PROGRESS ON PRIORITIES
TRANSFORMING TEACHER PAY
Many schoolteachers on the front lines of educating Florida’s future leaders have not seen a pay raise in years. According to the National Education Association, Florida ranked 26th in the nation for starting teacher pay at $37,636 (in 2017-18). This year my colleagues and I pushed to improve new and veteran teacher pay in 2020 by approving a $500 million investment in teacher compensation. We also established the Teacher Salary Increase Allocation to school districts. Districts (including charter schools) must use their funds to raise the minimum base salary for full-time classroom teachers, including certified pre-K teachers, to at least $47,500 or the maximum amount achievable. They must also provide salary increases to either full-time classroom teachers whose minimum base salary did not increase or increased by less than 2 percent and/or other instructional personnel. We also passed more measures to keep our kids safe in our schools. Florida’s K-12 students should feel confident in their safety on the way to and from and at school. From strengthening penalties for passing a stopped school bus to establishing protections for student-athletes, the 2020 Legislature championed kids’ safety through various policy proposals.
Florida should promote all adoptions, from our foster care system, or private adoptions, or for mothers who would carry to term if there were better options. ADOPTION IS THE BETTER OPTION.
This year I sponsored House Bill 61 that opened more avenues for adoption in our state. In Florida, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) provides child welfare services, including adoption services, through community-based care lead agencies contracted by DCF. Adoption is a method of achieving permanency for children who have suffered abuse, neglect, or abandonment and who are unable to be reunified with their parents. In 2015, the Legislature re-established an adoption benefit program administered by DCF for state employees who adopt children from the foster care system. Qualifying adopting employees receive a one-time benefit of $10,000 for the adoption of a child with special needs and $5,000 for the adoption of a child who does not have such needs. The program currently has a $2,750,000 recurring general revenue appropriation. Funding is accessed on a first-come, first-served basis; 225 employees received the adoption benefit in FY 2018-19. Eligible employees who may receive an adoption benefit include nontemporary employees, either full- or part-time, of a state agency, which is defined to also include school districts, state universities and colleges, and water management districts, among others. This legislation signed by Governor DeSantis extends this benefit to other-personal-services (temporary) employees who have been employed full- or part-time by a state agency for one year; and veterans or servicemembers domiciled within Florida, regardless of whether employed by the state.
Palm Beach County is one of the best places to live in the United States. Yes, we have an affordable housing crisis. Governments must continually evaluate their tax revenue policy for its impact on housing availability and prices. State government looks to innovation, transparency, and accountability in its laws so that its citizens can make better decisions for their families, their businesses, their local governments, and the environment. We must bring the same accountability to state and local affordable housing programs. The main goal is to provide a consistent and reliable stream of state tax dollars to local governments that have a practical incentive-based affordable housing program and complimentary regulatory policy. This year I am proud to say we provided the full funding of $370 million to the Sadowski Trust fund for affordable housing.
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION BENEFITS EXTENSION SET FOR NOVEMBER ELECTION
Local governments impose and collect ad valorem taxes on real and tangible personal property within Florida. All property in Florida is subject to taxation and must be assessed at just value unless an exemption or exception is authorized by the Florida Constitution. Under the homestead exemption, persons with legal and equitable title in real property on which they or their dependent permanently reside may have a portion of the just value of their property exempted from taxation. A homestead property must be assessed at just value, which may only be increased by up to 3 percent every year pursuant to the Save Our Homes (SOH) assessment limitation. The accumulated difference between the just value and the assessed value is the SOH benefit. Homestead property owners may transfer the SOH benefit to a new homestead if the new homestead is established by January 1 of the second year after the abandonment of their old homestead. The joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution extending the period to transfer the SOH assessment limitation from a prior homestead to a new homestead by an additional year. If passed, the SOH benefit can be transferred to a new homestead if established by January 1 of the third year after the abandonment of the old homestead. The joint resolution sponsored by Representative Roth will be presented to the voters at the 2020 general election, and take effect January 1, 2021, if passed by 60%. It is a significant benefit to Florida property taxpayers to have a 2-year minimum to transfer the SOH benefit.
