By: John Lucas
June 3, 2019
Now that the dust has settled on the 2019 Legislature, the James Madison Institute is calling this past legislative session “transformative” after lawmakers enacted five of the institute’s six legislative priorities, including healthcare, school choice, and criminal justice policy.
JMI credits Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Jose Oliva, for making a difference in this year’s legislative outcome.
“Legislators and a new governor made bold strides cementing Florida as a beacon for conservative principles,” said JMI Vice President of Policy Sal Nuzzo. “Our team at JMI worked overtime in Tallahassee and beyond in ways that will be felt for generations.”
In the area of school choice, lawmakers passed three key initiatives, including the new Family Empowerment Scholarship, which will provide some 18,000 school vouchers to low and moderate income families to send their children to charter schools.
The Legislature also approved the expansion of the Gardiner Scholarship Program, as well as the expansion of Florida’s School of Hope Program.
It’s the second year in a row, legislators enacted education reforms that JMI says every other state in the nation.
“JMI has long supported efforts to give Florida families access to choice, so that every student can attend the school that best fits their unique needs and interest,” said William Mattox, director of JMI’s J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options. “Accordingly, we commend the Florida Legislature for passing historic school choice legislation. Thousands of families and students will benefit from their bold, “innovative initiatives.”
Another top priority of JMI during this past session was market-based healthcare solutions. Legislators passed a number of patient-centered reforms that include eliminating what JMI calls anticompetitive and harmful certificate of need laws.
The Legislature also voted to expand Direct Primary Care into Direct Health Agreements, extending patient time in ambulatory surgical centers and creating a patient-centered framework for telehealth innovation.
JMI claims the moves will improve access to care, reduce cost, and improve quality of services.
Other key initiatives supported by JMI and passed by the Legislature was the raising of Florida’s 33-year felony theft threshold to better target law enforcement and correctional efforts toward dangerous criminals.
Also passed during this past session was a crackdown on frivolous lawsuits impacting homeowners and families via Assignment of Benefits reform.
Lawmakers also voted to further reduce the business rent tax, which exists only in Florida.
“While 2019 saw an unmatched commitment to free enterprise and prosperity, with a part-time legislature and a 60-day window, much was left undone,” JMI said in a release. ”We are encouraged and hopeful for 2020, and we thank our legislators for their commitment to the tried and tested principles of free markets and limited government as we look toward January 14, 2020.”