Legislative Action Center

FFCA 2018 Legislative Session Bill Tracking Update
December 29, 2017 by Darrel Donatto
The Florida Fire Chiefs Association is currently tracking 55 bills that directly or indirectly affect our members. We have analyzed each of these bills and established a position on them (Support, Oppose, Neutral, or Monitoring). The 2018 Florida Legislative Session will begin on January 9, 2018. As we enter into this legislative session, we welcome your comments, feedback, and suggestions on these bills or any other bill that we have not yet identified but that you feel should be on our list.  You may reply to this post or email us at Advocacy@FFCA.ORG

Below is a list of the bills we support or oppose.  For a complete list of the bills we are tracking click here: https://www.votervoice.net/FFCA/Bills

 
SUPPORT

HB 309: Fire Safety / SB 394: Fire Safety - This bill is a top priority for the Florida Fire Chiefs Association.  Firefighters are afflicted with cancer at a higher rate than the general population.  Moreover, the suicide, post-traumatic stress, and catastrophic addictions are increasingly taking the lives of firefighters.  We feel that education is the first step in reducing or preventing these risks.  In addition, we are seeking to promote a tobacco free fire service in the State of Florida by having prospective (future) firefighters sign an affidavit stating they will remain tobacco free for their tenure in the fire service. The bill amends Florida State Statute Chapter 633 to require training related to cancer and mental health risks for all career and volunteer firefighters seeking certification.   Such training must be a requirement for obtaining a Firefighter Certificate of Compliance, Volunteer Firefighter Certificate of Completion, or Special Certificate of Compliance. The training must include cancer and mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation, and treatment. The training must specifically include lifestyle, environmental, inherited, and occupational risks, and emphasize appropriate behavior, attitude, and cultural changes within the fire service. Currently certified firefighters shall have such training made available to them.  It is the Florida Fire Chiefs Association's strong desire that firefighter employers will provide this training to existing employees.  We will ensure that the information and mechanism to deliver it are all available. The bill requires certified firefighters to be a nonuser of tobacco or tobacco products for at least 1 year immediately preceding application and throughout his or her career in the fire service, as evidenced by the sworn affidavit of the applicant. Sponsors: Representative Bruce Antone (D-FL-046) & Senator Randolph Bracy III (D-FL-011)

HB 695: Firefighters / SB 900: Firefighters - This bill entitles firefighters that receive a diagnosis of certain specific cancers to coverage, at no cost to the firefighter, under a group health or self-insurance policy. The policy must use the same health care network as all other employees, be available to the fighter for at least 10 years after leaving employment, and have a cash payout of $25,000. If the firefighter participates in an employee-sponsored retirement plan, the plan must qualify the firefighter as totally and permanently disabled if he or she is prevented from rendering useful and effective service as a firefighter and is likely to remain disabled continuously and permanently due to the diagnosis or treatment of cancer. The retirement plan must qualify the firefighter as “died in the line of duty” if he or she dies as a result of the cancer or treatment of cancer. If the firefighter did not participate in an employee-sponsored retirement plan, the employer must provide a disability retirement plan that provides at least 42 percent of annual salary, at no cost to the firefighter, until the firefighter’s death. The employer must provide a death benefit, for at least 10 years, to the firefighter’s beneficiary totaling at least 42 percent of the firefighter’s most recent annual salary. Additionally, firefighters who die as a result of cancer or cancer treatment are considered to have died in the manner described in section 112.191 (2)(a), F.S., for purposes of statutorily required death benefits. To qualify for these benefits, the firefighter must be employed by the employer for at least five continuous years, may not have used tobacco products in the preceding five years, and may not have been employed in any other position that is proven to create a higher risk for any cancer in the preceding years. For determining employer policies and the provision of benefits, a firefighter’s cancer diagnosis must be considered an “injury or illness incurred in the line of duty.” The bills also require the Division of State Fire Marshal within the Department of Financial Services to adopt rules to establish employer best practices for preventing or reducing the incidence of cancer among firefighters. Sponsors: Representative Heather Fitzenhagen (R-FL-078) & Representative Chris Latvala (R-FL-067) & Senator Jack Latvala (R-FL-016)

HB 2915: Firefighter Cancer Initiative - This bill is an appropriations funding request for $2,000,000 to fund the Firefighter Cancer Initiative at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.  The funds will be used to:  (1) Continue both data and specimen collection and analysis to improve understanding of cancer risks among firefighters (2) Increase access to cancer screenings for firefighters across the state; (3) Educate fire departments on cancer risks related to occupational exposures; (4) monitor potential carcinogenic exposures to identify which exposures account for increased cancer risk. Sponsors: Nunez ()

