Tallahassee, Fla. — Today is the halfway mark of Florida’s 60-day annual legislative session. Below, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offer an update of the department’s priority legislation for the 2021 legislative session.
“I’m proud of our common-sense, bipartisan legislative priorities this year, which include fighting child and family hunger, supporting Florida’s farmers, major climate and energy investments, closing loopholes in concealed weapons licensing, science-based cannabis policy, and protecting state employees. I thank the outstanding bill sponsors in both chambers for working diligently on these bills,” said Commissioner Fried. “At the session’s halfway point, I applaud Senate leadership for offering a fair opportunity to pass meaningful legislation. It’s a shame that the House isn’t yet matching that effort, but I remain optimistic that House leadership also values policies that feed our communities, support our farmers, protect our environment, and ensure public safety.”
Budget Update: This week, the Florida Legislature initiated pre-conference budget recommendations. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services relies on this budget to fund necessary programs to serve Florida’s taxpayers and citizens. Regarding current budget recommendations, Commissioner Fried offered the following:
“I thank both chambers for prioritizing our reasonable budget priorities as they move into budget negotiations. I’m encouraged by the willingness to fund the Florida Forest Service and our wildland firefighters, to help us protect Florida’s waters, to support our citrus farmers in fighting pests and diseases, and to help Floridians affected by natural disasters. I’m confident that the House and Senate will provide our hardworking employees adequate resources, including the state hemp program and IT security, which closely align with their stated priorities. We will continue to pursue funding for our farmers, protecting our environment, and promoting Florida’s agricultural roots through the Fresh From Florida agricultural promotional campaign and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.”
CS/SB 1768 Agriculture and Nutrition by Sen. Rouson: The bill passed first committee of reference and awaits a hearing in its final Senate committee out of two (2).
HB 1191 Agriculture and Nutrition by Rep. Tant: The bill was referenced to four (4) committees and awaits its first hearing.
About: 3.5 million Floridians, of which 1 million are children, suffer from chronic hunger. These bills would expand Florida’s school meal program to more needy kids, and would provide for numerous innovative opportunities to reduce food waste, to support locally grown Florida products, and to address food insecurity in low-access communities.
SB 1362 Energy by Sen. Polsky: The bill was referenced to three (3) committees and awaits its first hearing.
HB 993 Energy by Rep. Skidmore: The bill was referenced to four (4) committees and awaits its first hearing.
About: Climate change mitigation should be a top priority for Florida as one of the states most vulnerable to its effects. Agriculture provides significant opportunities for innovation in environmental protection. These bills would boost carbon farming practices and carbon sequestration, and would develop and maintain a greenhouse gas registry while increasing energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy use.
SB 1580 Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms by Sen. Jones: The bill was referenced to three (3) committees and awaits its first hearing.
HB 1367 Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms by Rep. Rayner: The bill was referenced to three (3) committees and awaits its first hearing.
About: Complete and effective background checks are an essential part of responsible gun ownership and community safety. FDACS will continue to bring accountability to the concealed weapons licensing program, as these bills will provide a common-sense measure to close a dangerous “loophole” in background checks for out of state crimes.
SB 1820 Medical Use of Marijuana by Sen. Powell: The bill was referenced to three (3) committees and awaits its first hearing.
HB 1411 Regulation of the Medical Use of Marijuana by Rep. Learned: The bill was referenced to four (4) committees and awaits its first hearing.
About: With the legalization of medical marijuana in the State of Florida, there is the need to protect consumers by improving, modernizing, and standardizing related policies. These bills would protect medical marijuana patients, expand marijuana telehealth options, and ensure product safety, among other provisions.
CS/SB 1594 Public Records/Inspector of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by Sen. Cruz: The bill passed first committee of reference and awaits a hearing in its second Senate committee out of three (3).
HB 1539 Pub. Rec./ Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by Rep. Jenne: The bill passed first committee of reference and awaits a hearing in its second Senate committee out of three (3).
About: FDACS inspectors and their families could potentially be subject to harassment due to the nature of their work. These bills would provide the same exemption already afforded similar employees at DBPR and local government agencies to ensure their safety and security.