NAIFA-Florida’s Recent Political, Legislative and Regulatory Victories – 2018 Wrap Up
By Timothy J. Meenan, NAIFA-Florida Lobbyist
The 2018 regular Florida Legislative Session adjourned at 10:45 p.m. on March 9. Approximately 200 bills were passed this session of the 3,250 filed– significantly lower in comparison to other years where about 300 bills pass. Much of the last four weeks of session was spent focusing on school safety bills in reaction to the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.
The legislature was unable to adjourn on time on March 9th (day 60), as budget negotiations between the House and Senate required a two-day extension, but they ultimately cobbled together a budget and tax deal that must be ratified on March 11 before the legislature can officially Sine Die. However, action on all other bills, aside from the budget and tax packages, was final on March 9.
Below is a summary of the most relevant bills for these lines of insurance.
1. GENETIC INFORMATION USED FOR INSURANCE – SB1106/HB855
HB855 by Representative Brodeur was unanimously passed off the House floor in February, but ultimately never made it through its final committee stop in the Senate. The House made an unsuccessful late in session play to amend this bill onto other bills in an effort to keep it alive. Current Florida law prohibits insurers from considering genetic information when issuing health insurance policies and when setting applicable premium rates. The bill would have expanded these existing prohibitions to include life insurance policies, long-term care insurance, and disability income insurance and would prevent these policy types from canceling, limiting, or denying coverage or setting differential premium rates based on personal genetic information that is derived from genetic testing. The definition of genetic testing in current law excludes routine physical examinations or chemical, blood, or urine analysis, unless conducted purposefully to obtain genetic information, and also excludes questions regarding family history. The bill does not modify this definition.
This bill had the support of key leadership in the House and will likely be back in play next session.
2. PROTECTION FOR VULNERABLE INVESTORS HB681/SB662
HB681 by Representative Donalds passed the full House of Representatives on March 1st but ultimately died on the Senate floor. The Senate sponsor decided not to move forward after receiving communication that the Governor’s office had some concerns with the bill. The bill would have allowed a securities dealer to place a 15-day delay on suspicious transactions, clarifies that nothing in the subsection (starts on line 89) prevents the dealer from terminating a hold after contact with the specified adult and requires a dealer to notify the Office, on a quarterly basis, of every delay and related outcome. In addition, the bill would have allowed a dealer, investment adviser, or an associated person to place a temporary hold on a transaction regarding the account of a specified adult (65 or older, or meets requirements) or an account for which a specified adult is a beneficiary, or beneficial owner if the dealer, investment adviser, or associated person believes in good faith that exploitation of the specified adult has occurred. Annuity sales were also encompassed within the scope of this bill.
This bill had a lot of momentum this session so we expect to see it again in the 2019 session.
1. PBM REGULATION BILL HB351/SB1494
HB 351 by Representative Santiago and SB1494 by Senator Montford requires that a contract between a PBM and a health plan include prohibitions on certain practices that limit patient access to pricing information. The bill also requires a contract to limit patient cost sharing for a drug to the lesser of the applicable cost sharing amount, the total submitted charges, or the retail price. The bill creates an affirmative duty for a pharmacist to communicate to a patient the availability of a lower cost alternative drug if one exists and whether the patient’s cost sharing obligation exceeds the retail price of a drug in the absence of prescription drug coverage.
HB351 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on March 1st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 8th and unanimously approved it; the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
2. RETROACTIVE DENIAL SB162/HB217
HB217 by Representative Hager passed two of its three committees. Ultimately our industry messaging as to how this bill would increase rates likely killed it. The bill would have prohibited a health insurer or HMO from retroactively denying a claim at any time because of insured ineligibility, if the insurer or HMO verified the insured’s eligibility at the time of treatment and provided an authorization number. An amendment was adopted in a House committee that would exclude the State’s Medicaid Managed Care plan, which could be viewed as a recognition by the legislature how the potential law change will result in increased costs to providers.
Currently, a health insurer or HMO may retroactively deny a claim because of an insured’s ineligibility up to 1 year after the payment of the claim. Under existing law, the patient is responsible for those claims, which potentially exposes the physician to financial risk if the patient does not pay the claims.
The Senate version, SB162, by Steube, was unanimously approved by the Senate on March 3rd but the House was never considered on the floor as it was stuck in the HHS Committee.
3. PROHIBITING MAIL-ORDER DRUG DISCOUNTS SB492/HB289
SB 492 by Garcia, passed two of its three committees back in week four but ultimately was never heard in Senate appropriations. The bill prohibited an HMO or group health policy from requiring an insured to obtain a prescription drug for a chronic illness exclusively through mail, unless the drug is considered an “excluded” drug, a drug that the FDA decided cannot be provided by a retail pharmacy. The bill also allowed the insured to obtain prescription drugs for the treatment of a “chronic illness” (a broad list of conditions) through a retail pharmacy that agrees to the same terms and conditions applicable to a mail order pharmacy and accepts payment or reimbursement from the insurer.
The House companion, HB 289 by Raschein, passed its first subcommittee in week one but was never placed on the agenda in its second stop, the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.
4. HEALTH INSURER AUTHORIZATION SB98/HB199
SB98 by Steube, unanimously passed the full Senate in week four. The bill would have revised provisions of the Insurance Code relating to prior authorization and step therapy or fail-first protocols. It required a health insurer or a PBM to provide current prior authorization requirements, restrictions, and forms on a publicly accessible website and in written or electronic format upon request. If a health insurer or a PBM on behalf of a health insurer intended to amend or implement new prior authorization requirements or restrictions, the health insurer or PBM must have:
- Ensure that the new or amended requirements or restrictions are available on its website at least 60 days before the effective date of the changes.
- Provide notice to policyholders and providers who are affected by the changes at least 60 days before the effective date. Notice may be delivered electronically or by other methods mutually agreed upon by the insured or provider.
The bill also requires a health insurer to grant a protocol exception request if:
- A preceding prescription drug or medical treatment is contraindicated or will likely cause an adverse reaction or physical or mental harm to the insured;
- A preceding prescription drug is expected to be ineffective based on the medical history of the insured and the clinical evidence of the characteristics of the preceding prescription drug or medical treatment;
- The insured previously received a preceding prescription drug or another prescription drug or medical treatment that is in the same pharmacologic class or that has the same mechanism of action as a preceding prescription drug, respectively, and the drug or treatment lacked efficacy or effectiveness or adversely affected the insured; or
- A preceding prescription drug or medical treatment is not in the best interest of the insured because the insured’s use of the drug or treatment is expected to:
- Cause a significant barrier to the insured’s adherence to or compliance with the insured’s plan of care;
- Worsen the medical condition of the insured that exists simultaneously but independently with the condition under treatment; or
- Decrease the ability of the insured to achieve or maintain his or her ability to perform daily activities.
