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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

  • 11/25/2020 1:40 PM | Anonymous

    McGuireWoods Consulting

    November 24, 2020

    Florida Legislative Update

    Last Tuesday, the Florida legislature held its constitutionally-required organizational session to officially elect each chamber’s leader and minority leader, as well as swear-in newly elected members. Presiding over the House for the next two years is Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) and at the helm of the Senate is President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), both from the Tampa Bay area. Sen. Gary Farmer and Rep. Bobby DuBose, both from Fort Lauderdale, were elected to lead the minority parties in their respective chambers. Organizational session was held only a few weeks after Republicans picked up seats in the House and Senate. 

    In addition to making these leadership positions official, organizational session provides an opportunity for chamber leaders to telegraph their policy priorities and provide a glimpse into what the next two years may look like. Below are some of the issues we expect to make traction in 2021-22 legislative sessions:

    • Public Safety/Anti-Protesting Policies: Gov. DeSantis rolled out a proposed concept in late September which would create new criminal offenses and increase penalties for individuals involved in violent or disorderly assemblies.  This was a response to the riots and looting occurring in other states around the country.  During that press availability in September, he was joined by House Speaker Chris Sprowls.  We expect this criminal justice issue to be red hot during the 2021 legislative session.  
    • COVID-19 Liability Protection: Both chambers have expressed interest in protecting businesses from frivolous lawsuits when those businesses have sought to follow CDC guidelines in reopening. These law changes are not a given, as the trial lawyers in Florida are one of the most organized and effective lobbies in the state, and will heavily oppose broad levels of immunity. Trial lawyers in Florida often outspend the business community during campaign season, and have friends on both sides of the aisle. In order for legislation to pass, it will require a strong, coordinated and heavily funded lobbying effort.    
    • “Wayfair”/Internet Sales Tax: Over the last few years, the internet sales tax issue has not made any headway.  However, in a move that some find surprising, Senate President Simpson appeared to publicly back the tax in his comments to the press after his first speech as Senate President, putting this bill in play for 2021. The state will need to plug a massive budget hole and any way of raising revenues without raising a new tax could be a possibility. 
    • Governor’s Executive Powers – State of Emergency:  COVID-19 has presented each governor with unique challenges in governing by Executive Order and some legislative leaders have privately—or even publicly—expressed concern about unilateral powers used during the pandemic and willingness to engage the legislative process to enact a statutory framework for any future state of emergency orders.
    • Local Government Powers: Equally troubling to state legislators was the tendencies of some local governments to enact broad restrictions on the economy by emergency ordinance. Expect this to be discussed.
    • Workforce Reform: Continuing in the footsteps of Gov. DeSantis and other legislative leaders, Speaker Chris Sprowls has announced his forthcoming “Opportunity Agenda.” Among other things, he wants to create a unified hub for workforce programs, with a focus on outcomes instead inputs, expand opportunities for entrepreneurship, and address hurdles within occupational licensing and other business regulations.
    • Child Welfare Reform: A personal interest of the new Senate President and First Lady, child welfare is certain to be a major issue again this session.
    • Literacy/Early Learning: A handful of lawmakers have been working unsuccessfully for years to get significant legislation passed on early learning. With a renewed focus on literacy by Speaker Sprowls, including his goal of a massive statewide book initiative and parent bootcamps in partnership with local libraries, and (separately) his desire to address maternal health…is this the year that Florida finally makes progress on zero to three?
    • Climate Change, Land Conservation, and Sea Level Rise: The willingness of the Speaker and President to address environmental issues like sea level rise may be higher than of GOP leaders in the past, but it remains to be seen how, and to what extent, these will be addressed.  New coastal building codes, setbacks, insurance requirements and coastal protection measures could all be a part of a comprehensive plan discussed in the 2021 legislative session.
    • Revisiting Medicaid Expansion: Neither Gov. DeSantis nor leadership of either chamber has expressed interested in expanding Medicaid; however, with President-elect Biden coming into the White House, there may be federal pressure to rethink this issue, as states continue to look for new ways to reform Medicaid. 

