FJA Legislative Update: Session Week 7

Message from the Legislative Team

Click the video below for a brief update from FJA Interim Executive Director Paul Jess on the progress of our 2017 Civil Justice Legislative agenda.

Week Seven: The peaks and valleys of the final stretch.

As we close out this seventh week of the Legislative Session, the passage of a state budget has come under intense focus and legislation begins to die by virtue of running out of time.

The Senate’s attention has been unfortunately diverted by the situation involving Sen. Frank Artiles’ inexcusable comments to some of his colleagues in the Senate, which has led to his resignation earlier today. As a result, the business of the Senate has stalled and budget allocations have been delayed without the inter-chamber conference process beginning as it typically does at this time. With a short timeline between now and May 5 to get the two chambers’ budgets reconciled it is difficult to predict if a timely and successful Sine Die is possible.

The vast majority of Senate and House Committees have concluded their work and will not meet again. Several high priority bills are captured in this limbo, and face procedural death if bill withdrawals or new hearings aren’t approved.

This week, we saw a lot of progress on FJA’s agenda. Legislation was approved to require drivers to carry mandatory bodily injury liability coverage (of 25/50) in the Florida House for first time since the 1960s. We’re proud of the leadership of Rep. Erin Grall, who shepherded the issue through committees and the scrutiny of the 120-member House floor. The focus now turns to the Senate and the FJA team is working to push the issue there.

The Transportation Network Company bill, commonly known as the Uber bill, is headed to Gov. Scott. The FJA team worked hard to get lawmakers to approve a provision in the bill to require drivers to carry $1 million in liability coverage, and clarifying language that nothing in the bill extinguishes a current cause of action.

Additionally, legislation that would allow for a civil cause of action against businesses that turn a blind eye to human trafficking passed two committees this week in the Senate, while the House has moved a similar measure to the floor. With the help of friends in the law enforcement and advocacy community, we’re working to get the bill up in Sen. Jack Latvala’s Appropriations Committee next week. Still, we are facing powerful opponents who are working quietly behind the scenes to kill this good bill. Please, consider calling Sen. Latvala to agenda SB 972 and encourage your clients and friends to do the same!

Finally, the House passed a reform bill of the workers’ compensation system and it is in messages to the Senate. The House bill is problematic for advocates for injured workers as a result of a burdensome cap on attorneys’ fees. Unfortunately, that burden lays at the hands of the injured worker under the House plan. The attention on the issue will turn to the Senate next week as that chamber considers its proposal.

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