HB199 by Harrison unanimously passed its second of three committees in week four but was never set on the agenda in the House HHS Committee. The House bill had been narrowed down to eliminate the Prior Authorization section of the bill, focusing on a Step Therapy process that permits an insured to demonstrate that they had tried and failed a drug previously, promoting continuity of care. However, HB199 bogged down when PhRMA Companies attempted to reinsert Medicaid into the scope of the bill.
5. EYE DROP REFILLS BILLS SB924/HB537
SB924 by Senator Baxley required that individual and group health insurance policies and HMO contracts which provide coverage for prescription eye drops to treat a chronic eye disease or condition, must provide coverage for prescription eye drop refills if certain criteria is met. However, the bill sponsor voluntarily postponed the bill, stating that it had come to his attention that health insurers are already voluntarily adhering to standards more generous than the bill would have required.
HB537, the House companion was never scheduled for a committee hearing.
6. FLORIDA INSURANCE CODE EXEMPTION FOR NONPROFIT RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS HB1021/SB660
SB660 by Senator Brandes and HB 1021 by Representative Altman, conforms the statute that governs health care sharing ministries to model legislation of the American Legislative Exchange Council, federal law, and the common practices of these ministries. A health care sharing ministry is an alternative to health insurance through which people of similar beliefs assist each other in paying for health care. The bill also requires a ministry to have an annual independent audit conducted according to generally accepted accounting principles and to provide monthly statements to participants of the total dollar amount of qualified needs shared in the previous month. SB660 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the Senate floor on February 21st. The House took up the Senate bill and approved it March 7th; the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
7. CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES/OPIODS HB21/SB8
HB21 by Representative Boyd and SB8 by Senator Benaquisto is intended to address the growing opioid issue by limiting the prescription for a Schedule II opioid to a three-day supply, or a seven-day supply if deemed medically necessary. The bill also requires Department of Health (DOH) to adopt rules establishing guidelines for prescribing controlled substances. Additionally, the bill requires a health care practitioner to complete a board-approved 2-hour continuing education course regarding safely and effectively prescribing controlled substances and to review a patient’s PDMP history prior to prescribing a controlled substance. The bill also requires all pain management clinics to register with the DOH or claim an exemption from registration to obtain a certificate of exemption by January 1, 2019.
This bill was a priority for the House, Senate and the Governor and there was a lot of work done late in session to ensure the bill passed. HB21 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on March 1st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 8th and approved it after adding an amendment, sending it back to the House which amended the bill again before sending it back to the Senate. In the end, the final bill resolved treatment funding differences, omitted the bans on prior authorization/step therapy for MAT and also removed the reference to a brand-name MAT drug, Vivitrol. The Senate unanimously approved the bill now which now heads to the governor for approval.
8. DIRECT PRIMARY CARE AGREEMENTS READY FOR SENATE FLOOR VOTE HB37/SB80
HB37 by Representative Burgess SB80 by Senator Lee provide that direct primary care agreements and the act of entering into such an agreement are not insurance and not subject to regulation under the Florida Insurance Code. The bill eliminates any authority of OIR to regulate a direct primary care agreement and exempts a primary care provider from certification or licensing requirements under the Insurance code for marketing, selling or offering to sell an agreement. The bill also places several requirements on a direct primary care agreement, a few of these include the agreement to:
- Be in writing;
- Be signed by the primary care provider and the patient;
- Allow either party to terminate the agreement by written notice followed by, at least, a 30-day waiting period;
- Allow immediate termination of the agreement for a violation of physician-patient relationship or a breach of the terms of the agreement.
HB37 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the House floor on January 25th. The Senate took up the House bill on March 8th and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
SB280 by Bean unanimously passed the Senate on March 2nd and ultimately died after its House companion, HB793 by Representative Massullo, was never heard in its first committee stop in the House. The bill defined the term, “telehealth,” as the mode of providing health care services and public health care services by a Florida licensed practitioner, within the scope of his or her practice, through synchronous and asynchronous information and telecommunication technologies where the practitioner is located at a site other than the site where the recipient, whether a patient or another licensed practitioner, is located. It established practice standards for telehealth services and addresses the prescribing of controlled substances, and the issuance of a physician’s certification for prescribing medical marijuana. The bill would have cleared up the regulatory uncertainty of using telehealth technology.
10. CLASS III INSTITUTIONAL PHARMACY SB1128/HB675
HB675 by Representative Brodeur and SB1128 by Senator Stargel create a new type of institutional pharmacy, the Class III institutional pharmacy.
The bill authorizes Class III institutional pharmacies to:
- Dispense, distribute, compound, and fill prescriptions for medicinal drugs;
- Prepare prepackaged drug products;
- Conduct other pharmaceutical services for affiliated hospitals and entities under common control, each of which must be permitted to possess medicinal drugs; and
- Provide medicinal drugs, drug products, and pharmaceutical services to an entity under common control that holds an active health care clinic establishment permit.
HB675 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on March 1st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 9th and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
11. PHYSICIAN FEE SHARING BILL TRANSFORMED INTO TASK FORCE SB1862/HB425
SB 1862 by Broxson unanimously passed the full Senate on March 9th and ultimately did not pass after not being heard on the House floor. The bill provided two exceptions from the prohibition against physicians entering into fee-splitting arrangements or receiving any commission, bonus, kickback, or rebate for patients referred for health care goods and services. The exceptions created by the bill:
- Allow an allopathic and osteopathic physician to enter into an alternative payment arrangement that otherwise complies with state and federal law; and
- If the compensation payments comply with federal law, allow a physician who is an employee of the entity compensating the physician to receive a share of:
- Profits, collections, or revenues based on the professional services provided by the physician, or directly supervised by the physician, which are provided on behalf of the entity compensating the physician; or
- Overall profit or revenue of the entity compensating the physician as long as the share is not determined in a manner that directly takes into account the volume or value of services ordered by the physician but not performed by the physician or under the supervision of the physician.
HB425 by Representative Plascencia passed its third and final committee, but was never heard on the floor. The bill was amended in its first committee and is now a Task Force, whose composition would include the Attorney General, Surgeon General and members appointed by the Department of Health, Legislature, hospitals, health insurers, practitioners, the Florida Bar, investors, medical device manufacturers, and IT specialists, among others.
12. IMMUNIZATION REGISTRY HB1045/SB1680
HB 1045 by Pigman passed all of its committees but was never heard on the floor. The bill required physicians, physician assistants, and nurses who administer vaccines to children aged 18 or younger, or to students aged 19 to 23 at a Florida College or university health care facility, to report the vaccination to the immunization registry. The bill also repealed the ability of a parent or guardian of a child to opt to exclude his or her child from participating in the SHOTS immunization registry.