    Although Florida’s regular legislative session doesn’t begin until the first Tuesday in March, House and Senate Committees will begin to meet in January and February to hear presentations from state agencies, begin the budget writing process, workshop legislative ideas and even vote certain proprietary bills out of committee so they are available early in session for floor action.   

    Authors

    Sean Stafford

     

    Sean C. Stafford

    Senior Vice President and Director

    +1 850 727 5000

    sstafford@mwcllc.com

     

    Rhett O'Doski

     

    Rhett E. O'Doski

    Senior Vice President and Director

    +1 850 727 5000

    rodoski@mwcllc.com

    Ryder Rudd

     

    Ryder S. Rudd

    Senior Vice President

    +1 850 727 5000

    rrudd@mwcllc.com

     

    Sara Clements

     

    Sara S. Clements

    Vice President

    +1 850 727 5000

    sclements@mwcllc.com

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  • 03/15/2019 11:02 AM | Deleted user

    This was a good week for the FSDA in Tallahassee.  FSDA President Alex Sarafoglu, board member Melissa Acayan and Sean Stafford met with Ronald Rubin, the new Commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) and his staff.   Alex and Melissa outlined the FSDA’s mission, its history, and current initiatives and invited Commissioner Rubin to address our Board at an upcoming meeting and attend one of our elder fraud prevention seminars.  We certainly appreciate the time and effort put in by all those involved for this introductory meeting and look forward to working with Commissioner Rubin and his staff going forward.   

    Also, on March 13, 2019, the Florida House Insurance and Banking Committee unanimously passed House Bill 143, which, if it becomes law, would give the industry some tools to help combat financial fraud against vulnerable investors.  Ms. Acayan testified before the committee in support of the bill and answered questions from committee members on the legislation and on the problem of vulnerable investor fraud.    House Representative Byron Donalds (R-District 80), the bill’s sponsor, made a fantastic presentation on the bill and effectively addressed questions from the committee members. A number of other industry representatives and trade associations supported the legislation, including the Florida Alzheimer’s Association, SIFMA and the Financial Services Institute.   

    After more than 32 years with the OFR, Pam Epting will be retiring on April 2. The FSDA appreciates her service to the State of Florida and her support of FSDA's mission.


  • 03/12/2018 2:46 PM | Anonymous

    The Florida Legislative Session concluded its regular order this evening but extended Regular Session through Sunday to vote on the state budget and complete a tax cut package.  All other legislation has been complete.   In the coming weeks, we will have a more thorough legislative report for you on all bills that passed and failed that directly and indirectly impact the industry.  Here are the high priority issues.  
     
    Mortgage Broker Exemption for Securities Dealers- PASSED
    In 2017 the FSDA voted to advocate for passage of legislation that would exempt securities professionals from having to obtain a separate mortgage brokers license in order to have a general conversation about a mortgage or refer a client to a mortgage broker.  Last session, legislation passed to remedy this issue but was combined with another mortgage bill regulating private lenders and vetoed by Governor Rick Scott.  This year, the mortgage broker exemption- House Bill 193 by Representative Rick Stark (D-Weston) and Senate Bill 314 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) were stand-alone bills that passed the Legislature unanimously in both chambers.  Given the feedback the industry has received from the Governor’s Office, he is expected to sign the legislation.  The bill goes into effect July 1, 2018.  Attached is the legislation.    
     
    Vulnerable Investor Legislation-FAILED
    After several years of working within the industry to build consensus around a bill to codify the FINRA rule on giving firms tools to pause transactions they believe exploit their customers, bills were filed in the House and Senate in 2018 to address the problem.  Senate Bill 662 by Senator Stargel (R-Lakeland) and House Bill 681 by Representative Byron Donalds (R-Naples) moved through the legislative process with a bit of give and take – and some compromise.  The House bill (also attached) passed the full House in late February, while simultaneously the Senate bill moved along.  Both bills passed almost unanimously out of several different committees but not without many tremendous amounts of work with the industry, the OFR, the Elder Law Section of the Bar legislative staff and members.  In the end, the bill that passed the House and was poised to pass the Senate was generally a compromise, reflecting our attempts to resolve concerns with the bill as they arose in committee from experienced legislators. 
     