FOOD PRODUCTION AND CHARITABLE FOOD BANKS
Both food production in general and charitable food banks specifically are important to Florida’s economy and our health. As a farmer myself I can tell you that Florida agriculture is a national treasure. Few people truly understand the complexity and dedication of time and resources necessary to feed America and the world. Florida farmers are uniquely positioned to provide charitable food to our most needy and to our children.
FLORIDA FARM TO SCHOOL PROGRAM
This year I sponsored House Bill 973, and it was intended to provide more accountability to the program. It included provisions that required specific receipts to the county school nutrition program. I also sponsored the Feeding Florida Healthy Food Initiative Appropriation. This is a network of 12 Food Banks that deliver food into all of Florida’s 67 counties through direct distribution and a network of over 2200 partner agencies. Last year the network moved over 300 million pounds of food, of which over 52 million pounds was fresh fruits and vegetables from Florida’s farmers. The network’s collective budget receives 86% from individual and corporate contributions, and 10.2% from government support, most federal programs. Approximately 8% is spent on farm-fresh food recovery. Due to CoVid-19 our Food Bank network has increased food delivery by 70%. I will continue to encourage the needy to use our Food Bank network and all others to support it through monetary donations.
WATER AND NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION
Florida’s agriculture and tourist economy and our way of life are directly linked to our land and water resources. Fishing, diving, boating, camping, and other outdoor activities help attract 115 million visitors to Florida every year. With the change in federal tax laws and regulations, the U.S. economy is booming, and people are moving to Florida. We must promote smart growth now, not urban sprawl. Florida needs to return to its pre-2009 history and protect our most sensitive waters and lands primarily through land conservation and limited acquisition of pristine land and water resources.
FLORIDA FOREVER AND OTHER CONSERVATION MEASURES
This year we passed legislation for land and natural resource preservation. This included the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and the Florida Forever Conservation Easements. Conservation easements protect land at a fraction of the cost of outright purchase. This has allowed a doubling amount of the land we can protect and more land remains on the tax rolls. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLP) has been partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to leverage state and federal dollars to protect more land and be efficient with limited tax dollars. They also partner with the military to buffer military bases for national security. The funding of the RFLPP obligates funds necessary for these protections. The RFLPP is focused on sustainable agriculture that keeps the land out of development. Ranching is low-intensity land use, and the alternative is not something better. Both of these programs are needed to protect water and wildlife. The House and Senate worked together in a bipartisan manner to set aside $690 million for the Florida Forever Program for land conservation, and millions more for beach restoration and coral reef protection.
Delegation Chair, Representative Rick Roth’s
2020 Legislative Session Summary
It is my pleasure to present the 2020 Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation wrap-up report.
Inside you will find highlights of legislation and appropriations that members of our delegation worked
diligently during the 2020 legislative session.
I want to thank the delegation staff for all their assistance during my time as Chairman. From the Bahamas to
Belle Glade Housing Authority to appropriations bills, Vicky Nowlan, Todd Bonlarron, Asst. County
Administrator and Rebecca DeLaRosa, Legislative Affairs Director, kept me informed and made this duty truly
enjoyable. It has been my honor to serve as Chair of the delegation this past year. It is a privilege to be among
those who advocate for Palm Beach County and I am very proud to work with my colleagues on behalf of Palm
Beach County’s residents.
In March, the Florida Legislature passed a balanced budget for our state. With the recent onset of the
coronavirus pandemic, this seems like years ago. The original $93.2 Billion budget was a 2.4% increase of $2.2
billion, which includes funding for 113,414 authorized positions. The Governor finally vetoed $1 billion of
special appropriations to give us a $92.2 Billion budget. All in all, the budget provides new funding in many
We set aside reserves of $3.9 billion, which is 10.6% of estimated general revenue, and $60 million for the
coronavirus response. The budget includes raises for full-time classroom teachers. We committed $500 million
to increase the pay for the teachers across the state. Getting and retaining quality educators is key to the
success of our students, and we wanted to ensure that Florida is a strong competitor to obtain the best teachers
in the nation. For the first time in many years, there was no sweep of funds from the Sadowski Affordable
Housing Trust Fund. Ultimately, of the $340 million in the trust, $225 million was vetoed by the Governor.