SB1680 by Montford passed its first committee and was never scheduled for its second of three committees, Senate Education.
13. SCOPE OF PRACTICE — PHARMACISTS TO TEST FOR FLU/STREP HB431/SB524
HB 431 by Representative Placenscia only passed one of its two committees and would have permitted pharmacists to test and treat the flu and strep under certain conditions. To be eligible to provide this service a pharmacist must meet certain insurance and certification requirements.
The Senate companion, SB524 by Senator Brandes, was temporarily postponed by the Health Policy Committee in its first committee stops and never heard again. The FMA testified against the bills, claiming that swabs are too imprecise when compared to a doctor’s diagnosis.
14. NURSING SCOPE OF PRACTICE SB1594/HB1337
HB1337 by Representative Pigman and SB 1594 by Brandes changes the title of “advanced registered nurse practitioner” (ARNP) to “advanced practice registered nurse” (APRN) throughout the Florida Statutes. Instead of being certified to practice in this state as currently required for ARNPs, the bill requires APRNs to be licensed. Also, the bill repeals the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) license and adds the CNS specialty certification into APRN licensure. All authorizations granted to APRNs will be applicable to a CNS.
This is a win for the House, which passed similar bills in prior sessions but the Florida Medical Association has always managed to block the expansion of nursing practices in the Senate.
HB1337 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on March 1st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 9th and unanimously approved it; the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
15. TELEPHARMACY SB848/HB679
SB848 by Grimsley passed the full Senate on March 9th and ultimately died on the House floor after not being heard. The bill would have created a new pharmacy permit for remote dispensing site pharmacies (RDSP). In a RDSP a registered pharmacy technician may dispense medicinal drugs under the supervision of an offsite pharmacist. Requirements for RDSP permits include:
- Ownership and video surveillance by a Florida licensed pharmacist.
- a remote dispensing site pharmacy must be located in a rural area and may not be located within 10 miles of a community pharmacy, with exceptions
The bill restricts an RDSP from performing centralized prescription filling and a registered pharmacy technician working in an RDSP from performing sterile or complex nonsterile compounding; and from storing, holding, and dispensing schedule II narcotic controlled substances. The bill was amended to allow HMOs to include remote sites in their networks while counting toward adequacy requirements.
HB679 by Ponder all of its committees of reference which included a stop that added an amendment establishing that a pharmacy technician employed at a RDSP must have at least 2,080 hours of experience within the 2 years immediately preceding employment.
16. INSURANCE COVERAGE PARITY FOR MENTAL HEALTH/SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS SB1422/HB955
SB1422 by Senator Rouson passed two of its three committees, but was ultimately never taken up in its last stop Senate Appropriations. The bill would have provided the Office of Insurance Regulation with the authority to ensure that individual and group policies and contracts of health insurers and health maintenance organizations are complying with the provisions of the federal Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The bill also required health insurers and HMOs to submit an annual report to the OIR showing their compliance with the MHPAEA. Medicaid plans must report annually to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Additionally, the OIR was required to report annually to the Legislature.
HB955 by Representative Shaw was never seen in its first of three committees.
17. LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS/RESPONSIBILITIES OF CONSULTANT PHARMACISTS HB689/SB914
HB689 by Representative Byrd unanimously passed the House floor on March 9th and was ultimately dead because SB914 by Senator Garcia was never heard in its first committee. The bill would have had a consultant pharmacist to enter into a collaborative agreement with a health facility medical director or an individual health care practitioner to allow a consultant pharmacist to: order and evaluate laboratory and clinical testing, conduct patient assessments, administer medications, and initiate, modify, or discontinue medicinal drugs pursuant to a patient-specific order or treatment protocol.
18. ENTERAL FORMULA MANDATE SB528
SB528 by Senator Stargel never received a hearing and had no House companion. The bill would have added an amendment to the main budget bill, SB2500, to require coverage in the state group plan for enteral formulas prescribed by a physician, up to a maximum coverage limit of $20,000 per person
19. HEALTH CARE HB597/SB622
SB 622 by Senator Grimsley and HB597 by Representative Yarborough amends various authorizing and licensing statutes for entities regulated by the Agency for Health Care Administration. The bill adds, removes, and revises requirements for licenses of health care risk managers, home health agencies, ALFs, and mobile surgical facilities. The bill also includes:
- clinical laboratories that perform testing on specimens derived from within Florida will no longer be required to obtain state licensure;
- Addresses unlicensed ALFs by strengthening the enforcement capabilities of AHCA;
- Defines the assistance an ALF must provide a resident under the Resident Bill of Rights;
- Repeals the HMO Subscriber Assistance Program;
- Eliminates the special procedures for investigating emergency access complaints against hospitals;
- Repeals an exemption to licensure for any facility that was providing obstetrical and gynecological surgical services and was owned and operated by a board-certified obstetrician on June 15, 1984;
- Removes language that prevents nurse registries from marketing their services;
- Excludes individuals from employment with licensees if they have a pending domestic violence offense and excludes providers from participation in the Medicaid program for criminal offenses including offenses related to the provision of health care services, fraud, and controlled substances; and
- Establishes the authority of a county with a public health trust over the trust’s facility.
SB622 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the Senate floor on March 3rd. The House took up the Senate bill on March 5th and unanimously approved it; the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
20. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SB1486/HB1047
SB1486 by Grimsley passed its second committee, Appropriations, but never made it any further. The bill would have updated several provisions relating to health care practitioners and facilities regulated by the Department of Health including:
- Authorizes rulemaking for the selection of physicians under the Conrad 30 Waiver Program;
- Requires the date of birth for health care professional licensure applications;
- Allows active duty spouses expedited licensure for dentistry;
- Repeals the requirement that the Board of Medicine conduct a review of organizations that board certify physicians in dermatology;
- Defines a contact classroom hour for chiropractic continuing education and authorizes 10 hours of online general credit continuing education;
- Deregulates registered chiropractic assistants;
- Grants rulemaking authority to the Board of Nursing to establish standards of care, including discipline and standards of care for certified nursing assistants;
- Recognizes CNA certification in a territory or the District of Columbia for certification in Florida and eliminates the element of intent for violations of practice laws for CNAs;
- Requires an institutional, nuclear, special, or internet pharmacy to pass a DOH onsite inspection before licensure;
- Establishes the licensure of in-state sterile compounding pharmacies;
- Requires dentists and dental hygienists to report adverse incidents;
- Restricts an athletic trainer to working within his or her scope of practice;
- Requires supervision of athletic training students to be in accordance with board rules rather than an external entity’s standards;
- Authorizes a joint registration for orthotics and prosthetics residency and provides a licensure pathway for a joint educational program;
- Eliminates the massage therapy apprenticeship program, except for the study of colonic irrigation; clarifies that the massage therapist licensure examination is a national examination approved by the board; and expands circumstances for the revocation, or denial, of initial licensure of a massage establishment license;
- Eliminates outdated language, clarifies education accreditation requirements, and streamlines licensure by endorsement requirements for psychology licensure;
- Clarifies, streamlines, and corrects inconsistencies in provisions regulating the licensure of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, and clinical social work; and
- Requires applicants for licensure as a mental health counselor to have a master’s degree that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), beginning July 1, 2024.
