In today’s news cycle, it’s easy for important developments to slip through the cracks. Over the past few months, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has quietly signed a series of bills into law that have largely gone unnoticed by the public. While they may not have sparked the fiery debates typically associated with “culture war” legislation, these laws carry significant implications for Floridians’ financial well-being. In this article, we shed light on six important bills that have flown under the radar, exploring how they will directly affect Floridians’ pocketbooks. Additionally, we have developed a scorecard tool to help you assess how your lawmakers voted on these bills and gauge their overall performance on crucial issues that truly impact the lives of Floridians.
New Laws That Will Hurt Floridians' Pocketbooks
Unions are an important way for workers to organize and negotiate for higher wages, and better working conditions. This bill, signed by Gov. DeSantis in May, targets certain large employee organizations (like teachers’ unions and nurses unions) and prohibits them from receiving their members’ dues via salary deduction, weakening their ability and their members rights to organize. Controversially, this bill exempts certain unions that are politically favored, such as police, firefighters and corrections officers.
This new law will hit the pocketbooks of many Floridians who rely on their union to improve their wages, and will negatively affect Florida’s entire economy as a result. Read guest author Rep. Mike Gottlieb’s Op-Ed about this here.
This legislative session saw several attacks on publicly-owned utilities, which often provide more affordable services to their customers than private, for-profit corporate utilities do.
This bill, signed by the governor on June 28, will replace the democratically elected board of the local Gainesville utility, the GRU, with one appointed by the Governor. We have extensively documented the long-running playbook to privatize the GRU, a municipal utility which is currently governed by a democratically elected board, and which has resisted approaches from major investor-owned utilities like FPL for many years.
Many are concerned that this bill is just part of that larger plot to sell the GRU to a big utility like FPL or Duke. And that while that would help those companies expand their territory (and generate substantial profits) it would come at great expense to ratepayers, as well as potentially hurting the bond rating of the City of Gainesville. A stark example of the potential consequences can be seen in the Florida Panhandle, where FPL acquired Gulf Power in 2021, leading to an immediate surge in rates.
While this bill will not lead to an immediate impact on Floridians’ pocketbooks, it could very easily lead to higher electricity bills for Floridians living in the Gainesville area.
There were several bills this session limiting consumers’ access to seek financial redress in the courts.
This bill, signed in April, is a major giveaway to big construction companies. It significantly reduces the time that property owners have to legally address issues with builders regarding defects in their properties. This bill modifies the period within which legal action based on the design, planning, or construction of real property improvements must be initiated. It also changes the events that start the clock on these limitations and repose periods. While there are exceptions for model homes and improvements involving multiple buildings, the bill still restricts the scope of actionable violations under the Florida Building Code to material violations.
Overall, this legislation restricts property owners’ rights and ability to seek redress for construction-related defects, a stance we cannot endorse, as it will lead to greater costs to consumers.
This is another bill that reduces Floridians’ access to justice in the courtroom. This bill, signed in March, was a giveaway to Florida’s major insurance companies.
This law changes the rules when it comes to insurance cases in Florida. They call it “tort reform,” but what it really does is repeal “one-way” attorney fee provisions. So what does that mean for customers who have been wronged by their insurance company? It’s going to make it a whole lot harder for them to sue.
On top of that, the bill puts a cap on the amount of money that can be awarded to someone in a wrongful death or personal injury case. It even limits how much multiple plaintiffs can seek in damages. And if that’s not enough, it also narrows the time window for filing a negligence lawsuit.
But wait, there’s more! If a customer decides to take their insurance company to court and ends up losing, they’ll be stuck paying their own attorney fees. Let’s say you’re dealing with something as serious as cancer and your insurance company refuses to cover your treatments. Well, if you decide to fight them in court, win or lose, you could be on the hook for your attorney fees. It’s a tough pill to swallow for those who are already struggling with medical bills and fighting for their rights against powerful insurance companies.
How did your lawmaker vote on bills affecting your pocketbook?
Use our scorecard tool to see how your lawmaker voted on key bills that will affect your pocketbook.
2023 Florida House:
Economic Opportunity Score
2023 Florida Senate:
Economic Opportunity Score