HB 227: Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders - This bill revises certain limitations relating to workers' compensation benefits for first responders and mandates that law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics are entitled to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Law for mental or nervous injuries, whether or not such injuries are accompanied by physical injuries requiring medical treatment.  This bill does not revise the burden of proof which would remain as "demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence." Sponsors: Representative Coach P Plasencia (R-FL-050) & Representative Matt Willhite (D-FL-086)

SB 376: Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders - This bill revises certain limitations relating to workers' compensation benefits for first responders who experience mental or nervous injuries.  The bill mandates that law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics are entitled to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Law for mental or nervous injuries, whether or not such injuries are accompanied by physical injuries requiring medical treatment.  The current laws require that a physical injury must accompany any mental or nervous injury to be considered compensable under Workers Compensation.  After a committee substitute, this bill also changes the burden of proof to a preponderance of the evidence as opposed to the higher standard of "clear and convincing evidence." Sponsors: Book ()

HB 629: Workers' Compensation for First Responders / SB 126: Workers’ Compensation for First Responders - The burden of proof for workers compensation coverage of mental or nervous injury involving a first responder is currently “clear and convincing evidence.” This bill reduces the burden of proof to a preponderance of the evidence.  In addition, will provide for workers compensation indemnity payment for a first responder who suffers a mental or nervous injury results in disability or death without an accompanying physical injury.  Currently W/C benefits are only provided if there is an accompanying physical injury. Sponsors: Representative Robert Asencio (D-FL-118) & Victor M Torres (D-FL-15)

HB 4031: University of Central Florida - PTSD Clinic for Florida Veterans and First Responders - This bill is an appropriations funding request to fund $1,975,000.00 toward the University of Central Florida - PTSD Clinic for Florida Veterans and First Responders. Sponsors: Miller ()

HB 1073: Department of Financial Services / SB 1292: Department of Financial Services -  - This bill renames the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations within the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services as the Bureau of Fire, Arson, and Explosives Investigations. The bill provides for an additional 4-year term for members of the Florida Fire Safety Board after their initial terms. The area of most significance to the FFCA is the prerequisite and retention requirements for a Special Certificate of Compliance, which allows individual to serve as an administrative and command head of a fire service provider without Florida Firefighter Certification. The proposed language limits the time period which an individual may be employed as a fire chief, fire coordinator, fire director, or fire administrator for a period 1 year before they must obtaining certification. It also specifically states that an individual desiring to obtain a Special Certificate of Compliance may not serve as a command officer or function in a position dictating incident outcomes or objectives before achieving certification. The bill also authorizes fire service providers to employ individuals who received equivalent training while active in the United States Department of Defense; requiring the Division of State Fire Marshal to verify the equivalency of such training before the individual begins employment and requires such individual to obtain a Firefighter Certificate of Compliance within a specified timeframe. In addition, the bill deletes a requirement for the Division of State Fire Marshal to develop a staffing and funding formula for the Florida State Fire College. Sponsors: Representative Bill Hager (R-FL-089) & Senator Kelli Stargel (R-FL-022)

HB 83: Agency Rulemaking / SB 912: Agency Rulemaking - A Statement of Estimated Regulatory Costs (SERC) is an agency estimate of the potential impact of a proposed rule on the public, particularly the potential costs to the public of complying with the rule, as well as the potential impact on agencies and other governmental entities to implement the rule. Agencies are encouraged to prepare a SERC before adopting, amending, or repealing any rule. However, a SERC is mandatory if the proposed rule will have a negative impact on small businesses or increase regulatory costs more than $200,000 within one year after implementation. The bill requires an agency to prepare a SERC before the adoption or amendment of any rule other than an emergency rule. Additionally, the bill requires an agency to prepare a SERC for a rule repeal if such repeal would impose a regulatory cost, and establishes that in a challenge to a rule repeal, the repeal must be considered presumptively correct by the adjudicating body. The bill requires the Department of State to include on the Florida Administrative Register website the agency website addresses where each agency’s SERCs can be viewed in their entirety. An agency must include in its notice of intended action the agency website address where SERCs can be viewed in their entirety. If an agency revises a SERC, it must provide a notice that a revision has been made and include an agency website address where the revision can be viewed for publication on the Florida Administrative Register website. The Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association opposes unfunded mandates from any level of government. An unfunded mandate is when one government forces another level of government to take some action that spends or reduces revenue, without providing any resources to offset the impact. Unfunded mandates are the antithesis of government transparency. Mandates conceal the connection between the taxes city residents pay and the services they receive. Unfunded mandates cause local city leaders to be held accountable for decisions made by others who live far away and who are not accountable for the fiscal impact on local taxpayers.  We believe this proposed bill will help reduce the number of unfunded mandates imposed through rulemaking.