HB1047 by Gonzalez passed its final committee in week seven but was never heard on the floor.
1. DENTAL THERAPY TRANSFORMED INTO STUDY HB683/SB1498
HB 683 by Perez passed its first of three committees and never made it any further after the bill was temporarily postponed in its second committee, Health Care Appropriations. The bill required the Department of Health to conduct a comprehensive study on the affordability, access, and delivery of dental care in Florida and submit a report of its findings to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by December 31, 2018. The report must include policy proposals for improving affordability, access, and delivery of dental services, and address implementation burdens and the sustainability of such proposals.
SB 1498 by Brandes was never scheduled for its first committee. These bills were opposed by the FDA.
2. DENTAL STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM HB369/SB764
SB764 by Bean unanimously passed the full Senate but its House companion, HB369 by Representative Burton, was only been heard in its first of three committees which ultimately kept this FDA priority from passing. The bill created the Dental Student Loan Repayment Program (Program) for licensed dentists who practice in specific public health programs located in in dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (population to provider ratio is 5000:1). A typical dentist’s debt post-graduation is between $250,000 and $500,000. Subject to the availability of funds, the Department of Health (DOH) may award up to $50,000 per year per eligible dentist in the Program for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years.
1. AOB REFORM SB62/SB1168/HB7015
SB1168, by Senator Steube, passed two of its committee of three committees, but that’s as far as this onerous version of AOB reform ultimately got prior to stalling out in the Senate. SB1168 also amended current law to provide that a misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement on an insurance application may prevent recovery only if the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim. If the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim, one of the following must have applied:
- The misrepresentation, omission, concealment, or statement is fraudulent or is material to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer; or
- If the true facts relative to the loss claimed had been known to the insurer pursuant to a policy requirement or other requirement, the insurer in good faith would not have:
- Issued the policy or contract;
- Issued the policy or contract at a premium rate at least 20 percent higher than the rate actually charged;
- Issued a policy or contract in as large an amount; or
- Provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss.
In addition, SB1168 also would have amended current law to prohibit an insurer from utilizing “managed repair” controls, such as requiring that a particular vendor make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs. It also prohibits the insurer from even recommending or suggesting a particular vendor to make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs.
The bill required the assignee to provide a copy of the assignment agreement to the insurer within the earlier of 7 days after execution of the agreement, or 48 hours after beginning nonemergency work if the insurer has a facsimile number and e-mail address on its website designated for the delivery of such documents. It allowed the insurer to inspect the property at any time. If the insurer fails to attempt in good faith to inspect the property within 7 days after learning of the loss and promptly deliver to the assignee written notice of any perceived deficiency in the assignee’s notice or the work being performed; however, the failure may be raised to estop the insurer from asserting that work done was not reasonably necessary or that the notice was insufficient. We worked hard to stop this bill from advancing or being amended onto other legislation.
Industry’s preferred AOB bill, SB62 by Senator Hukill, was never scheduled for a committee hearing by the Banking & Insurance committee in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Florida House of Representatives AOB reform, HB 7015 by Representative Trumbull was sent to the Senate in the first week of the legislative session. While the House version was not a perfect solution, the bill makes significant changes to the way property repair vendors are restricted in their use of an “assignment of benefits” or “AOB.” The bill requires disclosures be provided to insureds before entering into an AOB. It moved to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provided the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increased consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed. While it would be better to eliminate attorneys’ fees to repair vendors altogether, this bill would have been an improvement over the current system.
In the end, the House and Senate versions of AOB never matched up. This issue will be revisited next session.
2. AOB MANAGED REPAIR WITH RESTRICTIONS SB1140
SB1140 by Senator Garcia specifies requirements for an insurer offering residential coverage that places a restriction on the policyholder’s choice of contractor necessary to repair damage covered by the policy. Those restrictions would require the use of a contractor with an active license, prohibiting the contractor from placing a lien on the covered property for the work performed, ensure that all necessary permits are obtained for the work being performed, and guarantee the quality of work performed by the contractor under the policy for 3 years after all work has been completed.
The bill was never scheduled for a committee hearing and had no House companion.
3. INSURER REPORTING SB1668
SB 1668 by Senator Farmer required insurers filing rates with OIR to provide specific information and projections relating to claim litigation in their filings. This information included costs associated with litigating claims, denied or limited claims that were successfully defended by the insurer in court, denied or limited claims that reached settlement, denied or limited claims that were adjudicated in favor of the insured, plaintiff attorney fees paid in association with denied or limited claims, and defendant attorney fees paid in association with denied or limited claims.
The bill was never scheduled for a committee hearing and had no House companion.
4. HURRICANE FLOOD INSURANCE DISCLOSURE HB1011/SB1282
HB1011 by Representative Cruz and SB1282 by Senator Taddeo requires Homeowner’s property insurance policies to include the following statement in bold 18-point type: “LAW AND ORDINANCE: LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT COVERAGE THAT YOU MAY WISH TO PURCHASE. PLEASE DISCUSS WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT.”
“FLOOD INSURANCE: YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF FLOOD INSURANCE. YOUR HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE POLICY DOES NOT INCLUDE COVERAGE FOR DAMAGE RESULTING FROM FLOOD EVEIN IF HURRICANE WINDS AND RAIN CAUSED THE FLOOD TO OCCUR. WITHOUT SEPARATE FLOOD INSURANCE COVERAGE, YOU MAY HAVE UNCOVERED LOSSES CAUSED BY FLOOD. PLEASE DISCUSS THE NEED TO PURCHASE SEPARATE FLOOD INSURANCE.”
This bill originally required the agent to get a signed attestation to similar language from the insured on the first application, then a second time at the first renewal. We worked to get this bill fixed to remove the signed attestation, and also to get the disclosure language streamlined.
HB1011 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on February 14th. The Senate took up the House bill on March 2nd and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
5. HOUSE HURRICANE CATASTROPHE FUND BILL HB97/SB1454
The bill, HB97 by Representative Santiago, was only heard in one of its two referenced committee stops. The bill would have created an additional coverage option within the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund for property insurers, of 60 percent, adding to the current coverage options of 90, 75, or 45 percent. These percentage options are the amounts that the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund will reimburse an insurer’s losses that are caused by hurricanes. This additional coverage option would have given insurers more flexibility in developing and funding their risk transfer programs.
