I hope everyone is doing well, staying safe and riding out these unprecedented times. No one would fault you if this was not on your radar, but last Thursday, March 19
, the Florida Legislative session officially ended. Considering the circumstances, I would like to share the good news first. Overall, it was a very busy session and we had some good success.
Elimination of the Degree Requirement for Surveyors - DID NOT PASS
SB 1826 by Sen. Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) – HB 6073 by Rep. Mariano (R-Hudson)
In fact, this proposed legislation was never even heard in committee!
This is a testament to the outreach by members who answered the call and contacted their local representative and made their voices heard. It also is a solid verification of why we MUST maintain a viable PAC. Your legislative committee and lobbyist were able to reach out to key members in the House and Senate and encourage them to oppose this legislation that would have upended our profession and they responded. A huge THANK YOU to all the members that made calls and wrote letters.
Governor’s Budget Recommendations – Division of State Lands -
Governor DeSantis’ budget recommendations included funding for tidal stations and benchmarks as well as vehicle replacements as recommended by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in their legislative budget request (LBR).
Line item 1574 - $192,000 vehicle replacements
Line item 1578 - $850,000 tidal stations and benchmarks
Legislative Review of Occupational Regulation - DID NOT PASS
HB 707 by Rep. Renner (R- Palm Coast) – SB 1124 by Sen. Diaz (R-Miami)
We opposed this bill that would have authorized the Legislature to review occupational regulation and then either renew the occupational regulation, renew the occupational regulation with modifications or simply allow the occupational regulation to expire. Essentially a sunset bill, Chapter 472 would have been in the review/reenactment phase prior to July 1, 2024. As far as we were concerned, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!
Higher Education Legislation AND Qualifications Based Selection - A BIG WIN FOR CCNA AS PASSED
SB 72 by Sen. Stargel (R-Lakeland) and by Rep. Rodriguez (R-Estero)
This bill was the higher education package for 2020. Typically, this bill would not have been a concern for the surveyors and other design professionals except that a provision was added by the House to exempt the University of Florida from following the provisions of 287.055 F.S. (CCNA) for the procurement of professional services. This exception would have potentially opened the door for other agencies to follow suit as was an extremely bad precedent. Senator Stargel removed the language SB 72 in its final version.
PAC members will recall that Senator Stargel was our guest speaker at our last PAC dinner and many members were able to get to visit with her individually. These contacts make a difference!! Thank you to all the members who wrote emails and made calls to Senator Stargel when this was under consideration. Our voice was heard. We all should follow up with a huge THANK YOU to Senator Stargel for standing her ground and removing that language from the bill.
Florida Specific E-Verify - PASSED
SB 664 by Sen. Lee (R-Thonotosassa) and Rep. Byrd (R-Neptune Beach)
The bill prohibits an economic development incentive application with a business that does not register with and use E-Verify. For public employers, contractors and subcontractors the bill requires that by January 1, 2021 they register with and use E-Verify. The bill further requires private employers, by January 1, 2021 to either register with and use E-Verify for new employees or provide same documentation for I-9 forms. For enforcement the bill authorizes FDLE, the Attorney General, state attorney or statewide prosecutor to request copies of documentation. Private employers found to have violated law will have 30 days to correct or they will have their licenses suspended. If an employer violates this law more than three times in 36 months they can have their licenses permanently revoked.
Acquisition of Certain Professional Services (CCNA – Cooperative Purchasing)
DID NOT PASS
HB 257 by Rep. Antone (D-Orlando) – SB 1518 by Sen. Gruters (R-Sarasota)
This legislation would have amended 287.055 F.S. to authorize cooperative purchasing between government agencies for design professionals within certain criteria.
Public Procurement of Services (Continuing Contracts - PASSED
SB 506 by Sen. Perry (R- Gainesville) – CS/HB 441 by Rep. DeCeglie (R-Indian Rocks Beach)
This bill increases the maximum limit for a continuing contract under CCNA and for construction management/program management entities from $2 million to $5 million. The bill further increases the maximum limit for a study from $200,000 to $500,000.
And finally…. Some disappointing news
The final budget did not include any additional resources for Geomatics funding at IFAS. IFAS decided not to put in a request for this year due to past failures which made for a steep climb, especially considering all the other competing requests for budget. However, we felt that we should make a run at it. If for nothing else, we are being seen and heard! In the end, there was not enough to go around but hopefully we got moved up a notch up on the priority list.
We live to fight another day and have already begun making contacts and relationships for the next session.
Again, thank you for the support this session and stay safe.
Best Regards to All,
Legislature Committee Chair