Displaying items by tag: 2021 Legislative Session

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 29, 2021

CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs SB 72 into Law, Establishing Protections for Businesses Against Frivolous COVID-19 Claims & Lawsuits

Tallahassee, FL –  Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 72 into law today, which establishes COVID-19 liability protections for Florida businesses and health care workers. 

"The Florida Retail Federation is thankful to our Governor for his leadership and support for Florida retail businesses during this unprecendented time," says Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "The COVID-19 pandemic has brought severe challenges to our retailers both small and large. But our Florida businesses have remained resilient in their recovery. They have reopened quickly and thoughtfully to safely serve their communities. With this bill signed into law, Florida retailers have the liability protection they deserve. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Brandes and Rep. McClure for championing this key legislation." 

SB 72, Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19, will protect Florida businesses and health care providers who work in good faith to implement public health guidelines to prevent the spread of illness, from frivolous and unjust lawsuits. 

The legislation provides requirements for a civil action based on a COVID-19-related claim and provides that the plaintiff has the burden of proof in such action. The newly-signed law is effective immediately and applies retroactively. 

Florida retailers have gone above and beyond to protect their teams and their customers during the pandemic. To keep customers safe and healthy while shopping, retail store team members are taking appropriate health precautions to prevent the spread of illness. Many stores are offering alternatives to shopping in-store, such as curbside or delivery services.

To read SB 72, visit: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/72.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.

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Published in Media Relations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 16, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

The Florida House Ways & Means Committee Hosted Workshop Discussion with Florida Retailers on Impact of Broken System to Florida Businesses

Tallahassee, FL – The House Committee on Ways & Means hosted a workshop on Monday to discuss remote commerce and sales and use tax. The workshop featured a panel that included three Florida retailers and members of the Florida Retail Federation (FRF).

The workshop was prompted by House Bill 15, a proposal sponsored by Representatives Chuck Clemons and Chip LaMarca that would “fix the glitch” in Florida’s tax laws by enforcing the collection of sales tax from online businesses.

Currently, all of Florida’s retailers collect and remit state and local sales taxes, but online and foreign businesses do not. Members of the FRF who participated in the workshop include: Clara Arrington, the assistant general counsel of Badcock Home Furnishings, Larry Sinewitz, the executive vice president of BrandsMart USA, and Debbie Harvey, president and COO of Ron Jon Surf Shop.

During the discussion, the retailers described the damaging effects of "showrooming," or visiting a store in-person to view a product and then purchasing at a discounted rate from an online retailer.

“Our sales associates work hard,” said Clara Arrington of Badcock Home Furnishings. “They’re knowledgeable about the products. Customers are able to come in, see the products, see what they look like, how they feel, ask questions… but they’re able to look on their phones and see other retailers that have been given a 6 to 7 percent head start. Not only does that hurt the corporation, but it hurts the dealers who are small business owners and the associates who operate on a commission structure. We’re at a disadvantage because of the unequal enforcement of the sales tax.”

Consumers may find the same product available in-store and online at a competitive price before sales tax is calculated, but the total price could be 6 to 7 percent cheaper if the out-of-state retailer fails to collect and remit the sales tax owed.

Lary Sinewitz of BrandsMart USA echoed this problem. He stated, “When somebody can come into our marketplace and sell things for 7 percent cheaper than we can just because they are not collecting the sales tax... it’s just not correct.”

“All we’re asking for is a level playing field. If we do that – we and our 1700 employees – can stay in businesses. “

Debbie Harvey, a former chair of the FRF, also spoke to the committee. She explained the lack of enforcement of sales tax from purchases made from out-of-state vendors place her business at a price disadvantage. Ultimately, it hurts the employees, who are fellow Florida residents and neighbors who support the state's economy.

“The proposed legislation is crucial to the success of our Florida retail stores,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Florida retailers just want a fair shake. It's time we fix the glitch and require out-of-state retailers to comply with the law. We are proud to support House Bill 15, and we are grateful to Reps. Clemons and LaMarca for bringing this issue to light.”

You may watch the online commerce workshop here.

To learn more about HB 15, click here.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION

The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.

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Published in Media Relations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 25, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

SB 72 Passed Its First Committee Stop, Senate Judiciary, with 7-4 Vote

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 72 today, a measure sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes that will protect Florida businesses that implement public health guidelines to prevent the spread of illness, from frivolous and unjust lawsuits. The Florida Retail Federation was present to urge Senators to support the proposed measure.

"Florida retailers are hiring Floridians, working on the front lines to provide essential supplies throughout the pandemic and giving back to their communities. On behalf of all of our retailers - small and large - we support his legislation,” said Jake Farmer of the Florida Retail Federation. "This is important to allow our retailers to safely reopen and fully recover.”

SB 72, Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19, provides requirements for a civil action based on a COVID-19-related claim and provides that the plaintiff has the burden of proof in such action. If passed and signed into law by the Governor, the law will be effective immediately and apply retroactively. Next, the bill will be heard by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Florida retailers have gone above and beyond to protect their teams and their customers during this unprecedented time. To keep customers safe and healthy while shopping, retail store team members are wearing masks to prevent the spread of illness.

Many stores are offering alternatives to shopping in store. Take advantage of curbside or delivery services where available. If you’re shopping online, please remember to "Find It In Florida" and consider purchasing from stores that have a physical presence in Florida.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.

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Published in Media Relations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 28, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

SB 898 Filed by Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez Codifies COVID-19 Emergency Order

Tallahassee, FL – Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez filed Senate Bill 898 today, expanding a current emergency order to allow Florida pharmacists and registered pharmacy interns and techs to order and administer vaccines approved or licensed by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to individuals of all ages.

The bill will codify Governor DeSantis's current emergency order that was issued on October 1, 2020. The existing Emergency Order, EO-20-014, allows Florida pharmacists or registered pharmacy interns, under the supervision of a pharmacist, to safely administer vaccines to individuals ages 3 to 18.

In addition, the bill authorizes pharmacy techs to administer the vaccine under pharmacists' supervision and expands eligibility to individuals of all ages.

“Now more than ever it's important to allow Florida pharmacists to continue to give Floridians much-needed access to healthcare," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "The COVID-19 pandemic has been devasting to our state and nation. We are grateful for our Florida pharmacists, who continue to serve on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19 by performing tests and administering vaccines to those most in need."

Florida pharmacists have safely performed COVID-19 tests and effectively administered COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care facilities and at over 261 retail pharmacy locations across the state.

The FRF supports legislation that will allow Florida pharmacists to continue ordering and administering vaccines to individuals of all ages, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) immunization schedules, and any vaccine approved by the FDA to immunize individuals against COVID-19.

"Thank you to Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez for her leadership in protecting the health and safety of Florida residents of all ages," said Shalley.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.

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Published in Media Relations
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