March 2, 2018
Week 8 - 2018 Session
A Legislative Intern’s Perspective. 
Rock climbing isn’t a common Floridian experience. For most Floridians, neither is the legislative session.

Posted at the entrance of the rock climbing gym is a sign: “Climbing is dangerous.” Shocking, but true. And people still love it. They keep climbing.

Legislative session can be hazardous to Home Rule. But the Florida League of Cities keeps climbing. As lobbyists and politicos, they know what dangers they’ll face. They’ve signed their safety waivers and put on their safety harnesses.

They hold the safety lines (belays) for their climbing partners to let them explore the various foot-holes and handholds that the Legislature has set. Each bill affecting municipalities is a new route begging to be solved.

Sometimes you’re halfway to the top but the next hold is out of reach. You jump and swing, and then fall until your trusted belayer catches you . . . or not. It could take 10 tries to get to the top. You might not finish that day and come back to see the route-setters have changed the course entirely.

Blister-y, calloused hands and sore arms. Bruised and exhausted. The FLC lobbyists go back the next day to fight the good fight for Home Rule.
The following is a brief summary of activity on key legislative bills and CRC proposals 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.
Our LAST Monday Morning Call-In will be March 5, 2018.
Participate in our 30-minute conference call every Monday morning during session (January 8-March5) at 9:00 a.m. ET. 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.
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Join the League's Legislative Affairs team for a 1-hour session providing you with what happened (and what didn't) during the 2018 Legislative Session. The team will also share what's next for #LetCitiesWork.  Register Now .
Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders/ Mental or Nervous Injury (PTSD) Ready For Final Passage
The League commends our first responders for the sacrifices they make in the line of duty. At times, a first responder acting within the course of his or her employment may experience a horrific event that is responsible for a mental or nervous injury, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Under bills being considered during the 2018 legislative session, workers’ compensation benefits would be expanded to include wage benefits for first responders suffering from PTSD. Currently, first responders suffering from PTSD may only receive medical benefits under workers’ compensation but not wage/indemnity benefits.

