This legislative session we dealt with big and pressing issues including Hurricane Irma and school safety.
The school safety legislation presented one of the most difficult votes I have had to make. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to sit in on meetings with students from Stoneman Douglas High School and get some feedback and input.
The safety bill that we passed was a good first step that reflects a balanced, bi-partisan effort. We allocated $400 million for school safety to harden schools, including money for more school resource officers and increased funding of community mental health. We still have more work to do.
We passed an $88.7 billion budget which increased funding for education and Medicaid and land conservation programs. We passed tax reductions to mitigate the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma. The language from my bill to give a sales tax exemption for the purchase of emergency power generators (HB803) was rolled into a tax cut bill that gives nursing homes and assisted living facilities up to a $15,000 sales tax exemption on generator purchases to assist them to comply with new emergency power regulations. This tax cut package also benefited families and students, businesses, farmers, and military and service members who will receive a tax cut on certain purchases.
Palm Beach County is especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic and we passed a bill implementing prescription limitations and increased funding for treatment.
With only 200 bills passed this session, I was delighted to be able to pass a bill that addressed tough penalties for the theft of farmers’ property.
We had many visitors again this year. Thanks to all of you who took the time to stop by and share your thoughts and concerns and for being engaged in the process of governing.