The third week of the 2016 Florida legislative session was eventful overall, but we did not have as many priority bills move forward as we originally anticipated.

We had movement on the terroristic threats legislation (SB 436 & HB 257) and the constitutional amendment providing a homestead property tax exemption to permanently disabled first responders (HB 1009).

We attended appropriation subcommittees multiple days throughout the week in order to monitor the roll out of budget proposals for state agencies. Both chambers are expected to place a full appropriations proposal forward by the end of next week.

A compressed committee meeting filled with controversial issues prevented both the state pay raise legislation and the FRS COLA legislation from receiving a hearing. The bills will be rescheduled for next week (Pay Raise SB 478) and the weeks to come.

The are several issues on the early released committee agenda for next week. Most notable is legislation dealing with law enforcement officer body worn cameras (SB 418) and a extension of the public records law exempting agency videos and photos of a killing (SB 7022), along with state employees salaries (SB 478).

Here’s a list of the issues we addressed in committee meetings this past week:

Terroristic Threats – SB 436 by Senator Joe Abbuzzo and HB 257 by Representative Jimmie Smith
This legislation makes it unlawful for a person to threaten to commit a crime of violence with the intent to cause, or with reckless disregard for the risk of causing terror or the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation.

A person violating this provision commits a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

A person commits a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine if occupants of the building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation are diverted from their normal or customary operations. It is also a second degree felony, if the threat is against instructional personnel, a law enforcement officer, state attorney or assistant state attorney, firefighter, judge, or elected official or any of their family members.

Florida PBA offered public support for this legislation in both the Senate and House this week. HB 257 is now available to be heard by the full House of Representatives.

Relating to Tax Exemption for Senior, Totally Permanently Disabled First Responders – HB1009 by Representative Larry Metz
This legislation proposes an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize a first responder, who is totally permanently disabled as a result of an injury sustained in the line of duty, to receive a discount on ad valorem taxes assessed on homestead property. The original amendment required that the first responder must be 65 or older. However, Representative Metz has removed that provision and now the exemption is available to all totally permanently disabled first responders regardless of age.

Florida PBA publicly supported this good legislation.

That is all for this week. We are looking forward to having a number of PBA members in Tallahassee to assist our lobbying team next week.

Until next week, stay safe.

Matt Puckett
Executive Director, Florida PBA