2018 Legislative Session –
Legislative Bulletin
Week Four: 
February 2, 2018

2018 Legislative Session—Stay Informed!

Friday, February 2, this is our weekly Legislative Update/Recap report that will continue through the end of Session. Included with this report is the latest copy of the LeadingAge Florida Legislative Bill Tracking Report.

Activity on LeadingAge Florida Priority Bills

Continuing Care Communities
SB 438 by Sen. Lee/HB 783 by Rep. J. Grant

HB 783 by Rep. J. Grant (R-Tampa) was heard in the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee this week. A strike all amendment was passed and the bill was voted favorably by the subcommittee.

The amendment passed was not the LeadingAge Florida/FLiCRA consensus amendment that conformed HB 783 to CS/SB 438, with some additional agreed upon changes requested by LeadingAge Florida members, and was presented to Rep. Grant for consideration for this week’s Subcommittee hearing. Instead, the amendment was half the length of CS/SB 438 and stripped out the majority, if not all, of our new provisions and many of the provisions important to FLiCRA and the residents. Further, other changes were made in the amendment that cause serious concerns and create significant substantive differences between the House and Senate bills.

LeadingAge Florida and FLiCRA are working closely with Rep. Grant and committee staff to insert these provisions into the House bill and address other concerns we have identified. The next stop for CS/HB 738 is the Health & Human Services Committee, which is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, February 7. The next stop for CS/SB 438 is the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, which is scheduled for meet next Thursday, February 8.

Hurricane Preparedness, Response and Recovery
After Hurricanes Irma and Nate battered nearly the entire state, several bills were filed that, in part:

  • Place requirements on nursing homes and assisted living facilities regarding emergency generators.
  • Require the Agency for Health Care Administration to determine compliance with emergency power requirements through unannounced inspections.
  • Treat nursing homes and ALFs as priorities for power restoration.
  • Create the Florida Strategic Fuel Reserve Task Force within the Division of Emergency Management to develop a recommended strategic fuel reserve for natural emergencies and major disasters.
  • Prohibit workers from being fired for following mandatory evacuation orders.
  • Create the Emergency Power Systems Matching Grant Program to provide matching funds to certain public and private health care facilities for purchasing generators.
  • Mandate that tolls be suspended in counties with a declared state of emergency.

Further, the House Speaker created a Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness, chaired by Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, to address hurricane-related issues.  The Select Committee published 78 proposals to protect the state from future natural disasters, including recommendations relating to transportation and evacuation, education, healthcare, and utilities, among others.  The Select Committee report also included recommendations requiring nursing homes to have adequate backup power, providing special funding for affordable housing, providing potential cut taxes for the state’s agriculture industry, requiring local governments to work with utilities to speed up power restoration, and providing for the recruitment and training of more shelter volunteers. 

To date, few hurricane-related bills have been heard. SB 1874 by Sen. Passidomo, relating to Emergency Power for Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facilities, passed its first committee of reference on January 30.  The bill requires, by June 1, 2018, each facility to have an operational emergency power source and fuel to sustain an air temperature set in rule for at least 96 hours. The bill also requires that each facility have a plan to monitor residents to ensure that they do not suffer from complications from heat exposure and a plan to safely transport residents to an appropriate facility if the facility’s management knows it will be unable to sustain safe temperatures.  An amendment was adopted requiring all ALFs to install an operational carbon monoxide alarm approved by the Florida Building Commission.

Activity on LeadingAge Florida Monitored Bills

HB 483 by Rep. Yarborough and SB 762 by Sen. Mayfield amend the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act that provides an extensive list of unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts prohibited in the business of insurance.

Included in this provision of law are prohibitions on certain inducements to the purchase of insurance; however, there are also exceptions provided by law. Among the exceptions is authorization for insurers and their agents to offer and make gifts of merchandise up to $25 per gift to an insured, prospective insured, or any person, for the purpose of advertising. This exception restricts the value of the advertising gift to $25, but it does not limit the frequency of giving or the aggregate value of gifts given over any period of time.

The bill expands the exception for advertising gifts to:

  • Allow gifting of goods, wares, store gift cards, gift certificates, event tickets, anti-fraud or loss mitigation services, and other items, in addition to merchandise.
  • Authorize charitable contributions in the name of insureds or prospective insureds, up to the specified limit.
  • Remove the limitation that the gifts be for advertising purposes.
  • Increase the maximum allowed value from $25 to $100 per customer or prospective customer.
  • Limit the total value given to any customer or prospective customer to $100 in one calendar year.

HB 483 was on the House Special Order Calendar this week and was temporarily postponed on Special Order. SB 762 has passed its first committee of reference and is scheduled to be heard in the second committee of reference on Tuesday, February 6.

HB 551 by Rep. Burton and SB 906 by Sen. Young provide a public records exemption for health care facilities for building plans, blueprints, schematic drawings, & diagrams of certain health care facilities.

