2018 Legislative Session—Stay Informed!
Friday, February 16, 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
CS/HB 783 by Rep. J. Grant (R-Tampa) was heard in the Health & Human Services Committee this week. A strike all amendment was passed and the bill was voted favorably by the committee.
While LeadingAge Florida has been working with Rep. Grant and committee staff, the amendment passed in the HHS committee did not include many of the consensus provisions crafted through months of negotiations with FLiCRA that are important to LeadingAge Florida members. The bill, as amended, continues to raise serious concerns and creates substantive differences between the House and Senate bills, however we are continuing to discuss these issues with Rep. Grant and his staff.
The next stop for CS/HB 738 is the Commerce Committee, which is scheduled to meet on Thursday, February 22. The next stop for CS/SB 438 is the Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to meet next Thursday, February 22.
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.
This week, the House Health & Human Services Committee took up and passed Proposed Committee Bill (HHS2) relating to Health Care Disaster Preparedness and Response. This bill incorporates some recommendations made by the Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness relating to emergency management plans and special needs shelters. In an effort to address shortages in special needs shelters reported during Hurricane Irma, the PCB expands the list of people who could help out in shelters during an emergency. The bill also requires home health-care providers and nurses to develop emergency management plans for their patients.
As it relates to nursing homes and ALFs, the bill adds components that must be included in the facilities’ comprehensive emergency plans to address inadequacies identified in the facilities’ plans in testimony to the Select Committee. The bill also provides enforcement authority to AHCA to ensure that facilities comply with the new plan requirements and follow their plans during an emergency. Facilities could face $500 fines if they do not have plans and could be subject to disciplinary action for not abiding by details of the plans. The bill also requires local emergency management agencies to establish procedures to allow health care facility staff to travel to and from work during declared curfews.
The Chairman of the House HHS Committee stated this week that there would be a Proposed Committee Bill on the generator rules for nursing homes for their next Committee meeting on February 21. There is more uncertainly about whether the ALF generator rules will be taken up due to concerns about the fiscal impact to the ALFs. There is specific funding for generators for nursing homes in the Senate FY 2018-19 budget, but not in the House budget. The House Ways & Means Committee this week approved a $332.7 million tax relief package that includes a $6.7 million cut by providing a sales-tax exemption for generator purchases by nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The emergency generator bill moving in the Senate, SB 1874 by Sen. Passidomo, relating to Emergency Power for Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facilities, passed its second committee of reference this week. This bill does not ratify the generator rules but instead 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. It also requires 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. The bill increases the maximum allowed value of gifts given by insurance companies for current or prospective customers from $25 to $100. The bill also puts a $100 limit on the total value of gifts given to a particular person annually.
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.
HB 483 passed the House this week. SB 762 is in its last committee of reference.
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 passed the House this week. SB 906 has been placed on the Senate Calendar.
HB 987 by Rep. B. Cortes and SB 1328 by Sen. Keith Perry attempt 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 bills include recommendations of the Affordable Housing Workgroup created by legislation enacted by the 2017 Legislature, and create 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.
HB 987 by Rep. Bob Cortes passed is second committee of reference this week. SB 1328 is in its second committee of reference.
SB 474 by Sen. Brandes relating to Physician Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment (POLST) was heard in its second committee of reference. After presenting the bill and hearing public testimony, Sen. Brandes asked that the bill be temporarily postponed. Sen. Brandes stated that he plans to file the legislation again next session.
SB 280 by Sen. Bean relating to Telehealth passed its third committee of reference. The bill provides specific authorization for the provision of health care services through telehealth. Telehealth is the provision of health care services using telecommunication technologies, which allows licensed practitioners in one location to diagnose and treat patients at a different location. The bill will remove regulatory ambiguity regarding the provision of health care services using this technology because it is not currently addressed in Florida Statutes. The bill includes some of the recommendations included in a report by the Telehealth Advisory Council, such as requiring health-care practitioners who provide care through telehealth to be licensed. The bill also includes the advisory council’s recommendation to ban the use of telehealth for prescribing controlled substances to treat chronic or nonmalignant pain or to certify patients for medical marijuana treatment.
The House companion, HB 793 by Rep. Massullo has not be heard in committee, which means it is most likely dead for this session.
A Week in Review – News from the Capitol
by Leslie Dughi
Director of Government Law and Policy, GreenbergTraurig
Legislators received good news this week when the state’s economists increased the estimates for revenues to be collected by approximately $462 million. The increase for this fiscal year is nearly $2 million and for the fiscal year beginning July 1st, additional revenues are estimated at just over $280 million. The majority of the new revenues are from construction as Floridians recover from hurricanes that hit the state in 2017. The uptick in sales tax collections will likely make the budget negotiations between the House and Senate proceed more smoothly.
Proposed Committee Bill WMC 18‐03 by Ways and Means ‐ The House tax relief package was approved in its only committee this week and will now advance to the floor. Some of the provisions in the package include:
- A reduction in the commercial rental sales tax from 5.8 to 5.5 percent;
- Property tax relief for certain homestead property damaged by the three 2017 hurricanes;
- Corporate Income Tax credits for voluntary brownfield clean‐up and community contribution tax in fiscal year 2019‐20 (may also be taken against sales tax and the insurance premium tax);
- Sales tax exemptions for nursing home and assisted living facility generators;
- Sales tax holidays including:
- A 10‐day “back‐to‐school” holiday for clothing, footwear, school supplies and computers; and
- Three seven‐day “disaster preparedness” holidays for sales of specified items related to disaster preparedness; and
- An 18‐percent reduction in traffic fines if the driver attends a driver improvement course.
On Tuesday, a special election was held to fill a historically Republican‐held Sarasota House seat which ended with a Democratic victor. The Republican candidate, James Buchanan, had clear, local name recognition due to his father, Congressman Vern Buchanan. Further, Republican voters outnumber Democrats in the district. However, Margaret Good ultimately won with 52.2 percent of the vote and joined the Legislature Thursday for her first committee meeting. Political insiders are speculating whether the race signals an erosion of support for President Trump by Republican voters or if other trends are at work.
With only three weeks left in session, the 2018 gubernatorial race has already begun. Early in the week, Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum debated the issue of sanctuary cities. Corcoran, who has not yet filed for the Governor’s race, strongly opposes designating Florida as a sanctuary state, a proposal that has been filed by House Democrats. Mayor Gillum, who has been in the race since early last year, supports the designation. Adding more intrigue, the day before the debate, South Florida Democrat Phil Levine, who announced his entrance into the Governor’s race in November 2017, ran a television ad blasting Corcoran on immigration policies, including opposition to sanctuary locations.