As we approach the end of the Florida legislative session, bills are moving from committees to the House floor. To date, we have presented two bills on the floor:
- House Bill 239: Beginning as the "eyeball war," the bill addresses the disparity between optometrists and ophthalmologists in terms of prescribing medication. Currently, optometrists are only permitted to administer and prescribe topical medications; however, this bill authorizes optometrists to administer and prescribe limited oral medications that are appropriate to treat and diagnose ocular diseases and disorders.
- House Bill 7065: The bill amends the Everglades Forever Act to allow for the final phase of restoration for the Everglades.
After much discussion and deliberation between the parties involved with the two bills, the parties came together to agree and House members unanimously voted in favor of both House Bill 239 and House Bill 7065.
We also have a local bill that directly impacts the East County Water Control District. House Bill 1281 authorizes the East County Water Control District to finance, plan, construct and operate streetlights and sidewalks in Lee County and also provides that the district may levy non-ad valorem tax assessments on a per-project basis.
House Bill 1281 has favorably passed both of its committee assignments and is currently waiting to be heard on the House floor.
A pressing issue for the legislature, as it is every year, is the adoption of the state budget. The House's proposed budget has favorably passed through its committees and is under consideration on the floor.
Overall spending in the proposed budget is estimated to be $74.4 billion, a 6.3 percent increase over last year's budget's spending.
Some important highlights of the proposed budget include: $676 million set aside for education, a $1,000 annual salary increase for state and university employees, an additional 3 percent pay increase above the $1,000 pay raise for all state law enforcement officers, and a strengthening of Florida's safety net through the increase of funding to serve our most vulnerable populations such as our elderly and disabled.
The House Members should vote on the proposed House budget April 12.
To follow the progression of bills as they move through the House and to read the latest House news, visit the Florida House of Representatives Web site at: www.myfloridahouse.gov.
Contact Rep. Matthew Caldwell at (239) 694-0161.