February 17-21, 2020
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need! The Rolling Stones

We’re a long way from being done, but at the same time, two-thirds of the legislative session is behind us. We have a better sense of what the real threats are, and if you’re in the local government circle, there are still plenty of them. It’s easy to get discouraged after losing a close vote or getting shut out of the decision-making process. It may not feel like it at the time, but your voices ARE making a difference. There are conversations every day between legislators that we are not privy to, and it’s those conversations that really determine the final outcome. We’ve lost a few close votes due to arm-twisting behind the scenes. However, I can tell you that, at least privately, many legislators acknowledge that some of these “great” ideas are not so great. 

As we enter the final weeks, stay in their ears and in their inboxes. Our success relies on your collective voice and those of your constituents. Hold legislators accountable and help them to understand the effect that a “yes” or “no” vote will have on our communities for years to come. We want to retain the constitutional Home Rule powers granted us and there are attempts every day to take away the voice of the citizens in your community through preemptions. Keep the pressure up, and have faith that the final outcome will give us what we need to keep our communities thriving. 
Short-Term Rentals
It was another week of short-term rental shenanigans in the Florida House. Less than 12 hours before CS/CS/HB 1011 (Fischer) was to be considered by the House Commerce Committee, a 30-page strike-all amendment was filed to the bill. The amendment kept in place preemptions on the licensing and inspection of short-term rentals, and also included language prohibiting cities from regulating advertising platforms. This language effectively wipes out any regulations on short-term rentals adopted since June 1, 2011. The bill has now passed all of its committees and heads to the House floor.  It is more important than ever to call your House members and express your opposition to this bill. The Senate Rules Committee has two meetings left and we expect CS/SB 1128 (Diaz), the Senate companion, to be on one of those two agendas. The League OPPOSES these bills. (Cook)
Utility Permit Application Shot Clock Legislation 2.0 
HB 7099 (State Affairs) passed the House State Affairs Committee this week. The bill extends the 5G “shot clock” and “deemed approved” provisions provided for in the Advanced Wireless Deployment Act to all permit applications for ALL utilities in the right of way. This language is also included in CS/HB 203 (McClain) and CS/SB 7018 (Infrastructure and Security). The League OPPOSES these bills.  (Branch)
House Bill Establishes Task Forces to Address 'Local Government Efficiency' and Urban Core Crime
The House State Affairs Committee introduced HB 7101, a bill that establishes two task forces comprised of members appointed by the governor, house speaker and senate president. The “Local Government Efficiency Task Force” is directed to review the governance and function of local governments and make recommendations on any changes necessary to make local governments “more efficient.” Task force recommendations must be submitted to the governor and legislature by June 2022. The “Urban Core Crime and Violence Task Force” is directed to study causes of crime and violence in urban core neighborhoods and communities and develop recommendations to help reduce violence and crime in these areas. The task force must submit recommendations to the governor and legislature by June 2021. HB 7101 is scheduled to be heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, February 25.  (O’Hara)
Impact Fees 
This week, a pair of bills addressing impact fees continued to advance in the House and the Senate. CS/SB 1066 (Gruters), dealing with impact fees, passed the Senate Finance and Tax Committee, while CS/CS/CS/HB 637 (DiCegile) passed the House State Affairs Committee. The bills potentially limit the collection of impact fees by requiring only certain data be used to calculate the fees and prohibit the use of impact fee revenue to fund anything not meeting the definition of “infrastructure” and “public facility,” as defined in the bills. The bills allow impact fee credits to be transferred from one development to another within the same impact fee jurisdiction for the same type of facility under certain conditions. The legislation mandates that each city and county establish an impact fee review committee composed of two members of the business community, two local contractors and one at-large member. This review commission will be responsible for establishing the policy and methodology for determining impact fees on new developments and for reviewing proposed impact fees on each new development before the fee becomes final. The House bill has passed all committees of reference and is now awaiting consideration on the House floor. The Senate bill is now awaiting consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The League OPPOSES the bills. (Cruz)
Water & Wastewater System Bill Amended to Limit Extraterritorial Service Charges
HB 207 (McClain) and CS/SB 658 (Albritton) address the acquisition of water and wastewater systems by public utilities and authorize the utility to establish a rate base using the fair market value of the acquired utility. The Senate bill was amended by the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee to require a municipality providing water or sewer service to customers in another municipality from infrastructure located in the recipient municipality to charge customers in the recipient municipality the same rates as it charges customers inside its own municipal boundaries. The League OPPOSES the bills and the amendment to the Senate bill. HB 207 is awaiting action by its last committee, the House Commerce Committee. CS/SB 658 heads to its second committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government.  (O’Hara)
Reclaimed Water Bills Ready for Final Committee Hearings
CS/HB 715 (Maggard) and CS/CS/SB 1656 (Albritton) prohibit domestic wastewater utilities from disposing of effluent, reclaimed water or reuse water by surface water discharge beginning January 2026. While the bills exempt some types of discharges, fiscally constrained governments, and municipalities with annual revenues of $10 million or less from the prohibition, the overall mandate on local governments to comply will be staggering. The bills direct the Department of Environmental Protection to develop rules relating to the beneficial reuse of water for public water supply purposes. The bills specify the rules should require the treatment of reclaimed water to drinking water standards. CS/CS/SB 1656 passed the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee February 17, and now heads to its final stop in the Senate Appropriations Committee. CS/HB 715 awaits its final hearing by the House State Affairs Committee. The League OPPOSES the surface water discharge mandate in the bills, but SUPPORTS the provisions relating to potable water reuse.  (O’Hara)
Petroleum Cleanup and Brownfields Bills Amended to Clarify Pollution Liability
