Legislative Update – January 2016

Hot issues to look out for during the 2016 Legislative Session.

The Florida Legislature will convene on Tuesday, January 12th.  During the sixty day session your Legislatures have a host of issues that they will have to address. We know that our Southwest Delegation is up to the challenge.

Here is a sneak peek of some of the issues our legislators will face. In the area of Health Care they will face dealing with the rising cost of Medicaid which is in part due to the increased cost to related prescription drugs. Our Legislature will again be looking for ways to decrease or at least slow down these rising costs. There are also several House backed proposals including an expansion of ambulatory care and recovery care centers. These care facilities handle smaller surgeries and the Legislature is looking at allowing them to cover and treat more conditions while allowing patients to stay longer in order to avoid higher hospital fees and cost. We could also see an expansion of Nurses and Physicians Assistants scope of medical authority to prescribe medications under Senator Denise Grimsley’s SB 152. This subject is not new to the Legislature and has faced opposition from the Florida Medical Association in the past.

Our Governor Rick Scott is calling for more transparency in hospital billing while accusing some hospitals of price gouging patients. We need to keep our ear to the ground on these Health Care issues as they could have an impact on each of us.

Education will again be on the front burner as this is a topic that affects all students and has an indirect impact on the Florida economy.  Once again we see Charter Schools are looking to receive local tax dollars when it comes to school maintenance and construction. There have already been a lot of Charter school reform bills that have started moving in the House. Rep. Manny Diaz wants to see common Charter School Contracts to include    language that would require these schools to provide more financial disclosure. School Accountability and cut scores should prove to bring forth a lot of debate. How schools should be graded is an ongoing discussion.  Large companies look at a state’s school systems before they decide to relocate to a state and the decisions that are made in this regard could have a long lasting impact on the future of  the growth of the Florida economy.
Senate President Andy Gardiner has weighed in on Exceptional Student Education and has filed several bills that could have an impact on students with special needs. Senator Don Gaetz has filed legislation which would expand parent’s ability to use tax dollars for private school. The Senate Education Chairman wants to see the Best and Brightest program changed to provide $10,000 to teachers who performed well on the SAT. This bill is already seeing a lot of opposition from teachers saying it is unfair and would reward teachers who took the test years ago.

Gambling should bring a lot of banter from the capital to the floors of the legislative chambers as Governor Rick Scott has already signed a  $3 billion dollar gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Let’s not leave out the debate over Marijuana and the two constitutional amendments that could have an impact on this topic.

This is just a sample of what we need to keep on our radar for the session. The session is promising to be filled with lots of legislation discussions that should keep us all on the edge of our seats for that sixty day period.

Have a wonderful day!

Jeanne S. Dozier