March 5-8, 2019
The 2019 Session officially started on Tuesday, and things in Tallahassee are moving at breakneck speed. (More on that later.) Of course, there was the usual opening day pomp and ceremony as well as speeches … lots of speeches. 

Governor Ron DeSantis urged lawmakers to “be bold” during his annual State of the State speech. “Be bold in championing economic opportunity. Be bold in protecting Florida's environment. Be bold in improving education. Be bold in defending the safety of our communities. Be bold, because while perfection is not attainable, if we aim high, we can achieve excellence.” He laid out his agenda during his 30-minute speech, and that agenda included some tried-and-true conservative principles: lower taxes, less regulation and expansion of school choice. In addition, he promised to boost spending on the environment and teachers, increase vocational education opportunities and ban municipalities from operating as “sanctuary cities.” 

In his opening day remarks, House Speaker Jose Oliva echoed many of his themes he announced when he was handed the gavel as speaker back in November 2018. Speaker Oliva talked about breaking up the “medical industrial complex” by reducing regulations including repealing the certificate of need process, allowing more telehealth as well as expanding the scope of practice for nurses. Deregulation of business and industry are common themes in any Oliva speech, and he stayed on message during his opening day remarks. As an aside: Speaker Oliva’s focus on deregulation has already permeated the 2019 Session as numerous bills have been filed to deregulate professions and to preempt local governments from imposing rules on businesses. (See discussion of CS/HB 3 below.)

Senate President Bill Galvano, who gave hourglasses to members of that chamber, quoted President Abe Lincoln’s famous observation that “the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” President Galvano challenged his Senate companions to make every day of their time during this session “meaningful and purposeful” and encouraged members to “collaborate and fully vet the issues” before them. President Galvano even went as far as to say that the members of the Senate should be willing to step back, rethink and regroup if they thought a particular piece of legislation was not “right or ready” and that history will not judge them by the quantity of bills they pass but the quality of those bills. 