This week, CS/CS/CS/HB 227 ( Willhite ) and CS/CS/SB 376 ( Book ) passed all their committees of reference and are awaiting final passage on the House and Senate floors. The bills detail specific traumatic events that would qualify a first responder to be compensable under the workers’ compensation law for lost wages, if a mental or nervous injury was shown to meet the criteria for PTSD as determined by a psychiatrist. The legislation requires a clear and convincing evidentiary standard be met by the first responder. The bills require a first responder to receive a diagnosis of PTSD within 30 days of the qualifying event or 30 days from the manifestation of the disorder, whichever is later, but cannot be more than a year after the qualifying event. Finally, the legislation requires an employing agency of a first responder to provide educational training related to mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation and treatment. T he Florida League of Cities worked with the Senate and House bill sponsors to narrow the scope of the bills and now the League no longer opposes the legislation. CS/CS/CS/ HB 227 is awaiting final action by the House next week. (Cruz)  
Puppy Mill Preemption Pulled from Tax Package
On Friday, the House amended, HB 7087 ( Ways and Means Committee /Renner), the tax package for the 2018 session. The preemption language that would have prohibited cities from prohibiting the sale of tangible goods subject to sales tax was removed from the bill. Thank you for your outreach to the House on this issue! Overall, the tax package was also greatly reduced. The bill now includes a small reduction in the sales tax on commercial leases and property tax relief for homestead that were damaged by hurricanes and citrus packing operating that are not be used due to hurricane damage and citrus greening. The House passed the amended bill and it now goes to the Senate.
Meanwhile, t he Senate tax package, CS/SB 620 ( Passidomo ), was amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Issues included in CS/SB 620 that are not in CS/HB 7087 include: two sales tax holidays, a three-day back-to-school holiday and a seven-day disaster preparedness holiday. The bill also includes a sales tax reduction, from 5.8 to 5.7 percent for sales tax on commercial leases. (Hughes)
Travel Bill Nears Passage in House
CS/CS/SB 1180  ( Steube ) and  CS/CS/CS/HB 815  ( Avila ) address reimbursement for travel expenses for elected municipal and county officials. The bills have been substantially amended to remove many of the onerous restrictions and prohibitions in the bills as originally filed. At this point, both bills apply only to out-of-state travel and foreign travel expense reimbursement for elected officials. Officials intending to seek reimbursement for such travel would be required to provide itemized estimates of anticipated expenses and obtain approval from their respective governing bodies prior to the travel. The bills authorize post-travel ratification for “good cause”. Travel authorizations and estimated expenses must be posted on the applicable local government’s website for a specified period of time. CS/CS/CS/HB 815 was amended on the House floor to remove language that preempted cities from having their own travel policies, to expressly require that cities and counties adopt travel polices applicable to all public officers and employees, and to require city and county budgets include a line item for the total amount of overall travel . CS/CS/SB 1180 is awaiting a final hearing by the Senate Rules Committee. The amendments to the bills have addressed most of the League’s concerns. ( O’Hara )
Municipal Elections Bill Headed to Senate Floor
CS/CS/SB 1262  ( Hutson ) and  HB 7037  ( House Government Accountability Committee ) preempt municipal authority to determine the dates for municipal elections. The bills would require municipalities to hold general elections on specified dates in either March or November, and would require runoff elections to be held on specified dates. HB 7027 previously passed the full House. CS/CS/SB 1262 passed the Senate Rules Committee this week and is available for consideration by the full Senate. The bills differ slightly with respect to municipalities that provide for runoff elections and which choose the March election option. HB 7027 would require initial elections to be held 10 weeks prior to a runoff election. The Senate bill would require the same 10 weeks for cities choosing the November election option, but would require only a 7-week period for cities choosing the March election option. Under both bills, cities that choose the November option would hold their initial election in August and their runoff election in November. Under HB 7027, cities choosing the March option would hold their initial election in early January and their runoff election in March. Under the Senate bill, cities choosing the March option would hold their initial election in late January and their runoff election in March. ( O’Hara )
Gun Bills to be Considered this Weekend 
SB 7026 ( Senate Appropriations ), the “Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act” will be considered by the Senate on Saturday, March 3. The bill addresses a wide range of topics including school “hardening”; interagency coordination between law enforcement agencies; imposing age restrictions on gun buyers; and a host of other policies to address gun violence. Senator Annette Taddeo will be offering two amendments to the bill that are supported by the League. The first, amendment #934592 would repeal the current local government preemption and accompanying penalties in Ch. 790 relating to weapons and firearms. Senator Taddeo has also filed an amendment (#677256) to SB 7026 that would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to notify local law enforcement agencies of any individual who is prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm. (Cook)  
Combined CRAs, DRIs and CDDs House Bill Awaiting Final Passage in House
