The five committee weeks leading up to the 2021 Legislative Session, which begins on March 2, were incredibly efficient and ultimately very productive. During these meetings, important bills that protect our health care heroes, promote home-based businesses and protect responsible businesses passed committees. The most notable pieces of legislation include the following:
CS/HB7: Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19: Businesses that do the right thing shouldn’t fear being drowned by massive litigation costs. HB 7 protects responsible businesses and organizations from frivolous lawsuits. Florida businesses, schools, nonprofits and religious institutions risked their own health to stay open, to stay safe and to serve us. HB 7 does not let reckless parties off the hook – it protects organizations that are doing the right thing. HB 7 passed its third and final committee stop on Feb. 16, and is now headed to the House Floor.
HB403: Home-Based Businesses: Florida’s home-based businesses are currently burdened by heavy local regulations and unfair taxation from each of the local jurisdictions that they work in. HB 403 empowers business owners to challenge impractical local mandates, allows startup businesses to flourish without high overhead, and encourages entrepreneurship by limiting business taxes to only the county and municipality where their home-based business is physically located. This bill will allow businesses to grow and thrive in their communities and throughout the state. HB 403 passed its first committee stop on Feb. 18, and is headed to the Commerce Committee.
PCB HHS 21-01: Health care facilities and professionals put themselves in harm’s way during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have a special duty to the patients and residents in their care. Health care entities deserve protections from frivolous lawsuits, and patients and long-term care residents deserve protections against bad actors. PCB HHS 21-01 captures the complexity of an uncertain pandemic environment to strike this balance. The bill creates lawsuit protections for the health care sector against COVID-19 claims while maintaining patients’ and long-term residents’ ability to hold reckless entities accountable. PCB HHS 21-01 passed its first committee stop on Feb. 17.
HB259: Safety of Religious Institutions, which Rep. Williamson filed last month passed its first stop in the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee with bipartisan support. HB259 allows concealed weapons permit holders to carry on the property of church, synagogue or any other religious institution when it is located on the same property as a school or preschool. However, the bill does allow religious institutions or owners of the property to continue prohibiting firearms should they so choose.