CS/HB 609 (Perez) addresses current law provisions relating to the Petroleum Cleanup program within the Department of Environmental Protection.  CS/SB 1350 (Baxley) makes various changes to the Florida Brownfields Program within DEP. Both bills were amended this week to clarify that causes of action brought under Section 376.313, Florida Statutes, may seek damages to real or personal property resulting from pollution rather than all damages resulting from pollution. The League SUPPORTS these amendments. CS/HB 609 passed the House State Affairs Committee and now heads to the House floor. CS/SB 1350 passed the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  (O’Hara)
Food Trucks Preemption Moves Through Final Committee Stop
CS/CS/SB 474 (Albritton), the deregulation of certain professions and occupations bill, was passed in the Senate Appropriation Committee, its final stop this week. The bill preempts the licensing, permits and fees of mobile food dispensing vehicles (food trucks) to the state. The League OPPOSES this bill.  (Branch)
Traffic Control Mandate Greenlighted in House and Senate 
CS/CS/SB 1000 (Perry) and CS/CS/CS/HB 1371 (Fine) passed their respective committees this week. The bills mandate local government regulation of mid-block crosswalks. The bills require municipalities to either install traffic control devices (unfunded mandate) or remove the mid-block crosswalks by October 1, 2024. The League OPPOSES these bills. (Branch)
House Introduces Comprehensive 'Tax Package'
HB 7097 (Ways and Means) includes several tax reductions and other tax-related modifications. Of note, the bill includes a 0.5 % rate reduction for both the state CST and the direct-to-home satellite services. The sales tax rate on commercial leases is reduced from 5.5% to 5.4%. The bill includes two sales tax holidays: a three-day “back-to-school” holiday and a seven-day “disaster preparedness” holiday. The bill also expands the allowable uses for tourist development tax revenues to include water quality improvement, and parks and trails projects. The bill provides for an approximately one-third reduction in the aviation fuel tax paid by commercial air carriers. The bill includes a controversial requirement that school capital outlay sales surtaxes approved in the future be proportionately shared with charter schools. The total local government revenue impact of the bill in fiscal year 2020-21 is -$17.8 million (-$24.8 million recurring). The League is neutral on this bill. (Hughes)
Broadband Bills Keep Moving
CS/CS/SB 1166 (Albritton) unanimously passed its last committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill designates the Department of Economic Opportunity as the lead state agency to facilitate the expansion of broadband Internet service in the state. It creates the Florida Office of Broadband within DEO’s Division of Community Development for purposes of developing, marketing and promoting broadband Internet service in the state. The bill allocates $5 million of M-Cores funding be used for projects that assist in the development of broadband infrastructure within or adjacent to a multi-use corridor. The House companion, CS/HB 969 (Drake), is ready for floor action. The League SUPPORTS these bills. (Hughes)
Senate E-Verify Bill Gets Mucked Up
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee amended the E-Verify bill to the point where the bill sponsor said he would ask Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has prioritized the E-Verify issue, to veto it if this version of the bill passes the legislature. Currently, CS/CS/SB 664 (Lee) requires public employers that enter into contracts in excess of $35,000 to register with and use an employment verification system to validate the work authorization status of all new employees and identify whether an employee is an unauthorized alien. Additionally, certain contractors and subcontractors who have entered into, or are attempting to enter into, a contract with a public employer must register with and use an employment verification system. These requirements would take effect on public employers and their contractors and subcontractors on July 1, 2021. The bill also requires specific private employers to register with and use the E-Verify system or an alternative verification system to verify the employment eligibility of new employees. The requirement that private employers use an employment verification system will generally apply to employers that have 20 or more Florida employees, once it has been phased-in on a specified schedule. The League is neutral on this bill. (Hughes)
Senate Water Quality Bill Ready for Senate Floor
CS/CS/CS/SB 712 (Mayfield) and HB 1343 (Payne) make numerous changes to current law relating to water quality improvements, septic systems, basin management action plans, stormwater management, sanitary sewer overflows and wastewater project grants. CS/CS/CS/SB 712 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 20, its last stop before the Senate floor. It was amended to include additional requirements relating to the land application of biosolids, provide more detail for DEP and the water management districts to revise stormwater rules, authorize the use of a “cooperative agricultural regional water quality improvement element” for agricultural nonpoint sources within a BMAP, require unanimous votes of water management district governing boards for consumptive use permits for bottled water, require DEP to develop a report on the bottled water industry in Florida, and prohibit local governments from granting legal rights to the natural environment. HB 1343 is ready for consideration by the House State Affairs Committee, its last committee stop. The League is continuing to monitor both bills.  (O’Hara)
Environmental Fine Bill Amended to Include Optional Local Government Sanitary Sewer Lateral Program
CS/SB 1450 (Gruters) and CS/HB 1091 (Fine) increase civil and administrative fines by 50% for violations of various state environmental laws. CS/HB 1091 awaits a final stop in the House State Affairs Committee. CS/SB 1450 passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government on February 18. It was amended to include provisions to encourage cities and counties to establish an evaluation and rehabilitation program for residential and commercial properties in order to identify and reduce leaks from sanitary sewer laterals on these properties. The Senate bill is now ready for its final committee hearing by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The House bill is ready for its final hearing by the House State Affairs Committee. The League is continuing to monitor both bills.  (O’Hara)
Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing Passes House 
On Thursday, the House passed CS/HB 3 (Grant, M.) on a 78-40 vote. The bill expressly preempts the licensing of occupations to the state. The bill defines occupation to include a paid job, work, trade, employment or profession and defines licensing to include any training, education, test, certification, registration, procedure or license required for a person to perform an occupation. The bill provides limited exceptions for specified local licenses and any local government licensing of occupations that was expressly authorized by general law. The bill will prohibit a local government from requiring a person to obtain a license for a job scope that does not substantially correspond to the job scope of certain contractor categories set forth in Chapter 489. 

