Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation Report 2020

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
areas.


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
been eliminated.


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


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© 2018 Rick Roth for Florida House of Representatives
Paid by Rick Roth, Republican for Florida House of Representatives, District 85.