The bill also revised the rapid cash build-up factor to fluctuate, up to a limit, based on the projected Fund balance. Additionally, the bill clarified that emergency assessments be levied only to fund bonds.
Its companion, SB1454 by Brandes, only passed its first of three committees, the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee. Senator Brandes attempted to pass the rapid cash buildup factor elimination as an amendment on the insurance Omnibus bill during the last week of session but we were able to prevent this from happening.
6. CITIZENS IT SECURITY/ PUB. REC. HB1127/SB1880
HB 1127 by Representative Lee and SB 1880 by Senator Broxson, creates public record exemptions for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) that are similar to those currently in law for state agencies. The bill provides that records held by Citizens that identify detection, investigation, or response practices for suspected or confirmed IT security incidents, including suspected or confirmed breaches, are confidential and exempt from public record requirements. Also, portions of risk assessments, evaluations, audits, and other reports are exempt.
HB1127 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the House floor on February 21st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 7th and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
7. CITIZENS CLEARINGHOUSE/PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION SB7012/HB7097
SB7012, a Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Bill and HB7097 a House Government Accountability Committee Bill reauthorize the public records exemption for proprietary business information provided by insurers to the Citizens clearinghouse program. Such business information is shared with the clearinghouse to facilitate placing risks with private market insurers instead of Citizens when applicants or current Citizens policy holders seek new or renewal property insurance coverage. This public records exemption is set to be repealed on October 2, 2018. All public records exemptions in law undergo and Open Government Sunshine Review five years after they are enacted.
HB7097 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on March 5th. The Senate took up the House bill on March 8th and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
1. AAA MEMBERSHIP BILL SB756/HB533
The bill, advocated for by AAA, HB 533 by Representative Hager and SB756 by Senator Grimsley allows a property and casualty insurer to condition the sale of insurance on the purchase of motor vehicle services if such services are purchased from a membership organization that has maintained more than one million members in Florida continuously since January 1, 2018 and is affiliated with the insurer.
HB553 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on January 31st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 9th and amended the bill, due to concerns expressed by the Governor, to remove a requirement that the membership organization have more than one million members and sent the bill back to the House. The House ultimately concurred with the amendment and unanimously approved the amended bill. The bill now heads to the governor for approval.
2. AOB GLASS REFORM SB396/HB811
SB 396 by Senator Hukill passed its second committee back in week four, but then was sent back to its first committee of reference due to an amendment that Banking & Insurance Committee Chair didn’t approve of. The bill was ultimately never heard again in B&I and died. The bill was amended several times; the only remaining language provided that a motor vehicle repair shop may not provide an inducement in the form of a rebate, gift, gift card, coupon or any other thing of value in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair.
HB811 by Representative Plasencia, was never scheduled for a committee hearing.
3. NAMED-DRIVER EXCLUSION SB518/HB329
SB518 by Senator Bean was voted down in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee last week. The bill would have authorized private passenger motor vehicle policyholders to exclude named members of their household who are of driving age, from all coverages under their policy. The intent of the bill was to provide policyholders who reside in the same household as high-risk individuals the opportunity to potential see a decrease in their rates if they exclude such drivers from all coverages. With the bill defeated in committee, this issue is effectively dead for this session.
HB 329 by Representative Ponder passed all of its committees but ultimately never passed the House after the Senate voted its version down.
4. TEXTING WHILE DRIVING SB90/HB33
HB33 by Representative Toledo passed the full House and ultimately died in the Senate. The bill would have made texting while driving, already a traffic infraction, and a primary offense. Today, law enforcement is only able to issue a citation as a secondary offense, meaning they must pull you over for something else, like speeding, and only then may cite you for texting while driving. A primary offense means that law enforcement officers that witness texting while driving may pull a driver over for that offense alone and issue a citation. An amendment was adopted on the bill to restrict search and seizure of data on a cell phone unless permission is voluntarily given by the owner.
Due to concerns regarding racial profiling as the bill moved through its Senate and House committees, a n amendment was adopted that would require law enforcement officers record the race/ethnicity of the violator on the traffic stop report. The data would be sent annually to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and then to the Governor and Legislature.
SB90 by Senator Perry passed three of its four committees but was never placed on the agenda in Senate Appropriations due to nonspecific reservations expressed by Appropriations Chairman Bradley. Ultimately, the bill died.
5. MOTOR VEHICLE DEALERS SB616/HB595
SB616 by Senator Passidomo and HB595 by Representative Rommel expand the definition of “motor vehicle dealer” to include any person who:
- Leases three or more motor vehicles in any 12-month period;
- Engages in possessing, storing, or displaying three or more motor vehicles for retail sale or lease in a 12-month period;
- Advertises motor vehicles held in his or her inventory for retail sale or lease;
- Compensates customers for vehicles at wholesale or retail (trade-ins);
- Negotiates with customers regarding the terms of sale or lease for a motor vehicle;
- Provides test drives of motor vehicles he or she is offering for retail sale or lease; or
- Delivers or arranges for delivery a motor vehicle in conjunction with the retail sale or lease of a motor vehicle.
The bill also prohibits motor vehicle dealers from transferring a manufacturer’s statement of origin for a motor vehicle to any person who intends to sell the vehicle in Florida, unless that person is a licensed motor vehicle dealer.
The definition of “motor vehicle broker” is also in the bill to clarify that brokers assist the general public in purchasing or leasing a motor vehicle from a dealer and clarifies that a licensed manufacturer, distributor, or importer is not a motor vehicle broker.
Earlier versions of the bill could have been interpreted to allow only motor vehicle dealers to sell extended service warranties, but we worked with the auto dealers to strike this provision from the bill.
SB616 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the Senate floor on March 3rd. The House took up the Senate bill on March 7th and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
6. AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES SB712/HB353
HB353 by Representative Brodeur and Fischer passed two of its three committees. The companion measure, SB712 by Senator Brandes, passed one of its three committees. The bills would have revised various provisions of law relating to autonomous vehicles. The bill provided that a licensed human operator is not required to operate a fully autonomous vehicle and authorizes operation of a fully autonomous vehicle on Florida roads regardless of whether a human operator physically present in the vehicle.
Additionally, the bill authorized certain television and pre-recorded video displays that are visible from the driver’s seat while the vehicle is in motion and authorizes use of a wireless communications device for texting, emailing, or instant messaging, if the vehicle is an autonomous vehicle operating in autonomous mode.