This week, the House began consideration of CS/CS/HB 883 ( Ingoglia ) on the House floor. This bill was heavily amended in committee, expanding a 5-page bill relating to the creation of new community development districts (CDDs) to a 193-page bill titled “An Act Relating to Local Government.” In addition to the CDD language, the bill now includes the entirety of CS/HB 17 ( Raburn ) relating to Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs), and the entirety of CS/CS/HB 1151 ( La Rosa ) relating to Developments of Regional Impacts. CS/CS/HB 883 now has the potential to be a vehicle that can be amended to include any legislation that affects cities and counties. The League opposes the CRA language because it outlines a process by which CRAs can be phased out, unless reauthorized by a super majority vote of the body that created the CRA. Additionally, the CRA language prohibits the creation of a new CRA unless authorized by a special act of the Legislature. The Senate companion bill to CS/CS/HB 883, CS/SB 1348 ( Perry ) is awaiting final passage on the Senate floor but currently only contains the CDD language. ( Cruz)  
Sober Homes  
CS/CS/CS/HB 1069 , a bill by Rep. Hager and supported by the League, passed the full House unanimously on Thursday. The bill requires certified recovery residences to comply with the Florida Fire Prevention Code and prevents owners, operators, or employees of a recovery residence from receiving a direct or indirect pecuniary benefit from referrals. CS/CS/SB 1418 ( Rouson ), the Senate companion, is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee which may not meet again this Session. (Cook)
Metropolitan Planning Organization Boards Revamped
CS/CS/HB 1287 ( Drake ) is the House comprehensive Department of Transportation bill. The bill was amended on Friday afternoon to reduce the voting membership of a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) designated in an urban area with a population of 500,000 or less to no more than 11 apportioned voting members. The amended bill also eliminates the weighted voting structure and places term limits on members. The League is opposed to these MPO provisions. (Branch)
Local Government Fiscal Transparency Passes Final Committee Stop
The House Rules committee approved CS/SB 1426 ( Lee) despite the objections of the League of Cities. The bill amends multiple provisions related to local government financial transparency including requiring additional public notice, public meeting, analysis and reporting for new or increased taxes, long-term tax-supported debt and economic development. HB 7 (Burton) passed the House early in session and is awaiting action by the Senate. (Hughes)
Government Accountability 
CS/HB 354 ( Stargel ) was amended today in Senate Appropriations with language that the League of Cities opposes. This language requires cities to report budget information to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research and the county clerk of the court and gives the clerk of the court the authority to withhold the salary of the head of a local government entity if the city does not comply. The bill now also changes the deadline for Annual Financial Reports and annual audits from 9 to 6 months after the end of the fiscal year. These provisions are in CS/CS/HB 1019 (House Government Accountability Committee ). (Hughes)
Tree Bill Trimmed Again
CS/CS/HB 521  ( Edwards-Walpole ) and CS/SB 574 ( Steube ) as originally filed would have preempted local government tree ordinances as applied to private property. CS/SB 574 was substantially amended. The bill now prohibits local governments from regulating tree trimming by state agencies and special districts in rights-of-way used for flood protection and drainage control. In addition, the bill removes an existing statutory exception for certain local government tree protection ordinances relating to electric utility line rights-of-way, makes local governments liable to electric utilities for power outages and infrastructure damage caused by trees and vegetation, and preempts tree and vegetation regulations applied to single family residential property during declared states of emergency. The League  opposes  CS/SB 574, which is pending in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. CS/CS/HB 521 was amended and significantly narrowed. It no longer preempts tree regulations applied to private property. Instead, it prohibits local governments from requiring permits or any other approvals for water management districts, water control districts, or section 298 drainage districts engaged in tree trimming or vegetation management within rights-of-way established by the districts for drainage and flood control purposes. The districts must provide the appropriate local government with advance notice before engaging in the vegetation management activity. The League no longer opposes CS/CS/HB 521. Please thank Rep. Edwards-Walpole for working closely with the League to narrow the scope of this bill and eliminate the sweeping preemption of the original proposal. CS/CS/HB 521 is awaiting final action by the House next week. (O’Hara)
Interruption of Services Bill Postponed and May Be Withdrawn
CS/CS/HB 971 ( Fine ) and SB 1368 ( Mayfield ) would require a municipality or private solid waste provider to issue refunds to customers if solid waste collection service is not provided within 4 calendar days of a regularly scheduled service – even if the missed service is attributable to a natural disaster or the customer. The Senate bill was never heard in any committee, but the House bill passed its two committees of reference and was scheduled to be voted on by the full House. The bill sponsor and Waste Management, Inc. issued a press release Friday morning, March 2 nd , stating they had reached an accord on the issues which led Rep. Fine to file the bill. Consequently, Rep. Fine temporarily postponed the bill and has stated his intent to withdraw it from further consideration. Please thank the Representatives who voted against this bill in committee: Dubose, Duran, Fischer, Ausley, Berman, Clemons, Edwards-Walpole, Geller, Goodson, Gruters, Jenne, McGhee, and Stark. (O’Hara)
