Session Review

AgWatchHeaderMarch 25, 2016
In this issue:

  • Review of Farm Bureau’s 2016 Legislative Successes
  • Gov. Rick Scott Signs Several Legislative Priorities into Law

This edition of AgWatch will provide a detailed breakdown of all Farm Bureau-backed bills that passed the Legislature in 2016.  Florida Farm Bureau and Florida agriculture had an extremely productive and successful legislative session this year, and we thank all of our members, grassroots advocates, partners and legislative leaders for supporting our state’s agricultural producers.

Review of Farm Bureau’s 2016 Legislative Successes
Most of Florida Farm Bureau’s legislative agenda passed the Legislature during the 2016 legislative session, and here we provide a detailed look at each Farm Bureau-backed bill that passed, why it’s important and what it does to help Florida’s agricultural community.  For more information on each piece of legislation, please click on the link to view a legislative issue brief that provides specific details on the bill.  You can easily print and/or email the legislative issue briefs to keep or send to others if they have questions about the bills.  For those that want to dive deep for the most detailed information, please see the link provided to the staff analysis, where House and Senate staff provide a complete summary of the legislation.

Water Policy: SB 552/HB 7005
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

This historic legislation overwhelmingly passed the Legislature and was signed into law during the first few weeks of the 2016 legislative session.  It provides a long-term water policy plan for Florida and ensures an adequate supply of water for agricultural production.  SB 552 was sponsored by Sen. Charlie Dean (R-Inverness) and Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres).

Farm Vehicles: SB 1046/HB 411
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

This transportation legislation provides a statewide CDL exemption for farmers and helps modernize Florida’s transportation laws so they mirror federal law.  SB 1046 was sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) and Rep. Halsey Beshears (R-Monticello).

Agritourism: SB 304/HB59
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

This legislation clarifies the definition of agritourism to include on-site civic and ceremonial events and prohibits local governments from enforcing existing city or county regulations on agritourism operators.  HB 59 was sponsored by Rep. Neil Combee (R-Auburndale), Rep. Jake Raburn (R-Lithia) and Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland).

Fire Safety: SB 822/HB431
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

This fire safety legislation exempts pole barns from the Florida Fire Code and creates a common sense regulatory structure for other non-residential farm buildings used for agritourism activities.  HB 431 was sponsored by Rep. Jake Raburn and Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Agriculture: SB 1310/HB 749
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

This year’s general agriculture package allows citrus growers to retain their Greenbelt land classification for five years after removing diseased trees from their groves, allows cattle grazing on some conservation lands and increases penalties for individuals who knowingly introduce a plant pest or disease into the state.  HB 749 was sponsored by Rep. Jake Raburn and Sen. Travis Hutson.

State Lands: SB 1290/HB1075
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

This legislation creates opportunities for farmers to exchange agricultural lands for state-owned lands that can be used for low-impact agriculture.  HB 1075 was sponsored by Rep. Matt Caldwell and Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby).

Special Assessments on Agricultural Lands: SB 1664/HB 773
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

This legislation prohibits local governments from assessing or collecting fire assessments or fees on certain agricultural lands.  HB 773 was sponsored by Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) and Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Tax Relief: HB 7099
Legislative Issue Brief
Staff Analysis

The Legislature’s 2016 tax relief package included a $1.1 million sales tax exemption for machinery and equipment used in agricultural post-harvest activities.  HB 7099 was sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar).

Gov. Rick Scott Signs Several Legislative Priorities into Law
On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott signed three of Florida Farm Bureau’s legislative priorities into law.  Legislation detailed above, including the Special Assessments on Agricultural Lands bill, the general Agriculture package and the Fire Safety bill were all approved by the Governor this week.

Gov. Scott has now approved five of seven Farm Bureau-backed bills that passed the Legislature during the 2016 legislative session.  One bill, SB 1046 dealing with farm vehicles, is on the Governor’s desk and he must act on the bill by Saturday.  Legislation dealing with state lands and the tax cut package have not been presented to the Governor at this time.

For more information on the bills approved by Gov. Scott or any other Farm Bureau-backed bills, please read the summaries above and the legislative issue briefs attached to each piece of legislation.