Mandatory minimum PIP coverages were added to both bills during committee stops that would apply to self-driving vehicles used for personal or ride-share use. However, the minimum insurance levels in the PIP section of the bill are confusing and still need work. This is likely an issue that will be around again next session.
7. AUTOCYCLES HB215/SB504
HB215 by Representative Payne and SB504 by Senator Perry creates a definition for autocycles as a three-wheeled motorcycle that has two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back; is equipped with a roll cage or roll hoops, a seat belt for each occupant, antilock brakes, a steering wheel, and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride it; and is manufactured in accordance with the applicable federal motorcycle safety standards provided in 49 C.F.R. part 571 by a manufacturer registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The bill also amends the definition of motorcycle to include an autocycle and exempts a vehicle from the definition of motorcycle in which the operator is enclosed by a cabin. In addition, the bill also adds the definition of mobile carrier and defined it as not a vehicle or personal delivery device.
HB215 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the House floor on January 25th. The Senate took up the House bill on March 9th and approved it after adding an amendment related to State university ingress and egress. The amended bill was sent back to the House where it was approved. The bill now heads to the governor for approval.
8. DRONE BILL SB624/HB471
SB624 by Senator Young, passed two of its three committees in week five and was never heard in its next stop the Senate Rules Committee. Meanwhile, The House companion, HB471 by Representative Yarborough, passed all three of its committee stops and was approved on the House floor by a vote of 114-1. The bill would have amended the definition of “critical infrastructure facility” to include correctional and detention facilities as places an individual may not knowingly or willfully operate a drone. The bill also would have allowed law enforcement to use drones to collect evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene. Additionally, the bill was to allow local or state agencies the ability to use drones in the assessment of damage, flood state, wildfire, or land management.
9. PIP REPEAL – SB150/HB19
SB 150 by Senator Lee was temporarily postponed in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on HHS, it’s second of three committees of reference, after being voted down 1-6. There committee spent two hours on the bill and several amendments before the bill was temporarily postponed by the committee chair to keep it alive after receiving the negative vote. The bill maintained $10,000 for physical damage, and “stepped up” the requirements for mandatory BI as follows: $20,000/$40,000 beginning January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020; $25,000/$50,000 beginning January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022; and $30,000/$60,000 beginning January 2023 and thereafter. The bill replaced PIP with a mandatory medical payments coverage of $5000. This coverage pays 100 percent of claims up to the limit, covers hospital, transportation, physician, chiropractic and dental services.
The House of Representatives passed their legislation, HB19 sponsored by Representative Grall to eliminate PIP and replace it with mandatory bodily injury coverage back on January 12th. The new BI limits are $25,000 for death or injury to one person, and $50,000 for the death or injury to two or more people, and $10,000 in physical damage limits. The bill eliminates PIP completely.
Neither of these bills would have addressed Florida’s runaway bad faith lawsuit crisis, which is causing insurer settlements to increase and raising rates on Florida drivers. We worked hard to make sure it was a struggle for the Senate to keep their version moving, and ultimately the bill was unsuccessful this session. This is likely an issue we will see back again next year.
10. CHILD WELFARE/PROHIBITION ON ADDITIONAL PREMIUMS FOR MINOR DRIVERS HB1079/SB1360
HB1079 by Representative Burton and SB1360 by Senator Broxson makes a number of changes to the child welfare system and how DCF handles the out-of-home placement of a child. The bill includes a change to existing law that prohibits insurers that issue insurance policies for private passenger motor vehicles from charging an additional premium for a minor who operates his or her caregiver’s vehicle, during the time that the minor has a learner’s driver’s license. Current law uses the term foster parent, and the change replaced it with caregiver of a minor who is under the age of 18 years and is in out-of-home care.
HB1079 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on March 7th. The Senate took up the House bill on March 8th and unanimously approved the bill, which now heads to the governor for approval.
1. MARKETING GIFT LIMIT INCREASED TO $100 SB762/HB483
HB483 by Representative Yarborough and SB 762 Sponsored by Senator Mayfield allows insurance agents to spend up to $100 on client entertainment or business-related costs without violating Florida Law. Current law allows an insurance agent to spend up to $25 to provide advertising or logo type items to their current or prospective customers. Agents are not allowed to take a client to lunch, take their client to a football game, or participate in other usual and customary business practices. The bill allows expenditures to include meals, tickets, andinsurance mitigation items like fire extinguishers or home fire inspections, etc.
HB483 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on February 14th. The Senate took up the House bill on March 9th and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
2. INSURANCE OMNIBUS (POLICY EXECUTION) – SB784/HB465
HB465 by Representative Santiago and SB784 by Senator Brandes makes a number of changes to Florida Insurance Statutes. The bill was able to pass the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee after a strike all amendment was approved that removed the problem language that held the bill in a prior committee. We worked diligently to get this priority bill passed which included language allowing an insurer to issue an insurance policy without being executed via original officer’s signature and the policy remains valid despite not being executed. The bill makes a number of other changes regarding insurance including:
- Foreign Insurer Stock Valuation – provides that the stock of a subsidiary corporation or related entity of a foreign insurer is exempt from certain limitations on valuation and investment requirements for solvency evaluation purposes in certain circumstances.
- Exemption to Adjuster Examination Requirement – provides an exemption to the all-lines adjuster licensing exam to individuals who receive a Claims Adjuster Certified Professional (CACP) designation from WebCE, Inc
- Surplus Lines Insurer Eligibility – repeals a requirement that conflicts with federal law; however, it does not affect the current eligibility determination process implemented in the state.
- Personal Financial and Health Information Privacy – incorporates a recent amendment of the GrammLeach-Bliley Act for purposes of privacy standards applicable to certain notices required by rules adopted by the Department of Financial Services and the Financial Services Commission.
- Notice of Policy Change – requires that a property and casualty insurer summarize policy changes on the required Notice of Change in Policy Terms that is issued at policy renewal, rather than merely issuing a notice (i.e., requires content more informative than merely the phrase “Notice of Change in Policy Terms”).
- Property Insurance Claim Mediation – provides that a third-party assignee may request mediation of property insurance claims; except, an insurer is not required to participate in mediations requested by the assignee.
- Proof of Mailing – permits motor vehicle insurers to use the Intelligent Mail barcode, or similar method approved by the United States Postal Service, to document proof of mailing of certain required notices.
- Filing Exception for Specialty Insurers – authorizes specialty insurers to overcome a presumption of control regarding acquisition of stocks, interests, and assets of other companies in the same manner as insurers.
- ORSA Protections Strengthened: Confidentiality of Documents Submitted to OIR – expands the confidentiality of documents submitted to the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) under Own-Risk and Solvency Assessment (“ORSA”) requirements to make them inadmissible as evidence in any private civil action, regardless of from whom they were obtained, rather than only when they are obtained from OIR.
