January 12, 2018
Week 1 - 2018 Session
Never give up! Never give up, never!
The build up to the start of the 2018 legislative session is finally over. For local government advocates, we now begin a test of perseverance and patience. 

There is no masking the disdain this Florida Legislature has for local government. We need look no further than the number of bills preempting municipal Home Rule. This all-out attack on local government includes everything from mundane issues like prohibiting ordinances dealing with back-in parking or tree trimming permits, to legislation that would have significant fiscal consequences on cities, such as efforts to curb the success of community redevelopment agencies. 

Leaders of the Florida House continue to try to micromanage almost every aspect of Florida’s municipalities. They seem to believe that local governments are part of some problem that needs to be curbed and abated rather than the catalyst for non-partisan solutions to local issues and the tip of the spear of economic development efforts in Florida.

Given the willingness of some legislators to ignore the will of the citizens who don’t want local decisions made in Tallahassee, as well as ignore the will of the voters who in 1968 approved the constitutional amendment giving cities Home Rule powers, it is likely that every day will be a game of defense. There will be attacks on multiple fronts hurled at cities and municipal officials. Practically no function of local government is safe from this attack. 

Not only are we dealing with a contentious Legislature, but simultaneously, Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is considering proposals that will similarly erode municipal Home Rule powers.  

Over the next 56 days, you may feel worn down or exasperated by the ongoing battle. You may even question if you are making a difference. I assure you, you are the only ones who really can make a difference. Your phone calls, emails and texts telling your local legislators how a particular bill will affect your shared constituents are the best tools in our legislative advocacy arsenal.

In a speech given to his alma mater, in a way only he could deliver it, Winston Churchill told the crowd, “Never give up! Never give up, never! Never-in nothing great or small, large or petty—never give up except to convictions of honor and good sense." 

In the end, we have to remember that when cities are allowed to exercise their authority to address local problems, when cities are allowed to work, the people are better served. 
The following is a brief summary of legislative activity on key bills of interest since our last report. For a deeper dive on the issues and comprehensive list of filed bills with municipal impact, please review the League's Legislative Bill Summaries. This searchable resource summarizes all the bills we are tracking, by issue area, and will be updated regularly through the end of the 2018 session.
SAVE THE DATES!
FLC Monday Morning Call-In for January 15 moved to Tuesday, January 16 due tot he MLK Holiday.
Participate in the 30-minute Monday morning call-in weekly during session. You’ll be updated on what issues the legislature will be discussing in the upcoming week and what advocacy efforts may be needed. The Call-In number is 1-888-419-5570 and the Participant Code is 880-753-19.

FLC Legislative Action Days -- January 30-31, 2018, Tallahassee
This is a unique opportunity for city officials from across the state to gather in Tallahassee to discuss the latest legislative issues and developments affecting municipalities. You will meet face-to-face with your legislators to provide a valuable local government perspective. For more information or to register online, click HERE
2018 LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
House Passes Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Bill
This week, the House passed CS/HB 17 (Raburn). The bill seeks to increase the accountability and transparency of CRAs. Of specific concern to cities, the bill requires any new CRA be created by a Special Act of the Legislature. In addition, the bill provides for the eventual phasing-out of all existing CRAs, unless reauthorized by a super-majority vote of the body which created the CRA prior to 2038. CS/HB 17 passed the House by a vote of 72-32 and will now be sent to the Senate. The Senate companion, SB 432 (Lee) passed its initial committee of reference, the Senate Community Affairs Committee in October, 2017 and is awaiting action by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development. (Cruz)
Travel Expenses, Reporting and Financial Disclosure
SB 1180  (Steube) and  CS/HB 815  (Avila ) would prohibit foreign travel by municipal officials and employees. In addition, the bills require out-of-state travel requests by municipal officials to be approved at a public hearing, and impose additional restrictions and reporting requirements on travel by officials and employees. The bills require municipal elected officials to file full public disclosure of financial interests (Form 6) instead of Form 1. SB 1180 imposes a $120 Cap on lodging expenses; CS/HB 815 was amended to remove this cap and to also exclude county constitutional officers. The League opposes these bills.  (O'Hara)
Election Dates for Municipal Officers
SB 1262  (Hutson ) and  HB 7037  (House Government Accountability Committee ) requires municipal elections to be held either in March or November as further specified in the bills, and specifies required options for municipalities that require runoff elections. The Senate bill is awaiting its first hearing; the House bill passed the Government Accountability Committee and will likely head to the House floor next. The League opposes these bills.  (O’Hara)
Opioids
CS/HB 21, a bill filed by Rep. Jim Boyd to address the opioid crisis, sailed through its first committee of reference unanimously this week. The bill limits prescriptions for certain opioids to no more than three days unless certain conditions are met. The bill also increases reporting requirements associated with the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. (Cook)
Red Light Cameras
HB 6001  ( Avila ),  SB 176  ( Hutson ) and  SB 548  ( Campbell ) prohibit the use of red light cameras by local governments and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. HB 6001, passed its one committee of reference in October, 2017 and this week passed the Florida House by a vote of 64-18. The League opposed the bill. ( Branch )
Impact Fees
Last week, the Senate Community Affairs Committee passed CS/SB 324  ( Young) addressing the collection of impact fees. As amended, the bill specifies the collection of an impact fee can be no earlier than the issuance of the building permit for the property that is subject to the fee. In addition, the scope of CS/SB 324 was expanded to codify the dual rational nexus test. Of specific concern, the bill prohibits the use of impact fees to pay existing debt or for previously approved projects unless the expenditure is reasonably connected to, or has a rational nexus with, the increased impact generated by the new residential or commercial construction. This provision could potentially prohibit the practice of oversizing infrastructure to accommodate projected future growth and subsequently using impact fees to reimburse for that prior improvement. (Hughes)
Building Permits and Inspections
The House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Committee passed CS/HB 725 (Williamson). The bill requires the governing body of a local government to post its building permit and inspection fee schedules on its website and requires that a local government publish a building permit and inspection utilization report and post it on its website before making any adjustment to a fee schedule. SB 1144 (Perry) has not yet been heard by any of the three committees it has been referenced to. The League opposes both bills. (Branch)
Public Records
Two public records bills impacting municipal operations were heard in committee this week. HB 273 (Rodrigues) and SB 750 (Perry) were opposed in committee by the League as they prohibit cities from asking the court for a declaratory judgment when it is unclear whether a public record is exempt.  (Cook)
Public Meetings
SB 560 (Steube) a bill supported by the League, passed the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee unanimously. The bill expands an exemption in the public meetings law to allow elected bodies to meet in private with an attorney to discuss imminent litigation if certain conditions are met. (Cook)

