The 2018 Florida Legislative Session ended with only 200 bills passing both the state house and state senate. The Greater Pensacola Chamber saw some legislative priorities pass while others will have to be addressed again next year.
The 2018 legislative tax-cut package included $38 million for a seven-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday from June 1-June 7 and a three-day sales tax holiday from August 3-5 for back-to-school supplies. Also, the tax rate on commercial leases was reduced for the second consecutive year. This year the rate was reduced from 5.8 to 5.7 percent.
Furthering its reputation as the most military-friendly state in the country, the legislature also passed bills that will help our military and veterans. House Bill 29, sponsored by Rep. Mel Ponder (R-Destin), waives Department of Business Regulation and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services professional license fees for active duty service members, veterans and their spouses. The bill also waives specific licensure fees for the Office of Financial Regulation, the Department of Financial Services, the Department of Health and Department of Education certificate holders that are active military, veterans and their spouses.
House Bill 29 also:
• Requires the Florida Department of Education to lead and coordinate outreach efforts to educate veterans about apprenticeship and career opportunities.
• Gives priority for attendance in Florida Virtual School to children of an active duty member who is not stationed in the state but their legal residence is Florida.
• Designates March 25th as “Medal of Honor Day” and allows classroom instruction related to the values of the recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
House Bill 75, also sponsored by Rep. Mel Ponder, waives certain fees for active duty members of the United States Armed Forces at Florida College System institutions.
However, there were some business priorities that did not make it through both houses and will have to be fought again next year. Workers’ compensation reform and Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform both passed the state house but did not make it through the state senate. The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce urges our legislators to tackle these two issues that hurt our local businesses.