February 23, 2018
Week 7 - 2018 Session
Diligence is the mother of good fortune.
Renowned author Stephen King’s first major work, “Carrie,” was rejected numerous times, and he even threw it in the trash. Because his wife believed in his talents as a writer, she encouraged him to continue his efforts. Ultimately, he capitulated to her coaxing and re-engaged in his writing. He has now sold more than 350 million books.

Thomas Edison may hold the record for the most failed attempts before reaching success on a single project, having failed a thousand times before inventing a functional light bulb. Interestingly, Edison didn’t view those efforts as failures but as steps to success.

Milton Hershey had to close three businesses before he became a successful businessman after perfecting the art of making the milk chocolate that we love today.
Walt Disney was fired by a Kansas City newspaper for not being creative enough. Thankfully, he ignored his critics, pursued his dreams and went on to build an empire.

Now what do these people all have in common? Diligence. As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Diligence is the mother of good fortune.” Without diligence, we would not be able to continue fighting for Home Rule week after week each session. With just two weeks remaining, it is important now more than ever to keep this same mentality. Keeping track of legislation and amendments and remaining in contact with your legislators is vital. Just like all these great success stories, when things may start to seem unfavorable, municipal officials must remain diligent by voicing our concerns in Tallahassee.

During week seven, the “most transparent Legislature ever” filed numerous amendments, some over 100 pages long, on pieces of must-pass legislation. Operating under very short meeting notice timelines, major changes, outside of the normal committee process, are being attempted literally overnight. However, we must do our due diligence, overturn every stone and ward off any preemptions until the hanky drops. On day one of session, members of the Legislature promised to be better, to do things differently and to reach for a higher standard. It is up to all of us to hold them accountable.
The following is a brief summary of activity on key legislative bills and CRC proposals since our last report. For a deeper dive on the issues and comprehensive list of filed bills with municipal impact, please review the League's Legislative Bill Summaries . This searchable resource summarizes all the bills we are tracking, by issue area, and will be updated regularly through the end of the 2018 session.
FLC Monday Morning Call-In
Participate in our 30-minute conference call every Monday morning during session (January 8-March5) at 9:00 a.m. ET. You’ll be updated on what issues the legislature will be discussing in the upcoming week and what advocacy efforts may be needed. The Call-In number is 1-888-419-5570 and the Participant Code is 880-753-19.
Vacation Rentals Bill Amended Rammed Through Committee
The House Government Accountability Committee passed HB 773, Rep. La Rosa’s vacation rental bill, by a vote of 13-11 after a lengthy and chaotic debate. Numerous amendments were filed, but most were not considered after the meeting devolved into chaos. Two amendments that WERE considered and adopted by the committee relate to sexual offenders and sexual predators. The first amend m ent requires vacation rental owners to notify property owners within 1,000 feet of the vacation rental if a sex offender or predator is renting the establishment. The second amendment requires public lodging establishments to inquire if a guest is a sexual predator at the time of check-in. A motion was later adopted to “call the question”, a move which limits debate and forces a vote on the bill. This move nullified discussion of any further amendments and was done prior to public testimony. In other words, a room full of people, many of whom had travelled great distances to testify, were denied the opportunity to speak on the bill before the committee voted on it. (Imagine the outrage of the citizens and the legislature if that happened in your city.)