Current law provides an exemption from public records for building plans, blueprints, schematic drawings and diagrams that depict the internal layout or structural elements of an attractions and recreation facility, entertainment or resort complex, industrial complex, retail and service development, office development, or hotel or motel development held by an agency. These bills expand the exemption to hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, nursing homes, hospices, or intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled.

HB 551 has passed all of its committees of reference and is on the House Calendar. SB 906 passed its second committee of reference this week and is in its third committee of reference, the Rules Committee.

HB 259 Rep. Watson and SB 422 by Sen. Gibson relating to Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams authorize the creation of a multidisciplinary, multiagency elder abuse fatality review team (EA-FRT) in each judicial circuit to review closed cases where the death of an elderly person was alleged or found to have been caused by, or related to, abuse or neglect. There are public records exemption bills tied to these bills that make records held or created by the elder fatality review teams confidential and exempt from the public records laws. It also allows a team to close portions of its meeting where confidential information is discussed.

SB 259 passed its second committee of reference this week. SB 422 has passed two committees of reference and is now in its last committee of reference, the Senate Appropriations Committee.

HB 1369, by Rep. Mariano relating to Long-Term Care Facility Responsibility addresses several provisions related to claims and lawsuits against nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The bill sets minimum amounts for statutorily mandated liability insurance of $2 million per claim and $4 million aggregate and by prohibiting diminishing policies. Settlement awards on claims must also be paid within six months. The bill further requires that 90% of the punitive damages go to the claimants and 10% going into the Quality of Long-term Care Facility Improvement Fund, rather than equally splitting the punitive damages between the fund and the claimant. The bill also requires insurers to report ALF and nursing home liability claims to the Office of Insurance Regulation.

After considerable testimony in opposition to the bill, and questions and debate by committee members, the bill passed the committee on a 9-6 vote.  The next committee of reference is the House Health Care Subcommittee which is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, February 6.  Neither Senate companion bill has been scheduled for a hearing. 

The LeadingAge Florida advocacy team is engaged on this legislation.

SB 1328 by Sen. Keith Perry attempts to create more affordable housing in Florida by prohibiting the charging of impact and mobility fees by a local government until five years after development of affordable housing has begun.  The bill also creates the Hurricane Housing Recovery Program (HHRP) and the Recovery Rental Loan Program (RRLP) to expedite the creation of housing in response to needs created by hurricanes.

The bill passed its first committee of reference, the Senate Community Affairs Committee, this week.  The House companion, HB 987 by Rep. Bob Cortes, has passed is first committee of reference.

Budget Update – Affordable Housing Trust Funds

The Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget proposals released last week in the Florida House and Senate are significantly different in the appropriation of the affordable housing trust fund revenues. The Senate dedicates the full amount of $322,100,000 of trust fund monies for affordable housing. The House proposal puts only $123,630,000 for affordable housing and sweeps the rest for other programs. Further, the House budget zeros out all funding for the SHIP program, other than funding for hurricane recovery in communities impacted by the 2017 hurricanes.

As a member of the Florida Housing Coalition, LeadingAge Florida sent an action alert to all Housing members asking each to express support for the Senate budget proposal, and to urge House members to stop sweeping the housing trust fund monies.

LeadingAge Florida will continue to support the Senate budget proposal and encourage the House to appropriate all trust fund dollars for affordable housing.

A Week in Review – News from the Capitol

by Leslie Dughi
Director of Government Law and Policy, GreenbergTraurig
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their respective budgets this week, and each Chamber is expected to approve their proposals next week. Once two competing budgets are approved in each Chamber, conference committees will be appointed to develop an agreed‐upon budget to send to the Governor. Differences between the funding proposals include education funding – both K‐12 and higher education – as well as health care spending for hospitals and the elderly and disabled.

The House froze $2.1 million in Department of Health (DOH) salary and expenses this week over legislative concerns that have remained unanswered by the DOH on their implementation of the state’s medical marijuana’s laws. Speaker Richard Corcoran voiced his support of the
freeze as did Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley, who has been the point person over the last few years on the medical marijuana issue.

Legislation pre‐empting the regulation of vacation rentals to the state moved forward this week when two bills on the issue were combined into one. Currently, vacation rental owners must obtain a state license; however, the approved measure will enforce the requirement by levying
fines and revoking licenses. The measure also gives regulatory authority to the hotel and restaurant division within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and establishes random inspections.

Finally, Rep. Lori Berman (D‐Boynton Beach) easily won the primary election on Tuesday for Senate District 31. This seat was formerly held by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D‐Lake Worth) who resigned in late 2017. The General Election will be held on April 10, and Berman is expected to decidedly take this strong Democratic seat.

For more information, please email Susan Langston, Vice President for Advocacy at LeadingAge Florida, or call her at the number below.

 1812 Riggins Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308
 Phone (850) 671-3700 | Fax (850) 671-3790 | www.LeadingAgeFlorida.org