March 25-29, 2019
It's March Madness week! No, I am not talking about the annual NCAA college basketball championship. The March madness to which I refer is week four of the 2019 legislative session, though of course there are many parallels between the two events. In both, the competition is intense, taking advantage of any misstep by your opponent is critical, individuals are stepping up to carry the load for their team, the pretenders are being separated from the contenders, fundamentals matter, often the fan base makes a difference, time is a becoming a huge factor and, sometimes, the only shots you can make are the ones you take, and finally, sometimes a last second “buzzer beater” “Hail Mary” shot makes or breaks the game.

For the League lobbying team, we saw more than 220 municipal officials descend on the Capitol and were reminded that we have a VERY deep bench of talent that could “win it all” in the form of successfully fending off the numerous bad bills that are still winding their way through the process. Interestingly, several important bills were being heard by legislative committees while the FLC Legislative Action Days were happening. Many of you were able to score points while discussing these issues with your legislators or relevant committee members, and others had the chance to testify on bills of concern. The message you brought to Tallahassee was that Florida’s municipal officials can shoot, score, defend and have heart and grit. You let your legislators know that you are paying attention to what they are doing here during session. The information you provide as to how a particular piece of legislation will directly affect your city showed that you know the game and what it takes to win. If there were any questions about how strong our team is, those questions have been answered loudly and clearly. In a perfect world, each of you could be in Tallahassee throughout the session because of the noticeable positive results we achieved during your successful, albeit brief, time here. Your involvement and advocacy efforts matter.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Legislative Action Days. For those who were not able to attend, we appreciate the contributions you make by responding to Legislative Action Alerts, participating in our weekly conference calls and being willing to provide us with specific details and input as to how a bill might impact your city.

Just like the NCAA tournament, we have to play solid defense, play through being tired, stay focused on our assignment, remember the fundamentals and shoot when we have the chance. Remember, there are still a lot of games to be played and plenty of time to contribute to the winning effort. 
On March 28, the League sent a legislative alert with the following call to action:
Today the League sent a legislative alert with the following call to action:

The following alerts were sent as an update to bills that were considered this week:
  • Short-Term Rentals: On Tuesday, March 26, CS/HB 987 (J. Grant) relating to short term rentals, passed the House Business and Professions Subcommittee by a vote of 10-5. Click here for vote. Please thanks Reps. Ramon Alexander, Randy Fine, Michael Gottlieb, David Smith, and Matt Willhite for voting No on CS/HB 987. Click here to watch the committee hearing. Discussion of CS/HB 987 begins at 2:31:10.
  • Telecommunications Services: On Tuesday, March 26, CS/CS/SB 1000 (Hutson) relating to Telecommunications Services passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee by a vote of 4-1. Click here for the vote. Please thank Senator Michael Pizzo for voting NO on the bill. Click here to watch the Senate Community Affairs Committee Hearing. Consideration of CS/CS/SB 1000 begins at 29:04.
  • Attorney Fees: On Tuesday, March 26, CS/CS/HB 829 (Sabatini) relating to Attorney Fees passed the House Subcommittee on Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs by a vote of 11-4. Click here for the vote. Please thank Reps. Bruce Antone, Anna Eskamani, Evan Jenne, and Shevrin Jones for voting No on the bill. Click here to watch the House Local, Federal and Veteran Affairs Subcommittee hearing. Consideration of CS/CS/HB 829 begins at 1:42:22.
  • Bert Harris/Property Rights: On Monday, March 25, HB 1383 (J. Grant) relating to the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Act passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee by a vote of 10-5. Click here for the vote. Please thanks Reps. Bruce Antone, Ben Diamond, Adam Hattersly, Amy Mercado and Geraldine Thompson for voting No on the bill. Click here to watch the House Civil Justice Subcommittee hearing. Consideration of HB 1383 begins at 1:01:40.
Vacation Rentals Bills a Mixed Outcome This week 
SB 824 ( Diaz), was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee this week. Fortunately, and with a little help from the Committee Chairman, the committee ran out of time before they got around to hearing the bill. In even better news, the bill is not on the committee’s agenda for Week 5. With a limited number of meetings left and three remaining committee references, the bill faces a tough road ahead if it is going to pass this session. ( Cook)
Unfortunately, the House companion, CS/HB 987 ( J. Grant), was rushed through the House Business and Professions Subcommittee after limited testimony and debate. Despite having 29 people signed up to speak on the bill, committee leadership limited public input and rushed a vote on the bill after tense moments where the bill looked to be in trouble. The bill preempts cities from regulating short-term rentals (including those cities whose ordinances were grandfathered in 2011). HB 987, which many speculate is a priority of House Leadership , will be heard next by the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday, April 1. Thank you to all of the folks who signed up to oppose the bill on behalf of their local government. This bill and the process by which it was rammed through the committee highlight the stark differences between how different the legislature and city government are run. ( Cook)

