, sale, and reuse of methane gas.

SB 480 will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government for consideration.

AIF supports legislation that provides an economically and technically feasible framework which encourages development and investment in renewable natural gas, hydrogen, and other energy technologies.


SB 738- Environmental Management

On Wednesday, January 10, SB 738 by Senator Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) was heard and passed by the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee with 5 yeas and 2 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

SB 738 is a comprehensive deregulation and civil reform bill that would allow those who challenge environmental permits with the opportunity to recover legal fees in the event of a prevailing case. If a meritless lawsuit is filed, SB 738 would allow the applicant of the permit to recover fees from the plaintiff. Additionally, the bill clarifies language for the redevelopment of contaminated lands and provides a barrier against frivolous litigation for those abiding by guidelines issued by the state.

SB 738 will now go to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

AIF supports legislation that simplifies regulatory patchwork and provides protections against frivolous litigation.


SB 340- Intentional Damage to Critical Infrastructure

On Wednesday, January 10, SB 340 by Senator Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville) was heard and passed by the Senate Criminal Justice Subcommittee with 8 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

SB 340 provides for increased penalties for those who “improperly tamper” with anything defined as “critical infrastructure.” Some examples of “critical infrastructure” include electrical power stations, chemical storage facilities, liquid natural gas storage facilities, deepwater ports, or railyards.

SB 340 will now go to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee for consideration.

AIF supports legislation that deters vandalism, theft, or any form of criminal activity in or around areas of critical infrastructure.


HB 433- Employment Regulations

On Thursday, January 11, HB 433 by Representative Tiffany Esposito (R-Fort Myers) was heard by the House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee and was reported favorably with 13 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

HB 433 was filed as a bill that would preempt local governments from adding additional ordinances relating to workplace heat exposure requirements. It was amended to include preemptions relating to local wage requirements.

Employers are already required under OSHA to provide a place of employment that is free from recognized standards including heat. There are clear standards employers must meet and this bill will prevent another level of regulation in this area and an unlevel regulatory playing field.

Some local governments have also been setting their own minimum wage standards. HB 433 ensures consistency by only recognizing the constitutionally mandated state minimum wage.

HB 433 will now go to the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee for consideration.

AIF supports regulatory consistency in workplace safety regulations that prevents a patchwork of local regulations that could include unattainable standards which do little to protect employees while opening an onslaught of fines penalties, and other punitive measures.