January 9, 2018

Travel Reimbursement and Financial Disclosure Up Wednesday- Oppose HB 815!

Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA’s) Up Thursday – Oppose HB 17!
Travel Reimbursement and Financial Disclosure
HB 815 ( Avila ) will be considered by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Wednesday, January 10 (tomorrow) at 3:30 p.m. 

HB 815 imposes travel prohibitions, reimbursement limits, and reporting requirements on municipal officers and employees, and would require full (Form 6) financial disclosure reporting for ALL elected municipal officers.

The bill provides:
  • Out-of-state travel by elected officials must be approved at a public meeting, as a separate item on the agenda, and must include an itemized list of anticipated travel expenses.  
  • Authorized travel expenses for employees or elected officials are limited to expenses incurred 24 hours prior to the event and 24 hours after the event necessitating the travel.  
  • Lodging reimbursement for travel in or out of state by elected officials or employees is capped at $120 per day.  
  • Reimbursement for foreign travel by elected officers or employees is prohibited. 
  • Elected officials must file additional travel expense reports with local ethics commission (or state ethics commission if local body is not established), including an explanation of the necessity for the travel.
  • All elected municipal officials must file full public disclosure of financial interests (Form 6), rather than the limited public disclosure (Form 1), which is required currently. 

Talking Points
The League opposes this bill as currently written:
  • The $120 per day lodging reimbursement limitation is exceedingly low. This will prohibit attendance at most professional training events, seminars, and conferences. Many of these events are necessary to maintain required professional certifications and designations.
  • It is unduly punitive. The 24-hour reimbursement limitation provides no exceptions for reasonable contingencies, such as cancelled flights.
  • It is inexplicably discriminatory in application – it does not impose these requirements and conditions on state elected officers or employees. Why not?
  • It requires duplicative reporting of travel reports (once to the local body and again to the local or state ethics body). 
  • Existing municipal travel authorization, approval and reimbursement processes have appropriate accountability mechanisms. If current processes are insufficient for some reason, changes should be proposed that can be easily integrated into current processes instead of layering on additional and parallel processes that may yield little public benefit. 
  • The bill is inconsistent with the financial disclosure requirements contained in HB 7003, which establishes Form 6 requirements on elected municipal officials in cities with annual revenues exceeding $10M in revenues.

Contact Rebecca O’Hara at rohara@flcities.com or (850) 701-3692 with any questions.

Please contact members of the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee and urge them to Oppose HB 815!
Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Members
Scott Plakon, Chair (R-29)

Mike Miller, Vice Chair (R-47)

Joseph Abruzzo (D-81)

Kamia L. Brown (D-45)

Danny Burgess (R-38)

Jay Fant (R-15)

Thomas J. ''Tom'' Leek (R-25)
Lawrence McClure (R-58)

Robert 'Bobby O' Olszewski (R-44) (850) 717-5044 Bobby.Olszewski@myfloridahouse.gov

Mel Ponder (R-4)

Jake Raburn (R-57)

Paul Renner (R-24)

Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-49)

Patricia H. Williams (D-92)
Click here for an easy cut and paste email list.
Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA’s) Up Thursday – Oppose HB 17!

HB 17 ( Raburn ) will be considered by the full House of Representatives on Thursday, January 11 at 1:00 p.m.
HB 17 would increase audit, ethics, reporting and accountability measures for community redevelopment agencies. This is essentially the same legislation that passed the House of Representatives last legislative session.
Of specific concern to cities, HB 17 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, HB 17 prohibits the creation of a new CRA unless authorized by a special act of the Legislature. 
HB 17 is on the House Special Order Calendar for Thursday, January 11. Please contact members of the House of Representatives and urge them to Oppose HB 17!

Message to Representatives
Oppose language in HB 17 that would prohibit the creation of any new CRA.

  • CRA’s were established to encourage new investment and job creation in urban areas that were blighted as a result of substantial growth moving away from the urban core.

Oppose language in HB 17 that phases out existing CRAs by the year 2038, unless the CRA board votes to retain the CRA by a supermajority vote.

  • The state should be wary of attempts to phase out CRAs, particularly if the debate is over the merits of revitalizing blighted areas. CRAs have demonstrated that they dramatically improve the economic and social outcomes within the targeted CRA areas. These outcomes benefit the cities, counties and, most importantly, the taxpayers.

Talking Points
  • The League supports legislation to improve municipalities’ use of CRAs to effectively carry out redevelopment and community revitalization.
  • My city’s CRA is our community’s best tool for improving infrastructure, maximizing local resources and making long-lasting positive changes. 
  • This redevelopment tool is used by both Florida counties and cities of all sizes, from Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, to Hernando County, Madison and Apalachicola.
  • This financing system is successful because it provides specific public services without increasing or levying any new taxes. No state money is involved. This is local tax dollars being put to work locally. 

Contact David Cruz at dcruz@flcities.com or (850) 701-3676 with any questions.
You can use the League’s Contact Your Legislator advocacy tool or click here for a list of the full House of Representatives. Let us know you've responded by submitting an online Advocacy Action Report or emailing Allison Payne at apayne@flcities.com .

Thank you for your advocacy efforts!