February 16, 2018
Week 6 - 2018 Session
Since the shooting incident in Parkland on Wednesday afternoon, it has been very difficult to stay focused on ordinary day-to-day life. While there continues to be much work at hand, the buzz in the Capitol quieted as state lawmakers joined local leaders in Southeast Florida to be with the families and friends of the victims. On behalf of the League, our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the students, teachers, first responders, citizens of Parkland and all affected by the shooting. Let our vision for tomorrow be greater than our fears of yesterday.
The common traits found in Olympians are particularly relevant to advocacy.
The 23 rd Winter Olympics is being held in PyeongChang, South Korea, through February 25. Athletes are competing in three main disciplines  – snow sports, ice sports and sliding sports.

From the Nigerian bobsled team to the shirtless Tongan cross-country skier who trained by strapping 2x4s to his feet while running on the Tongan beaches, and the Kenyan alpine skier to the American speed skater who only months before the Olympic Trials was an inline skater racing on wheels (not ice), the athletes dedicate themselves to doing their very best and rising to the occasion. The time the Olympians have on the world’s stage is often quite limited – some contests last less than a minute while the grueling 50 km cross country skiing races can last almost two hours. 

Despite the wide variety of sports and athleticism being showcased, there are common traits found in all the Olympians: discipline, sacrifice, a laser-like focus on the task at hand, and the ability to push themselves out of their comfort zone and not fear failure. These traits can be useful in other endeavors, but they are particularly relevant and applicable to sports and advocacy.

As we draw closer to the end of the 2018 legislative session (scheduled to conclude on March 9), we must remain focused, and we must leave nothing on the field. We need to remain disciplined, not only in our advocacy efforts but also in our messaging. To succeed takes sacrifice – please take the time out of your already busy schedules to make those phone calls, send those emails or texts, and keep the pressure on your legislators to defend Home Rule!
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.
Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders/ Mental or Nervous Injury (PTSD)
The League commends our first responders for the sacrifices they make in the line of duty. At times, such as this week’s mass killing in the City of Parkland, a first responder acting within the course of his or her employment may experience a horrific event that is responsible for a mental or nervous injury, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Currently, first responders suffering from PTSD may receive medical benefits under workers’ compensation but not wage/indemnity benefits.

Under bills being considered this session, workers’ compensation benefits would be expanded to include wage benefits for first responders suffering from PTSD. While the League of Cities wants to ensure those individuals suffering from job-related PTSD get the care and benefits they deserve, the League is likewise concerned with broadening workers’ compensation benefits to include wage benefits for PTSD without protections for potential abuse.

This week, CS/CS/HB 227 ( Willhite) was significantly amended in the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee to address most of the Leagues concerns. As amended, the bill details specific traumatic events that would qualify a first responder to be compensable under the workers’ compensation law for lost wages, if a mental or nervous injury was shown to meet the criteria for PTSD as determined by a psychiatrist. The amended version of CS/CS/HB 227 requires a clear and convincing evidentiary standard be met by the first responder. The bill was amended to require a first responder to receive a diagnosis of PTSD within 30 days of the qualifying event or 30 days from the manifestation of the disorder, whichever is later, but cannot be more than a year after the qualifying event. Finally, CS/CS/HB 227 requires an employing agency of a first responder to provide educational training related to mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation and treatment. ( Cruz)
Vacation Rental Preemption Stalls 
Chalk one up for the good guys! HB 773 ( La Rosa), everyone’s favorite vacation rental preemption bill, was on the agenda of the Government Accountability Committee, but not considered, possibly because the bill did not have the votes to pass the committee. The bill is not dead yet and can be heard next Thursday when the Government Accountability Committee meets again – keep the pressure up!

