December 15, 2017
Interim Committees - 2018 Session
Legislative lessons offered in “A Christmas Story”
In the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story,” the main character, young Ralphie Parker, spends most of his time dodging the neighborhood bully while trying to convince his parents -- and anyone who will listen –that what he NEEDS for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun. Ralphie’s mom, teachers and even Santa himself tells Ralphie that a BB gun is too dangerous and that he will inevitably “shoot his eye out.”

The parallels between this hilarious (but somewhat sardonic) Christmas story and the relationship between the Florida Legislature and Florida’s cities are too obvious to ignore.

In the same way the naysayers opine that Ralphie can’t handle a BB gun, the Legislature continually argues that local elected officials will, in a sense, shoot their eyes out by exercising their Home Rule powers. Similarly, the monied special interests are constantly taking local issues to the Legislature and bullying local citizens.

As the 2018 legislative session looms over us, it is important to recognize some of the lessons offered in “A Christmas Story.”

First, we learn that if you believe in something, you must stand up and fight for it-even if you are pretty certain you may lose. Ralphie stood up to the neighborhood bully, who was a full foot taller and had vanquished all the other neighborhood kids. Ralphie prevailed because he believed more strongly than his opponent in his cause. As we make our case to protect local control, have confidence and stand up for what you know is right (Home Rule). Second, as when Ralphie realizes his secret decoder ring doesn’t really reveal anything important and is just crass advertising, we too need to recognize that sometimes those who promote or push something may have a hidden agenda or may be fudging their facts to fit their narrative. And, finally, we learn that persistence pays off. Ralphie never gives up hope that he will get his prized gift and he works every angle to ensure that happens.

If we follow these lessons, we are likely to have a successful legislative session. In the meantime, the FLC legislative team wishes each of you a wonderful and peaceful holiday season. 
The following is a brief summary of legislative activity on key bills of interest since our last report. We hope you enjoy this and future editions of On Tap at the Cap delivered directly to your inbox. For a deeper dive on the issues and comprehensive list of filed bills with municipal impact, please check out 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 Pre-Session Webinar -- January 4, 2018, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm ET
Join the FLC Legislative Affairs staff to find out what’s in store for the 2018 Legislative Session. Click HERE to register.

FLC Monday Morning Call-Ins -- Every Monday at 9:00 am ET (Jan. 8 – Mar. 5)
Participate in the 30-minute Monday morning call-in weekly during session. You’ll be updated on what issues the legislature will be discussing in the upcoming week and what advocacy efforts may be needed. The Monday Morning Call-In number is 1-888-419-5570 and the Participant Code is 880-753-19.

