Legislative Update
by Chip LaMarca

The Holiday season has come to an end and we are back in Tallahassee for our committee meetings. We had a successful summer where we were able to distribute the appropriations we received this past year. As a reminder, there are still tax holidays in place until June 30, 2024 for Energy Start appliances and gas range cooktops. Lastly, King Tide is still with us, so please stay vigilant and make sure to listen to your local officials when traveling and stay safe.

While I am in Tallahassee for the upcoming session, I will be focusing on my legislative priorities. I will be running legislation for the My Safe Florida Home program for a second year in a row. This program provides home inspections and provides the opportunity for property owners to apply for grants to harden their homes for hurricanes. I have successfully partnered with Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis over the last two years to ensure more Floridians can access this program. We have also increased the grant funding for this program to nearly $400 million in total.

I have also filed legislation called the Yacht & Ship Brokers Act that will update the definition of a yacht and streamline the process of being licensed to sell yachts, as well as provide strict penalties against fraudulent brokers. I will provide updates as bills get filed and move through the process.

I have also filed nineteen (19) appropriations for my district, totaling $10.5M. These projects span six different municipalities and multiple appropriations committees. We work extremely hard to bring back resources to the deserving projects that are being planned for our district, from infrastructure projects like water, drainage and bridge projects, to education and cultural projects for our communities so that we are able to make a significant impact on deserving projects.

In November we had a Special Legislative Session and I want to provide some updates about what was debated and passed in Tallahassee. The Special Session was focused on the following issues:

Hurricane Idalia Relief
Guarding against anti-semitic violence in Florida
School safety for Jewish Day Schools
School choice scholarships for students with unique abilities
Resolving the backlog of applications of the My Safe Florida Home Program ($176 million)

Finally, I want to talk about the growth of Florida. Florida’s labor force grew by 0.2 percentage points in October 2023. Florida continues to outpace the nation in labor force growth for a 29th consecutive month. Florida’s private sector employment increased by 0.3 percent (+25,900 jobs) over the month in October 2023. Florida’s unemployment rate was 2.8 percent in October 2023, more than a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.9 percent and marking the 36th consecutive month Florida’s unemployment rate has remained below the nations. Florida’s construction industry experienced its fifth consecutive month of growth in October 2023 with 2,500 jobs added since September 2023. New construction permitting also continues to trend upward in Florida, demonstrating Florida’s unique level of economic health. Florida also continues to lead the nation in new business formations, with 2.7 million new businesses since 2019.

As always, it is an honor to serve you as your State Representative in Tallahassee.