A recent Florida legislative town hall hosted by District 69 Rep. Jennifer Webb and District 19 Sen. Darryl Ervin Rouson provided highlights of the 2019 session to an audience of about 20 people at the Gulfport Neighborhood Center, 1617 49th St. S.
Webb used a PowerPoint presentation during the Thursday, June 27 meeting to focus on bills she sponsored including measures concerning red tide and home warranties.
Webb’s version (HB 1135) of the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative made its way through the legislative workflow in the house and in late April was tabled in an effort to support a concurrent senate bill (SB 1552) that was approved and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 20.
The final bill language states its purpose is to “develop technologies and approaches needed to address the control and mitigation of red tide and its impacts.”
In a partnership between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, the red tide measure appropriates $3 million annually from the state’s general fund beginning in the 2019-2020 fiscal year and running through the 2024-2025 fiscal year.
With regard to home warranties (HB 925), insurers can no longer exclude coverage regarding the presence of rust or corrosion on items like HVAC components except in specific circumstances. The governor signed this into law on June 7.
In addition, Webb put a spotlight on a district priority concerning prescription drugs.
On June 11, the governor signed legislation (HB 19) that authorizes the state to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. This measure has the potential to make the cost of medicines more affordable.
During Rouson’s portion of the presentation, he emphasized the tenacity of the members of the audience.
“It’s good to see all these smiling faces who are engaged and care about their community enough to come out on a rainy afternoon to a town hall meeting,” he said.
His highlights included summarizing recent trips to the east coast of Florida to attend meetings regarding statewide policy topics and his legislative service on a variety of influential committees.
With the house and senate controlled by Republicans, Rouson said, “Sometimes, the victory for us as Democrats is in the showing up. It’s in the debate and not always in the vote.”
One victory, he noted, was about criminal justice reform in HB 7125, which was approved by the governor on June 28.
When it goes into effect on October 1, 2019, it will reduce the number of felonies because the grand theft threshold has been raised from $300 to $750, he said.
“It’s been 30 years since the State of Florida increased the threshold,” said Rouson. “This was a law that was on the books before cell phones. And, when a young person takes a cell phone, they’re automatically charged with a felony because of the value of the phone. After numerous attempts, we were able to increase that threshold.”
2019 bill summaries: flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2019
Sen. Rouson of St. Petersburg is serving in his second four-year term. For more information, visit
Rep. Webb of Gulfport is serving her first two-year term. For more information, visit myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4734&LegislativeTermId=88.