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CS/CS/SB 740 — Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

by Appropriations Committee; Agriculture Committee; and Senator Stargel

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Agriculture Committee (AG)

The bill addresses various issues related to agriculture and certain powers and duties of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (department). Specifically, the bill:

  • Allows certain lands classified as agricultural for tax purposes to continue to be classified as such for five years after being damaged by a natural disaster. The assessment applies retroactively to lands damaged by a natural disaster that occurred on or after July 1, 2017;
  • Provides that screened enclosed structures used in horticulture production for pest exclusion, when consistent with state or federal eradication or compliance agreements, have no separately assessable value for purposes of ad valorem taxation;
  • Shifts the issuance of a local oyster harvesting license for Apalachicola Bay from the department to the City of Apalachicola;
  • Removes the electronic payment mandate for pesticide registration payments;
  • Codifies the State Agricultural Response Team within the department and assigns it certain duties in coordination with the Division of Emergency Management;
  • Prohibits comingling charitable and non-charitable funds collected through solicitation or sponsor sales and requires organizations to keep detailed records;
  • Prohibits ringless direct-to-voicemail solicitation telephone calls under Florida’s Do Not Call (DNC) statute and adds the opportunity for businesses to add their telephone numbers to the DNC list;
  • Revises department sampling and analysis requirements for antifreeze;
  • Allows for the lawful seizure of “skimming devices” by department inspectors;
  • Revises application requirements and fees for brake fluid brands;
  • Transfers responsibility for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) insurance issues to the Commissioner of Agriculture instead of the Governor of Florida;
  • Consolidates and reduces the number of LPG categories and expands the license period from one to three years;
  • Eliminates the original and renewal LPG fee structure and replaces it with a new revenue neutral fee structure;
  • Updates the dollar threshold for required reporting of LPG accidents from $1,000 to $3,000;
  • Requires an LPG dealer to give a five day notice before discontinuing service or rendering a consumer’s LPG equipment inoperable;
  • Aligns provisions of the state livestock law with the federal Packers and Stockyards Act and makes failure to render payment for livestock to a seller an unfair or deceptive act;
  • Extends the expiration date for seven weights, measures, and standards sections from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2025;
  • Defines the Commissioner of Agriculture’s authority to waive fees during emergencies;
  • Updates the Florida Seed Law in response to technological and federal regulatory changes;
  • Authorizes the department to cover the cost of the initial Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) examination fee for those Florida Forest Service employees whose positions entail operating CDL-requiring equipment; and
  • Creates the “Government Impostor and Deceptive Advertisements Act” to prevent Florida consumers and businesses from being scammed by companies selling free government forms or mimicking government services.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2018.

Vote: Senate 34-0; House 116-0