    However, Monday of this week, the Governor’s Office called the bill sponsors and us to deliver the news that the Governor opposed the bill and requested the Senate sponsor not push the bill the final week of Legislative Session.  According to his staff, the Governor was uncomfortable with the entire concept of government “reaching in” and halting transactions and giving advisors power to hold transactions, even if they were suspected of financial fraud.  The Governor’s opposition came late in the process, and after their office had spent weeks on the Parkland shooting.  Although we tried on numerous occasions, and CEOS and executive level people weighed in with the Governor asking him to recede from his position, the Governor didn’t waiver from his initial opposition to “the concept” contained within the bill.  The bill did not pass the Senate and thus died.  Although we felt this may be a multi-year effort from the time the bill was filed, it seemed we had a high probability of getting this bill passed in the first year.  Unfortunately, that did not happen, and we will need to gear up for 2019.  Individual board members with the FSDA, FSI, and SIFMA who helped craft the initial legislation and amendments/negotiations for this bill deserve our gratitude.  While this bill did not cross the finish line, most of the outstanding issues with various stakeholders were resolved and converted into a legislative product we believed was going to be signed into law.  We anticipate a successful 2018 as we will need to gear up in the fall once again.  The house sponsor has agreed to sponsor the bill again in 2019 and looks forward to working with the industry on securing the support of the Legislature and the Governor. 
     
     
    FINANCIAL LITERACY - FAILED
    House Bill 323 by Representative Fitzenhagen and Senate Bill 88 by Senator Dorothy Hukill both provided mandatory 3 hours of coursework in financial literacy at Florida High Schools.  Today, on the last day of Session, the House and Senate got into a standoff over whether the course should be a mandatory course required for students to graduate.  The House preferred a softer approach that had no requirements but gave school districts the option, while the Senate pushed a mandated course that students must take to graduate.  Neither side budged or compromised and both efforts failed late in the evening.  The Senate sponsor already vowed to bring the issue back again in 2019.
     
    Again, a more thorough report on all bills monitored and lobbied by the FSDA will be sent in the coming weeks, but these were the big-ticket items for 2018. 
     
    Sean C. Stafford
    SVP and Director, MWC
    McGuireWoods Consulting LLC
    115 East Park Avenue
    Suite 1
    Tallahassee, FL 32301
    T:   +1 850 727 5000
    M: +1 850 251 4253
    F:   +1 850 765 0896
    sstafford@mwcllc.com
    Bio | vCard | www.mcguirewoodsconsulting.com

  • 02/28/2018 1:56 PM | Anonymous

    Legislative Update - House Bill 193

    2/28/2018

     

    Florida Securities Dealers Association (FSDA)
    Legislative Update - February 2018
     
    The Florida Legislative Session and the FSDA are poised for a few big victories in 2018.  Every year, the FSDA tracks and weighs in on dozens of legislative proposals such as causes of action, telemarketing, licensing fees, and financial literacy.  Here is an update on House Bill 193.
     
    Mortgage Broker Exemption for Securities Dealers
     
    After nearly 2 years of work, House Bill 193 passed the Legislature last week.  It was a joint effort by State Representative Rick Stark (D-Weston) and Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala).  If signed into law, the bill will exempt securities professionals from having to obtain a separate mortgage brokers license in order to have a general conversation about a mortgage or refer a client to a mortgage broker.  The bill was a collaborative effort between the FSDA and the Florida Bankers Association.  The bill heads to the Governor's Desk, where it will await his action. 
      
    Sean C. Stafford
    SVP and Director, MWC
    McGuireWoods Consulting LLC
    115 East Park Avenue
    Suite 1
    Tallahassee, FL 32301
    T:   +1 850 727 5000
    F:   +1 850 765 0896
    sstafford@mwcllc.com
    Bio | VCard | www.mcguirewoodsconsulting.com


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