The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

2020 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

The 2020 Florida Legislative Session is over, but not until after a one-week extension to finish the budget. This session may end up being known most as the session that ended as COVID-19 (the coronavirus) began. People were understandably not as focused as usual on the session as it wound down.

Lawmakers approved 207 bills this year, slightly more than the 197 passed last year, which set a record for the fewest bills passed (at least since 2001). In the first part of this millennium, sessions with more than 300--and even more than 400--passed bills were the rule.

Still, this session saw the Legislature provide pay raises for both state employees and teachers. It was a good year for the environment, especially Florida’s water resources, with more than $625 million in funding for restoration and protection and passage of the Clean Waterways Act; however, the momentum for corrections reform that started last session stopped this year, as nothing of significant consequence passed.

The Legislature passed a $93.2 billion budget that is $2.2 billion more than current spending. It also exceeds both chambers’ budget proposals: the Senate by nearly $400 million and the House by more than $1.8 billion. It provides $25.125 million to match $27.0 million in federal money for COVID-19 response. In addition, in the budget conference, spending in several areas (including tax cuts) was reduced in order to leave an additional $300 million in reserves to deal with the virus. Despite the looming virus-related costs and the likely reduction in state revenue collections from declines in tourism and other economic activity, the budget is chock-full of a record number of local member projects.

A modest (relative to recent years) tax package with $47.4 million in one-time tax cuts was passed.

The bills passed by the 2020 Legislature included many recommended or supported by Florida TaxWatch research. These are detailed in the Top Florida TaxWatch Issues section.

The following Legislative Wrap-Up discusses all these bills and more. It shows what passed and what did not—both issues supported by Florida TaxWatch research and other important bills we monitored all session long to keep our members and the public informed on our Legislative Update webpage.

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