As the 2019 Legislative Session concluded in Tallahassee, I am proud to say that working together, we had many great legislative successes this year. This includes the Florida House’s commitment, alongside Governor DeSantis, to provide real environmental funding for the state for Everglades restoration, water quality research, septic-to-sewer conversions and beach nourishment. $686.8 million of Florida’s budget will be dedicated to water quality protection, including funding research that will help Floridians understand and prevent algae and red tide outbreaks. This environmental funding is completely necessary to make Florida a more sustainable state, all while maintaining our multi-billion dollar tourism industry and unique eco-systems. I fully support Governor DeSantis’ efforts to improve our state’s environment, while maintaining our growing economy for everyone.
The Legislature also app-roved another Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday from August 2-6, 2019, where clothing priced at $60 or less, school supplies at $15 or less, and computers and accessories priced $1,000 or less per item, purchased for personal use will be exempt from state and local sales tax. The tax package also called for another seven-day Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday where sales taxes will be waived for many disaster preparedness supplies including flashlights, portable generators and batteries from May 31 through June 6, 2019.
This year we were successful in unanimously passing “Andrew’s Law,” named after Andrew Coffey, a life-long resident of Lighthouse Point, who tragically passed away from a hazing incident at Florida State University. Andrew’s Law adds an amnesty provision to the hazing statute that would incentivize a bystander to call for help and stay with the person in need until first responders arrive.
This Legislature was able to accomplish what no legis-lature was able to since 2004, pass a comprehensive firefighter cancer benefits program. Nationwide, 70% of firefighter line-of-duty deaths in 2016 was cancer-related. This bill grants certain benefits to a firefighter upon receiving a diagnosis of cancer. This is a great victory for our brave men and women who protect and serve our communities every day, and I was proud to cosponsor this legislation.
Another key issue to Broward County was vacation rental legislation. I filed House Bill 1129 to provide greater accountability and transparency for the short-term rental industry, by expanding the definition of “hosting platform.” This bill, if passed, would have combatted the unlicensed commercial operators from developing in our residential communities. Although we did successfully combat House Bill 987, which was a pro-vacation rental industry bill. This bill would have preempted local governments from being able to regulate this growing industry with very little accountability. I was not in support of this bill, because every community is unique and we should have a say in what happens in our residential neighborhoods. Thankfully, this bill did not pass and the vacation rental industry will not be expanded and deregulated in Florida. I look forward to my next opportunity to stand up to protect our residential communities.
I am proud of the many successes that we had in the Florida House this session, and I look forward to seeing what we can do to accomplish more by working together. As always, it is a tremendous honor to serve you as your State Representative in Tallahassee.