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RE: 2021 Legislative Report #10 DATE: April 2, 2021

Posted 12 days ago by Regina Pommer

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THIS WEEK IN REVIEW:

DATE: April 2, 2021

We are over halfway through the 2021 Legislative Session now. Week five was full of bills being debated on the House and Senate floors. In addition, the full Appropriations committees met and discussed the budget, getting full descriptions of what was in it my subcommittee. Some subcommittees had their final meetings as well, signifying that bills will start dying soon.

This week the Governor names a new Chief Science Officer for the state of Florida. Mark Rains, who is currently the director of the University of South Florida’s School of Geosciences will take over the role that was created in 2019. Rains’ research at USF has focused on hydrological connectivity and its relation of science to water related policy decisions. The outgoing CSO, Thomas Frazier, was also from USF, serving as the Dean of the College of Marine Science.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have passed their respective versions of the 2021-22 appropriations bills, readying them to be voted on the chamber floors. At this time, there is about a $2 billion difference in spending with the House at $97 billion and the Senate at $95 billion. Some of the differences include the House including federal stimulus money that the state is expected to receive that the Senate has not included. Among other things, the House has $665.8 million for Everglade’s restoration and $100 million for Florida Forever while the Senate has $786 million for Everglades and $50 million for Florida Forever.

SB 2006 is making its way through the Senate. Labeled the “Emergency Management Act,” it came out of the Senate wanting to put forward legislation to help the state better prepare for pandemics and other emergencies in the future. One of the biggest items I the bill is the ability of the Legislative Budget Commission to convene and transfer unappropriated funds to the newly created Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund. It would also allow the Governor to declare a 60-day executive order during a declared state of emergency instead of just 30 days. It is heading to its final committee stop in Senate Rules.

The sixth week of Session will begin Monday, April 5, 2021 and the 2021 Legislative Session will end on April 30, 2021.