May 7, 2014 - Sine Die: Legislature Wraps Up 2014 Session


 Sine Die: Legislature Wraps Up 2014 Session

Image: Deborah Curry, CPA, CGMAThe Florida Legislature concluded its 2014 Session on Friday, May 2 at 10:40 p.m. with the ceremonial "Sine Die." During Session, two FICPA members were appointed to the Board of Accountancy. The Institute supported state-budget funding for additional resources to combat unlicensed activity in Florida, and successfully worked to pass legislation that streamlines the reactivation process for CPAs whose licenses are inactive or delinquent.

Some of the Legislature’s other notable accomplishments included passing a $77 billion budget; legalizing a non-euphoric form of medicinal marijuana; and passing a measure that provides in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. With the November election looming, lawmakers dispensed with many potentially controversial issues early on, or tabled them for another year. An effort to expand casino gambling in Florida; a move to restructure the Florida Retirement System; and repealing Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" gun law were among the hot-button issues that lost momentum as time passed during the 60-day Session.

Throughout the Session, FICPA Governmental Affairs staff worked tirelessly to monitor more than 1,800 bills and countless amendments that were filed, to ensure the CPA profession was represented.

I hope IMPACT Report has given members a comprehensive overview of the some of the top issues we’ve tracked, and on which we’ve acted. It’s our goal to keep members informed and engaged throughout the year. We truly are "stronger together" in our efforts to protect the CPA profession.

Sincerely,


Deborah Curry, CPA, CGMA
FICPA President/CEO

In Case You Missed It
CPA Bill Passes, Awaits Gov. Scott’s Signature
Almost a week before the last day of the 2014 Session, legislation supported by the FICPA and Florida Board of Accountancy was brought forward for lawmakers' final consideration. Senate Bill 796 by Sen. Jack Latvala was substituted for its House companion, HB 725 by Rep. Jim Boyd. The 120-member House of Representatives voted on the bill and unanimously approved it 114-0. The legislation now awaits Gov. Scott's signature and will take effect July 1, 2014.

In addition to clarifying licensure requirements, the legislation provides a streamlined process for CPA licensees to fulfill their CPE requirements and reactivate their licenses. Once enacted, licensee will be allowed to notify the Board of Accountancy of their intent to reactivate and complete the reactivation process by June 2016.

Read more about this legislation in issues 2, 3, 4 and 5 of IMPACT Report.

 

Florida Inspectors General Gain Independence
This Session, House Bill 1385 by Rep. Dan Raulerson, CPA sought to increase the independence of Florida inspectors general. Under current law, as the state's watchdogs, inspectors general report to and are appointed by the agency heads they hold accountable. For many, including Raulerson and Senate bill sponsor Sen. Jack Latvala, this created a clear conflict of independence. Under HB 1385, state agency inspectors general will report to, be appointed by and be removed from their positions solely by the Florida chief inspector general.

“The bill creates a more independent environment for inspectors general in agencies under the governor's jurisdiction," Raulerson said. “Under the normal rules, investigators should not be hired and fired by those they are investigating."

The bill passed the Senate May 1 and now awaits Gov. Scott's approval. It would become effective July 1, 2014.

 

Senate Confirms Jim Lane
During its last action regarding gubernatorial appointments, the Senate unanimously voted to confirm Jim Lane, CPA of Averett Warmus Durkee in Orlando to the Florida Board of Accountancy.

The Senate's vote is the last action needed to make Lane's appointment official. He will begin serving his first four-year term on the BOA.

 

     
Budget Includes Tax Cuts
After lengthy negotiations, the House and Senate Appropriations committees agreed to a final plan with Rep. Ritch Workman’s bill, House Bill 5601. Workman characterized the plan as a "patchwork of awesomness." The plan rounded out Gov. Rick Scott’s goal of $500 million in tax cuts, which he proposed at the beginning of Session, by piecing together another $105 million in cuts on the last day of Session.

Here’s a rundown of the tax-cut pieces:

 

  • A three-day, back-to-school sales-tax holiday on clothes and school supplies from Aug. 1-3, saving shoppers $40 million.
  • Sales-tax holiday on energy-efficient appliances from Sept. 21-23, trimming $1.7 million from state and local government coffers.
  • Sales-tax holiday on hurricane-preparedness supplies, such as generators worth $750 or less, saving consumers $4 million.
  • Eliminates sales taxes for child car seats and bicycle helmets (saving $2.4 million), college meal plans (an $11.4 million cut) and medicinal pet food (a $2.5 million cut).
  • A three-year exemption of the sales tax on cement trucks, cutting $3.3 million.
  • Increases tax credits to aid Habitat for Humanity ($14.7 million) and the New Markets incentive program ($7.7 million).
  • Reduces the tax on prepaid calling plans (a $7.2 million cut).
  • Cuts taxes on uncollectable debt on credit cards issued by retailers, saving stores $6.7 million.
  • Premium tax cuts for title insurers ($5.5 million) and bail bonds ($700,000).
Identity Theft, Certified Audit, Financial Literacy Fall Short
Among the many bills that didn't pass this session were legislation that created tougher penalties for identity theft (IMPACT Report 3); an effort to enhance the Department of Revenue's Certified Audit Program (IMPACT Report 2); and legislation requiring high-school students to take a financial literacy course (IMPACT Report 1, 4).

All three initiatives were among those the FICPA tracked during Session. Although the Certified Audit (SB1022/ HB943) and financial literacy bills (SB212/ HB367) successfully navigated at least one chamber of the bicameral Legislature, the initiatives lost momentum as the end of session neared.

The FICPA continues to support these initiatives and looks to future legislatures to push them forward.
Legislature Approves Charity Law
By a vote of 133-3, the House of Representatives voted in favor of Rep. Jim Boyd's bill that increases oversight for charitable organizations in the Florida. The bill, HB 629, now will be sent to Gov. Scott for his signature. If and when he signs the legislation, Florida will become the 25th state to require charities to submit audited financial statements according to the National Council of Nonprofits. The bill would go into effect July 1, 2014.

The effort has been a priority for Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam during the 2014 Session.

“There are many worthwhile charitable causes that deserve our support, and this bill will help us get rid of the bad actors that use our children, our veterans and victims of natural disasters to line their own pockets," Putnam said after the House's final vote on the legislation.

To read more about this bill, see issues 3 and 5 of IMPACT Report.

 

Stronger Together: Your Florida CPA/PAC

Image: Stronger Together: Your Florida CPA/PAC Now that the Legislature has adjourned and all are focused on the November elections, we need your support of the Florida CPA/PAC. You’ll soon receive your annual FICPA dues renewal. By investing as little as $25, you can do your part to make sure CPAs are protected from harmful legislation and ensure that policymakers continue to hold the CPA designation in the highest regard.

Already, hundreds of candidates have filed to run for state office in Florida. During the next few months, the PAC directors will be working on your behalf to determine which candidates will best represent your interests as a CPA.

Please help keep the profession strong by clicking on the contribute button.

Image: Contribute Button