Winners and Losers from the 2018 Florida Legislature
This year’s legislative session was unique. The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School prompted action from lawmakers, shifting the agenda toward the end. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s Legislature passed the fewest bills in two decades. The lack of progress could be due to the unexpected gun debate that took place. In response, legislators passed gun-control measures for the first time in 20 years.
Many of the same issues, along with some new debates were brought up again among lawmakers. Let’s look at what passed and what fell short.
A bill to repeal the no-fault auto insurance system, requiring drivers to carry personal injury or PIP Coverage.
“Florida lawmakers have argued over eliminating PIP and replacing it with a fault-based system for years. It seems to never gain enough momentum to become law,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent auto insurance company.
An effort to ban fracking, the controversial oil- and natural- gas drilling process.
A ban to red-light cameras.
A proposal allowing law enforcement officers to pull people over for texting while driving. A practice, the National Safety Council reports causes 1,600,000 accidents a year.
Creation of new specialty license tags.
Guns at church.
Tax cuts by $168.6 million- including a property tax break for homeowners displaced by hurricane Irma and nursing homes that purchase electrical generators. It also includes back-to-school holiday exempting sales tax on clothing and school supplies and reduces sales tax on business rents.
“It adds an 18 percent reduction in penalties for non-criminal traffic infractions for drivers who attend driving school,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent auto insurance company.
Permanent daylight saving time.
Permits trained school employees to carry concealed weapons in school, raises the age requirement for gun purchases from 18 to 21, imposes a three-day waiting period for rifles and other long guns, allows police to seize weapons from those who pose a danger to themselves and others, and bans the sale of bump stocks.
A bill to make threats of mass shooting and terrorist attacks a second-degree felony.
Expansion of mental health services in public school.
K-12 -Creates voucher-like scholarships to pay for students who are bullied in public schools so they can attend private schools. Requires all schools to visibly display the Florida state motto, “In God We Trust,” and allows tenants of commercial property to direct tax revenue of up to $57.5 million in rent into the account of two scholarship programs.
More money for the state’s Bright Future’s merit scholarship program.
Creation of the first Florida Slavery Memorial built on Capitol grounds.
Prescription limits on opioids and money for addiction treatment.
A resolution declaring pornography a health risk.