2021 Legislative Report #6 Date: March 5, 2021
RE: 2021 Legislative Report #6
DATE: March 5, 2021
THIS WEEK IN REVIEW:
The first week of the 2021 Legislative Session has ended. It was a week full of opening day ceremonies and speeches as well as a full plate of committee meetings. Governor DeSantis gave his State of the State address to a joint session, while both Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls addressed their respective chambers about the upcoming session.
Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the Legislature on Tuesday during the opening session. His main points related to how Florida re-opened its economy and schools and “put Seniors first” with the COVID vaccines. Gov. DeSantis said that Florida is growing and attracting new businesses and new residents daily because it has shown how to stay open through the pandemic. In addition, the state has more money coming in for the budget this year than predicted which will assist lawmakers when they create the 2021-22 State Budget towards the end of session.
On opening day, Senate President Wilton Simpson address his members, with the overarching theme of thankfulness to those who were fighting the fight against COVID-19. He thanked frontline workers, outgoing DEM Director Jared Moksowitz, as well as the Senate staff that worked hard to make opening day as safe as possible. In addition, he touted the work done by the Governor in keeping Florida running and said that he looked forward to legislation this session that would assist in reinvigorating the economy. He also addressed child welfare reform, the state pension plan, school choice, and increased vocational training as his priorities.
In the House, Speaker Chris Sprowls laid out his vision for the 2021 Legislative Session. Taking the same theme as the Senate about COVID, Speaker Sprowls said that this is not going to be a session like ever seen before. He preached about an air of collaboration and improved communication. He ended by saying that the door now is open to have a great Session and what happens next is up to each individual member.
Senator Jeff Brandes passed SB 74 through its second committee on a party-line vote this week. It would temporarily shield healthcare providers from liability in COVID related deaths. There is a fear that the threat of lawsuits related to the virus is keeping health care businesses from returning back to normal. Between conflicting guidance on the national, state and local level as well as a lack of PPE at the beginning of the pandemic, it was difficult to know what rules to follow and be able to protect workers and patients.
The second week of Session will begin Monday, March 8, 2021 and the 2021 Legislative Session will end on April 30, 2021.