January 20-24, 2020
Reality television sometimes gives the viewer an inside look at real life. One such reality show, “The Bachelor,” sets up one lucky bachelor with the opportunity to find the “love of his life” from among two dozen women vying for his heart while engaging in competitions and going on romantic adventures around the world. Some of the contestants are portrayed as patient, kind and sincere, while others seemingly push boundaries in often misguided attempts to get noticed. During the filming, the eligible bachelorettes live together and sometimes form bonds with one another. They are ultimately hoping they get a rose, which indicates the bachelor is still interested and that some of their newly found roommates and friends get sent home. In the end, after many tears are shed and countless bottles of champagne are imbibed, many of the women go home heartbroken. As the show concludes, the bachelor may propose to one of the women — gifting her with a huge ring provided by the show and, of course, the final rose. As the show’s final credits roll, the audience is left with a happily ever after storyline and the couple embracing as the sun goes down in a glorious tropical location.

The show’s producers drive the storyline for each of the bachelor’s contestants by showing only the parts of them they want us to see and creating interesting characters. In the same way, the media covering the Florida legislative process focus only on the issues they feel are “sexier” than others and lend themselves to an attention-grabbing headline and a good story. Meanwhile, many other bills are quietly, methodically working their way through the process without fanfare but are more substantive than their flashy counterparts. Like the contestants from the show, each of the thousands of proposed bills is hoping to receive the legislative version of the coveted final rose and become a law.

With committees in full swing, the legislative equivalent of courting has begun. Legislators and lobbyists are pleading their cases as to the merits of their particular bills and positions and using whatever tools they have at their disposal to ensure a favorable outcome. As in “The Bachelor,” the competition is fierce, and the time to get noticed and plead your case is limited. The League’s advocacy team efforts are in full swing, and we are working tirelessly to protect Home Rule and keep our cities informed of all of the action.

While we don’t have any roses to hand out, we are doing everything we can to make sure cities are heard. We hope that you continue to tune in each week for another episode of “On Tap at the Cap.” The Bachelor’s longtime host, Chris Harrison, could not have said it better: “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

