February 3-7, 2020
Last week’s Super Bowl was filled with the usual amount of pregame and postgame hype, controversy and good and bad plays. Many would say that this year’s game was really a match pitting the two best teams in the NFL against each other. One rode a strong defense to the championship game and the other a strong offense. In the same way it takes a lot of luck, quality play, teamwork and good fundamentals in execution to make it to the championship game, it takes a lot for legislation to make it to the metaphorical equivalent of the Super Bowl: becoming a law.

For our team, it's week four (mid-season), and we have been strong on defense thus far. There is still a lot of game time left, though, and no shortage of plays still to be made by legislators and lobbyists for bills we support and oppose. There will be some late game trick plays, desperation passes as well as heroes and GOATS. We need to keep our focus, play steady, error-free ball and hope we can get a few lucky bounces of the ball without the refs (House and Senate leaders) tilting the game against us.

Thanks for all you do and keep up the great work! We look forward to seeing many of you at FLC Legislative Action Days here in Tallahassee next week. Safe travels!
Short-term Rentals - Action Needed
The House version of the short-term rental bill passed through its second committee, the Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, on Tuesday.  CS/HB 1011 (Fischer) would preempt any regulations specific to vacation rentals adopted after 2011 and would lean heavily on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) for enforcement and licensing. The bill was amended with specific budget language adding 19 new positions within the agency for short-term rental enforcement. A seldom-used provision in the House rules allow the Speaker to appoint an ex-officio member to any committee and Rep. Mike Grant was added to the committee at the last minute to guarantee that the bill had enough votes to pass. 

The Senate companion, SB 1128 (Diaz), will be heard on Tuesday, February 11 at 10:00 a.m. This meeting coincides with the FLC Legislative Action Days Briefing held in the City of Tallahassee City Hall Chambers. We encourage any municipal official that has a legislator sitting on the Senate Commerce and Tourism committee to attend the meeting, so your legislator knows your position on the issue. For other municipal officials that do not have a legislator sitting on that committee, we will provide you a copy of a Committee Appearance Form to fill out so you can register your position to the committee without attending. Please call the members of the Senate Commerce and Tourism committee to voice your opposition to the legislation. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE FLC LEGISLATIVE ALERT ISSUED TODAY. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. ( Cook
Impact Fees – Action Needed
Continuing a recurring trend, legislation, CS/HB 637 (DiCeglie) and SB 1066 (Gruters), dealing with impact fees was filed for the 2020 Session. This week the House Ways and Means Committee passed CS/HB 637. SB 1066 will be considered by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Monday, February 10 at 4:00 p.m. 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” 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. The legislation mandates that each city and county establish an impact fee review committee composed of two members of the local government, two members of the business community, two local contractors and one at-large member. This board 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 Ask: Please contact senators on the Senate Community Affairs Committee and urge them to Oppose SB 1066. See talking points below.

  • Creating an impact fee review committee is an unfunded mandate that simply adds a layer of bureaucracy keeping elected officials from doing their job.
  • Impact fees are important to ensure infrastructure keeps up with new development and should not be limited to benefit developers if taxpayers are left to pay the bill.
  • Please Oppose SB 1066.

Click  here   to download a spreadsheet with contact information for the Senate Community Affairs Committee. You can also use the League’s  Contact Your Legislators   advocacy tool to email your legislators. ( Hughes )
Bert Harris Act/Private Property Rights Headed to House Floor
This week, the House Judiciary Committee passed CS/HB 519 (J. Grant). This bill significantly amends the Bert J. Harris Act and substantially handicaps local government ability to resolve these claims. The bill requires any settlement reached on a Harris claim that involves the issuance of a variance or exception to a regulation on a residential property be automatically applied by the government entity to all similarly situated residential properties that are subject to the same rules or regulations. Similarly situated is not defined in the bill. Therefore, the legislation will have a severe chilling effect on the settlement of Harris claims. Additionally, the bill limits the timeframe for government entities to respond to Harris claims from 150 days to 90 days, removes prevailing party standard from the attorney fees provision only allowing a property owner to recover fees if they prevail. The bill opens the door to allow a property owner to recover business damages which is strictly prohibited under current law. We believe this bill is nothing more than a back-door handout to the multi-million-dollar commercial short-term rental industry, that will exponentially increase attorney fees and leave the taxpayers with the bill.

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended the Senate companion bill to address multiple League concerns. As a result, the provisions in CS/SB 1766 (Lee) that dealt with “similarly situated properties” were completely removed from the bill. Also not included in the Senate bill are changes to the attorney fee provisions nor the inclusion of business damages. The Senate bill will be heard by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Monday, February 10 at 4:00 pm. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. ( Cruz
Home-Based Business Regulations Under Fire
The House Business and Professions Subcommittee passed CS/HB 537 (Donalds) which preempts local government regulation of home-based businesses. More specifically, 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 other businesses in a local government’s jurisdiction. The bill allows a party to challenge any local government action regulating home-based businesses. The prevailing party is entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs. The Senate companion bill, SB 778 (Perry), is awaiting action by its first committee of reference, the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The League is OPPOSED to these bills. ( Dudley )
Don’t Sweep the Sadowski Trust Fund
SB 306 (Mayfield), a bill related to preventing the Legislature from sweeping the Affordable Housing (Sadowski) Trust Fund, passed the Senate Infrastructure Security Committee on Monday. The FLC SUPPORTS this bill. (Branch) 
Building Design Elements Preempted 
CS/HB 459 (Overdorf) passed out of the House Commerce Committee on Thursday. The bill prohibits municipalities adopting zoning and development regulations that require specific building design elements for single-family and two-family dwellings unless certain conditions are met. This legislation would significantly affect municipalities ability to preserve the character of traditional neighborhoods. The FLC OPPOSES this bill.  (Branch)
Cameras at Red Light Repeal is Green Lighted 
HB 6083 (Ingoglia) would repeal the authority of governmental entities to utilize cameras at traffic signals passed the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee by a 9-5 vote. There is no Senate companion. The League OPPOSES this bill. (Branch) 
Sovereign Immunity
This week, the Senate Community Affairs Committee passed CS/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 result in increased damage awards against governments and will incentivize lawsuits against governments. The League OPPOSES this bill. (Cruz )
Preemption of Local Occupational Licenses
On Monday, the Senate Community Affairs Committee passed CS/SB 1336 (Perry). The bill picks up where it left off last session by expressly preempting 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 that are 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, Florida Statutes. In Committee, an amendment by Senator Farmer was adopted that grandfathered all existing local government licenses. (Cruz )  
Reclaimed Water Bills Carry Massive Price Tag for Water Utilities
CS/HB 715 (Maggard) and 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 that are protective of the environment and public health, building on the guiding principles and goals set forth in the Potable Reuse Commission’s 2019 report on advancing potable reuse in Florida. The bills specify the rules should require the treatment of reclaimed water to drinking water standards. CS/SB 1656 passed the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee on February 3. CS/HB 715 passed the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee on February 4. Both bills have two remaining committee stops. The League OPPOSES the surface water discharge mandate in the bills but SUPPORTS the provisions relating to potable water reuse. (O’Hara)
CST Bill Passes First Committee 
SB 1174 (Hutson) unanimously passed the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The bill cuts local CST rate to 5% the first year and 4% the next year. The bill repeals the local option sales surtax conversion that is levied on communications services. The bill also clarifies that certain streaming services are subject to the tax. This bill is estimated to cost local government $190 million per year. The League OPPOSES this bill. (Hughes)
Broadband Bills Keep Moving
CS/HB 969 (Drake) unanimously passed the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations 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 bill was amended this week to allocate $5 million of M-Cores funding be used for projects that assist in the development of broadband infrastructure within or adjacent to a multiuse corridor. The League SUPPORTS this bill. (Hughes)
Unanimous Committee Vote to Double Environmental Fines
