2024 State Legislative Session Takeaways: Florida

Written by Mark Salters

On March 9, the Florida Legislature adjourned the 2024 session with the ceremonial hanky drop. In even-numbered years, the legislature meets for 60 days and convenes in January compared to starting in March in odd-numbered years. During the 2024 session, 1,902 pieces of legislation were introduced with 325 passing both chambers.

Here’s what you may have missed:

Social Media

House Speaker Paul Renner’s (R) top priority for the 2024 session was to pass legislation to regulate social media use by children. Lawmakers initially passed HB 1, which barred individuals under the age of 16 from using social media sites, but it was eventually vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis (R) due to his concerns that the law would not pass legal scrutiny. The legislature subsequently passed HB 3, which requires 14 and 15-year-olds to obtain parental permission before signing up for social media sites. It also requires all commercial entities to verify the age of website visitors before a visitor can access material that is “harmful to minors.” The measure still awaits DeSantis’s approval.

ESG and Financial Services

Florida continued to be a national leader in pursuing an “anti-ESG” agenda. New laws were passed to protect consumers from having their accounts frozen for ideological reasons and to divest state funds from Chinese-owned enterprises. The legislature passed HB 989, a pet project of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (R), which makes it an unsafe or unsound practice for a financial institution or qualified public depository to deny or cancel its services or discriminate in the provision of services based on a customer’s political opinions, speech or affiliations, religious beliefs, or any factor that is not a quantitative, impartial, risk-based standard. Prohibited practices by institutions include the suspension or termination of an account or restrictions on the ability to withdraw the available account balance beyond the period permitted by the law.

SB 7071 also passed and directs the State Board of Administration to divest from investments in any company identified to have a majority ownership by the Chinese government, or by association, the Chinese Communist Party and prohibits any future investments in these companies. HB 1331 passed, too, and prohibits the state from contracting with companies that produce commodities by forced labor, including minors and victims of human trafficking.

The Budget

A record $117.5 billion budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year was approved by the legislature. Affordable housing initiatives were a priority for DeSantis and legislative leaders. The legislature provided $174 million for State Housing Initiatives Partnerships, which distribute funds to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing. The legislature appropriated an additional $234 million to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

DeSantis has until the start of the new fiscal year on July 1 to examine the budget and line-item veto any appropriations. Barring the call of a special session, the legislature will not begin interim meetings until the new year after the November 2024 elections. Committees can consider and pass legislation during these meetings before the legislature convenes in March of 2025.

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