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Florida’s most important policy wins of 2019

May 13, 2019 by AFP

The Americans for Prosperity – Florida team put the pedal to the metal during the 2019 legislative session. And the two months of hard work certainly paid off.

Policy victories in health care, education, criminal justice reform, corporate welfare and technology are helping to keep the Sunshine State on the right path.

Here’s a breakdown of everything Floridians need to know, coming out of the legislative session:

Victory: Health Care

Legislation has been sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis for what is a huge step toward eradicating certificate-of-need laws.

CON laws require health care providers to obtain government permission slips to offer new services or open new facilities. This stifles competition, restricting health care access to patients who need it most. Florida is now poised to remove this barrier for general hospitals. CON laws are to be repealed from all specialty hospitals by 2021.

Additionally, bills authorizing the use of telehealth – and allowing practitioners from other states to serve telemedicine patients in Florida – passed through both chambers. A bill that would allow ambulatory surgical centers to house patients for up to 24 hours is also on its way to the governor’s desk.

Victory: Education

The legislature passed a bill creating the Family Empowerment Scholarship, giving families more access to educational opportunities that fit their needs. The program will serve 18,000 children in the first year.

Victory: Criminal Justice Reform

Florida lawmakers passed a comprehensive criminal justice reform package that mirrors multiple policies within the First Step Act, which was signed into federal law late last year.

The package more than doubles the current felony theft threshold, increases resources for re-entry programs and reforms harmful driver’s license suspension laws, among other improvements.

But, this bill is only a first step. There are several other criminal justice policies that must be addressed to further improve public safety, and the AFP-FL team is eager to drive the effort.

Victory: Corporate Cronyism

Our collaboration with legislative leadership helped cut Visit Florida’s budget by $26 million, giving it a one-year shelf life. Lawmakers also rejected a bill that would have extended Visit Florida past this upcoming year, without the need for additional authorization.

Additionally, the state’s so-called Job Growth Fund was reduced to $40 million – a 50% reduction.

In both cases, more taxpayer dollars will now be available for essential public services instead of being handed over to politically connected businesses.

Victory: Tech and Innovation

The AFP-FL team was instrumental in helping pass two bills that increase technological freedom: House Bill 453 and House Bill 311. HB 453 would expand the use of “micromobility devices,” such as electric scooters. HB 311 creates a legal framework in which to develop the use of autonomous vehicles.

Both bills help expand choice for consumers while removing barriers for innovators.

Playing Defense

Just as important as passing good legislation is making sure bad legislation isn’t passed.

AFP-FL helped blocked 35 out of 37 bills that would have erected more barriers to opportunity for Floridians.

These bills would have boosted wasteful spending on film incentives, mandated additional training requirements for barbers and cosmetologists, and limited free speech.

 

The AFP-FL team has a lot to be proud of. We were able to make our voices heard on a multitude of issues. Ultimately, the Sunshine State came out of the 2019 legislative session on the right path toward prosperity – and that’s a victory worth celebrating.