FLC Legislative Action Days -- January 30-31, 2018, Tallahassee
This is a unique opportunity for city officials from across the state to gather in Tallahassee to discuss the latest legislative issues and developments affecting municipalities. You will meet face-to-face with your legislators to provide a valuable local government perspective. For more information or to register online, click HERE
Unfunded Mandates Proposal 
Unfortunately, this week, Proposal 92 ( Bob Solari) proposing an amendment to the Florida Constitution creating a more stringent process for the Legislature to pass an unfunded mandate on cities and counties failed to receive the necessary votes consideration of the CRC Finance and Tax Committee. The proposal would have required the legislature to have a public hearing and a legislative fiscal analysis on any proposed unfunded mandate. In addition, Proposal 92 would have required a three-fourths vote of the House and the Senate to pass an unfunded mandate, and the unfunded state mandate would have expired after eight years, unless reenacted by the legislature. Proposal 92 failed to pass the Committee by a vote of 0-4. There was no debate or questions on this proposal prior to the vote. Thank you to all the municipal officials who contacted members of the committee in support of this proposal. (Cruz)
Deregulation of Electric Generation, Transmission and Distribution
CRC Proposal 51 (Newsome) was temporarily postponed by the CRC General Provisions Committee. P51 would amend the Florida Constitution to allow electricity consumers to choose their electric provider (deregulates the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity). The proposal would impact local government electric franchise fees and public service utility tax revenues – a potential $1.3 Billion statewide impact to municipalities. The League opposes P51 due to potential fiscal impact, and urges municipal officials to contact CRC General Provisions Committee members and register their opposition to this proposal.  (O’Hara)
Prohibition on Oil Drilling
CRC Proposal 91 (Thurlow-Lippisch) passed the CRC General Provisions Committee 5-2. P91 would prohibit offshore oil drilling in state waters. The League supports P91.  (O’Hara)
Environmental Protection
CRC Proposal 23 (Thurlow-Lippisch) was temporarily postponed by the CRC Judicial Committee, after being amended to narrow the scope of its application to Florida residents (excluding corporate entities). P23 would grant Florida residents a constitutional, legally enforceable right to a “clean and healthful environment. The League has concerns with P23 because it would expose municipal governments to litigation from any resident that perceives a municipal government is impairing the resident’s broad and undefined “rights” conferred by this provision.  (O’Hara)
Distribution of Funds from Land Acquisition Trust Fund 
CRC Proposal 46 (Thurlow-Lippisch) was temporarily postponed by the CRC Legislative Committee. P46 specifies that no less than one-third of revenues from the state Land Acquisition Trust Fund must be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund. (O’Hara)
First Responder Workers Compensation Insurance
Last week, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee passed CS/SB 376 ( Book) providing workers compensation coverage for a standalone mental or nervous injury suffered by a first responder, if it is shown to meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. CS/SB 376 was amended in Committee to lower the evidentiary standard for a first responder to receive compensability, from clear and convincing evidence to a preponderance of evidence thus making it easier for a first responder to qualify for benefits under such a claim. Additionally, the amendment eliminated a requirement that an employee must initiate mental health treatment within 15 days after a qualifying incident. Lastly, the amendment to the bill expanded the instances that qualify for compensability by allowing a first responder to arrive at the scene of a murder, suicide, fatal injury, or child death, rather than witnessing the act. The League expressed concerns about the fiscal implications of approving such a policy. (Hughes)
Municipal Travel Expenditures
SB 1180 ( Steube ) and HB 815 ( Avila ) would prohibit foreign travel by municipal officials and employees. In addition, the bills would require out-of-state travel requests by municipal officials and employees to be approved at a public hearing, and impose significant restrictions and reporting requirements on such travel. The bills limit reimbursement for lodging to $120 per day. In addition, the bills would require municipal officials to file full public disclosure of financial interests (Form 6), rather than the limited Form 1 that is currently required. The League opposes these bills.  (O’Hara)
Restrictions and Penalties on Municipalities Relating to Solid Waste and Storm Debris Services
HB 971 ( Fine) would impose penalties and fines on municipalities (or their solid waste provider) for the interruption of solid waste collection services.  HB 879 ( Toledo) would restrict municipalities, under specified conditions, from having exclusive contracts relating to storm-debris, commercial and residential solid waste services. The League opposes both bills. (O’Hara)
Local Surtax Referenda
CS/HB 317 ( Ingoglia) was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee on December 5. The bill now reflects the compromise position between the League and Rep. Ingoglia. Under the bill a local government can only place a local surtax ballot question before the voters on the state November general election with a simple majority for passage or at a primary election with a 60 percent voter approval for passage. The Senate companion, CS/SB 272 ( Brandes) is also moving through the process. (Hughes)
Expansion of Property Tax Portability
The Senate Community Affairs committee approved SJR 452 ( Brandes) on December 5. If approved by 60 percent of Florida voters, this proposed constitutional amendment will extend from 2 to 3 years the “portability” period during which a Florida citizen has the ability to transfer up to $500,000 of accumulated Save our Homes cap benefits from an existing or prior homestead property to a new homesteaded property. The committee also approved CS/SB 454 ( Brandes), which would implement this proposed constitutional amendment if approved by voters. The House companions, HJR 501 ( Ahern) and HB 5013 ( Ahern), have not yet been heard in their first committee of reference. These proposals are estimated to have a less than one million recurring impact on municipal property taxes. (Hughes)
Impact Fees
Last week, the Senate Community Affairs Committee passed CS/SB 324  ( Young) addressing the collection of impact fees. As amended, the bill specifies the collection of an impact fee can be no earlier than the issuance of the building permit for the property that is subject to the fee. In addition, the scope of CS/SB 324 was expanded to codify the dual rational nexus test. Of specific concern, the bill prohibits the use of impact fees to pay existing debt or for previously approved projects unless the expenditure is reasonably connected to, or has a rational nexus with, the increased impact generated by the new residential or commercial construction. This provision could potentially prohibit the practice of oversizing infrastructure to accommodate projected future growth and subsequently using impact fees to reimburse for that prior improvement. (Hughes)
Florida Building Commission
HB 299 (  McClain) revises the membership of the Florida Building Commission from 27 members to 11. It also eliminates the joint Florida League of Cities’/Florida Association of Counties’ seat on the Commission. HB 299 passed the  House Careers and Competition Subcommittee. A senate companion has not yet been filed.  (Branch) 
Florida Building Commission 
HB 299 ( McClain) revises the membership of the Florida Building Commission from 27 members to 11. It also eliminates the joint Florida League of Cities’/Florida Association of Counties’ seat on the Commission. HB 299 will be considered by the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee Wednesday, October 25 at 4:00 PM. A Senate companion has not yet been filed. (Branch) 
Stay Engaged.
The League provides ample resources to help you stay informed and engaged. Please visit our website to find out how you can take action.