Educate June 2016

2016 Legislative Session Highlights


Written By: Representative Keith Perry

I am proud of all the accomplishments the legislature made during this year’s legislative session. Representatives from both sides of the aisle put partisanship aside to come together to pass a balanced budget and legislation that addressed a wide variety of concerns and problems ranging from expanding retirement benefits for first responders’ families to comprehensive water bills that address our most precious resources — and everything in between. Here are some of the highlights I am most proud of:

Tax Cuts

  • $428 million in property tax relief for Florida homeowners — approximately $4.86 million for Alachua County property owners
  • Permanently removing the sales tax on purchasing manufacturing equipment

Job Growth

  • Florida’s unemployment rate is at 5%, the lowest in seven years.
  • Added over 32,000 jobs in January 2016, the most of all 50 states
  • Job growth rate of 3.3% outpaced the national rate of 1.9%
  • Welcomed over one million tourists in 2015, and generated 1.2 million tourism-related jobs

Education

  • Passed measures to make college more affordable
  • Increased per-pupil funding by $71.16 to record levels of put $7,178.49/student
  • Surpassed pre-recession high
  • Increased funding for early learning programs like VPK and School Readiness
  • Room for 2,200 more students in VPK and an additional 3,500 slots for School readiness after $10 million increase
  • Enhanced educational and occupational opportunities for disabled citizens by funding programs such as nancial literacy programs and making our state government a model for employing the disabled
  • Automatic termination of low- performing charter schools

Environment

  • Established a dedicated funding source for Everglades restoration and protection
  • Legacy Florida
  • $50 million provided for springs restoration, protection and preservation
  • $15.9 million allocated to provide nancial assistance to local governments for the construction of drinking water systems and critical environmental infrastructure
  • $4 million just for Dixie County for conservation easement
  • Protecting 8,000 acres available for public use
  • Home to black bears and bald eagles

WHAT BILLS PASSED?

  1. HB 7005: Comprehensive Water Bill
    • One of the most comprehensive water bills in Florida’s history
    • Created the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act to expedite protection and restoration of the water ow and water quality in the aquifer and Outstanding Florida Springs
    • Updating and restructuring the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEPP) to reflect and build upon the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) completion of basin management action plans
  2. SB 912: Gas Pump Fraud Protection
    • Requires that gas pumps be fitted with security devices to prevent the installation of illegal credit card skimmers
  3. HB 89: Childcare of Legal Immigrants
    • Removes the five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants to qualify for coverage under Florida KidCare.
  4. HB 131: Unattended Persons and Animals in Motor Vehicles
    • Grants civil immunity to anyone who damages a motor vehicle in an attempt to rescue a child or animal locked inside
  5. HB 545: Human Trafficking Penalties

    • Includes human trafficking as predicate offense for felony murder
    • Minors may not be charged with specified prostitution offensesRequires a person convicted of specified racketeering offenses to register as a sexual predator or sexual offender
    • Prevents issuance or renewal of licenses for massage parlors and/ or therapists convicted of certain prostitution offenses
  6. Three ballot measures granting tax breaks
    • Property tax breaks for first responders disabled in the line of duty
    • Exempt solar panels from tangible personal property taxes
    • Lock in place the value of a home belonging to a senior citizen who is eligible for a property tax break

WHAT OTHER ACTIONS AFFECTED ALACHUA COUNTY SPECIFICALLY?

  • HB 135 veto
    1. GRU Governance Bill —This bill intended to give GRU customers the choice to create an independent governing board for GRU.
    2. The bill was vetoed by Governor Scott, but I plan to continue trying to help GRU customers have more say in how GRU operates.
  • Funded Projects
    1. Culture and Arts
      • Cade, Harn and Natural History Museums
      • Hippodrome
      • Dance Alive
      • Newberry Community Center Park
    2. Environmental Projects
      • Newnans Lake Improvement Program
      • Archer Waste Water Collection and Treatment System
      • Hawthorne Downtown Water Main Replacement
    3. UF and SFC
      • UF College of Medicine: Autism Program
      • UF Norman Hall Renovation
      • UF Nuclear Science Building Renovations/Additions
      • Santa Fe Blount Library Renovations

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