Prior to the meeting, House leadership added Rep. Jeannette Nunez to the committee as a voting member. While this maneuver is allowed under House rules, it is uncommon and is typically employed when leadership is unsure if it has the votes to pass a bill in a divided committee. Rep. Nunez voted in favor of the bill and against the League’s position (Yet another example of transparency at its finest from “the most transparent Florida House in state history”.)
The Senate companion, CS/CS/SB 1400 ( Steube ), is NOT on the agenda for the Senate Appropriations Committee which is scheduled to meet next Tuesday. (Cook)
Travel Bills Pared Down
CS/CS/SB 1180 ( Steube ) and CS/CS/CS/HB 815 ( Avila ) address reimbursement for travel expenses for elected municipal and county officials. The bills have been substantially amended to remove many of the onerous restrictions and prohibitions in the bills as originally filed. At this point, both bills apply only to out-of-state travel and foreign travel expense reimbursement for elected officials. Officials intending to seek reimbursement for such travel would be required to provide itemized estimates of anticipated expenses and obtain approval from their respective governing bodies prior to the travel. The bills authorize post-travel ratification for “good cause”. Travel authorizations and estimated expenses must be posted on the applicable local government’s website for a specified period of time. CS/CS/CS/HB 815 includes additional language that would preempt cities from having their own travel policies. The bill sponsor has indicated this preemption was inadvertent, and advised that he will correct this language in a future amendment to the bill. CS/CS/SB 1180 passed its second committee this week and now awaits a final hearing by the Senate Rules Committee. CS/CS/CS/HB 815 passed its final committee this week and is on the House Special Order Calendar for a House floor vote on Wednesday, February 28.  (O’Hara)
Municipal Elections Bill Edges Past Second Committee - ACTION NEEDED!
CS/CS/SB 1262 ( Hutson ) and HB 7037 ( House Government Accountability Committee ) preempt municipal authority to determine the dates for municipal elections. The bills would require municipalities to hold general elections on specified dates in either March or November, and would require runoff elections to be held on specified dates. HB 7037 previously passed the full House. CS/CS/SB 1262 passed its second Senate committee this week and has one final committee stop in Senate Rules. The bills differ slightly with respect to municipalities that provide for runoff elections and which choose the March election option. HB 7037 would require initial elections to be held 10 weeks prior to a runoff election. The Senate bill would require the same 10 weeks for cities choosing the November election option, but would require only a seven-week period for cities choosing the March election option. Under both bills, cities that choose the November option would hold their initial election in August and their runoff election in November. Under HB 7037, cities choosing the March option would hold their initial election in early January and their runoff election in March. Under the Senate bill, cities choosing the March option would hold their initial election in late January and their runoff election in March. (O’Hara)

Please contact Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, and convey this message:
“I respectfully request that you NOT place CS/SB 1262 on the Senate Rules Committee Agenda. CS/SB 1262 preempts municipal elections dates. Our citizens should have the right to decide for themselves when they want to have municipal elections. This is a local decision that should stay local.”
Please e-mail benacquisto.lizbeth@flsenate.gov or on Monday, call her Capitol office at 850-487-5027.
Preemption Hidden in House Tax Package
CS/HB 7087 ( Ways and Means Committee / Renner ), the House tax package, passed the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 18-7. An amendment was adopted (after lengthy discussion) that preempts local governments from prohibiting “the sale or the offer for sale of any tangible personal property that is subject to a sales tax” and voids any prior ordinance. This would include prohibitions on the sale of puppies from puppy mills, sale of alcohol during specific hours or certain locations, adult materials broadly, scooter rentals and other sales of items currently regulated by municipalities. This preemption would also impact zoning regulations that prohibits retail establishments in residential zones. The underlying bill is a broad tax cut package that includes property tax relief for homestead properties that were damaged by hurricanes and citrus processing equipment that is idle due to hurricanes or citrus greening. The bill includes two sales tax holidays- a ten-day “back-to-school holiday” and three seven-day “disaster preparedness holidays.” The bill includes several new or expanded sales tax holidays including a slight rate reduction for sales tax on commercial leases.  Thank you to everyone who reached out to members of the House Appropriations Committee! (Hughes)  
All Aboard the Choo-Choo Train: CRAs, DRIs and CDDs
As week 7 of the 9-week legislative session draws to a close, we began to see the formation of “legislative trains”. In the legislative process a train is the practice of combining numerous bills into a single bill that is moving and likely to be voted on to increase the chances of passage. CS/CS/HB 883 ( Ingoglia ) was heavily amended by the House Government Accountability Committee, expanding a five-page bill relating to the creation of new community development districts (CDDs) to a 193-page bill titled “An Act Relating to Local Government.” In addition to the CDD language, the bill now includes the entirety of CS/HB 17 ( Raburn ) relating to Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs), and the entirety of CS/CS/HB 1151 ( La Rosa ) relating to Developments of Regional Impacts . CS/CS/HB 883 now has the potential to be a vehicle that can be amended to include any legislation that affects cities and counties. The League opposes the CRA language because it 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, the CRA language prohibits the creation of a new CRA unless authorized by a special act of the Legislature. (Cruz)  
Local Government Fiscal Transparency Passes Ready for Senate Floor
SB 1426 ( Lee ) passed the Senate Appropriations 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. HB 7 (Burton) passed the House early in session and is now in Senate messages. SB 1426 will be up in Senate Rules on Monday, February 26 at 2:30 pm. (Hughes)
Reporting Gone Wild Bill Continues to Move  
The House Government Accountability Committee passed CS/CS/HB 1019 ( La Rosa ) which changes multiple aspects of local government financial reporting. The bill requires municipalities to submit information to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research and a copy of their budget and a certification of timely filing to the clerk of the court. If a local government fails to file required reports with the clerk of the court, the clerk shall notify the appropriate fiscal officer to withhold salary payments from the head of the local government entity until the reports are filed. (Hughes)
Dockless Bicycle Preemption Narrowed
CS/CS/1033 ( Toledo) was substantially amended this week in the Commerce Committee. As amended, the bill no longer preempts local government regulation of dockless bicycles and bicycle-sharing companies. Instead, the amended bill language requires all dockless bicycles and bicycle-sharing companies to comply with all local laws and regulations. The League will continue to watch this bill as it moves forward. (Branch)
Recycling Bill Problems Get Sorted Out
CS/CS/SB 1308 ( Perry) and CS/CS/HB 1149 ( Payne) have passed their final committees in both the House and Senate and are ready for full votes in the House and Senate. The bills originally contained language opposed by the League that would have permitted a recycling facility or hauler to reject residential recycling containers or loads that contained only 15 percent of “contaminated” (e.g., “non-recyclable”) material. The bills were drastically amended to address the League’s concerns. As amended, the bills now require only that local government contracts and requests for proposals include terms and conditions to define and reduce levels of contamination in residential recycling, but the bills not dictate specific terms, numbers or requirements. In addition to the recycling provisions, the bills include additional language supported by the League that would streamline the permitting process for water and wastewater utilities seeking to reuse reclaimed water through aquifer recharge.  (O’Hara)
House Florida Forever Re-Write Heads to House Floor
CS/CS/HB 7063 ( House Government Accountability Committee) revises current state law provisions addressing Florida Forever funding allocations and policies. The bill consolidates existing statutory allocations under the Florida Forever Program from nine categories into three main categories: land acquisition, Florida Communities Trust, and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. Each of these categories would receive 33.33 percent of the funding received by the Program. This bill provides a substantial increase in allocation to the Florida Communities Trust Program, which provides matching grant monies to cities for local parks and other recreational amenities. The bill establishes increasing funding allocations for Florida Forever for Fiscal Years 2019-2020 ($57 million) through 2025 – 2036 ($200 million) as bond debt is paid down. CS/CS/HB 7063 passed the House Appropriations Committee this week and now heads to the House floor. The Senate passed its Florida Forever proposal weeks ago.  CS/SB 370 ( Bradley) directs an annual appropriation off $100 million to the Florida Forever Trust Fund from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill is limited only to funding and does not propose any policy changes.  (O’Hara)
Affordable Housing Impact Fee Preemption Removed—New Reporting Required
CS/CS/CS/HB 987 ( Cortes, B.) as originally filed, would have preempted local governments from charging impact or mobility fees for a five year period. 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). (Branch)
Response to Parkland Shooting Unveiled
This afternoon, (Friday, February 23) House and Senate Leadership held a joint press conference to discuss bipartisan efforts to address gun violence in Florida’s schools. The Senate has introduced SB 7022 ( Rules) as the comprehensive vehicle that will be discussed in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, February 26 at 2:30 pm. The proposal is briefly outlined below. To view the joint House and Senate press conference click here.

