On November 22, 2022, 160 Florida lawmakers, many elected to the legislature for the first time, gathered in Tallahassee to be sworn in. During this constitutionally required “organization session,” the two chambers also officially nominated their next President of the Senate, Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and Speaker of the House, Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast).
With the election over and organization session complete, lawmakers are now focused on preparing for the 2023 legislative session and committee weeks, starting the week of December 12, 2022. The following are the top issues likely to move during the 2023 session:
Environmental, social, and governance investing--otherwise known as ESG--refers to a set of criteria or standards which are increasingly being used by corporations and socially conscious investors to screen potential investments. Florida has already banned its $186 billion pension fund, known as the Florida Retirement System, from investing according to ESG factors. Additional efforts to curb the use of ESG as it relates to state funds can be expected. This is of particular interest to House Speaker Paul Renner.
Following the parental rights bill in 2022, which sought to prevent instruction on gender identity and sexuality in early grades, we expect lawmakers and Governor DeSantis to continue pursuing similar policies, including the use of gender-specific locker rooms in schools.
Both President Passidomo and Speaker Renner have spoken at length about the need to create better housing solutions to compensate for the growing disparity between income and the state’s home prices and rental market. We expect a legislative package to include tax incentives for developers to create multi-use and multi-income properties in urban areas like Miami-Dade.
President Passidomo is especially interested in further expanding the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a statewide network of nearly 18 million acres of connected lands and waters supporting wildlife and people. The connected greenspace allows species to migrate, hunt, breed, and maintain genetic diversity.
In addition to the usual policymaking, the December 12 committee week is also expected to serve as a special session on property insurance and property tax exemptions (the latter specific to victims of recent hurricanes). A special session was held in May of 2022, but more work needs to be done to keep Florida’s property insurance market afloat. Sixteen property insurers have gone insolvent since the crisis began, six of them in 2022 alone.
Governor DeSantis and lawmakers continue to make the case for strengthening Florida’s workforce pipeline, through the use of apprenticeships, preapprenticeships, rapid credentialing, better screening and assessment tools, and expanded partnerships among K-12 and higher education institutions, labor, and industry.
Nationally, concerns continue to grow over the rising cost of prescriptions. Governor DeSantis has signaled that he wants to find solutions for consumers at the state level. We expect a broad healthcare package that addresses hospitals, health insurers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).
Disney/Reedy Creek Improvement District
In 2022, the legislature dissolved a controversial special taxing district, known as Reedy Creek Improvement District, which controls and funds Walt Disney World. Legislators will likely readdress this issue in 2023.
Resign to run
In most cases, statute dictates whether an elected official must resign from their current position in order to run for a new office. Florida state law is silent on this in reference to a governor running for president. With expectations high that Governor DeSantis will seek the Republican presidential nomination, legislative leaders have indicated an interest in clarifying the law to allow him to continue to serve as governor if he runs.