Telecommunications Bill Further Strips Local Authority
CS/CS/SB 1000 ( Hutson ) was taken up and passed on Tuesday, March 26 by the Senate Community Affairs Committee by a 4-1 vote. (Please take time to THANK Sen. Jason Pizzo (D- Miami for his NO vote). As originally introduced, the bill reduced the tax rate, by 1 percent, on the state communications services and direct-to-home satellite services. The bill, and its House companion, CS/HB 693 ( Fischer ) have both been substantially amended to include language OPPOSED by the League which repeals important, agreed to provisions of the 2017 Wireless Facilities law which was ostensibly passed to hasten the implementation of 5G technology around the state. Both CS/CS/SB 1000 and CS/HB 693 further strip cities of the ability to regulate the placement of communications equipment in public rights-of-way. The following provisions were added to the bill: significant changes to section 337.401(3) relating to the registration process; removal of language from 2017 relating to undergrounding; extensive provisions on the placement of new poles in rights of way; attorneys fee provision to industry; and numerous new limitations on city/county authority in the permitting process/regulation of rights of way. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. CS/HB 693 is scheduled to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, April 2 which runs from 8:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Please talk to your legislator to voice your opposition to these bills. ( Hughes

Senate Moving In Right Direction With Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs)
This week CS/SB 1054 ( Lee) was amended in Senate Community Affairs Committee to remove provisions that capped administrative expenditures to 18 percent. The amendment also removed a provision that required the creation a lobbying registration program for CRAs. The amendment removed a prohibition on the expenditure of TIF funds on festivals, grants to promote tourism and grants to socially beneficial nonprofit entities. The bill continues to require a simple majority vote of the governing body that created the CRA if the CRA expiration date is beyond September 30, 2039. CS/SB 1054 does not contain any provisions related to the creation of new CRAs. The bill continues to increase audit, ethics, reporting and accountability measures for CRAs.

Next week, the House is likely to vote on the House companion bill CS/HB 9 ( La Marca) on the House floor. CS/HB 9 specifies that after October 1, 2019, a new CRA can only be created by a county-wide referendum in a primary or general election that requires the approval of two-thirds of the electors' votes to pass. The bill outlines a process by which all CRAs will be terminated by 2039 unless reauthorized by the body that created the CRA by a two-thirds vote. We oppose CS/HB 9 and urge you to contact your House member and tell them to vote no on CS/HB 9. ( Cruz

Bert Harris Act/Vacation Rental Ordinances
On Monday, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee considered HB 1383 ( J. Grant). This bill significantly amends the Bert J. Harris Act and substantially handicaps local government 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. Therefore, the legislation will have a severe chilling effect on the settlement of Harris claims.

The Senate companion bill SB 1720 ( Lee) will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, April 1. Please contact the Senate Judiciary Committee members and urge them to oppose the bill. ( Cruz)

Incremental Improvement to House Attorney Fees Bill
CS/SB 1140 ( Hutson) and CS/CS/HB 829 ( Sabatini) require courts to award attorney fees and costs against a local government if the local government's ordinance is determined by a court to have been preempted by state law. According to bill sponsors, the purpose is to deter "rogue" local governments that adopt or enforce ordinances in willful disregard of clear legislative preemptions. CS/HB 829 was amended to conform to provisions of CS/SB 1140, which limit the fee awards to legal actions involving express legislative preemptions (rather than implied). CS/SB 1140 differs from CS/HB 829 in that it would provide for an award of fees to the prevailing party (which could include the local government) in such challenges. The League opposes the bills. ( O'Hara)
Scooters Part 1 — Preemption in Disguise
HB 453 ( Toledo) passed the Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The bill substantially limits the ability of local governments to regulate scooters or as they are known in the industry, micromobility devices. The bill would allow scooters to be ridden on roads. The League opposes the bill. (Branch)
Scooters Part 2 — Home Rule Prevails
SB 542 ( Brandes) passed the Infrastructure & Security Committee on Tuesday. The original bill preempted local government of all regulation. However, with help from Sen. Lee and the great advocacy efforts from our municipalities, all of the preemption language has been removed from the Senate bill. The League now supports the bill. (Branch)
How Many Preemptions Can You Fit in One Bill?
This week,  CS/HB 1299 ( Roach) passed its first committee of reference. The bill prohibits a municipality from purchasing real property within another municipality's jurisdictional boundaries without the other municipality's consent and prohibits a governmental entity from attempting to annex an area within another governmental entity's jurisdiction without the other governmental entity's consent. The bill prohibits levying of taxes on cigarettes, cigars and nicotine products by municipalities after July 1, 2019. The bill preempts the regulation of single-use plastic straws and the regulation of over-the-counter proprietary drugs and cosmetics, such as sunscreen, to the state. The bill preempts alternate generated power sources for motor fuel dispensing facilities to the state and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Lastly, the bill establishes that the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products and nicotine products is preempted to the state. The League opposes the bill. ( Cruz)
Private Property Comprehensive Plan Element
This week, CS/HB 291 ( McClain) passed its second committee of reference. The bill requires local governments to adopt a new mandatory element in their comprehensive plans that addresses the protection of private property. The bill, is an unfunded mandate that is duplicative of current law. Additionally, HB 291 was amended in committee to preempt any new city incorporated after January 1, 2019, from changing the zoning or density of development orders already in place. The League opposes the bill. ( Cruz)
Costly Rulemaking Authority for DFS
CS/SB 1704 ( Wright) passed (6-1) the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The bill requires the Division of State Fire Marshall to adopt rules to establish employers' cancer prevention best practices related to personal protective equipment, decontamination, fire suppression equipment, and fire stations. Given that this rulemaking authority is so broad, it could be very costly to taxpayers. This bill is in the agenda for the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology on Tuesday, April 2. The House companion, CS/HB 1393 ( Clemons) is on the agenda for the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee next Monday, April 1. The League opposes these bills. ( Hughes)
Wastewater Facility Incentives Bill Passes House
CS/SB 286 ( Albritton) and CS/CS/HB 105 ( Jacobs) provide permit incentives for wastewater treatment facilities to implement practices that exceed current law and permit requirements that will help ensure sustainability, proper performance, and reduce sanitary sewer overflows. CS/SB 286 has been stalled for several weeks in its second committee of reference, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. CS/CS/HB 105 passed the full House unanimously on March 27. The League supports these bills. ( O'Hara)
Preemption of Minimum Wage and Conditions of Employment
CS/HB 847 ( Rommel ) passed (10-5) the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. The bill prohibits a political subdivision, including a municipality, from establishing, mandating or otherwise requiring an employer to offer conditions of employment not otherwise required by state or federal law. The bill was amended to exclude any ordinance, adopted prior to January 1, 2019, that prohibits certain types of discrimination against a prospective or actual employee; or establishes a wage theft alternative dispute resolution. The League opposes the bill. ( Hughes )
Restrictions of Local Option Surtaxes
CS/SB 1040 ( Lee) passed (4-1) the Senate Community Affairs Committee which establishes additional provisions related to local government discretionary surtaxes. The bill requires that a referendum to adopt or amend a local government discretionary sales surtax must be held at a general election. In addition, the bill adds additional requires to initiatives to adopt a charter county and regional transportation system surtax. The House State Affairs Committee passed CS/CS/HB 5 ( DiCeglie) by a vote of 14-7 despite the objections of the Florida League of Cities. The bill requires any referendum to levy a local option sales surtax to be held at a state general election and requires approval by two-thirds of voters to pass. ( Hughes)
Local Government Fiscal Transparency Sees Its Way Through Committee
CS/CS/HB 15 ( Burton ) passed (18-0) the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday. 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. The League opposes the bill. ( Hughes )
Effective Public Notice
CS/HB 1235 ( Fine) passed its first committee of reference on Tuesday. The bill would replace a costly statutory provision requiring cities to buy advertisements in newspapers with one requiring legal advertisements to be posted on the city’s website. The bill passed on a party-line vote and now heads to the House Judiciary Committee. The League supports the bill. (Cook)
E911 Systems
CS/HB 441 ( DuBose, Toledo) was amended with language reflecting recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission attempting to improve communications between first responder agencies. The new language requires first responder heads in each county to develop and approve an interlocal agreement establishing a process and procedures for scenarios where direct radio communication between public safety answering points (PSAP) is needed. The amendment language was supported by the Florida Police Chiefs Association. ( Cook)
Public Records
HB 407 ( R. Rodrigues) passed its final committee of reference on Thursday. The bill would prohibit cities from asking the courts for clarification when the agency has received a public records request and is unsure whether the record is exempt or confidential. The Senate companion remains stuck in its first committee of reference. The League opposes the bill. ( Cook)
Amended Biosolids Bill Advances to Final Committee Stop in House
CS/SB 1278 ( Mayfield) and CS/CS/HB 405 ( Grall) direct the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules for biosolids management to address issues associated with nutrient pollution in waterbodies. CS/CS/HB 405 was amended to include a prohibition on the land application of biosolids on any site where the application zone interacts with the seasonal high-water table, and to exempt Class AA biosolids that are marketed as fertilizer from the bill’s requirements. CS/CS/HB 405 has one final stop in the House State Affairs Committee, while CS/SB 1278 has two more committee stops remaining. The League supports the bills. ( O'Hara)
Septic Tank Inspection Bills: Movement in House; Stuck in Senate
CS/HB 85 (Robinson, Caruso) and SB 214 ( Gruters) require onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems to be inspected every five years pursuant to an inspection program administered by the Department of Health. The bills require the Department to identify all systems in the state by 2021, including their location and operational condition. In addition, the bills require the system owner to pay the cost of the inspection and require sellers of property to disclose the existence of any system on the property. CS/HB 85 passed its first committee unanimously and has two remaining committee references. The bill was amended to eliminate provisions requiring the Department to identify all systems statewide, and provisions requiring sellers to disclose the existence of systems. SB 214 has not yet been heard in any of its four committees of reference. The League supports the bills. ( O'Hara)
Water Resources Bill Passes First Senate Committee
CS/SB 628 ( Albritton) and HB 1199 ( Jacobs) revise current law requirements for the state’s annual Assessment of Florida Water Resources report to help improve information in the Assessment, including identification of gaps between current and projected needs and available funding sources. CS/SB 628 passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources unanimously with a “strike all” amendment that directs the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct an “needs-based” overview of the state’s water resources based on current and projected demands on infrastructure, including an assessment of the funds necessary to meet demands over both short-term (five-year) and long-term (20-year) planning timeframes. This information will better inform legislators in making future water resources funding and policy decisions. The bill has two remaining committee stops. The House bill has not yet been heard in committee. The bills support portions of the League’s 2019 Water Funding Legislative Priority. ( O'Hara)
Please participate in our 30-minute conference call every Monday during session (March 5 through May 3) at 9:00 a.m. EST. You will be updated on what issues the legislature will be discussing in the upcoming week and what advocacy efforts might be needed.
CALL IN NUMBER: 1-888-585-9008
CONFERENCE ROOM #: 301-563-714