The Senate companion bill, CS/SB 1336 (Perry) stalled this week when it’s consideration was temporarily postponed by the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee. The bill had been amended in a previous committee stop to grandfather all existing local government licenses. The Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee is currently not scheduled to meet again this session, leaving the passage of CS/SB 1336 in question. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. (Cruz)
Dissolution of Cities
CS/HB 1209 (Fischer) passed the Ways and Means Committee this week. The bill would require any municipality that meets one or more specified criteria to hold a referendum to dissolve the city. Those criteria include:

  • The municipality was determined to be in a state of financial emergency subsequent to June 17, 2004 and has been in a state of financial emergency for two or more years.
  • The municipality has failed to comply with the terms of any signed agreement with the governor’s office as part of a financial emergency where a financial emergency board has been established.
  • The municipality has submitted its annual financial report required by Section 218.32, Florida Statutes, and its annual financial audit report required by Section 218.39, Florida Statutes, more than three months late for two or more consecutive years.
  • A grand jury or auditor general audit report was issued within the past three years that contained a significant number of findings and the municipality failed to resolve five or more of those findings within 12 months from the issuance of the report.

This bill now has one more committee to pass before reaching the House floor. The League is OPPOSED to this bill. ( Cruz )
Home-Based Business Preemption Gaining Momentum
This week, the House State Affairs Committee passed CS/HB 537 (Donalds), a sweeping preemption on the local regulation of at home-based businesses. The bill provides that local governments may not enact or enforce any ordinance, regulation or policy, or take any action to license or otherwise regulate a home-based business in a manner that is different from any other businesses in a local government’s jurisdiction. To be considered a home-based business, the bill requires that:

  • The business operates, in whole or in part, from a residential property.
  • The employees of the home-based business reside in the residence, except for up to two employees that do not reside at the residence. However, employees of the home-based business that do not primarily work at the residential dwelling are not required to reside in the dwelling.
  • Parking for the business activities of the home-based business complies with local zoning requirements.
  • The use of the residential property is consistent with the uses of the residential areas that surround the property, but incidental and short-term business uses and activities are permitted.
  • The activities of the home-based business are secondary to the property’s use as a residential dwelling.

If the bill passes, local governments would be preempted from enacting common-sense regulations such as prohibiting flammable liquids from being stored at a home business or even from restricting hours of operation. The League is OPPOSED to this bill. (Cruz)
Regulation of Pet Stores
SB 1698 (Diaz) was on this week's Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee agenda, but not considered by the committee. The proposed bill would preempt cities from regulating pet stores and is most likely dead for the year. The League OPPOSES the bill. (Cook)
Public Records
On February 19, CS/SB 162 (Perry) passed through its final committee of reference and now heads to the Senate floor. The bill would prohibit cities from asking the courts for clarification when a record request is received and the city is unsure if the record is exempt, or exempt and confidential. The League is monitoring the bill. (Cook)
Public Notice
SB 1340 (Gruters) was on this week's Senate Judiciary Committee agenda, but not considered by the committee. The proposed bill would have given cities the option to notify residents of pending business by either publishing the information on its website OR buying an ad in the newspaper. The bill is most likely dead for the year. The League SUPPORTS the bill. (Cook)