The countless calls and emails from city officials to their representatives made the difference this week and shows the powerful force we can be when our members are engaged. A special thank you goes out to St. Augustine City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline and City Manager John Regan for travelling to Tallahassee for the second straight week to voice their opposition to the bill. ( Cook
Public Records Declaratory Actions Dies in Senate
SB 750 ( Perry) died in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week after cities and counties objected to the bill. Cities receive numerous public record requests and, in some cases, staff may not be sure if the record is exempt, confidential, or even a public record. Current law allows cities to ask the courts for clarification in these instances, but the bill would have prohibited this from happening in the future. ( Cook)
Municipal Elections Preemption Passes House & Progresses in Senate
CS/SB 1262 ( Hutson) and HB 7037 ( Gov’t Accountability Committee) preempt municipal authority to determine the dates for municipal elections and would require municipalities to hold general elections on specified dates, and would require runoff elections to be held on specified dates. HB 7037 passed the House February 14 th with 70 Yeas – 45 Nays. Please thank House members who voted NO on this bill. CS/SB 1262 will be heard in the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 20. Please contact Senators on Community Affairs and urge them to vote NO on CS/SB 1262. Click here for the alert, complete with talking points & contact details for committee members. ( O’Hara)
Travel Bill Tweaked, More Changes In Store
CS/HB 815 ( Avila) and CS/SB 1180 ( Steube) as originally filed would have imposed significant limitations, reporting requirements and prohibitions on local government officer and employee travel. CS/HB 815 was amended in its initial committee and was amended again this week to remove most of the restrictions in the original bill. As amended, the remaining provisions: prohibit reimbursement for foreign travel by elected officials; require out-of-state travel by elected officials be approved in advance by the governing body at a regularly scheduled public meeting (allowing for ratification post-travel upon showing of good cause); require posting of travel by elected officials on government’s webpage for specified timeframe rather than sending to Commission on Ethics; and require incumbent local government candidates to post campaign finance reports on qualifying officer’s website instead of the local government’s website. The amended bill removes provisions requiring Form 6 financial disclosure, provisions restricting travel reimbursement to 24-hour period before and after travel event, provisions imposing a $120 cap on lodging; and provisions applying these new requirements to public employees. CS/SB 1180 passed the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee with a “strike-all” amendment that eliminates most of the restrictions of the original bill. Instead, the amended bill would require elected officials seeking reimbursement for any travel expenses (in-state, out-of-state or international) to first obtain approval for the travel from the governing body at a regularly scheduled meeting. Post-travel ratification by the governing body would be permitted for “good cause”. In addition, the amended bill requires that travel approvals be accompanied by an itemized list of anticipated expenses, and requires the approvals to be posted on the government’s website for a specified period. Even with this amendment, several Senators questioned the appropriateness of requiring public hearings for in-state travel and expressed a desire to see the requirement narrowed to foreign and out-of-state travel. CS/SB 1180 will be on the agenda of Senate Community Affairs Committee for Tuesday, Feb. 20th. ( O’Hara)
Amended Tree Preemption Senate Bill Far Worse Than Original Bill
CS/HB 521  ( Edwards-Walpole ) and CS/SB 574 ( Steube ) would preempt local government tree ordinances as applied to private property. CS/HB 521 was substantially amended and no longer preempts ordinances as applied to private property. Instead, the bill prohibits local governments from regulating tree trimming by state agencies and special districts in rights-of-way used for flood protection and drainage control.  CS/SB 574  (Steube) passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee with a “strike all” amendment that incorporates the narrowed House bill language on drainage rights-of-way. Unfortunately, the amendment also includes language that removes an existing statutory exception for certain local government tree protection ordinances relating to electric utility line rights-of-way, makes local governments liable to electric utilities for power outages and infrastructure damage caused by trees and vegetation, and preempts tree and vegetation regulations applied to single family residential property during declared states of emergency. The League  opposes  CS/SB 574 and thanks Senators Bean & Rodriguez for voting against it. The bill heads next to the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee. ( O’Hara )
Cancer Benefits for Firefighters Moves in Senate  
On Tuesday, the Senate Community Affairs Committee approved CS/CS/SB 900 ( Flores) after much discussion regarding the bill. CS/CS/SB 900 mandates a package of benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer. The package of benefits include treatment for cancer for ten years post-employment, a $25,000 cash payout, disability retirement and death benefits. The committee did limit the number of cancers covered to 21 different cancers. The bill has two more committee stops in the Senate. The House bill, HB 695 ( Latvala) has three committee stops left. ( Hughes)
Misuse of Public Funds By State and Local Governments Bill Moves Ahead 
HB 7073 ( Public Integrity & Ethics Committee ) creates the position of Florida Accountability Officer to investigate complaints alleging waste, fraud, abuse, misconduct, or gross mismanagement in connection with the expenditure of public funds by state and local government. The bill also directs the Officer to conduct random audits and inspections of appropriations projects. The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee and heads to the House floor. While there is no Senate companion, the bill will likely become part of budget conference discussions in the final weeks of session. ( O’Hara )
Vegetable Gardens Bill Plows Ahead
This week, the Senate Rules Committee passed SB 1776 ( Bradley ) which preempts local government regulations on vegetable gardens on residential properties. The issue stems from a recent appeals court decision which held a local government ordinance was rationally related to the code’s design standards and landscaping regulations. The bill is now ready to be voted on by the full Senate. There is no House companion bill. ( Cruz )
$405 Million House Tax Cut Package Passes Committee
The House Ways and Means Committee rolled out their version of the tax cut package for 2018. PCB WMC 18-03 ( House Ways and Means Committee) is over $405 million in tax cuts including property tax relief for homestead properties that were damaged by Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew or Irma 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. The fiscal impact on cities is an estimated $4.23 million recurring reduction and $19.89 million non-recurring reduction. ( Hughes)
House Expands Use of Bed Tax Dollars 
The House passed CS/HB 585 ( Fine ) which expands the allowable uses of tourist development tax (TDT) revenues to include building or improving certain public facilities if it is determined, by an objective analysis, to increase tourist-related business activities. The expenditure must be recommended by the tourist development council, approved by the county commission by a 2/3 vote and no more than 70 percent of the proposed public facilities can be paid with TDT revenues. This only applies to counites that collected more than $10 million in TDT the previous fiscal year. The Senate companion bill, SB 658 ( Brandes ) has one more committee stop. ( Hughes )
Affordable Housing Impact and Mobility Fees Prohibition Removed
A CS/CS/HB 987 ( Cortes B .) prohibited local governments from charging impact and mobility fees on affordable housing developments. The bill was amended in committee this week to remove this prohibition. The amended bill also creates the Rental Recovery Loan program for the purpose of providing funds for additional rental housing. The League will continue to monitor the development of this bill. ( Branch)
Constitution Revision Commission Public Hearings
Legislature Urges Congress to Extend Oil Drilling Moratorium
The CRC is holding public hearings around the state. If you plan to speak at a hearing, the CRC has asked that remarks be limited to two minutes and relevant to proposals currently under CRC consideration. During the last week of CRC committee meetings, Proposal 95 (Local Government Preemption) was voted down in the Local Government Committee. Proposal 61 (Transparency in Home Rule Preemptions) was likewise voted down in the Legislative Committee. CRC Rule 4.5 provides a way for a proposal voted down or stuck in committee to be pulled from committee and placed on the special order calendar for the next meeting of the full CRC. Commissioner Tom Lee has indicated that he plans to use Rule 4.5 to bring Proposal 95 before the full CRC; he will need a majority vote to do so. Therefore, our message is to oppose any such motion to pull Proposal 95 from the Local Government Committee where it died; to respect the Committee process and allow the Committee action to stand as final. To request Proposal 61 be revived would be contrary to this message.
Click HERE for a schedule of dates and locations.
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.