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 passed its first committee, the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, with a unanimous vote. It heads next to the Agriculture & Environmental Appropriations Subcommittee on February 11. CS/SB 1450 is awaiting action by its second committee of reference, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government. The League SUPPORTS these bills. (O’Hara)
Fiduciary Duty Bill Clears First House Committee
HB 1113 (Beltran) and SB 1270 (Lee) establish new standards for the fiduciary duty of care owed by appointed public officers (city managers, appointed local boards and councils, pension boards, etc.). The bills create legal duties of care for these officials and impose training requirements on them relating to the various duties of care and responsibilities set forth in the bills. The bills also prohibit government attorneys from representing any individual or employee of the governmental entity – even for matters involving actions taken in the course of the individual’s or employee’s public employment or role. SB 1270 was temporarily postponed by the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on February 3 and will be on that committee’s agenda for  February 10 . HB 1113 passed the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee on February 6. The League OPPOSES the bills until clarifying amendments are adopted. The bill sponsors have indicated they are willing to entertain such amendments. (O’Hara)
Bill Expands Scope of Brownfield Program Protections for PFAS
SB 1152 (Broxson) amends the Brownfields Act to allows sites contaminated by PFAS (a compound commonly used in fire-fighting foam) to be eligible for site cleanup and certain liability protections under the Brownfield program. SB 1152 passed the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources on February 3. There is no House companion bill. The League SUPPORTS this bill. (O’Hara)
Elections Bill Amended to Preempt Local Government Caps on Expenditures
CS/SB 1372 makes election administration changes recommended by the Florida State Supervisors of Elections Association for the 2020 general election cycle. The bill was amended by the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee to expressly preempt a local government from enacting or imposing any limitation on contributions to a political committee or electioneering communications organization, or limitations on any expenditures for an electioneering organization or an independent expenditure. CS/SB 1372 heads next to the Senate Judiciary Committee. We expect an as-yet unidentified House bill to be amended in similar fashion. The League OPPOSES the amendment. (O’Hara)
Smoking in City Parks 
A bill allowing cities to regulate smoking in city-owned parks passed through its second committee stop this week. SB 630 (Mayfield) now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, its final committee of reference. ( Cook )
Public Notice
A League-supported bill injecting local control into the state’s public notice laws passed through its final committee in the House.  HB 7 (Fine) would give cities the option to publish legally required advertisements and notices on their website in lieu of purchasing ads in a newspaper if certain requirements are met. HB 7 now is now eligible to be voted on by the full House.  SB 1340 (Gruters), the Senate companion, will be heard in its first committee of reference on February 11 at 2:00 p.m. ( Cook )
Electric Bicycles Glide Through Committee Sans Preemption 
CS/SB 1148 (Brandes), a bill related to electric bicycles, passed the Senate Infrastructure Security Committee on Monday. The bill creates regulations governing the operation of e-bikes by permitting them to operate where bicycles are allowed. The bill was amended and removed the preemption language. The League SUPPORTS this bill.  (Branch) 
Food Trucks Preemption Moves Through Committee
CS/SB 474  (Albritton), the deregulation of certain professions and occupations bill, was amended in the Commerce and Tourism Committee 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)
Budget Update & FRS Rates 
Both the House and the Senate are poised to approve their respective budgets next week. SB 2500 (Appropriations) and HB 5001 (Appropriations) passed their committees this week and will be on the special order calendar on February 12. The spending plans are still substantially different with the House proposed spending set at $91.4 billion and the Senate spending $92.8 billion for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Also, passing the final committees in each chamber are SB 7044 (Government Oversight and Accountability) and HB 5007 (Appropriations) which set the employer contribution rates for the Florida Retirement System for next fiscal year. (Hughes)