HB 755: Pub. Rec./First Responder Network Authority/Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network / SB 988: Public Records/ First Responder Network Authority/Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for information obtained by persons or agencies from the First Responder Network Authority and information relating to the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network obtained by persons or agencies from entities operating pursuant to a contract with the First Responder Network Authority. Sponsors: Representative Jayer Williamson (R-FL-003) & Senator Keith Perry (R-FL-008)

HB 285: Emergency Medical Services / SB 488: Emergency Medical Services - This bill exempts a governmental entity that maintains fire rescue infrastructure and provides first responders as defined in s.112.1815 from the requirement of obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity or any other authorization from a county to provide advanced life support nontransport services.  The exception to the certificate of public convenience and necessity requirement does not apply to a county in which there is a countywide emergency medical services authority created by special act (Pinellas).  Sponsors: Representative Cary Pigman (R-FL-055) & Senator Denise Grimsley (R-FL-026)

HB 793: Telehealth / SB 280: Telehealth - This bill would define a "Telehealth provider" to include a person who provides health care services and related services through telehealth and who is licensed under part III of chapter 401. Sponsors: MD, Ralph E. Massullo (R-FL-34) & Senator Aaron Bean (R-FL-004)

HB 637: Fire Safety and Prevention / SB 820: Firesafety Inspectors -  This bill prohibits a person from illegally influencing a firesafety inspector. A person may not influence a firesafety inspector by: (a) Threatening, coercing, tricking, persuading, interfering with, or otherwise influencing, or attempting to threaten, coerce, trick, persuade, interfere with, or otherwise influence, the firesafety inspector into violating any provision of the Florida Fire Prevention Code, any rule adopted by the State Fire Marshal, or any provision of this chapter. (b) Offering any compensation to the firesafety inspector to induce a violation of the Florida Fire Prevention Code, any rule adopted by the State Fire Marshal, or any provision of this chapter. A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.  Sponsors: Representative Al Jacquet (D-FL-088) & Senator Bobby Powell (D-FL-030)

OPPOSE


HB 815: County and Municipal Public Officers and Employees / SB 1180: County and Municipal Public Officers and Employees - This bill would require that requests to travel out of state by county or municipal public officers be approved by the governing board of the county or municipality at a publicly noticed meeting.  It would also limit travel expenses of such public officers or employees to those expenses incurred within a specified timeframe and prohibit advancement or reimbursement for travel expenses of such public officers or employees for foreign travel.  The most significant issue is that this bill would limit lodging expenses of such public officers or employees to $120 per day. This bill would also be damaging to fire departments that send members to  various training venues that may be an excess of $120 per night. Moreover, it will complicate and delay the approval process for sending employees to conferences.  This will also have a negative impact on FFCA's conferences such as Fire Rescue East and the Health and Safety Conference.  Out of State conferences such as FDIC and IAFC will also become very difficult to attend.  Sponsors: Representative Bryan Avila (R-FL-111) & Senator Greg Steube (R-FL-023)

HB 299: Florida Building Commission - This bill alters the makeup of the Florida Building Commission leaving it with only 2 out of eleven members who represent the enforcement community and the rest who are contractors or builders. The Florida Building Code is updated every three years by the Florida Building Commission.  These updates protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and to ensure that Florida will be best prepared when the next Andrew strikes from an insurance risk perspective. To ensure that the health, safety and welfare of the public are kept at the center of Florida’s Building Code, there must be some balance in terms of the perspective of the Commission who is responsible for the development of the Code.  The idiom of the fox guarding the hen house comes to mind.  The proposed changes to the Florida Building Commission included in HB 299 provide for a very unbalanced perspective on that panel.  The overwhelming majority of the members are contractors. It eliminates the requirement for "Three members who is are a municipal or district code codes enforcement officials, one of whom is also a fire official; and instead, requires one member who is a municipal or district code enforcement official. It eliminates the member who represents the Department of Financial Services. Sponsors: Representative Stan McClain (R-FL-023)

HB 1061: Community Association Fire and Life Safety Systems - This bill requires condominium and cooperative buildings of three stories or more without fire sprinkler systems in the common areas to mark the building with a sign or symbol approved by the State Fire Marshal in a manner sufficient to warn persons conducting fire control and other emergency operations of the lack of a fire sprinkler system in the common areas. The bill exempts condominium and cooperative buildings 75 feet or less in height from any requirement to retrofit the building with a fire sprinkler system or other engineered life safety system. The bill exempts condominium and cooperative buildings greater than 75 feet in height from any requirement to retrofit the building with a fire sprinkler system or other engineered life safety system by a two-thirds vote of unit owners. Sponsors: Jr., George R. Moraitis (R-FL-93)
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