The 2014 legislative session is upon us in Florida, and there is no shortage of issues expected to be addressed. A recent article highlighted some of the key issues that have arisen in the state recently, and gave some insight as to what sort of action Florida citizens can expect from their elected officials concerning each topic.
Topics to be Addressed
Some of the topics especially relevant in the legal field include the following:
Tax cuts: It is well known that the governor’s number one priority this year is to make tax cuts and eliminate some fees – in the amount of $500 million. Members of the legislature are on board with doing away with certain vehicle fees and holding a sales tax holiday during back-to-school time. However, there are a number of other issues associated with the cuts that need to be addressed.
Marijuana: A number of plans have been proposed that involve decriminalizing a particular strain of marijuana that is known to reduce seizures in children who suffer from severe epilepsy. However, lawmakers are careful to point out that their willingness to make an exception for this one identified strain does not mean they are willing to approve the proposal that would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Pensions: A plan to overhaul Florida’s retirement system was proposed that reflected a compromise made in order to make the plan more likely to be passed by the Senate. The plan involves suggesting that new hires be prevented from entering the pension system and instead be required to enroll in a 401(k) or similar style plan, or cash-balance plan. Law enforcement and firefighters would be exempt from the requirement. It is highly questionable whether the proposal has the approval of some members of the Senate or the governor.
ALFs/Nursing Homes: Lawmakers are trying to pass a measure that would impose stricter reporting requirements for abuse and neglect that occurs in Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes. It would also increase fines for violations and force the state to create a rating system for elder care homes. Although the industry has tried to avoid such changes over the last few years, the bills have the support of House and Senate leaders. On the other side, a proposal to further shield nursing homes from lawsuits has wide support from the legislature.
Sex predators: Bills that would impose harsher sentences involving increased jail time for sexually violent predators who have reoffended are expected to be addressed.
In light of information that shows a reduction in the number of crash related fatalities, but an increase in the number of overall crashes, bills were filed that would repeal red-light camera programs. Since cities do not seem to be in favor of such a bill, increased regulations regarding the camera programs may be the resulting compromise.
Growth: With the improving economy and increased revenues from home building, lawmakers are suggesting that the few remaining growth rules operative in Florida be limited in an attempt to encourage further development. The bills address numerous regulations including water rights, road projects, conservation easements, local growth rules, and exempting highly populated counties from a layer of state oversight.
These and other proposed laws could affect your rights as a Florida citizen. It is an attorney’s responsibility to not only keep informed of law changes, but to be prepared to advise clients on how laws affect their rights. The attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. have successful experience representing clients in a number of different types of cases, including family law, civil litigation, personal injury, social security, and bankruptcy and foreclosure defense. If you are interested in speaking to an attorney about your case, contact us today. We serve clients in Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties.