Florida Food Policy Council

L E A D I N G  F L O R I D A  F O O D






Policy Snapshot

What's the scoop on food policy? Check our snapshots each month to see a localized challenge or success in the state of Florida!

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  • 5 Oct 2020 1:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    From Florida moving to Phase 3 of Governor Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan to barely avoiding a government shutdown with a stopgap funding measure, a number of changes have taken place in Florida and around the nation. In our latest policy snapshot, we have put together the top food-related policy and legislation movement that you need to know about.


    Florida Moves to Phase 3 of Recovery

    On September 25th, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-244, moving all 67 counties into Phase 3 of the Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan for Florida's Recovery. The order does the following: removes state-level restrictions on restaurants, provides that no COVID-19 emergency ordinance may prevent an individual from working or operating a business, provides that restaurants may not be limited by a COVID-19 emergency order by any local government to less than 50% of their indoor capacity; and states that if a restaurant is limited to less than 100% of its indoor capacity, such COVID-19 emergency order must quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirements on those restaurants and explain why each limitation or requirement is necessary for public health. The order also suspends all outstanding fines and penalties, and the collection of such, applied against individuals related to COVID-19.


    Commissioners Nikki Fried & Daniella Levine Cava Hold Agriculture & Food Insecurity Roundtable

    On September 17th, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava hosted a roundtable discussion on agriculture and chronic hunger in South Florida. The discussion brought together agriculture producers, food distributors, and others to discuss COVID-19’s impact on food production and food insecurity. Fried and Levine Cava were joined at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay campus by Mark B. Rosenberg, President of FIU; Paco Velez, CEO of Feeding South Florida; Stephen Shelley, CEO of Farm Share; Justin Dunlap, Co-Founder and President of United Farmers Alliance; Anthony Olivieri, Founder of FHEED, a community food systems planning consultancy; Debra Iglesias, Founder and CEO of The Garden Network, a collaborative of organic farmers; Joanna Berens, President of Joanna Berens Hospitality, a hospitality industry consultancy; and Ginue Baptist, Program Administrator at Curley’s House Hope Relief Food Bank.


    President Signs Stopgap Funding Measure to Avoid Government Shutdown

    On October 1st, the President signed a bipartisan continuing resolution (HR 8337) to extend federal government funding through December 11th. The bill provides as much as $30 billion for the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corp., which the administration has used to send virus relief payments to farmers. The legislation also includes nearly $8 billion for vital nutrition assistance. It also extends and expands the Pandemic EBT program, which provides resources to families with children who otherwise would have received free or reduced-price meals at school, and extends several other key flexibilities for nutrition programs.


    House Passes Updated Heroes Act

    On October 1st, the House passed an updated version of The Heroes Act, addressing needs that have developed since the House passed an earlier iteration of the bill. The updated legislation includes:

    • Support for small businesses by improving the Paycheck Protection Program which serves small businesses and struggling non-profits, and delivers targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry;
    • More funds to bolster education and child care, with $225 billion for education – including $182 billion for K-12 schools and nearly $39 billion for postsecondary education – and $57 billion to support child care for families;
    • Additional direct payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent;
    • Protections for payrolls by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit;
    • Worker safety insurances by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise;
    • Reinstatement of unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021 and preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility; and
    • Strengthens food security by addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs as well as targeted support for farmers and producers impacted by the crisis.


    USDA and FDA Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Enhance Collaboration, Efficiency on U.S. Dairy Exports

    On October 1st, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining strengthened coordination between the FDA and the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to facilitate the export of milk and milk products from the United States. U.S. dairy exports are valued at nearly $6 billion annually.


    FDA Proposes Establishing Additional Traceability and Recordkeeping Requirements

    On September 21st, the FDA released a proposal to establish additional traceability recordkeeping requirements (beyond what is already required in existing regulations) for persons who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods the Agency has designated for inclusion on the Food Traceability List. The proposed rule, “Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods” (Food Traceability Proposed Rule) is a key component of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and would implement Section 204(d) of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The proposed rule will be available for public comment until January 21st on the Federal Register here.


    USDA Extends WIC COVID-19 Flexibilities for Duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

    On September 21st, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the extension of more than a dozen flexibilities ensuring participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) continue receiving the food and health support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The WIC waivers being extended allow for: participants to be approved for WIC without being physically present in a local office, remote issuance of benefits to any participant, flexibility in food package requirements, including dairy, grains, vegetables, and infant foods, and additional options for pick-up of food packages.


    Farm System Reform Act Awaits Movement in Both Congressional Chambers

    In December, 2019, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) originally introduced the Farm System Reform Act (FSRA) in the senate. In May, 2020, Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17) announced the introduction of a House of Representatives companion bill for the FSRA. The legislation would: hold meat companies responsible for harm caused by the factory farms that raise their animals, provide a $100 Billion voluntary buyout program for contract farmers who want to transition away from factory farms, strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act to protect family farmers and ranchers, restore mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, prohibit the USDA from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA,” and put a “pause” on the construction of new or expanding large factory farms while also initiating a phaseout of existing large factory farms by 2040. Both bills are still in the first stage of the legislative process.


    FLFPC will continue to monitor policy and legislation as the next few months are sure to bring big changes.


  • 7 Sep 2020 5:17 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    From extended free school meals to increased funding for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program to new legislation that would help strengthen local regional food systems, a lot has happened in the past few months. Below is a snapshot of some of the most important Federal policy movement we have seen.


    Senate Republicans Set to Vote on "Skinny" Relief Bill

    Introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in May the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Acta broad sweeping bill targeting several issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Amid a deadlock in Congress when it comes to reaching a compromise on the relief package, it has been more than 4 months since any action was taken on the bill. This week, however, Senate Republicans are set to vote on and pass a "skinny" version of the bill. Yet, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this month that he's skeptical Congress members will be able to reach across the political aisle for a compromise before November


    USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will extend policies to ensure more hungry kids have access to free meals during the school campus closures, through December 31st, "or until available funding runs out." The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. The agency says this will help to ensure that no matter what the situation is on-the-ground, children will have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


    Third Round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program Begins

    The third round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program began on September 1st and will conclude by October 31st, 2020. Until now, the program has distributed more than 75 million food boxes according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. In this third round of purchases, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products. Eligibility in the third round will be open to entities who can meet the government’s requirements and specifications. Proposals will be expected to illustrate how coverage will be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones, detail subcontracting agreements, and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population.


    Federal Agencies Outline Plan to Help Farmers of Seasonal and Perishable Fruits and Vegetables

    Following public hearings held in August where more than 60 witnesses from Florida and Georgia testified, in addition to over 300 written submissions, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce released a report outlining the Trump Administration’s plan to address the threat posed by increased foreign imports to American producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables.

    The report released the following plan:

    1. USTR will request the International Trade Commission to initiate a Section 201 global safeguard investigation into the extent to which increased imports of blueberries have caused serious injury to domestic blueberry growers.
    2. USTR will pursue senior-level government-to-government discussions with Mexico over the next 90 days to address U.S. industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of Mexican strawberries, bell peppers, and other seasonal and perishable products.
    3. USTR will work with domestic producers to commence an investigation by the International Trade Commission to monitor and investigate imports of strawberries and bell peppers, which could enable an expedited Section 201 global safeguard investigation later this year.
    4. The Department of Commerce will establish an outreach program to connect with Southeastern growers about applicable trade remedy laws and establish a formal channel for stakeholders to provide information related to unfair subsidies for foreign producers and exporters of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables, including those in Mexico.
    5. The Department of Agriculture will increase targeted outreach to producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables, develop a promotion strategy for domestically produced produce, and initiate conversations with relevant federal partners to better understand the extent to which imports of seasonal and perishable products are utilized to enable criminal activity.
    6. USTR, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture will establish an interagency working group to monitor seasonal and perishable fruit and vegetable products, coordinate as appropriate regarding future investigations and trade actions, and provide technical assistance to Members of Congress in developing legislation on this issue.


    Farmers and Ranchers Deliver Letter to the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis

    On August 27th, a letter signed by 2,130 farmers and ranchers from across the country was delivered to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, urging Congress to support and invest in farming and rural communities to address the climate crisis. The House Select Committee had previously released an action plan on June 30th that lays out steps for Congress to take to put the country on a path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The report centers around 12 key pillars, including investing in clean energy infrastructure, transforming domestic manufacturing of clean energy technology, investing in workers and a fair economy, advancing environmental justice, protecting and restoring U.S. natural resources, and promoting climate-resilient agriculture. As Congress considers comprehensive climate legislation, farmers and ranchers eagerly await to see how policymakers will increase support and build resilience to climate stresses. 


    Florida Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Introduces the Safe Considerations of the Health of Our Learning Students Act

    On August 27, 2020, House Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26) introduced the Safe Considerations of the Health of Our Learning Students Act or “SCHOOLS” Act, new legislation that would provide schools with the health guidance, funding, and resources needed to safely reopen K-12 schools when health conditions allow. The bill calls for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a study on COVID-19’s impact on children and issue updated guidance on the issues involving public attendance, such as classroom spacing, mask use, transportation, meals and physical recreation. As South Florida schools consider starting in-person classes, Mucarsel-Powell gathered a group of experts to discuss this critical legislation and the implications for students, teachers, and parents. A recording of the press conference introducing the bill can be found here.


    Representative Alma Adams Introduces the Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act

    On August 26, 2020, House Representative Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced the Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (Local Farmer Act) H.R. 8096 to provide meaningful support to farmers, ranchers, and critical local and regional food systems businesses. Although the USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has distributed billions in aid, the program has left out thousands of producers, including farmers and ranchers who market locally, regionally or direct to consumers and especially Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) producers. CFAP payments are based on national, wholesale prices that do not always reflect the real value of crops sold by farmers directly to the customers. The Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (Local Farmer Act) would address this concern by providing direct payments to local and regional food producers based on their historic revenue, and help their local markets as they both cope with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.


    Senator Booker Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Food System in Response to COVID-19 Disruptions

    In July, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Local Food Assistance and Resilient Markets Act, or the Local FARM Act, legislation that expands food assistance to vulnerable Americans and increases support for the local and regional food systems that have proven most resilient during the COVID-19 crisis.

    The Local FARM Act includes five primary components:

    1) Creates Specialty Crop Block Grants;
    2) Expands the online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
    3) Reduces matching requirements;
    4) Expands LAMP funding; 
    5) Expands farm microloans.


    In the upcoming months, Floridians and Americans across the country, will certainly be waiting to see what changes will come in response to the ongoing pandemic.


  • 9 Aug 2020 5:41 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    High unemployment rates, disparate health outcomes, and uncertainty regarding what school will be like in the fall, Americans continue to face public health and economic consequences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the nation waits for Congress to vote on the next stimulus package, legislation that will help Americans continue to access food is a priority for many.

    Three of the most significant efforts the federal government has undertaken to address food insecurity amid the pandemic’s economic disruption to date include: the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program, food stamp emergency allotments, and taking food stamp benefits online.

    In Florida, approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to launch a pilot project that allows families to purchase groceries online with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card took effect in April. The following month, Governor Ron DeSantis announced federal approval for the implementation of Florida’s Pandemic EBT Program (P-EBT), a program that provides one-time food benefits to children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) but whose schools are closed due to the pandemic. 

    Although the State and Federal Government have followed through with a number of policy initiatives, as the school year begins, organizations and experts are calling for policy fixes that would help feed children and families through the crisis and beyond.

    According to Areeba Haider, a research assistant for the Poverty to Prosperity Program, to date, Congress has left more than 12 million individuals—including nearly 5 million children—out of enacted coronavirus relief legislation. She notes that although the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the first coronavirus relief package passed and enacted by Congress months ago, included an important investment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aimed at stemming predicted increases in food insecurity, did boost benefits for some SNAP recipients, those who were already the poorest prior to the COVID-19 emergency and already receiving the maximum SNAP benefit did not and have not received any additional food assistance.

    In an effort to urge Congress to take action, a coalition of nearly 2,500 organizations called for a 15 percent increase in the maximum monthly SNAP benefit in June. This would mean that all SNAP recipients, including those already receiving the maximum benefit, would see an increase in assistance levels. 

    On August 4th, a new report was released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) that ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs. The Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report, which measures participation in Summer Nutrition Programs by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving school lunch during the regular school year.

    The study found that increased investments in Summer Nutrition Programs, combined with the implementation of best practices, such as intensive outreach, site recruitment, and reducing barriers to participation, would help eliminate the nutrition and summer learning opportunity gaps for the millions of children facing food insecurity at unprecedented levels.

    “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued nationwide summer waivers to ensure access to summer meals during the pandemic, such as waiving the 50 percent eligibility requirement. These waivers must continue through the upcoming school to allow communities to serve meals to low-income children during the pandemic. Congress should consider making some of the changes permanent to ensure access during normal summers, said FRAC President Luis Guardia.

    House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) went a step further by introducing legislation on July 30th to make all students eligible for free school meals (breakfast and lunch) during the 2020-2021 school year through the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), regardless of their geography or socioeconomic status.

    The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act would allow all children to access breakfast, lunch, and after school snack programs either in school or through “grab and go” and delivery options. The proposal would also eliminate paperwork for families and school officials, who would not have to fill out and process applications during a time of crisis. 

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated our nation’s child hunger crisis, created record high unemployment, and caused prolonged economic hardship—leaving many families struggling to cover basic essentials,” said Chairman Scott. “The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act would help address the child hunger crisis, make it easier for schools to operate school meal programs, and provide financial relief to school meal programs that have suffered heavy losses during the pandemic. This legislation will ensure that all children will have access to nutrition during this public health emergency.” 

    At a time when many Americans find themselves struggling to put food on the table, Americans are eagerly looking to Congress to offer some relief.


  • 6 Jul 2020 12:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Voting is one of the most fundamental ways for citizens to enact change in their communities. Voting gives citizens the opportunity to select their public servants and wield long-lasting change in their communities through the constitutional amendments and referendums that often appear on ballots.  

    In March, Florida saw a 30% voter turnout for the Presidential Preference Primary election, much lower than the 46% seen four years before in 2016. Yet, during March’s primary the use of vote by mail surged to about 45% of the overall vote.

    With concerns over the coronavirus, many are turning to mail-in voting for the upcoming Primary and General Elections. In recent weeks, local elections supervisors across the state have been promoting this option as a safe alternative to in-person voting.

    Unlike some other states, Florida has a long history of using the mail for voting. Roughly 30 percent of the people who voted in the 2016 and 2018 general elections voted by mail in Florida.

    In fact, Florida’s amended law now provides more time for voters to cure rejected mail ballots. Elections officials are now required to try to reach the voter by phone, email, text message and mail to let them know if their ballot was rejected so they can try to cure the issue. The mail ballot envelope was modified to include spaces for voters to put their contact information.

    For the upcoming August 18th Primary Election and November 3rd General Elections, we have put together some helpful information on voter registration and how the process works.


    When are the upcoming elections? What is the difference between the Primary and General Election? 

    The primary election determines what candidate will represent that party in the general election. Winning a primary election does not equate to being elected to office. The general election is open to all registered voters, regardless of political affiliation, and determines who wins each of their respective races and who is elected to office.  

    Florida is a closed-primary state, meaning that only registered members of a major political party (Democratic Party or Republican Party) can participate in its primary elections. 

    The deadline to change party affiliation in the State of Florida is 29 days before an election. For the 2020 election cycle, the last day to change party affiliation before the primary election is July 20th, 2020. The last day to change party affiliation before the general election is October 5th, 2020. 

    Voting Registration Deadlines 

    Primary Election: July 20th, 2020 

    General Election: October 5th, 2020 

    Voting Dates 

    Primary Election: August 18th, 2020 

    General Election: November 3rd, 2020 

    Floridians can check their voter registration status here. 


    What will be on the ballot in the 2020 Election? 

    • All seats in the US House of Representatives and State House of Representatives are up for election. 
    • State Senators representing ODD numbered districts are up for election. 
    • Districts 1-5 Court of Appeals (Judges) 
    • Several Circuit Court Judges 
    • Special District Elections:  

    - Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority 

    - Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District 

    - Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District 

    - Mediterranean Community Development District 

    - Sebastian Inlet Tax District 

    - Tolomato Community Development District 

    The Florida Department of State has a database with the candidates for the 2020 election, which can be found here. 


    How do I register to vote?

    You can apply to register to vote in any of the following ways:  

    • Online at RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov.
    • In-person at a Florida driver's license office or tax collector's office that issues driver's licenses or Florida identification cards, or online through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ online renewal system: GoRenew.com. 
    • At a voter registration agency: NVRA webpage. 
    • By mail you can send in the statewide voter registration application form which can be found at any county Supervisor of Elections office, local library and accessed here: English PDF / Español PDF (version 10/2013 pre-CS/SB 7066). 

    How do I vote by mail?

    Vote-by-mail refers to voting a ballot received by mail or picked up by or for a voter instead of going to the polls to vote during early voting period or Election Day. In Florida, the term “absentee ballot” was replaced by “vote-by-mail ballot” in state statutes in 2016 because it more accurately reflects the fact that Florida does not require voters to have an excuse (such as being absent) to vote by mail.

    Except on Election Day, no excuse is needed to vote a vote-by-mail ballot. Unless otherwise specified, a request to receive a vote-by-mail ballot covers all elections through the end of the calendar year for the second ensuing regularly scheduled general election. A vote-by-mail ballot that is returned undeliverable cancels a request for future elections and must be renewed. 

    Instructions are included with the vote-by-mail ballot. The voted ballot must be returned and received by the Supervisor of Elections no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. Other return options are available for Military and Overseas Voters.

    If you register to vote by mail and later decide you would to vote at the polls you won’t be turned away at the polls. If you received your vote-by-mail ballot, you should return it, whether voted or not, to the poll workers on Election Day. Your vote-by-mail ballot will be voided and you will be allowed to vote a regular ballot at the polls. Even if you come to the polls without your vote-by-mail ballot, you will still be able to vote a regular ballot if the supervisor of elections' office is able to confirm that it has not received your vote-by-mail ballot. 


    How can I find out about my vote-by-mail ballot request ballot?

    Your vote-by-mail ballot request and ballot can be tracked online. Go to your county Supervisor of Elections' website or through the Division of Elections Voter Information Lookup to your county portal that will link you to your vote-by-mail ballot information.


    What about early voting? 

    By law, early voting must be held at least for 8 days. The mandatory early voting periods for 2020 are: 

    Primary Election: August 8 – 15 

    General Election: October 24 – 31 

    Each county Supervisor of Elections may offer more days of early voting from one or more of the following days: 

    Primary Election: August 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 16 

    General Election: October 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and November 1 

    Voters can find their county’s Supervisor of Elections here. 


    What do I need bring on Election Day to vote at the polls? 

    When voting in person, Florida requires some form of voting identification present at the time of voting. The following are acceptable forms of ID: 

    • Florida driver’s license 
    • Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 
    • United States passport 
    • Debit or credit card 
    •  Military identification 
    • Student identification 
    • Retirement center identification 
    • Neighborhood association identification 
    • Public assistance identification 
    • Veteran health identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs 
    • License to carry a concealed weapon or firearm issued pursuant to s. 790.06 
    • Employee identification card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the federal government, the state, a county, or a municipality 

    A voter who presents an ID without a signature must show a second form of identification that includes the voter’s signature. 


    What if I am a convicted felon and I want to restore my voting rights?

    According to Amendment 4, it has been deemed unconstitutional to require any fines or fees for felons to restore their rights to vote. Per the Florida Divisions of Elections, this is how felons restore their rights: 

    1. If convicted of murder or felony sexual offense, voting rights in Florida can only be restored through clemency pursuant to section 8, Art. V of the Florida Constitution. To apply for clemency, search for grant of clemency and certificates, and/or find out more information about clemency, visit the website for the Florida Commission on Offender Review. 

    2. If convicted of any other felony offense, voting rights are restored upon completion of all terms of a sentence including parole or probation pursuant to section 4., Art. VI of the Florida Constitution. Such convicted felon may alternatively apply for clemency to restore voting rights. 

    3. To determine if you have completed all the terms of your sentence including parole or probation as to one or more felony conviction(s), contact one or more of the following offices as may be applicable: Florida Department of Corrections, and /or the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction(s) in which you were convicted whether that be a circuit court in Florida, a court in another state, or a federal court. 


    For more information on voting, head to the Florida Division of Elections website or contact your county’s Supervisor of Elections.


  • 7 Jun 2020 6:13 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    On Friday, June 5th, Phase 2 of Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery” took effect. The plan encourages Floridians to limit personal interactions outside the home and exercise responsible individual activity, but allows for the conditional reopening of certain businesses and facilities.

    Sixty-four of Florida’s 67 counties moved to Phase 2, the exceptions being Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, where COVID-19 has been most prevalent.

    According to the Florida Department of Health, as of June 7th the state’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases was 63,938 and deaths of 2,700 related to the virus. Hospitalizations due to the virus were also reported at 10,942.

    What is Phase 2?

    For restaurants, bars and pubs, Phase 2 allows 50 percent capacity indoors and full capacity outdoors as long as appropriate social distancing is followed, as well as bar-top seating. Patrons can only receive service if seated. All businesses are encouraged to continue to provide delivery or pickup and to take orders online or by telephone. Nightclubs must remain closed until further notice.

    Entertainment businesses, like movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades, can operate at 50 percent with appropriate social distancing and sanitization protocols.

    Other businesses such as retail stores and gyms can now operate at full capacity with appropriate social distancing and frequent sanitization. 

    If a business violates the Phase 2 orders, they could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

    What about unemployment?

    While some Floridians are able to go back to work under Phase 2, many continue to struggle financially. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which handles the state’s unemployment system, reports more than 2.3 million Floridians have filed for unemployment and 1,236,485 claims have been paid

    Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), the federal program that provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law or have no rights to regular unemployment benefits, is now ready to be administered according to the DEO. Floridians who have already exhausted their benefits or have a claim that expired after July 1 will still be able to apply for those benefits. In order to qualify for PEUC, Floridians must complete an application for state Reemployment Assistance benefits, which can be found here

    When will Phase 3 begin?

    It is still unclear when Governor DeSantis will move the state to Phase 3. 


    Resources:

    Click here for a guide to applying for PEUC

    Governor DeSantis PowerPoint Presentation on Phase 2

    Executive Order on Phase 2 

    FAQs for Phase 2 — General Questions

    Florida Chamber of Commerce Guidance and Direction on Phase 2

    Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Map


  • 3 May 2020 5:36 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference on April 29th.

    Although the legislative session has come to an end, how to reopen Florida amid the COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s agenda.

    The state, like the nation, has seen an incredible increase in unemployment because of the shutdown. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, more than 1.7 million Floridians have filed for unemployment and 452,526 claims have been paid.

    With mounting pressure to reopen the economy, Governor Ron DeSantis announced his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan” for Florida’s Recovery in a press conference on April 29th.

    The Governor’s Executive Order 20-112 will go into effect statewide May 4th, however in coordination with Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county mayors, these three counties will follow stricter protocol without the re-open provisions of the Executive Order.

    For businesses, Phase 1 will allow restaurant dining rooms to open at 25% building capacity and full outdoor seating. On-site sale and retail businesses will also be allowed to operate at 25% occupancy. All businesses are encouraged to continue to provide delivery or pickup and to take orders online or by telephone, and business that are currently open may remain open and should continue appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures. Bars, nightclubs and gyms, however, will remain closed during Phase 1 of re-opening.

    Businesses that exceed 25% capacity may face enforcement penalties including a second-degree misdemeanor with a fine up to $500. Certain regulated businesses may face enforcement action for violations from their regulatory agency.

    In response to the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan” Florida Senate President Bill Galvano released the following statement, "The 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery' announced today by Governor DeSantis represents a fact-based, strategic and measured approach that responsibly balances the resilient spirit of hardworking Floridians across our state who are eager to return to work with sensible and science-based public health guidelines developed in conjunction with medical professionals.”

    However, not everyone was pleased with the announcement or how DeSantis has addressed the effects of the pandemic in the state.

    "More than 1,000 Floridians have died in this pandemic, but you wouldn’t know it listening to Governor DeSantis’ indignant press conference today," Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo said. "Enough with the self-congratulatory media performances, where are the tests?”

    According to the Florida Department of Health, confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Florida have reached more than 36,000, resulting in at least 1,379 deaths.

    Although Phase 1 is set to go into effect Monday, the Governor does recommend that vulnerable individuals avoid close contact with people in public, that everyone maintains social distancing and that groups of 10 or more are avoided in social settings.

    In addition, local governments will have the ability to impose local restrictionsThe "Safer-at-Home" order that went into effect on April 3rd for the entire state, which allowed only essential activities and services, will remain in effect in most of South Florida until further notice.

    For more information on “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan” and other Executive Orders from Governor DeSantis, visit https://www.flgov.com/

    The “Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan” pdf can be found here.

  • 4 Apr 2020 8:47 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Florida lawmakers filed more than 3,500 bills for the 2020 legislative session and roughly 200 passed both chambers of the Legislature before the annual session adjourned in March.

    “Our final budget is a work product the people of Florida can be proud of,” Senate President Bill Galvano said, “We fund several important commitments the Senate made in its initial budget, from fully funding affordable housing, to a meaningful pay raise for state employees, to critical funds that will preserve our environment for future generations of Floridians. Continued investment in protection of our environment and water quality, including storage and treatment projects North of Lake Okeechobee, Red Tide and toxic algae research, and septic-to-sewer conversions, as well as funds for coastal resiliency planning are all critical components of a long-term strategy to restore and protect Florida’s unique natural environment and the quality of life we as Floridians enjoy.”

    Although lawmakers passed a record $93.2 billion budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year set to begin July 1st, they may return to the capitol for a special session due to the Coronavirus. “Based on our initial analysis of the (federal) CARES Act, we may need to return to Tallahassee, at the appropriate time in fiscal year 2020-21, to formally appropriate available federal funding,” Galvano wrote in a memo to Senators sent on April 2nd.

    According to a preliminary analysis by the state, Florida is expected to receive $12 billion for state and local government services under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Yet, given the devastating financial impact and burden on the state’s economy from the Coronavirus Pandemic, a revision to the state budget may happen sooner than expected.

    The current budget does, however, expand funding for resources for vulnerable Floridians and enables Governor DeSantis and executive branch agencies to continue aggressive planning and response to the Coronavirus. Additionally, the state’s reserves would be replenished to nearly $4 billion, enabling Governor DeSantis to ensure the state has the resources needed to address the evolving public health emergency.

    As for improving the efficiency of emergency response, legislators signed off on SB 7020: Emergency Staging Areas which would develop permanent staging areas for emergencies, expediting the dissemination of crucial emergency supplies such as food, water, and fuel.

    Environmental protection was a large focus in the budget with $690 million set aside for water quality restoration, including $322.6 million for Everglades restoration, $236.6 million for water quality improvements like septic to sewer and wastewater improvement programs, $50 million for Springs Restoration, and $25 million for projects to restore the Indian River Lagoon. The Florida Forever land-conservation program would also receive $100 million.

    Lawmakers also passed SB 712: Clean Waterways Act which takes action based on the recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force in order to stop excess pollution and restore Florida waterways and doubles the fines for wastewater violations; SB 1414: Fish and Wildlife Activities which increases the number of free fishing days from 4 to 6 days; HB 1091: Environmental Enforcement which increases penalties for violations relating to sanitary sewer overflows; and SB 680: Shark Fins which outlaws the import and export of shark fins to or from Florida.

    For public employers and companies that contract with them, SB 664: Verification of Employment Eligibility requires the use of the federal e-Verify database to determine employees’ eligibility to work in the United States. Private employers, however, would have the option of using e-Verify or a form that is already required under federal law to verify eligibility. Business could be fined $500 for violations and have their licenses suspended and three violations in three years could result in licenses being revoked.

    Another noteworthy bill, HB 1193 Deregulation of Professions and Occupations preempts the regulation of mobile food dispensing vehicles (food trucks) to the state and prohibits local governments from requiring a license, registration, or permit, and prohibiting the operation of food trucks.

    For more detailed information on all the bills passed, visit the Florida Senate website. You can also visit 2020 Bill Summaries, which are reports created by committee staff that give brief explanations of the legislation that passed this session in both the House and Senate.


  • 8 Mar 2020 10:05 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    The 2020 Florida Legislative session is quickly coming to an end as the last day of the Regular Session is March 13th.  

    Below are some of the noteworthy food-related legislation movement we have seen in the House and Senate. Visit The Florida Senate official website for full bill descriptions and actions.


    The following legislation has passed on the Senate Floor:


    HB 73 – Environmental Regulation

    The bill passed the Senate and is enrolled as of 3/3.

    Specifies requirements for contracts between residential recycling collectors or recovered materials processing facilities & counties or municipalities for collecting, transporting, & processing residential recycling material & contaminated recyclable material; prohibits local governments from requiring further verification from DEP for certain projects; revises types of dock & pier replacements & repairs that are exempt from such verification & certain permitting requirements.


    SB 680 – Shark Fins

    The bill passed the Senate and is Received as of 3/6.

    “Prohibiting the import, export, and sale of shark fins in this state; providing exceptions; requiring the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to evaluate the potential economic impacts to the commercial shark fishing industry in this state, etc.


    SB 712 – The Clean Waterways Act

    This bill passed the Senate and is In Messages in the House as of 3/6.

    “Citing this act as the “Clean Waterways Act”; requiring the Department of Health to provide a specified report to the Governor and the Legislature by a specified date; requiring the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection to submit to the Governor and the Legislature, by a specified date, certain recommendations relating to the transfer of the Onsite Sewage Program; directing water management districts to submit consolidated annual reports to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research; removing provisions requiring certain onsite sewage treatment and disposal system research projects to be approved by a Department of Health technical review and advisory panel, etc.


    HB 827 – Recovery Care Services

    This bill was passed in the Senate and is Received as of 3/2.

    Provides for licensure of recovery care centers by AHCA; provides criteria for admission of patients to recovery care centers; requires centers to have specified protocols; prohibits centers from providing services to children until standards are established; requires AHCA to adopt minimum standards for centers; directs AHCA to enforce specified provisions of Florida Building Code applicable to recovery care centers; exempts centers from specified minimum licensure requirements.


    SB 1414 – Fish and Wildlife Activities

    This bill passed the Senate and is In Messages in the House as of 3/5.

    Prohibiting certain harassment of hunters, trappers, and fishers within or on public lands or publicly or privately owned wildlife and fish management areas, or in or on public waters; authorizing the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to designate additional annual free freshwater and saltwater fishing days; prohibiting the keeping, possessing, importing, selling, bartering, trading, or breeding of certain species except for educational, research, or eradication or control purposes; including green iguanas and species of the genera Salvator and Tupinambis in such prohibition, etc.


    SB 7020  Emergency Staging Areas

    This bill passed the Senate and is In Messages in the House as of 3/6.

    “Authorizing the Department of Transportation to plan, design, and construct staging areas as part of the turnpike system for the intended purpose of staging supplies for prompt provision of assistance to the public in a declared state of emergency; requiring the department, in consultation with the Division of Emergency Management, to select sites for such areas; requiring the department to give priority consideration to placement of such staging areas in specified counties, etc.”


    SB 7016 – Statewide Office of Resiliency

    This bill passed the Senate and is In Messages in the House as of 3/6.

    Establishing the office within the Executive Office of the Governor; creating the Statewide Sea-Level Rise Task Force within the office; authorizing the Department of Environmental Protection to contract for specified services, upon request of the task force; requiring the Environmental Regulation Commission to take certain action on the task force’s recommendations, etc. APPROPRIATION: $500,000


    The following legislation has seen movement in the Senate or House:


    SB 168 – Drinking Water in Public Schools

    The Committee Substitute by Education was read the 1st time on 1/14.

    Drinking Water in Public Schools; Subject to legislative appropriation, requiring district boards to coordinate with district school boards to identify certain schools and to provide funding to such schools; requiring certain school districts to install filters that meet certain specifications on drinking water sources; authorizing district boards to request additional funding to compensate school district staff for the installation or replacement of filters, etc. APPROPRIATION: $3,000,000”


    HB 715 – Recycled Water

    This bill is placed on 3rd reading as of 3/6.

    Requires certain domestic wastewater utilities to submit plans for eliminating nonbeneficial surface water discharges; requires DEP & WMDs to develop & execute memorandum of agreement for coordinated review of specified permits for indirect potable reuse projects; provides that potable reuse projects by private entities are eligible for certain expedited permitting & funding priorities; requires counties, municipalities, & special districts to authorize graywater technologies & provide incentives for implementation of such technologies; requires DEP to convene technical advisory group, & review & revise reclaimed water, potable reuse, drinking water, & aquifer recharge rules.


    HB 767 – Assisted Living Facilities

    This bill is placed on 3rd reading as of 3/6.

    Revises requirements & standards relating to ALF licensure, inspections, resident criteria & rights, & staff training & continuing education.


    SB 786 – Public Records /Aquaculture Records/Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

    This bill was favorable by Governmental Oversight and Accountability and is in Rules as of 2/3.

    Providing a public records exemption for certain aquaculture records held by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; providing for future legislative review and repeal under the Open Government Sunset Review Act; providing a statement of public necessity, etc.


    SB 1130 — Young Farmers and Ranchers

    This bill was voted favorable by the  Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government and is in Appropriations as of 2/25.

    “Creating the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; requiring the department to select grant recipients based on specified criteria; requiring the department to give preference to veterans, etc.”


    SB 1276 — Department of Citrus

    This bill is placed on 3rd reading as of 3/6.

    “Establishing the Friends of Florida Citrus Program within the Department of Citrus; creating the Friends of Florida Citrus Advisory Council adjunct to the department; authorizing the Department of Citrus to loan department employees to or share department employees with specified state and federal entities, etc.”


    SB 1706 — Water Testing for Pollution

    This bill is was voted favorable by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and is in Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services as of 2/10.

    “Authorizing specified persons or businesses that suspect contamination of their private water systems, multifamily water systems, or certain public water systems to request that the Department of Health or its agents test such source for pollution, under certain circumstances; requiring such testing to be done within a specified timeframe and follow certain procedures; revising the specified purposes that funds in a County Health Department Trust Fund may be used for to include the costs and expenditures related to certain water testing provisions, etc.”


    SB 1720 — Florida Safe Drinking Water Act

    This bill was voted favorable by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 2/3. The bill is in Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government as of 2/4.

    “Requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt and implement rules for statewide maximum contaminant levels for specified pollutants by a date certain, etc.”


    HB 3419 – North Miami Food Pantry

    This bill is in Appropriations Committee as of 1/22.

    Food and Housing Insecurity; Provides an appropriation for the Florida Student Association, Inc. - Food and Housing Insecurity. APPROPRIATION: $340,00”


    The following legislation has been temporarily postponed:


    SB 724 – Local Government Recycling Programs

    This bill but is Temporarily Postponed as of 2/5.

    Local Government Recycling Programs; Creating the Florida Recycling Working Group; requiring the working group to submit a report to the Legislature by a specified date; providing an expiration date for the working group; providing an exemption for fiscally constrained counties from recycling requirements, etc.”


    SB 1096 – Bottled Water

    This bill is Temporarily Postponed as of 1/16.

    Requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to monitor certain consumptive use permits; providing penalties for nonpayment of fees; directing the department to adopt rules, etc.


    SB 1098 – Fees/Bottled Water Companies/Department of Environmental Protection

    This bill is Temporarily Postponed as of 1/16.

    “Requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to charge bottled water companies a specified fee per gallon extracted; requiring the fees to be deposited into the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund, etc.”


    SB 1112 — Bottled Water Excise Tax

    This bill is temporarily postponed as of 1/16.

    “Imposing an excise tax upon bottled water operators; specifying the rate of the tax and the trust fund where tax proceeds are to be deposited; specifying requirements for bottled water operators in filing monthly returns and declarations of estimated tax with, and remitting estimated taxes to, the Department of Revenue; specifying the department’s authority to inspect, examine, and audit bottled water operator books and records, issue subpoenas, require testimony under oath or affirmation of certain persons, and apply for certain judicial orders, etc.”


    HB 1343 – Environmental Resource Management

    This bill is temporarily postponed as of 3/6.

    Requires DOH & DEP to submit reports & recommendations relating to transfer of Onsite Sewage Program in DOH to DEP; transfers Onsite Sewage Program from DOH to DEP; requires WMDs to submit consolidated annual reports to OEDR; removes provisions relating to DOH technical review & advisory panel & research & review advisory committee; requires DEP to conduct bottled water study; prohibits approval of certain consumptive use permits; authorizes nutrient reducing OSTDS; creates OSTDS technical advisory committee; requires basin management action plans to include plans & cooperative elements; requires DEP to submit cost estimates to OEDR; provides priority funding for utility projects; provides for biosolids management & water quality monitoring; revises administrative penalties; prohibits legal rights for environment.


  • 10 Feb 2020 6:00 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    The 2020 Florida Legislative session convened on January 14th. The last day for regularly scheduled committee meetings will be on March 3rd, and the last day of the Regular Session will be on March 13th.  

    Below are some of the food-related legislation movement we have seen in the Senate. Visit The Florida Senate official website for full bill descriptions and actions.


    SB 40 — Prohibition of Plastic Carryout Bags and Straws

    This bill was introduced on 1/14.

    Prohibiting a store or food service business from providing to a customer a carryout bag made of plastic film; prohibiting a food service business from selling or providing to a customer a single-use plastic straw, etc.


    SB 42 — Donor Human Milk Bank Services

    This bill was introduced on 1/14.

    Authorizing the Agency for Health Care Administration to pay for donor human milk bank services as an optional Medicaid service if certain conditions are met; adding donor human milk bank services to the list of Medicaid services authorized for reimbursement on a fee-for-service basis; adding donor human milk bank services to the list of minimum benefits required to be covered by managed care plans, etc.


    SB 50 — Beverage Container Deposits

    This bill was introduced on 1/14.

    “Designating the “Florida Beverage Container Deposit Act”; establishing refund values for specified beverage containers; requiring dealers and consumers in this state to pay a deposit fee for specified beverage containers; prohibiting the establishment or operation of a redemption center unless it is registered with the Department of Environmental Protection; providing that distributors and dealers are not obligated to accept or take containers not originally sold in this state or to pay the refund value and handling fees for them, etc.


    SB 138 — Beverage Law

    This bill was introduced on 1/14.

    “Repealing provisions relating to limitations on the size of individual wine containers and individual cider containers; revising provisions that authorize a restaurant to allow patrons to remove partially consumed bottles of wine from a restaurant for off-premises consumption; revising the requirements for the sale of branded products by a licensed craft distillery to consumers, etc.


    SB 168 — Drinking Water in Public Schools

    This bill was voted favorable by the Education Committee on 11/12. The bill was read for the 1st time on 1/14.

    “Subject to legislative appropriation, requiring district boards to coordinate with district school boards to identify certain schools and to provide funding to such schools; requiring certain school districts to install filters that meet certain specifications on drinking water sources; authorizing district boards to request additional funding to compensate school district staff for the installation or replacement of filters, etc. APPROPRIATION: $3,000,000”


    SB 182 — Preemption of Recyclable and Polystyrene Materials

    This bill was introduced on 1/14.

    Deleting preemptions of local law relating to the regulation of auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags; repealing the preemption of local laws regarding the use or sale of polystyrene products to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, etc.


    SB 300 — Food Pantries in Public Schools

    This bill was introduced on 1/14.

    Authorizing school districts to adopt a policy to allow schools to create food pantry programs in collaboration with nonprofit organizations; authorizing school districts to provide food from the pantry at no cost to students under specified circumstances; authorizing school employees to prepare and distribute donated food, etc.


    SB 326 — Environmental Regulation

    This bill was voted favorable by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 11/4, the Community Affairs Committee on 12/9, and Rules on 2/5. The bill is now on Calendar for a 2nd reading.

    “Specifying requirements for contracts between residential recycling collectors or recovered materials processing facilities and counties or municipalities for the collection or processing of residential recycling material; providing that a residential recycling collector or recovered materials processing facility is not required to collect, transport, or process contaminated recyclable material except pursuant to specified contractual requirements after a contract is executed; prohibiting local governments from requiring further verification from the Department of Environmental Protection for certain projects, etc.


    SB 456 — Minimum Wage

    This bill was introduced on 1/14.

    Revising the formula for the adjusted state minimum wage, etc.