For some of the nitty-gritty minutia of the 2019 Session, here are some number worth noting: as of today, there were almost 1,600 total general bills filed by the House and Senate. (This number does not include local bills, joint resolutions, memorials or appropriations requests, of which there are more than 1,500 requesting more than $3.6 billion in special projects.) Of the 1,600 bills, the League is currently monitoring 594 of them. Of those, more than 30 include some preemption or unfunded mandate. WE HAVE LOTS OF WORK TO DO OVER THE NEXT 60 DAYS! Please watch for legislative alerts from the League over the next 60 days so you can help us defeat any attacks on municipal Home Rule. 
This weekly email provides a brief summary of bills that moved this week. For a deeper dive on the issues and a comprehensive list of filed bills that have a municipal impact, please review the League’s LEGISLATIVE BILL SUMMARIES. This searchable resource summarizes all the bills we are tracking by issue area. It will be updated each week throughout the legislative session. Here is a quick look at what happened this week: 
Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) Again Under Scrutiny
This week HB 9 ( LaMarca ) passed it first committee of reference on an 11-4 party line vote. The bill has several provisions to increase the accountability and transparency of CRAs. Of immediate concern to the League, 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 and would require 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. HB 9 is scheduled to be heard by the House Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday, March 12, at 4:00 p.m. in Room 17, House Office Building. Please be on the look out for a legislative alert on Monday morning. The League OPPOSES this bill. ( Cruz )
Private Property Rights/Bert Harris Act Expansion
This week a pair of significant bills amending the Bert J. Harris Act were filed. SB 1720 ( Lee ) and HB 1383 ( Grant, J. ) were filed that could have a significant impact on municipal operations. Of immediate concern, the bills require that when a government entity reaches a settlement on a Harris Act claim regarding a residential property, that a settlement to create a variance is to be automatically applied by the government entity to all similarly situated properties which are subject to the same government rules or regulations. For those cities who have received a flurry of Harris Act claims related to vacation rental ordinances, these bills can be especially troublesome. The League is asking that city staff review the legislation and report back on the real-world implications to your city. Any specific feedback or comments detailing the legal implications of the legislation would be especially helpful. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. ( Cruz )
Up Next Week: Preemption of Minimum Wage and Conditions of Employment 
SB 432 ( Gruters) is up next Tuesday in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. 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. Any ordinance, regulation or policy of a city that is preempted by the bill and which existed before or on the effective date of this act is void. The League is OPPOSED to this bill. ( Hughes)
Plastic Straws and Sunscreen Launch the Preemption Train
CS/SB 588 ( Hutson ) started out as a bill that required restaurants to provide straws only upon request and preempted the regulation of straws to the state. On March 4, it was amended and replaced with new language that places a five-year moratorium on any local straw regulations while the state DEP studies the issue. At the same time, the bill sponsor also threw in a preemption on local regulation of over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics (e.g., sunscreen) and broadened the title of the bill to “Preemption of Local Regulations.” We might be seeing the start of a preemption train here, folks. CS/SB 588 heads next to the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The House companion, HB 603 ( Sabatini) , is waiting for its first hearing by the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The League OPPOSES these bills. ( O’Hara )
Wastewater Facility Incentives Bills Flowing Along
CS/SB 286 ( Albritton ) and 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. These bills have been around for a few years and are easily moving through the committee process this session. CS/SB 286 passed its first committee on March 6 and now heads to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. CS/HB 105 passed its second committee on March 7 and now heads to its final stop in the State Affairs Committee. The League SUPPORTS these bills. ( O’Hara )
Water Quality Bills Threaten High Costs and Penalties for Local Governments
SB 1758 ( Mayfield ) and HB 1395 ( Raschein ) are bold proposals for addressing water quality issues relating to nutrient pollution associated with wastewater treatment facilities, septic tanks and residential fertilizer use. The bills require all local governments to adopt and enforce the state’s Model Fertilizer Ordinance. They would require wastewater treatment facilities to upgrade to advanced waste treatment. They would require local governments enforce septic-to-sewer connections and septic tank remediation requirements. To help offset the steep cost of these required upgrades, the bills create a grant program (local governments would need a 50 percent match to be eligible) in DEP. Notably, the bills do not identify a source of funding for this grant program or provide any assurances that funding would be at a level necessary for statewide compliance by local governments. Local governments that fail to comply with the bills’ requirements would be prohibited from approving any building permits and could face additional penalties from DEP. The bills also impose penalties on wastewater facilities for sanitary sewer overflows. The first committee stop for SB 1758 is the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. HB 1395 heads to the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. ( O’Hara
Micro-mobility Devices and Motorized Scooters—Preemption in Disguise
HB 453 ( Toledo ) passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee on Wednesday. The bill substantially limits the ability of local governments to regulate micro-ability devices. The bill would allow scooters to be ridden on roads. The League is OPPOSED to this bill. (Branch)
Impact Fees/Dual Rational Nexus Test 
On the opening week of session, a pair of bills impacting the collection of impact fees passed committees in the House and in the Senate. SB 144 ( Gruters ) and CS/HB 207 ( Donalds ) require that the collection of an impact fee occur no earlier than the issuance of a property’s building permit. The bills also codify the ‘dual rational nexus test’ for impact fees as articulated in case law. This test requires an impact fee to have a reasonable connection, or rational nexus, between 1) the proposed new development and the need and the impact of additional capital facilities and, 2) the expenditure of funds and the benefits accrued to the proposed new development. Additional conditions of the bills include earmarking impact fee funds for capital facilities that benefit new residents and prohibiting the use of impact fee revenues to pay existing debt unless specific conditions are met. The bills exempt water and sewer connection fees from the provisions of the legislation. The League OPPOSES these bills. ( Cruz )
Mandated Benefits for Firefighters with Cancer Bill Revised 
On Tuesday, the Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously approved CS/SB 426 ( Flores ) which mandates certain benefits for firefighter diagnosed with one of twenty-one cancers. Upon the diagnosis of cancer, a firefighter that meets certain conditions will receive a $25,000 lump sum payment; reimbursement for all out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance; disability retirement; and a death benefit to the firefighter’s beneficiary. The bill also gives broad rulemaking authority to the Department of Financial Services to adopt rules to establish employer cancer prevention bet practices as it related to personal protective equipment, decontamination, fire suppression apparatus, and fire stations. The League is OPPOSED to this unfunded mandate. ( Hughes )
Vegetable Gardens Preemption Plowing Through the Senate
CS/SB 82 ( Bradley ) passed its last committee of reference during the opening week of the 2019 Session. The bill preempts any local ordinance or regulation of vegetable gardens on residential property. Some cities have adopted ordinances that regulate the size or use of vegetable gardens in the front yard of homes. While local governments would be preempted from prohibiting vegetable gardens, the bills allow for local ordinances to regulate the use of water during droughts, fertilizer use or invasive species control. The bill would not apply to homeowners’ association regulations or deed-restricted communities. The bill was amended to define vegetable garden to include vegetables, fruits, herbs or flowers grown for human consumption. The bill is now awaiting a final vote on the Senate floor. The League OPPOSES this bill. ( Cruz )
Restrictions of Local Option Surtaxes
The House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee passed CS/HB 5 ( DiCeglie ) by a vote of 9 to 3 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. The League is OPPOSED to this bill. ( Hughes
Rebranding Local Fees to Taxes Moves 
HB 7053 ( Ways and Means Committee ) was introduced by the House Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 14 to 4 on Wednesday. The bill will require, on a prospective basis, any new impositions or rate increases of certain local fees to be titled as and represented to the public as “taxes.” The local fees that will be impacted are special assessment, impact or mobility fees, franchise fees and charges to pay for the cost of regulation. The bill expressly provides that it does not affect, amend or alter a city’s home rule authority under the Florida constitution or other provisions of law to impose the affected local government levies. The League is MONITORING this bill. ( Hughes
Affordable Housing Impact Fee Preemption Removed—New Reporting Required
CS/SB 350 ( Hutson ) as originally filed, would have preempted local governments from charging an impact for the construction of affordable housing developments. 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). While the preemption has been removed, the League still has concerns with some of the specific mechanics of the reporting requirements. At this point, the League is NEUTRAL on this bill. (Branch)
Groundbreaking Transportation Infrastructure Bill Gains Momentum
The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee passed SB 7068 , a new Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program, one of the legislative priorities for President Galvano. The bill creates three new corridors: Southwest-Central Florida Connector, Suncoast Connector and Northern Turnpike Connector. The bill would also increase funding for the Small County Road Assistance Program, the Small County Outreach Program and the Transportation Disadvantaged Trust Fund. The League is NEUTRAL on this bill. (Branch)
Driving while Distracted
SB 76 ( Simpson ) would make it a primary offense if law enforcement pulled a driver over for distracted driving. This includes, reading, applying beauty products or physically using your electronic devices to text, etc. The bill has passed two of its four committee stops. The League SUPPORTS this bill. (Branch)
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