Genetic information, deregulation bills signed

Health
Ron_DeSantis,_Official_Portrait,_113th_Congress_1551112536591.jpg

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced late Tuesday that he had signed 19 bills from this year’s legislative session, including a measure blocking insurance companies from using genetic information in making policy decisions and a measure reducing regulations on a variety of professions.

The genetic-information bill (HB 1189) was a top priority of Rep. Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican who is slated to become House speaker after the November elections. It will prevent life insurers and long-term care insurers from using customers’ genetic information in making decisions about policies. 

Federal law already prevents health insurers from using genetic information in underwriting policies and in setting premiums. But that prohibition doesn’t apply to life insurance or long-term care coverage. Sprowls and other supporters of the bill pointed, at least in part, to privacy concerns.

DeSantis, meanwhile, issued a statement touting his approval of the deregulation bill (HB 1193), dubbed the “Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act.” The bill makes regulatory changes related to professions ranging from hair braiders to interior designers and addresses issues such as local regulation of food trucks.

“For two years, we’ve pushed for regulatory reforms in Florida’s occupational licensing system to remove unnecessary barriers for individuals pursuing their professional aspirations,” DeSantis said. “Today, with legislative and public support, we’re delivering on those reforms with a comprehensive and meaningful bill that will save thousands of Floridians both time and money for years to come.”

DeSantis has gradually signed bills from the legislative session that ended in March.

The list of 19 bills released late Tuesday included a measure (SB 404) that will require parental consent before minors can have abortions and a measure (SB 664) that will require all government employers and some businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new workers. Lawmakers confirmed earlier Tuesday that DeSantis had signed those measures, which drew heavy debate during the session.

Also, DeSantis held a news conference Tuesday in Juno Beach to sign two bills (SB 712 and HB 1091) aimed at cleaning up waterways. As an example, one of the bills incudes higher fines for dumping pollutants into waterways.

The governor also announced Tuesday night that he had vetoed two bills, including a bill (SB 410) dealing with growth-management issues. DeSantis said part of the bill would improperly infringe on the powers of charter counties.

Also, he vetoed a measure (HB 1049) that he said would give 22 percent pay raises to judges of compensation claims, who hear workers’ compensation insurance cases. DeSantis said in a veto message that those raises would be in addition to 3 percent pay hikes that all state workers will receive in the coming year.

“While I commend the work of all of our judges of compensation claims, a 22% salary increase, in addition to the 3% pay raise, is problematic given the changes to our state budget outlook due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” DeSantis wrote in the veto message.

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