    SB 680 — Shark Fins

    This bill was voted favorable by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 2/3. The bill is now in Commerce and Tourism.

    “Prohibiting the import and export of shark fins, etc.”


    SB 724 — Local Government Recycling Programs

    This bill was voted favorable by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 12/9. The bill is now on the Community Affairs Committee agenda.

    “Creating the Florida Recycling Working Group; requiring the working group to submit a report to the Legislature by a specified date; providing an expiration date for the working group; providing an exemption for fiscally constrained counties from recycling requirements, etc.”


    SB 786 — Public Records/Aquaculture Records/Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

    This bill was voted favorable by the Agriculture Committee on 1/14 and favorable on 2/3 by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability. The bill is now in Rules.

    Providing a public records exemption for certain aquaculture records held by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; providing for future legislative review and repeal under the Open Government Sunset Review Act; providing a statement of public necessity, etc.


    SB 1096 — Bottled Water

    This bill is temporarily postponed.

    “Requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to monitor certain consumptive use permits; providing penalties for nonpayment of fees; directing the department to adopt rules, etc.”


    SB 1098 — Fees/Bottled Water Companies/Department of Environmental Protection

    This bill is temporarily postponed.

    “Requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to charge bottled water companies a specified fee per gallon extracted; requiring the fees to be deposited into the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund, etc.”


    SB 1112 — Bottled Water Excise Tax

    The amendments for this bill were adopted on 1/21. This bill is temporarily postponed.

    “Imposing an excise tax upon bottled water operators; specifying the rate of the tax and the trust fund where tax proceeds are to be deposited; specifying requirements for bottled water operators in filing monthly returns and declarations of estimated tax with, and remitting estimated taxes to, the Department of Revenue; specifying the department’s authority to inspect, examine, and audit bottled water operator books and records, issue subpoenas, require testimony under oath or affirmation of certain persons, and apply for certain judicial orders, etc.”


    SB 1130 — Young Farmers and Ranchers

    This bill was voted favorable by the Agriculture Committee on 1/14. This bill is now in Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government.

    Creating the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; requiring the department to select grant recipients based on specified criteria; requiring the department to give preference to veterans, etc.”


    SB 1276 — Department of Citrus

    This bill was voted favorable by the Agriculture Committee on 1/14 and favorable on 1/21 by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability. The bill is now in Appropriations.

    “Establishing the Friends of Florida Citrus Program within the Department of Citrus; creating the Friends of Florida Citrus Advisory Council adjunct to the department; authorizing the Department of Citrus to loan department employees to or share department employees with specified state and federal entities, etc.”


    SB 1384 — Florida Farm to School Program

    This bill was introduced.

    “Requiring vendors selling or delivering agricultural commodities to school districts in the Florida Farm to School Program to provide the school districts with an invoice that meets certain requirements, beginning on a specified date; requiring each participating district school board to submit the information monthly to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, etc.”


    SB 1414 — Fish and Wildlife Activities

    This bill was voted favorable by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 2/3. The bill is now in Agriculture.

    “Prohibiting certain harassment of hunters, trappers, and fishers within or on public lands or publicly or privately owned wildlife and fish management areas, or in or on public waters; authorizing the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to designate additional annual free freshwater and saltwater fishing days; prohibiting the keeping, possessing, importing, selling, bartering, trading, or breeding of certain species except for educational or research purposes; including green iguanas and species of the genera Salvator and Tupinambis in such prohibition, etc.”


    SB 1526 — Food Donation Programs

    This bill was introduced.

    “Creating an agricultural commodity donation tax credit; authorizing the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt rules; revising the department's powers and duties relating to school food and other nutrition programs; deleting a provision authorizing district school boards to opt out of implementing universal school breakfast programs; requiring the department to annually allocate to participating sponsors a reimbursement in addition to the sum appropriated for the Florida Farm to School Program if certain conditions are met; requiring the department to develop the Florida Gleaning Support Grant Program, etc. APPROPRIATION: $1,650,000”


    SB 1706 — Water Testing for Pollution

    This bill is on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee agenda.

    “Authorizing specified persons or businesses that suspect contamination of their private water systems, multifamily water systems, or certain public water systems to request that the Department of Health or its agents test such source for pollution, under certain circumstances; requiring such testing to be done within a specified timeframe and follow certain procedures; revising the specified purposes that funds in a County Health Department Trust Fund may be used for to include the costs and expenditures related to certain water testing provisions, etc.”


    SB 1720 — Florida Safe Drinking Water Act

    This bill was voted favorable by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 2/3. The bill is now in Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government.

    Requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt and implement rules for statewide maximum contaminant levels for specified pollutants by a date certain, etc.”


  • 4 Jan 2020 8:00 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    It’s a new year, and a new decade. In 2020, big changes are sure to come with the upcoming elections.

    For federal offices including the President and Vice President, campaigns are in full swing. Locally, State Senators in odd numbered districts and State Representatives in all districts will soon be facing the ballot box.

    Other local offices up for election and retention this year include State Attorney (Circuits 1-19) and Public Defender (Circuits 1-19), varying county offices such as the Board of County Commissioners and School Board (nonpartisan), and Judicial offices whose terms expire in January of 2021.

    A full list of General Election candidates can be accessed here.

    For voters, remember to mark your calendars. Registration to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) closes on February 18th and election day for the PPP is March 17th; Primary Election registration closes on July 20th with the Primary Election held on August 18th; and October 5th is the last day to register for the General Election which will be held on November 3rd.

    For more information on how to register to vote, check out our guide here.

    Interim Committee Sessions officially wrapped up on December 13th, 2019 and on January 14th, 2020, the Florida House of Representatives and Senate will resume the Regular Legislative Session.

    A calendar of the meetings scheduled from January 13-17th for the Florida House of Representatives can be found here

    Access a calendar for Senate meetings from week 1 (January 13-17th) here and week 2 (January 20-24th) here.

    As the year progresses, we will continue to provide updates on food-related legislation and noteworthy happenings in the legislature.

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