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February 2024 Florida Legislature Activity Report Provided by Edward Briggs

Overview

Please find below the introduction for the FRACCA February 2024 Activity Report, which encapsulates the myriad initiatives and legislative endeavors undertaken during the month.

February 2024 marked a significant period for the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA), characterized by a robust schedule of meetings, strategic planning sessions, and legislative advocacy efforts aimed at advancing the interests of the HVAC industry within the state. The month was punctuated by the FRACCA Board Meeting on February 15th, underscoring our commitment to collaborative governance and strategic foresight in addressing the industry’s evolving challenges and opportunities.

Looking ahead, the calendar is densely populated with pivotal gatherings, including the FRACCA/ACCA Strategy Meeting scheduled for March 1st, aimed at planning for the forthcoming conference, and subsequent board meetings that will continue to drive our agenda forward. Notably, the ACCA Conference on March 13th stands as a testament to our dedication to industry-wide collaboration and innovation.

Our proactive stance on legislative and regulatory matters is further evidenced by our engagement in a variety of critical issues, from advocating for apprenticeship funding through HB 917 to addressing contractor fraud and inspection fee adjustments. The formation of a Political Committee (PC) and efforts to secure direct funding for apprenticeship programs underscore our commitment to the long-term sustainability and growth of our industry. Additionally, our involvement in legislative priorities, such as SB 612/HB 481, and regulatory matters, like the proposed rule by the Department of Education (Rule No.: 6A-10.0401), highlights our active role in shaping policies that impact our members and the communities they serve.

The articles of interest section provides a broader context of the legislative landscape, including the progression of measures related to wage and heat exposure preemptions, term limits for county commissioners, the Seminole Gaming Deal, and significant health care initiatives, among others. Each of these developments represents a facet of our ongoing effort to monitor and influence policy discussions that bear relevance to our industry and the broader economic and social fabric of Florida.

In conclusion, February 2024 was a month of strategic engagement and advocacy, laying the groundwork for continued success and influence in the legislative arena. As we move forward, FRACCA remains steadfast in its commitment to representing the interests of Florida’s HVAC industry, through both proactive policy engagement and strategic planning for the future.

Proposed/Final Rules

Notice of Proposed Rule
Department: Department of Education
Division: State Board of Education
Rule No.: 6A-10.0401
Purpose: Facilitates the statewide articulation of industry certifications pursuant to sections 1007.23 and 1008.44, F.S., which require the Articulation Coordinating Committee to recommend articulation agreements to the State Board of Education that provide for the articulation of postsecondary credit toward related degrees for earned industry certifications. The agreements provide opportunities for Florida’s secondary and postsecondary students to accelerate their degree completion and save money through the award of postsecondary credit for earned industry certifications. https://www.flrules.org/gateway/View_Notice.asp?id=28072981

Articles of Interest

Wage, Heat Exposure Preemptions Move Forward

The House on Friday passed legislation (HB 433) that would ban local governments from putting heat protection laws in place for workers and eliminating local “living wage” ordinances that require companies with government contracts to pay their employees more than the state’s minimum wage. The measure, by Fort Myers Republican Rep. Tiffany Esposito, passed 79-33 and now goes to the Senate. The bill requires the Florida Department of Commerce to enact state regulations related to heat exposure for workers by 2028 if the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, doesn’t release them at the federal level. State law already prohibits cities and counties from setting their own minimum wage for payrolled workers, but the new proposal aims to remove exemptions that allow them to set their own minimum wages for contracted workers. The Senate version (SB 1492) is awaiting consideration on the floor but it only addresses heat exposure ordinances and does not include provisions on wage preemption for contractors. The heat regulation provision comes after the Miami-Dade County Commission scrapped a plan to require local heat exposure protections for outdoor workers that included frequent mandatory breaks out of the sun and access to water. WFSU

County Commission Term Limits Bill Dead

Unable to agree on how long the term should be, the Legislature is shelving a term limits proposal for county commissioners for the time being. Florida Politics reported this week that backers of the term limits legislation and sources close to legislative leadership said sponsors of the legislation (SB 438, HB 57) were set on an eight-year term limit but couldn’t get enough support in the Senate. There was enough support to pass a 12-year commission term limit, but supporters were set on the shorter limit and said they’ll return with the idea in next year’s session. Florida Politics

