Four state lawmakers, Reps. David Santiago, Paul Renner and Elizabeth Fetterhoff, as well as Sen. David Simmons, participated in a Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce panel discussion Thursday on the 2020 session.

No guarantees, but a leading member of the Volusia County delegation to the Florida Legislature said he does not foresee the need for a special session for the rest of 202


Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said Florida has "billions of dollars less money today than we did three months ago," but he believes federal funding will help carry the state through the election and probably until the next legislative session starts in March 2021.


Renner was one of four Volusia County lawmakers who discussed the 2020 session, which ended just as things began shutting down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, during a Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce virtual breakfast Thursday.


Renner, in line to be House Speaker starting in 2022, said he expects some "painful decisions" lie ahead in the next session, as COVID-19 cases have continued to grow in July, and no one knows what to expect from the virus.


"Whatever happens, we’ve got to continue to keep our economy open. We can’t go back and shut down again," Renner said. "We just have to be smarter about how we do it and make sure we do it safely."


Senate President Pro Tempore David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said his final year echoed his first year in the House of Representatives in 2000.


Simmons, whose district includes parts of southwest Volusia County, carried the education package containing $500 million in additional pay to teachers, with $400 million of it going to raise first-year teachers’ salaries to a minimum of $47,500, The rest goes to raise the pay of veteran teachers.


"The first bill I ever filed when I was elected to the House of Representatives was a teacher-pay bill, and so I’m very pleased that now we have passed such a compensation package," Simmons said.


While Gov. Ron DeSantis cut $1 billion from the $93.2 billion budget lawmakers presented to him, Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, highlighted one major commitment — $33 million in support for three private historically black colleges and universities — that survived the process. That money will include, annually, $17 million for Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.


"To be able to have gap funding and dollars to ensure that these student who are probably first time in their family college students are able to concentrate on their studies rather than whether they can afford to pay for classes or books ... that was really big deal," Fetterhoff said. "That’s going to benefit a lot of our students here and throughout the state of Florida."


Fetterhoff also sponsored a grant program aimed at protecting firefighters from dangerous, cancer-causing contaminants they are exposed to on the job. The bill, which passed, will allow fire departments to obtain grants to purchase tools to help decontaminate equipment stored in firehouses to "make sure these individuals are not taking home these contaminants to their families."


Another highlight, Renner said, was passage of legislation to remove some occupational licensing barriers will help people get to work more easily.


"This is especially important in some lower-income occupations where it’s simply too much to ask somebody that’s struggling to get out of welfare to have the time and the money to get the training we ask," he said. "In some cases, we ask more of a barber than we do of a paramedic."


Rep. David Santiago, R-Deltona, is also departing after this year and talked about his work crafting bills aimed at ensuring Florida has a healthy marketplace for insurance. He also mentioned some unfinished business he expects will be picked up by another lawmaker next year on consumer data privacy.


"It was a bill to shine light and to put parameters around how some of these big companies are obtaining your information. who they’re sharing it with, whether they’re selling it and whether you’re aware of it," he said.


The bill would have provided app users with opt-outs on companies’ use of data.