By Rep. Kathleen Passidomo
District 106-Naples, FL
During the 2013 session, the Florida Legislature focused on challenging issues, such as election reform, education reform and foreclosure reform. While our economy is seeing signs of improvement resulting in greater revenues to the state, we acknowledge that government must continue to live within our means while also responsibly planning for the future. Although the 2013-2014 budget funded additional priorities, such as a State worker pay raise and $480 million for teacher pay increases, we committed to disciplined fiscal priorities as well adding $2.8 billion into the state’s reserves. After passing legislation such as a gradual phase out of the corporate income tax and a sales tax exemption on all new manufacturing equipment purchases, Florida was recently ranked the second best climate for job growth in a nationwide survey. Additionally, the Legislative Budget Commission received estimates that Florida is on track to see a budget surplus in the upcoming fiscal year 2014-2015. While this estimated surplus is certainly welcomed news, we will continue to work to develop a responsible budget that maximizes every dollar and prioritizes funding in the best interest of all Floridians.
Also in 2013, my Foreclosure Reform bill, HB 87, passed through the Legislature with bi-partisan support and was signed into law by Governor Scott on June 7. Florida’s foreclosure crisis has negatively impacted our neighborhoods and im-peded Florida’s economic recovery. This new law will significantly reduce fraud, streamline and expedite the judicial process, and allow community associations to request the court to move a case along when there are delinquent assess-ments due. This bipartisan legislation took a balanced approach to make real re-forms to our process and will truly help Florida’s economy to get moving again. Since this new law was enacted, the courts have seen a real impact as condo-minium and homeowners’ associations have employed the new “show cause” procedure to have cases impacting their communities moved along to conclu-sion, thereby relieving the non-delinquent owners from the added burden of cov-ering the costs for delinquent owners. Also, lenders have begun to slow down foreclosure filings as they methodically go through their files to produce the proper paperwork as mandated by the new law.
Committee meetings for the 2014 Session began in September and will continue until Session begins on March 4th. I have taken on a new role when Speaker Weatherford asked me to chair the House Ethics & Elections Subcommittee. I look forward to the challenges that this important legislative committee will bring. I am fortunate that Collier County’s Supervisor of Elections, Jennifer Edwards, has offered to be a sounding board for me as I review potential legislation in my Committee. Also, my staff and I have been working together with a number of agencies on an elder abuse bill aiming to prevent and deter elder financial abuse which is an escalating issue in Collier County and throughout the State. I wel-come your input in the legislative process and can be reached at my District Of-fice at 239-417-6200 or by email at email@example.com.