Introduction by Courtney Mooney. Courtney is a legislative intern at the Florida League of Cities.
Please join us each week at 9:00 a.m. for our Monday Morning Call-In during which the FLC advocacy team will discuss which bills will be heard that week and update you on other important legislative happenings. The call-in number is 888.585.9008, and the conference room number is 301563714#.
Vacation Rentals
HB 1011 (Fischer) and SB 1128 (Diaz) preempt local vacation rental ordinances. Last week the Senate moved the bill out of its first committee after a long and spirited debate, and this week the House did the same, along a 10-5 party line vote. There was extensive testimony in opposition and some of the Republican members who voted to move the bill had reservations about the bill in its current form and some even stated they would not vote for it at the next stop unless some changes were made. Many local government officials were on hand to testify and many expressed concern that the existing grandfather for ordinances adopted prior to June 1, 2011, is not clear and also addressed the lack of public safety measures in the bill. It is expected that these areas will be dealt with at the next committee stops. The League has been working with the sponsors to provide language that would return some authority to local governments. The Senate is not expected to take up its bill next week. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. (Cook)
Environmental Penalties Could Double Under Proposed Bills
SB 1450 (Gruters) and HB 1091 (Fine) increase civil and administrative fines by 50% for violations of various state environmental laws. SB 1450 will get its first hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on January 27. HB 1091 is awaiting its first committee hearing.  (O’Hara)
Amended Water Quality Bill Progresses in Senate
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. The Senate bill passed its second committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government, with an amendment to address concerns of wastewater utilities and agricultural interests. The League supported the amendment, which included League-supported changes that help clarify local government responsibilities in the bill. The Senate bill has one remaining stop in the Senate Appropriations Committee. HB 1343 is awaiting its first committee hearing.  (O’Hara)
Legislators Back Governor’s Statewide Resiliency Office
SB 7016 (Infrastructure and Security Committee) and HB 1073 (Stevenson) establish the Statewide Office of Resiliency and create a statewide Sea-Level Rise Task Force to recommend consensus projections of sea-level rise along the state’s coastline. SB 7016 is on its final committee stop in Senate Appropriations Committee and HB 1073 cleared its first committee on January 21. The League SUPPORTS the bills. (O’Hara)
Food Trucks Preemption Moves Through Committee
CS/SB 474 (Albritton), the deregulation of certain professions and occupations bill, was amended in the Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee this week. The bill preempts the regulation of mobile food dispensing vehicles (food trucks) to the state, including preventing local governments from prohibiting the operation of food trucks. The League OPPOSES this bill. (Branch)
Local Government Fiscal Transparency Sees Its Way Through Committee 
HB 1149 (DiCeglie) passed (11-3) its first committee, the House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, on Tuesday. 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. ( Hughes )
Sovereign Immunity Caps Under Scrutiny  
This week the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 1302 (Flores) increasing the per-occurrence limit on the collectability of judgments against government entities from $300,000 to $500,000 and eliminating the $200,000-per-claimant limit. The bill further allows government entities to settle claims in any amount without the approval of a claim bill by the Legislature. In contrast, current law allows government entities to settle and pay amounts exceeding the sovereign immunity caps only to the extent of insurance coverage. Otherwise, current law requires that the payment of the portion of a claim or judgment exceeding the sovereign immunity caps be approved by the Legislature in a claim bill. The purpose of sovereign immunity is to allow government entities to carry out police powers to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents without the constant threat of lawsuit putting tax payer dollars at risk. The bill has the potential to increase city insurance premiums, incentive additional lawsuits against governments, and ultimately, less funding will be available for city services. The League OPPOSES the bill. (Cruz)  
Government Integrity Bill Breezes Through First Committee 
HB 1111 (Tomkow) creates the Florida Integrity Office and the position of Florida integrity officer. The bill authorizes the integrity officer to investigate complaints alleging waste, fraud, abuse, misconduct or gross mismanagement (as defined in the bill) in connection with the expenditure of public funds within and by state and local government. The bill authorizes the auditor general and the Florida integrity officer to investigate or audit the activities of any political subdivision, unit of local authority or local council or commission. HB 1111 passed the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee unanimously on January 23. The bill’s senate companion, SB 1538 (Gruters), is awaiting a first hearing by the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee. The League is watching the bills for amendments.  (O’Hara) 
Local Government Lawsuits
This week the House Judiciary committee introduced committee bill HB 7043 which limits the amount of contingency fees that a local governments may agree to pay a private attorney or law firm. The bill has been filled as result of various local governments filling suit against drug manufactures for the opioid epidemic in Florida. If the bill passed it could potentially limit the pool of private law firms that would be available to tackle similar lawsuits in the future. The contingency fee limits in the bill are Twenty-five percent of any recovery up to $10 million; Twenty percent of any portion of recovery between $10 million and $15 million; Fifteen percent of any portion of recovery between $15 million and $20 million; Ten percent of any portion of recovery between $20 million and $25 million; Five percent of any portion of recovery exceeding $25 million. The bill narrowly passed introduction on a 9-8 vote. The League OPPOSES the bill. ( Cruz )  
Broadband Bills Start Moving
HB 969 (Drake) unanimously passed the House Energy and Utilities Subcommittee. The bill designates the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) 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 League SUPPORTS this bill. (Hughes)
Money for Broadband Mapping
HB 9221 (LaMarca) unanimously passed the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. This bill provides an appropriation for the Study of Broadband Service and Infrastructure Investment. The League SUPPORTS this bill. (Hughes)
Public Employees in Need Get a Break from Gift Ban
SB 1490 (Bradley) and HB 1435 (Williamson) create an exemption from the gift ban in the state Ethics Code for state and local employees or their children when dealing with serious bodily injury or disease. These individuals would no longer be barred from receiving gifts or compensation used towards the costs associated with such conditions. SB 1490 passed the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee January 21. HB 1435 is awaiting its first committee hearing. The League SUPPORTS the bills.  (O’Hara) 
League Throws Shade at Sunscreen Preemption  
SB 172 (Bradley) and HB 113 (Roach) preempt local government regulation of over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics, but are directed primarily at local government ordinances that ban certain types of sunscreen that contains chemicals that can harm coral reefs. The League and various environmental groups argued against the bills, which are supported by a host of industry heavy-hitters, including the Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Both bills are on a fast track: SB 172 is ready for final passage by the full Senate and HB 113 has one committee stop remaining before reaching the full House for a vote. (O’Hara) 
Public Procurement of Services
HB 441 (DiCeglie) and CS/SB 506 (Perry) amend the definition of “continuing contract” under the Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act (CCNA) to increase the maximum dollar amount for each individual project and each individual study under the contract for construction projects. In SB 506, the maximum dollar amount for each individual project is increased from $2 million to $5 million, and the maximum dollar amount for each individual study is increased from $200,000 to $500,000. The House bill increases the maximum limit to $4 million and increases the maximum limit for procuring a study to $500,000. SB 506 and HB 441 were both heard in committee this week and voted out favorably. The League SUPPORTS these bills. ( Cook )