FEDC Inside Track for Legislative Affairs: Opening Week of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session

Mar 10, 2008


Above (left):  Newly-elected members of the Florida House of Representatives take their oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis, lower right, during the opening of the Florida Legislature Tuesday, March 4, 2008, in Tallahassee, Florida. From the left are: Matt Hudson, R-Naples; Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary; Oscar Braynon, D-Miami; and Tony Sasso, D-Cocoa Beach.

Above (right):  House Democratic Leader Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, center, offers comments during a news conference Tuesday, March 4, 2008, in Tallahassee, Florida. Gelber is flanked by Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Steven Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, right, and House Democratic Leader pro tempore Rep. Joyce Cusack, D-Deland, left.


FEDC Legislative Report:  Opening Week of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session

The Legislature held its Opening Day of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session on Tuesday, March 4. The week began with Committee meetings for the entirety of March 3, following by conference meetings throughout the week in order to get the 2008 fourth quarter budget reductions into the proper posture for a floor vote in both the House and Senate chambers, respectively. (To view the House and Senate Appropriations Bills and conference report, click here).

Also this week, newly-elected lawmakers were sworn in, legislative leaders gave their opening remarks and rebuttals, and the Governor gave his State of the State during the evening rather than the traditional mid-day event.  To read the text of these speeches, click here.

Listed below we have provided an overview of the week here in Tallahassee.


Committee Presentations

House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council

The House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council met briefly.  Chairman Dean Cannon asked all agencies and departments to look aggressively at opportunities in their respective budgets for reductions during the next fiscal year and be prepared to report by Tuesday, March 11th.

House Economic Development Committee

The House Economic Development Committee, chaired by Representative Dorothy Hukill, met to conclude its workshop on potential regulatory changes that the Committee could put forth in a recommended economic stimulus package to the House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council.  Information will be taken from past testimony and presentations heard by the Committee, along with Committee Members’ comments and suggestions.

The Committee also began hearing Member bills:

HB 293 – Relating to Corporate Income Tax Credits by Representative Will Weatherford.  HB 293 creates the New Markets Tax Credit Program; provides for qualification and sale of investments that provide tax credits; provides for nonrefundable, nontransferable tax credit for taxable year in which credit allowance date falls; provides for calculating credit amount; limits amount of tax credit; provides for carryover of tax credits; provides for redemption of tax credits; provides for calculation of amount of tax credits available; requires calculations to be certified and accompanied by audited financial statements and notarized affidavits; provides for future repeal; provides authority, duties, and requirements of the Governor’s Office of Trade, Tourism and Economic Development, the Florida Department of Revenue, and various community development entities.  Effective Date: July 1, 2008.  HB 293 also would apply to tax years ending after December 31, 2008.

The Bill passed unanimously with one amendment.  Representative Weatherford explained that the fiscal aspect of the bill will be addressed by the Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council once the Revenue Estimating Conference has released its spring estimates.  At that point, the amount of money available for this legislation will be clarified. Representative Weatherford also expressed eagerness to draw down federal matching dollars for the State. There were  no Member questions. HB 293 now proceeds to the House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council.

HB 733 Relating to Tax Credits for Research and Development Expenses by Representative Michael Grant.  HB 733 provides legislative intent regarding state research and development tax credit; defines terms “base amount,” “business enterprise,” and “qualified research expenses;” provides tax credit for businesses having qualified research expenses; provides that this tax credit is 10 percent of excess over base amount; provides that credit taken in a taxable year may not exceed a specified amount; provides that unused credits may be carried forward for up to 10 years following close of tax year in which qualified expenses were incurred; provides that unused credits may be assigned or sold to another taxpayer; provides maximum credit amount; requires the Florida Department of Revenue to adopt rules and guidelines. Effective Date: July 1, 2008.

HB 733 passed unanimously with a strike-all amendment that tightened the definitions within the Bill.  Representative Grant explained that there would be a $7.5 million fiscal commitment this year and a $15 million commitment next year.  There were no Member questions. This bill now will go to the House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council.

HB 593Relating to Florida Research Commercialization Matching Grant Program By Representative Steve Precourt.  HB 593 creates the Florida Research Commercialization Matching Grant Program to assist small or startup companies that take advantage of federal and state partnerships to accelerate their growth and market penetration; requires program applicants to meet several criteria, including, but not limited to, being registered to do business in Florida and having attracted funding from nongovernment sources; creates advisory committee to establish grant criteria, award and evaluate grants, and to report to policymakers; requires Enterprise Florida to act as fiduciary and program administrator; establishes a grant selection committee; establishes grants for $100,000 to $250,000; establishes guidelines and limits grants awarded to 20 to 30, and total grant award to $5 million. Effective Date: upon becoming law.

HB 593 passed unanimously with a strike-all amendment that eliminated the establishment of an advisory council and, instead utilizes a technical advisory committee already in existence within Enterprise Florida.  The Committee made this change so that the Bill would not create a new layer of government.  Representative Betty Reed asked that the changes within the strike-all be explained, but other than that there were no member questions.  This Bill will now go to the House Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council.

Senate Transportation and Economic Development (TED) Appropriations Committee

The Senate TED met to vote out its budget reductions and then met once in conference with its House Council counterparts, where the Committee was able to conclude its budget on its own level.


Budget 2007-2008

The first week of Florida’s 2008 Regular Legislative Session focused mainly on budget cuts to the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2007-2008.

Both the House and the Senate passed their proposed cuts and then briefly met in conference to work out their minor differences.

The House delivered the Conference Report for Appropriations Bills HB 7009 and SB 2502 to House and Senate Members on Sunday, March 9 at 9:45 a.m..  The Report must rest for the mandatory 72 hours before a vote may be taken.

This Report includes recommended budget cuts for the last quarter of FY 2007-2008, however, another budget for FY 2008-2009 will be released toward the end of the 2008 Legislative Session.

To view the Special Appropriations Conference Committee Report and the Implementing Special Appropriations Conference Committee Report, click here.


News from the Governor’s Office

Florida Receives $1.3 Million to Support Foreclosure Prevention Counseling

Governor Charlie Crist on March 6, 2008 announced that Florida has received nearly $1.3 million to support statewide foreclosure prevention counseling efforts. The much-needed boost will enable approximately 50 counseling agencies/organizations to provide more foreclosure counseling than ever before to area homeowners in danger of foreclosure.  To read the complete story, click here.

Governor Crist Reappoints David Gury to the Board of Directors of Scripps Florida Funding Corporation

Governor Charlie Crist on March 6, 2008 announced the following reappointment:

Board of Directors of Scripps Florida Funding Corporation

• David Gury, 69, of Boca Raton, retired, reappointed for a term beginning March 6, 2008, and ending November 13, 2011.


Should you have any questions or comments, please contact:

Frank Mayernick at (850) 251-8898
Tracy Mayernick at (850) 445-3000
at Colodny Fass