Beginning October 1, 2020, all State employees and Correctional Officers, and APD/DCF specialists will receive
a 3% salary increase on October 1, 2020.
Florida is home to stunning beaches, gorgeous natural springs, and the world-renowned Florida Keys and
Everglades. Florida is a top tourist destination for 120 million people annually and the home of a $115 billion
Agriculture industry. Preserving our natural resources is vital to our lifestyle and a strong economy. The
Agricultural and Natural Research budget increased by 12.5% to $4.5 billion. It included $690 million for water
resource projects, of which Everglades Restoration was $323.6 million, and $100 million for the Florida Forever
Program for land conservation. The project outlays include $12.5 million for the Florida Resilient Coastline
The initiative, $50 million each for springs and beach restoration, $50 million for Aquifer Storage and Recovery,
(ASR) wells near Lake Okeechobee, $40 million for alternative water supply, $25 million for Wastewater and
Storm Water Grants, $25 million for Total Maximum Daily Load water quality projects, $25 million for 3 rivers
watershed water quality, and $25 million for the Indian River Lagoon. It also includes $27.6 million total for
Blue-Green Algae and Red Tide research and projects, and coral reef protection.
In this session, several bills passed that put patients in control of their health care and also improved access and
affordability. A new law, HB – 607, Direct Care Workers, will allow qualified advanced practice registered
nurses to work autonomously in primary care and midwifery. Another law, HB -389, Practice of Pharmacy,
allows pharmacists to work with physicians to manage chronic health conditions and provide some basic
services like testing for flu and strep. The passage of HB – 763, Patient Safety Culture, means Floridians will
have an insider’s view of the patient safety culture of hospitals and other facilities so that it’s easier to make
informed decisions on where to get a procedure done.
Cancer has become the second leading cause of death to firefighters, due to inhalation and skin absorption of
harmful chemicals. In SB 1092 – Fire Prevention and Control, it creates the Firefighter Cancer Decontamination
Equipment Grant Program to provide financial assistance to fire departments to better protect firefighters from
exposure to cancer-causing agents.
To combat the high turnover rate among employees in state agencies, community-based care agencies, and
case management partners who help our most vulnerable kids in the child welfare system, we passed SB –
1326, the State of Hope Act. This legislation provides pay raises for child protective investigators and builds
long-term career support for all staff. It will also help prevent and mitigate traumatic stress and burnout for
our critical care workers. Another bill, Jordan’s Law, HB 43, will ensure that law enforcement officers will have
access to more information about families in the system, to help keep children safe. In HB 945 – Children’s
Mental Health, it provides standards for mobile response team services. It protects students by requiring a
principal or designee to verify that de-escalation strategies have been used with a student, and a mobile
response team has been contacted before law enforcement for an involuntary student examination.
In HB 1193 – Deregulation of Professions and Occupations, it reduced the regulatory burden on our state’s
business and professionals. Onerous licenses, fees, and tests that did not serve any apparent purpose have
In this session, there were eight significant education-related bills passed into law. In HB 5101 – Education
Funding, we increased the total funds per student in public schools by nearly $200 each, bringing us to almost
$7900 per student this coming year. Public school classroom teachers will benefit from the $500 million budget
item for teacher salary increases. Additionally, school districts will use their % of these funds to move every
full-time teacher as close to a $47,500 minimum salary as possible. It also repealed Florida’s Best and Brightest
Teacher and Principal Allocation. In HB 7067 – Education, it expands the eligibility for the Family Empowerment
Scholarship program and ensures that students who seek to renew their scholarships are prioritized. Holocaust education has been part of required instruction for students in K-12 public schools since 1994. In HB 1213 – Educational Instruction of Historical Events, it adds to this required instruction the state’s definition of and policy against anti-Semitism, current and historical examples of anti-Semitism, and the prevention of anti-Semitism. It also requires DOE to develop standards and offer a curriculum for teaching the history of the Holocaust. It also requires DOE to define how we recognize the historical significance of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots.