SB 7022 includes the following provisions:
·        Improve school security capabilities through additional school resource and security officers, school hardening, programs.
  • Establish new restrictions on purchase and ownership of firearms (all types)
  • Increase the minimum age for purchasing a firearm to 21 years except for persons in law enforcement and active military personnel.
  • Establish a 3-day waiting period for purchase of firearms except for concealed weapons permit holders or persons who complete a 16-hour hunter safety course approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. Provides time for criminal history checks.
  • Ban bump stocks.
  • Enhance restrictions for persons subject to involuntary examination and commitment (Baker Act)
  • Provide law enforcement and the court with the tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence.
  • Improve responses to students presenting a danger to themselves or others
  • Codify and enhance the activities of the multiagency network for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities (SEDNET).
  • Require each school district to designate a school safety specialist and each school to establish a threat assessment team to provide a coordinated approach to evaluating and responding to students who pose a threat of violence.
  • Remove barriers preventing school district and law enforcement authorities from referring students appropriately to mental health services or law enforcement.

Additionally, today Governor Rick Scott announced his three-prong plan to address student safety. The plan addresses gun laws, school safety, and mental health. The plan includes additional funding of $450 million to keep students safe. The Governor’s proposal includes:
  • Mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school.
  • $50 million for mental health initiatives. 
  • Restricting gun purchases for individuals with violent or dangerous behaviors and those individuals who have been involuntarily committed by a court.
  • Prohibiting any gun sales to individuals under the age of 21—with an exception for law enforcement or military personnel.
  • Enhanced threat assessment efforts.
  • Enhanced “school hardening” which would include metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, etc.

Stay a part of the process.
The League provides ample resources to help you stay informed and engaged. Please visit our website www.LetCitiesWork.com to find out how you can take action.