Seminole Gaming Deal Expected to Bring in Over $4 Billion

State economic forecasters have pegged the expected revenue from the state’s gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida at $4.43 billion through the 2028-29 fiscal year. Forecasters from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research last week said it looked at incoming dollars following the early December launch of online sports betting on the tribe’s platform, along with newly authorized casino games. The 2021 gaming compact allows the Seminoles to offer online sports betting statewide and craps and roulette at tribal casinos, paying a portion of revenue to the state in exchange. News Service Florida / EDR Forecast Summary / EDR Forecast

House Passes ‘Live Healthy’ Bills, Priority Initiative Heads to Gov

The full House passed two major health care bills collectively known as the “Live Healthy” initiative on Thursday, marking a total investment of $717 million in growing the state’s health workforce. The initiative, a priority of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, aims to address the shortage of providers among Florida’s growing population and support innovation in the health marketplace. The first proposal (SB 7016) allocates millions to various programs, including initiatives to increase positions for graduate medical students, incentivize health care professionals to work in rural areas, and enhance Medicaid reimbursement rates, particularly in mental health and disability services. The bill provides $50 million to expand medical residency slots by 500 to increase the number of physicians in the state, establishes a program to boost clinical opportunities, and earmarks money for educational expense reimbursement. It also creates a new pathway for foreign-trained physicians to practice in Florida and allows advanced birth centers to offer cesarean-section deliveries for low-risk pregnancies, which is currently not permitted at birth centers. The measure, however, does not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, with Florida being one of ten states that have declined to accept federal money to expand the safety net program. The other part of the Live Healthy initiative (SB 7018), focusing on health innovation, creates a Health Care Innovation Council to help address technology, workforce, and health care delivery models and provides $50 million in funding for the low-interest revolving loan program to spur innovation. Both bills had passed the full Senate last month. Next stop: Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. Florida Politics / Politico Pro

My Safe Florida Home Grant Measure Passes Senate

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously agreed on a $100 million matching grant fund to help homeowners make windstorm mitigation upgrades, such as roof, window and door hardening measures meant to reduce storm damage. The grant initiative will be part of the existing My Safe Florida Home program. The bill (SB 7028) provides for hurricane mitigation inspections for eligible single-family homes and would allow for some low-income homeowners to get the grants without providing the matching amount. The measure now goes to the House, where an identical bill (HB 1263) is awaiting consideration by the State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee.

Bill to Ease Teen Work Hour Laws Clears Senate Committee

Kids who are 16- and 17-years-old would be able to work longer hours under legislation easing work restrictions for minors that passed this week in the House and was sent to the Senate. The measure is a priority for the restaurant industry, which has faced worker shortages since the pandemic. The proposals are part of what reports have said is a national push by conservative interest groups and others to roll back limits on teen work nationwide. Critics charged the measure could open up kids to exploitation and hurt their ability to perform in school. Some critics also said this week that restaurants and other service industry employers were seeking to be able to use child labor more because of Republican efforts to make Florida less welcoming to immigrants who otherwise would be working in many low-wage jobs. The measure (HB 49) passed the House on an 80-35 vote after Republican backers shot down 10 proposed amendments by Democrats seeking changes to what has become one of the most controversial measures of the current legislative session. The Senate is considering a similar measure (SB 1596) that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work up until midnight on school nights instead of 11 p.m. as is the case in the House bill, but would cap their work hours at 30 per week, while the House doesn’t have a weekly hours limit. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Linda Chaney of St. Petersburg said 24 other states have allowed similar work rules for teens under 18 with no negative effects and argued the measure allowed families to make decisions for themselves. “I trust that our families and our teens will make the right choice in their own situation,” Chaney said. She also argued that employers who take advantage of teens won’t be able to keep them as workers – because so many jobs are available and teens are free to go find other jobs. “This is a very competitive market,” Chaney said. “The employee’s in the driver’s seat.” Opponents said the measure goes in the wrong direction, returning Florida to a time before government tried to protect kids from overwork. “Just because our kids like to play Minecraft doesn’t mean we should send them back to the mines,” said House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell. Associated Press / Tampa Bay Times / Tallahassee Democrat / Florida Politics / Politico Pro / Florida Phoenix

Provided by Edward Briggs, Vice President of Government Relations and Community Affairs at RSA Consulting Group, the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA) lobbying firm in Tallahassee.

In the Spotlight

FRACCA RSA Legislative Wrap Up

From the Director: Representatives of RSA Consulting Group, LLC, will soon be traveling around the state providing Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA) affiliated chapters a 2024 legislative wrap up. I encourage you to attend one of these sessions to learn details not covered in the official release. You do not have to be a member to attend.

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