In SB 72 – Postsecondary Education, it creates another option for Bright Futures Florida recipients to receive
100% of tuition and fees for an associate degree at a Florida College System institution. It establishes Florida
Institute of Politics at FSU to promote civic engagement and intellectual diversity. It also creates the Adam
Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom at FIU. The Center will concentrate on the effects of free-market economics on individual freedom and human prosperity.
In keeping with Governor DeSantis’s focus on Everglades Restoration and protecting our natural resources from
unnecessary nutrient pollution, three environmental bills were passed into law.
Two years in the making, SB 712 – Environmental Resource Management, otherwise known as the “Clean
Waterways Act”, improves and maintains our precious water resources for years to come by implementing key
inspection and enforcement of both non-point and point source pollution requirements, to protect our state
waters. It requires increased regulation of septic tanks, back-up plans for wastewater facilities during power outages to minimize the discharge of untreated wastewater, and annual updates from those facilities to ensure
funds are properly utilized for infrastructure upgrades, repairs, and maintenance. For non-point agriculture
nutrient runoff, it requires inspections of all farms in certain BMAP areas enrolled in Best Management
Practices every two years, and updates in stormwater maintenance and design requirements across Florida. It
also creates grant programs to help fund certain water quality projects. In HB – 1061, Aquatic Preserves, the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve is created in the panhandle with specified boundaries, to protect and conserve these natural resources. Florida currently has 41 aquatic preserves that span 2.2 million acres. In HB 73 – Environmental Regulation, it requires counties and cities to address the issue of contamination in their contracts with private companies that operate their recycling programs. It also provides some exceptions to environmental resource permits for residential projects that do no harm to the environment.
Representative Rick Roth
Chairman, Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation
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.
It has been a busy Spring and I wanted to share some of the accomplishments from the 2017 session.
I supported legislation that provides tax relief, legislation that enables innovation and legislation that supports education.
I passed HB 863 which enables teaching nursing homes to add hospice services for their residents without having to go through a CON process. Florida has two teaching nursing homes and one is in Palm Beach County at Morse Life.
HB 303 garnered bipartisan support to allow religious expression in schools. Bills like HB807and HB477 take aim at addressing local issues related to sober homes and narcotics.
I had the opportunity to address the Florida Farm Bureau from the Senate floor early in the session.
We had lots of visitors in Tallahassee and I appreciate all of you who took the time to visit. This was a fun day talking civics with members of the Shady Hills Elementary 4-H club.
I was so happy that my wife, Jeanie, could join me for opening day of session.
I also got to spend some time with members of the Florida National Guard. Appreciate the service of these talented and dedicated men and women.
Here at home, I have enjoyed spending time with our future leaders. Congratulations to Nathan Frank, a student at Seminole Ridge Community High School, who received the Legislative Excellence Award.
The support of my family is what enables me to spend time in Tallahassee and throughout the district working hard for constituents. We were able to spend Mother's Day together enjoying our beautiful Florida views.
I am really excited for the start of the legislative session. These past few months since being elected to the Florida House have been very busy with orientation, committee meetings, and meeting with constituents.
I have been working hard and look forward to representing you in Tallahassee.
The town of North Palm Beach held a beautiful Veteran's Day Memorial Ceremony. (November, 2016)
With Senator Marco Rubio on the Florida House floor. (November, 2016)
At the Royal Palm Rotary Club with Club President, Steve Logan. (December, 2016)
At Palm Beach Gardens Elementary School with Principal, Mrs. Marie Caracuzzo. (January, 2017)