Septic System Amendment Almost Tanked Environmental Regulation/Recycling Bill
CS/CS/CS/SB 1308 ( Perry) and CS/CS/HB 1149 ( Payne ) address various provisions of law regarding water and wastewater permits and local government recycling responsibilities. The bills have been amended to address the League’s concerns with the recycling portions of the bill. Instead of mandating proscriptive definitions and requirements for residential recycling contracts, the bills now only direct local government to incorporate various provisions into recycling contracts, but leave the specifics and details up to the local governments. Both bills are ready for consideration on the floor of their respective chambers. A floor amendment was filed to the House bill that would suspend current state law requirements for high performance septic tanks around Outstanding Florida Springs. Because these requirements were key components for the Senate in passing the 2016 springs legislation, the amendment caused a minor uproar. The amendment was ultimately withdrawn; the bill will be considered for final passage next week. (O’Hara)
Fate of House “Government Integrity” Proposal Rests With Senate
HB 7073 ( Public Integrity & Ethics Committee ) creates the position of Florida Accountability Officer to investigate complaints alleging waste, fraud, abuse, misconduct, or gross mismanagement in connection with the expenditure of public funds by state and local government. The bill also directs the Officer to conduct random audits and inspections of appropriations projects and of state agency and local government fiscal matters. The bill passed the House Wednesday, February 28 and heads to the Senate. There is no Senate companion bill. (O’Hara)
House Sends Ethics & Sexual Harassment Bill to Senate
CS/CS/HB 7007 (formerly PCB PIE 18-01) ( House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee ) and SB 1534 ( Mayfield ) provide various changes to ethics, conflicts of interest and conduct, primarily relating to the state legislative and executive branch. CS/HB 7007 was amended to include various changes to the state Code of Ethics relating to sexual harassment. The bill creates new sections in the state Code of Ethics that define “sexual harassment” and prohibit it in the workplace and in the conduct of public business at the state and local levels. All state and local public officials and employees, and all private persons who interact with public officials and employees, are required to comply with these new provisions. The bill will require state and local government entities to update their sexual harassment policies to be consistent with various new requirements, including processes for filing and investigating complaints. The fate of this proposal in the Senate is uncertain. SB 1534 was never heard in any Senate committee, and the Senate’s own sexual harassment proposal, CS/SB 1628 (Book), remains stalled in its second committee.  (O’Hara)
Affordable Housing Impact Fee Bill Pared Down
CS/SB 1328 ( Perry ) as originally filed, would have preempted local governments from charging impact or mobility fees for a five-year period. As amended, the bill removes the preemption. Instead, the bill now requires local governments to report detailed data relating to impact fees related to affordable housing developments when they submit their annual financial reports (AFR). (Branch)
Vegetable Gardens Preemption Passes Senate/Amendment to Preempt Plastic Straws and Utensils Withdrawn
This week the Senate passed SB 1776 ( Bradley ) which preempts local government regulations on vegetable gardens on residential properties. The issue stems from a recent appeals court decision which held a local government ordinance which prohibited vegetable gardens in the front yard of residential properties was rationally related to the code’s design standards and landscaping regulations. An amendment was filled on the Senate floor that would have preempted the regulation of utensils, including, but not limited to, forks, knives, spoons, plates, napkins, and straws, to the state. Some cities have recently adopted ordinances. Ultimately this amendment was withdrawn. There is no House companion bill. (Cruz)
Impact Fees Bills Awaiting Final Passage
This week, CS/CS/SB 324 ( Young ) and CS/CS/CS/HB 697 ( Miller ) passed all their committees of reference and are awaiting final passage on the House and Senate floors. The legislation prohibits local governments from collecting impact fees prior to the issuance a building permit for the property that is subject to the fee. In addition, the bills codify the dual rational nexus test (a legal standard impact fees must meet). The legislation 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. Due to local government concerns, the legislation exempts water and sewer connection fees from the impact fee provisions of the bills.

CS/CS/CS/HB 697 contains language revising the “sector plan” laws for large developments of more than 5,000 acres by prohibiting a local government requiring a developer to contribute or pay for land acquisition or construction or expansion of public facilities unless the local government has enacted an ordinance that requires developers of other developments not within the sector planning area to do the same. This same language was stripped from the Senate bill. (Cruz)
A bill by Rep. Cortes that would prohibit cities from receiving payment from towing companies in exchange for towing franchise rights passed the full House on Thursday.  HB 963 was amended on the House floor to exempt counties with towing licensing programs in place prior to January 1, 2018 from some of the provisions of the bill. The Senate companion, SB 1632 ( Mayfield ), remains in the Senate Rules Committee. (Cook)
Smoking in Public Parks
CS/SB 562 ( Mayfield ), a bill allowing cities to regulate smoking in public parks, passed the full Senate on Friday. Unfortunately, the House companion, HB 627 by Rep. Altman , was not heard in any of its committees of reference and is most likely dead for this year. (Cook)
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