- Reciprocal Insurer Reserve Requirements – revises unearned premium reserve requirements.
- Electronic Delivery of Policies for HMOs and Warranty – authorizes motor vehicle service agreement companies and health maintenance organizations (HMO) to deliver agreements and HMO contracts, respectively, in the same manner as currently authorized for other types of insurers, including the posting of boilerplate contents on a website and requiring delivery within 60 days, rather than 45 days and 10 days, respectively.
HB465 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the House floor on March 5th. The Senate took up the House bill on March 9th and unanimously approved it; the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
3. MEDIATION BILLSB1034/HB1043
SB 1034 by Senator Steube and HB1043 by Representative Metz died after both were Temporarily Postponed in their first committee stops. The bills reduced the settlement authority that an insurance carrier representative must have at a mediation conference and authorizes a circuit court to compel the attendance of interested nonparties at a mediation conference. With respect to the report that a mediator must provide the court at the conclusion of mediation, the bill restricts what a mediator may disclose in its report to the court if the parties reach no agreement, but the bill expands what may be in the report if the parties reach a partial agreement. To the extent that these issues are addressed differently in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the Supreme Court may choose to conform the rules to the provisions of the bill. The bill was on the agenda in the Senate Judiciary Committee in weeks one through three but was temporarily postponed all three times to allow discussion between industry and the sponsors.
4. PUBLIC RECORDS/TRADE SECRETSHB459/HB461
These linked bills, a House priority, recodify trade secret protections in the insurance code and other statute and consolidate the protection in one place. These bills were voted out by the House on February 21st but ultimately died after not being considered by the Senate. A linked public records protection bill (HB461) is traveling with the main bill (HB459). Both of these bills have passed the House of Representatives. HB459: Provided that certain information related to agency contracts is not confidential or exempt from public records requirements; removes or revises numerous provisions relating to exemptions from public records requirements for trade secrets. Additionally this bill was amended in the first committee to include language that:
(1) Any contract or agreement to which an agency or an entity subject to this chapter is a party, is a public record, with the exception that confidential or exempt information contained can be redacted prior to release of the contract or agreement if the specific statutory exemption is identified.
(2) Financial information related to any contract or agreement cannot be confidential. Examples include: the amount of money paid, any payment structure or plan, expenditures, incentives, bonuses, fees, and penalties.
HB461: Provided exemption from public record requirements for trade secret held by agency; provides notice requirements; provides process for responding to public record requests; provides exception to exemption; and provides that agency employee is not liable for release of records in compliance with act. The bill would have become effective on the same date that HB 459 or similar legislation would have taken effect.
An amendment was adopted in the this bills first committee providing that a person who submits records (that contains trade secrets) to an agency must claim they contain trade secrets, the person must submit a notice of trade secret to the agency. Failure to submit such notice constitutes a waiver of any claim by such person that the record contains a trade secret. The notice must provide the name, telephone number, and mailing address of the person claiming the record contains a trade secret. Such person is responsible for updating his or her contact information with the agency. Each page with a trade secret must be clearly marked with “Trade Secret.” If other parties want to view pages with trade secret information, the agency must notify the submitter, then the submitter must file a notice with the circuit court within 30 days seeking a declaratory judgment.
The companion bills, SB956 and 958 by Senator Mayfield, were similar but not identical, and were never heard in committee.
5. PROHIBITION AGAINST CONTRACTING WITH SCRUTINIZED COMPANIES HB545/SB780
HB545 by Representatives Fine and Moskowitz and SB780 by Senator Brandes amends the provision prohibiting agencies and local governments from contracting with companies on the Israel List or that boycott Israel to apply the prohibition to contracts for goods or services of any amount, rather than only contracts of $1 million or more.
HB545 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the House floor on January 31st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 1st and approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
6. DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES SB1292/HB1073
The DFS Agency bill, HB1073 by Representative Hager and SB1292 by Senator Stargel makes several changes to the Department of Financial Services statutes including:
- “Exchange of Business” law, reducing from 24 to four the number of times per calendar year than an agent is permitted to place policies with an insurer without being appointed by that insurer. SB 1292 by Stargel and HB 1073 by Hager, are designed to reduce any gamesmanship by various property insurers that are gaming the system to save funds by avoiding agent appointments.
- Electronic images (of warrants, vouchers, or checks) will be deemed as original records.
- Preneed Trust Fund: opposition has surfaced from the Independent Funeral Directors to a provision in the bill which allows monies from the Consumer Protection Trust Fund, which is funded by fees paid by funeral homes to cover Preneed obligations, to be used to upgrade IT equipment.
- Nonresident All-lines Adjuster License Qualifications: removes a requirement that nonresident adjusters must certify that he or she is compliant with Florida insurance laws and rules.
- Managing General Agent changes: the MGA license category would be eliminated but there are other ways to come into compliance. Most states do not have an MGA license category; further, DFS asserts that reciprocal privileges with other states will not be impacted. Thus, these changes are not considered to be substantive.
- Exemption to Adjuster Examination Requirement: provides an exemption to the all-lines adjuster licensing exam to individuals who receive a Claims Adjuster Certified Professional (CACP) designation from WebCE, Inc.
HB1073 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the House floor on March 1st. The Senate took up the House bill on March 8th and unanimously approved it; the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
7. HIGH SCHOOL FINANCIAL LITERACY HB323/SB88
SB 88 by Senator Hukill and HB 323 by Representative Fitzenhagen would have made Florida the 6th state to require a stand-alone course in financial literacy. Beginning with the fall 2018 semester, all high school students would have been required to complete a one-half credit stand-alone elective in financial literacy, which equates to one hour a day for one semester. The course will cover instruction in opening and managing a bank account, assessing a depository institutions services, balancing a checkbook, basic principles of money management, credit scores, managing debt including credit card debt, completing a loan application, implications of receiving an inheritance, basic principles of insurance policies, computing federal income taxes, local tax assessments, computing interest rates, simple contracts, contesting incorrect billing statements, types of savings and investments, state and federal laws concerning finance.
This bill moved successfully in both the House and Senate chambers all session, until it bogged down in the House due to unrelated education issues. Ultimately the Senate bill which unanimously passed the full Senate on January 11th, was amended by the House on the floor on March 7th with some onerous provisions. The Senate refused to concur with this amendment, so ultimately the bill died.
8. DUTIES OF CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER SB792/HB1421
SB792 by Senator Lee passed the full Senate on March 8th. This was a joint resolution to amend the state constitution that would provide, if approved by the voters, additional duties of the state’s Chief Financial Officer. Specifically, the resolution would have required that the Chief Financial Officer serve as a principal in consensus economic, demographic, and revenue estimating conferences. The resolution provided the Chief Financial Officer the authority to review and certify state contracts in excess of ten million dollars. That threshold is subject to review every four years to account for inflation or deflation.
