Bert Harris Property Rights Bills
CS/SB 1776 significantly amended
CS/HB 519 up on Thursday

Urge House Committee to OPPOSE
CS/HB 519!

On Thursday, February 6, at 12:00 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee will consider CS/HB 519 ( J. Grant ) .  

Tuesday, CS/SB 1766 ( Lee ) was significantly amended and unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee .

This FLC-supported amendment completely removed the concept of applying Bert Harris settlements to all similarly situated residential properties. In addition, the bill, as amended, makes no changes to the current attorney fee provision, nor does it allow the recovery of business damages.

Please thank Senator Tom Lee and Senator David Simmons for their efforts amending the bill to address multiple concerns raised by FLC.

Thank you to all those who contacted members of the committee. CS/SB 1766 will next go to the Senate Community Affairs Committee . It should be noted that the House companion bill CS/HB 519 continues to have all of the provisions opposed by FLC.
This bill significantly amends the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Act and substantially handicaps local government's ability to resolve these claims.

  • The bill requires any settlement reached on a Harris claim that involves the issuance of a variance or exception to a regulation on a residential property be automatically applied by the government entity to all similarly situated residential properties that are subject to the same rules or regulations. Similarly situated is not defined in the bill. In essence, the bill will make an exception to a rule, the new rule. Variances are not handed out carte blanche by government entities.
  • The bill fails to take into account notice provisions, hearings, or even impacts on neighboring property owners when giving an across the board variance. Therefore, the legislation will have a severe chilling effect on the settlement of Harris claims.
  • The bill is a thinly veiled attack to cities and counties who have been dealing with Harris claims due to the enactment of vacation rental ordinances. However, the bill has a far reaching impacts on land use regulations, environmental regulations and code enforcement regulations.
  • The bill limits the time frame for government entities to respond to Harris claims from 150 days to 90 days, and increases the likelihood of paying the property owners attorney fees.
  • Under current law, a jury can award damages from a Harris claim based on the loss of property value and cannot consider any business damages relative to an activity, or use the government has restricted or prohibited. The bill would now allow for the compensation of business damages in addition to the loss of property.

Click here to view the Issue Background .
CS/HB 519 Talking Points:

  • Protect property owners. Some lawmakers want blanket entitlements that don’t consider every person’s property rights. If private property rights are changed for one property owner, they would change for everyone. The law wouldn’t consider the size or density of property, historical listings or other strict zoning standards. There could be unintended consequences. Those special interests seeking private gain? This gives them a back door.
  • Avoid excessive lawsuits. This would lead to a lawyer’s dream because it would be easier to sue than reach a resolution with cities and counties. The Bert Harris Act was never intended to be a class-action lawsuit offering massive rewards for those who aren’t willing to settle.
  • Taxpayers would pay the price. Cities could expect to get stuck dealing with lawsuits, and residents could expect higher taxes to cover litigation costs. Legislators should prioritize community needs.
  • More changes to the Bert Harris Act are unnecessary. Legal procedures already protect the rights of property owners who might be unintentionally harmed by a variance.

The Bert J. Harris Jr. Act of 1995 gives landowners a way to seek compensation when a local government takes action that impacts the use/potential use of their property. The act is detailed and fair. It allows local governments to negotiate with property owners who are filing a claim and calls on courts to consider the unique conditions of each claim. Many Bert Harris claims are negotiated locally without going to trial. This approach saves taxpayer dollars and proves that the current system is working.

For more information, contact David Cruz at 850.701.3676 or dcruz@flcities.com .
Please contact members of the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to OPPOSE
CS/HB 519!
Paul Renner (R-24), Chair
850. 717.5024
@Paul_Renner

Bob Rommel (R-106), Vice Chair
850. 717.5106
@bob_rommel

Ben Diamond (D-68), Minority Ranking Member
850. 717.5068
@BenDiamondFL

Ramon Alexander (D-8)
850. 717.5008
@RamonAlexander

Mike Beltran (R-57)
850. 717.5057

Robert Charles ''Chuck'' Brannan III (R-10)
850. 717.5010

Fentrice Driskell (D-63)
850. 717.5063
@FentriceD

Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R-119)
850. 717.5119
@RepJuanFBarquin

Heather Fitzenhagen (R-78)
850. 717.5078
@RepFitzenhagen
Joe Geller (D-100)
850. 717.5100
@JoeGellerFL

Michael ''Mike'' Gottlieb (D-98)
850. 717.5098
@BrowardCrimeLaw

James ''J.W.'' Grant (R-64)
850. 717.5064
@JamesGrantFL

Tommy Gregory (R-73)
850. 717.5073
@tommygregoryFL

Mike Hill (R-1)
850. 717.5001
@MikeHillfl

Sam Killebrew (R-41)
850. 717.5041
@repsamkillebrew

Chip LaMarca (R-93)
850. 717.5093
@ElectChip
Amy Mercado (D-48)
850. 717.5048
@AmyMercado

Tyler I. Sirois (R-51)
850. 717.5051
@TylerSiroisHD51

Click here to download a spreadsheet with committee contact information. You can also use the League’s Contact Your Legislators advocacy tool to email your legislators.
Watch Live on The Florida Channel
To watch this committee hearing, please go to https://thefloridachannel.org/ , click on Live Streams and look for the House Judiciary Committee Thursday at 12:00 p.m.

Keep FLC informed – Let us know what communications you have with your legislators on this issue. Email Allison Payne
Thank you for your advocacy efforts!