place effective midnight Thursday April 2nd. The Coronavirus has effected every aspect of our lives and I hope and pray all of you are staying safe and well.
The Florida Legislature was scheduled to end their 60 day session on March 13th. On Tuesday March 10th, the Coronavirus started making its presence known inside the Capitol as the House had to stand in informal recess while the House chambers were sanitized by Dr. Pigman and the cleaning crew in protective suits. A decision had to be made if the five members who had attended a national conference over the weekend had been potentially exposed to the Coronavirus and if they were contagious. Were they putting the rest of the members at risk? Dr. Pigman found them to be fever free and not meeting CDC guidelines for testing so they were allowed to stay, determined not contagious, and they reconvened the Session about an hour later.
Meanwhile, in the Capitol budget talks were stalling as leaders were trying to determine how much to set aside in the rainy day fund for the Coronavirus. It was determined that they would not finish on time and they extended until Thursday March 19th to allow for the mandatory 72 hour clock to run on the budget as mandated by the constitution. They finished their work Friday, met on the budget Saturday and laid it on the members desk Sunday, thus starting the 72-hour clock.
On Wednesday March 11th the Senate came to the House position on HB 607, the ARNP scope expansion bill, and passed it out to the Governor. HB 607 allows qualified nurse practitioners to practice without physician supervision. This bill passed both bodies and was signed by the presiding officers at 4:56pm that day. Dr. Epstein and I were working on our veto message when I received a legislative update which informed me that the Governor had acted at 6:46pm and signed the bill into law. Needless to say we stopped working on our draft letter. On the same day, minutes apart, the legislature passed HB 389, the test and treat bill, which allows pharmacists in collaboration with a doctor to test and treat for the flu and strep throat in addition to several other medical conditions. This bill was on the same time track as the scope expansion bill and the Governor also signed this bill into law that evening.
On Friday March 13th, HB 713, the DOH package passed. On this bill was the language that the FRS self-referral working group had reviewed and agreed to be neutral on. The bill did not contain the language that would have put into statute language that a chiropractor could call themselves a chiropractic radiologist. This bill has not been signed by the presiding officers; so, it has not been received by the Governor to act upon it yet.
The budget has also not been signed by the presiding officers or sent to the Governor.
No bills have been sent to the Governor for action. Once the bills make it to the Governor’s desk, he has 15 days to act where he can sign, veto, or let the bill in question become law without signature.
The Governor has until July 1st to have a new budget in place. Everything seems to be in flux due to the Coronavirus.
Since the Session has ended, there are FRS working groups that have been formed who are working along with the FMA in order to get clarity from the Governor and the Surgeon General on how to interpret nonessential medical procedures and then further work and collaborate in asking the Governor to consider giving protection from lawsuits that could come from the unintended consequences of his executive order on shutting down non-essential medical procedures. As I write there is no response from the Governor.
As you all are very aware, there is constant change on what the population can and cannot do and what businesses can stay open due to the pandemic. It has effected everyone’s daily lives.
Please stay safe and well. Thanks to all for what you do.
Alison Dudley, FRS Lobbyist