If passed by a three-fifths vote of each house of the Legislature, the proposal will be voted on at the general election in November 2018; sixty percent of those voting on the measure is required for approval.
HB1421 by Stevenson was never heard in its third and final committee, Government Accountability, which led to the bill not passing.
9. SEARCHING OF CONTENT IN COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY SB1256/HB1249
SB1256 by Brandes unanimously passed off the Senate floor on March 7th and ultimately died after not being heard on the House floor. The bill amended Florida law to address privacy issues related to the use of communication technology. It provided that a court may issue a warrant based upon probable cause for a law enforcement officer to intercept/obtain a wire communication, oral communication, electronic communication, cellular-site location data, precise global positioning satellite location data, or historical global positioning satellite data. It also allows for emergency location tracking; location tracking must have time constraints and a notice must be provided to the person being tracked.
HB 1249 by Representative Grant, which passed all its committees but was never heard on the floor, included the requirement in current law that the prosecution must disclose the application and order authorizing interception of communications at least 10 days before introducing the intercepted communications into evidence. The bill as originally filed had eliminated the 10 day component of this requirement.
10. SCHOOL SAFETY SB7026/HB7101
SB 7026 by the Senate Rules Committee provides law enforcements, the courts, and schools with additional tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence. The bill also promotes school safety and enhanced coordination between education and law enforcement entities at the state and local level. Some of the bill’s provisions include:
- Creating the Medical Reimbursement Program for Victims of Mass Shootings to reimburse trauma centers from the medical costs of treating victims for inuries associated with a mass shooting.
- Authorizing a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition the person possesses at the time of being taken into custody.
- Provides additional funding for youth mental health services at the school and local level.
- Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until a court orders otherwise.
- Requires a three-day waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns or until the background check is complete, whichever is later.
- Prohibits a person under 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm.
- Prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, transported, sold, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, or given away within the state.
SB7026 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the Senate floor on March 5th by a vote of 20-18. The House took up the Senate bill and approved it by a vote of 67-50, this bill was signed by the Governor on March 9th.
11. RATIFICATION OF AHCA NURSING HOME GENERATOR RULES SB7030/HB7099
HB7099 and SB7030 ratifies Rule 59A-4.1265, F.A.C., which requires, by July 1, 2018, currently licensed nursing homes to maintain an alternative power source, such as a generator, that can air-condition an area of no less than 30 net square feet per resident at a temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for at least 96 hours. The rule requires the nursing home to keep 72 hours of fuel on-site. The rule also allows the AHCA to grant an extension to comply with the requirements until January 1, 2019 for nursing homes that can show delays caused by necessary construction, delivery of order equipment, zoning or other regulatory approval process.
HB7099 passed all of its committees of reference and passed off the House floor on March 5th. The Senate took up the House bill and unanimously approved it, the bill now heads to the governor for approval.
12. RATIFICATION OF DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS ALF GENERATOR RULES SB7028
SB7028 ratifies Rule 58A-5.036, F.A.C., which requires, by June 1, 2018, currently licensed assisted living facilities to maintain an alternative power source, such as a generator that can air-condition an area of no less than 30 net square feet per resident at a temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for at least 96 hours. The rule requires the nursing home to keep 72 hours of fuel on-site. The rule also allows the AHCA to grant an extension to comply with the requirements until January 1, 2019 for nursing homes that can show delays caused by necessary construction, delivery of order equipment, zoning or other regulatory approval process.
SB7028 passed all of its only committee of reference and unanimously passed off the Senate floor on March 5th. The House took up the Senate bill and approved it. The bill now heads to the governor for approval.
13. JURISDICTION OF COUNTY COURTS HB7061/SB1384/SB1396
HB7061 by Representatives Perez and Leek passed of the house floor the final week of session. The bill would have increased the jurisdictional threshold between county court and circuit courts from $15,000 to $50,000. The bill:
- Adjusts the county court filing fee structure for cases valued between $15,001 and $50,000 to match the filing fee structure for circuit court cases; and
- Adjusts the appellate fee structure for cases valued between $15,001 and $50,000 appealed from county court to match the appellate filing fee structure for cases appealed from circuit court.
The Senate has two similar pieces of legislation in SB 1396 by Senator Stuebe and SB1384 by Senator Brandes. SB1396 passed all of its committees and ultimately was substituted for the House bill before dying on the last day of session. Meanwhile, SB1348 only passed one of its three committees of reference and never made it any further.
1. BENEFITS FOR FIREFIGHTERS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER SB900/HB695
SB900 by Flores (originally filed by Sen. Jack Latvala) passed two of its three committees and never made it any further. The bill would have required employers of full time firefighters to offer cancer insurance coverage to its firefighter employees. These agencies would have been allowed to provide coverage through purchased insurance coverages or through a self-insured program. While moving through its committees an amendment was adopted to include specific types of cancers.
The bill also provides that upon a diagnosis of cancer, a firefighter is entitled to certain benefits if the firefighter:
- Has been employed for five consecutive years;
- Has not used tobacco products for at least the preceding five years;
- Has not been employed in any other position in the preceding years which is proven to create a higher risk for cancer.
If these conditions were met, the benefits are cancer treatment at no cost to the firefighter and a one-time cash payout of $25,000.
The House companion, HB 695 by Rep. Chris Latvala was workshopped by its first committee, House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee, but not voted on and never went any further.
2. PTSD BENEFITS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS HB227/SB376
SB376 by Senator Book and HB227 by Rep. Wilhite revises the standards for determining compensability of employment related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) under workers’ compensation for first responders, which includes law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. The bill allows first responders that meet certain conditions to access indemnity and medical benefits for PTSD without an accompanying physical injury and requires the first responder to incur a compensable physical injury to receive indemnity benefits for a mental or nervous injury.
SB376 passed all of its committees of reference and unanimously passed off the Senate floor on March 3rd. The House took up the Senate bill and unanimously approved it. The bill now heads to the governor for approval.
3. COVERAGE OF CLAIMS FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS SB1568
SB1568 by Senator Farmer aimed to fix what some believe is contradictory language in the Workers Compensation and employment statutes, sometimes resulting in the deportation of undocumented workers who have made workers comp claims.
This bill passed its first of three committee stops in the Senate adding an amendment that narrows the bill to specify that incomplete or inaccurate statements regarding citizenship may not be used as the basis or denying benefits under Chapter 440, but never went any further. It also struck the sentence re knowingly presenting false statements re evidence of identity for the purpose of obtaining benefits. The bill had no House companion.