SB 192 (Baxley) passed its final committee of reference unanimously with the support of the League. The bill codifies case law specifying when members of a commission may participate in fact-finding excursions. (Cook)
Micromanagement of Local Government Finances
This week, the full House took up and passed two finance and tax bills that the League opposes. The first, HB 7, (Burton), would require additional public notice, public meeting, reporting and analysis for tax increases and new, tax supported long-term debt. The bill also amends the reporting requirements for economic development incentives. The bill passed the full House (91-12) and will now be sent to the Senate. The Senate companion, SB 1426 (Lee) has not been referred to committees. (Hughes)

The second bill, HB 11 (Metz) changes various statutes in an effort to ensure government accountability of state and local governments. The portion of the bill that the League of Cities opposes creates an unfunded mandate to report monthly public officer and employee travel information in the statewide travel management system administered by the Department of Management. The bill passed the full House (101-1) and will now be sent to the Senate. The Senate bill, SB 354 (Stargel) is in the Senate Appropriations Committee. (Hughes)
Economic Development and Tourism Promotion Accountability
HB 3 (Grant, M.) passed its final committee of reference despite objections from the League. The bill, proffered as an accountability measure by the sponsor, institutes onerous requirements on cities acting as their own economic development agency and third-party groups under contract with cities to handle economic development activities. (Cook) 
Federal Immigration Enforcement/Sanctuary Cities Passes House
This week, HB 9 (Metz) which prohibits the adoption or effectiveness of a sanctuary policy and requires local government cooperation with federal immigration authorities passed the House by a vote of 71-35. The bill requires a state or local government official to promptly report a known or probable violation of the law to the attorney general or the state attorney having jurisdiction over the local governmental entity. The bill imposes a civil penalty of at least $1,000 but no more than $5,000 for each day a policy that violates the law is in effect. (Cruz)
Local Business Tax Exemption
On Wednesday, the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee passed HB 603 (Gonzalez). The bill creates new local business tax exemptions for low income seniors, veterans and spouses of certain service members. The bill also exempts businesses in which an exempt individual owns a majority interest and employs fewer than 100 people from the local business tax. The Senate companion, SB 910 (Garcia), has not been heard in its first committee of reference. (Hughes)
Impact Fees
This week, the House Local, Federal & Veterans Subcommittee passed CS/HB 697 (Miller) addressing the collection of impact fees. As amended, the bill specifies the collection of an impact fee can be no earlier than the issuance of the building permit for the property that is subject to the fee. Of specific concern, the bill prohibits the use of impact fee revenues to pay existing debt or for prior approved projects unless the expenditure is reasonably connected to, or has a rational nexus with, the increased impact generated by the new residential or commercial construction. This provision could potentially prohibit the practice of oversizing infrastructure to accommodate projected future growth and subsequently using impact fees to reimburse for that prior improvement. (Cruz)
Customary Use
Customary use is a legal doctrine which deals with the general right of the public to use and access the dry sand area of a beach on private property. This week SB 804 (Passidomo) and CS/HB 631 (Edwards-Walpole) were passed out of committee. The bills seek to effectively preempt the use of local government ordinances that establish customary use, and instead require that such a determination be made by a court. The bills were filed in response to a Walton County ordinance which is currently being challenged in court. (Cruz) 
Constitution Revision Commission Update
Electric Deregulation
Proposal 51  (Newsome ) creates certain rights available to electricity customers to choose their electric provider. The impact is a loss of municipal revenue. Proposal 51 failed to pass the General Provisions committee 5 to 3. The League opposed this bill. (O’Hara)
Right to a Healthful Environment
Proposal 23  (Thurlow-Lippisch ) is a broad proposal that states that that every person has a right to a clean and healthful environment. The proposal provides for enforcement of this right against any party, public or private, subject to reasonable limitations as provided by law. P23 was found unfavorable in the judicial committee. The League opposed this bill.  (O’Hara)
Stay Engaged.
The League provides ample resources to help you stay informed and engaged. Please visit our website www.LetCitiesWork.com to find out how you can take action.