February 2, 2018
Week 4 - 2018 Session
Never forget that there is strength in numbers.
Preemptions are the deepest wounds on the skin of Home Rule. Legislators in the state Capitol are trying to bleed out local governments’ life force and essence. When you sustain an injury, what do you do to stop the bleeding? You apply pressure.

That’s exactly what our city officials must continue to do. Apply pressure to stop the continued assault on Home Rule. No one knows the needs of a community better than the local elected officials chosen by that community. No one is more committed to the success of the city and to the quality of life of its residents. Just like citizens hold municipal officials accountable, municipal officials can put significant pressure on the legislators who represent their communities.

It’s week four of the legislative session. This week, we were thrilled to welcome to Tallahassee a huge turnout for Legislative Action Days. A total of 192 city officials met with their representatives and senators about the issues of importance to their communities.

The significance of this presence cannot be overstated. The best way to exert influence in this process is to engage: Call your legislators. Let them how a bill affects your city. Better still, show up like the 192 Florida League of Cities members who traveled to Tallahassee this week. There is still time.

Never forget that there is strength in numbers. The more local voices spoken, the more legislators must listen. Keep the pressure up: together, we can minimize the damage to 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.
Constitution Revision Commission
Delivers Mixed Results for Florida's Cities
Proposal 95 Preempting the Regulation of Commerce, Trade & Labor
This morning, Friday, February 2, the CRC Local Government Committee voted down Proposal 95 ( Tom Lee ). Proposal 95 would have created an extremely broad and vague preemption of local government ability to regulate commerce, trade or labor. As drafted, Proposal 95 may have prohibited local government regulation of an activity taking place within the city, even if the city established a reasonable nexus between the activity and its citizens’ health, safety and welfare.
Last week, when the Local Government Committee had previously considered Proposal 95, they voted down an amendment, supported by Senator Lee, that attempted to make Proposal 95 less egregious. That amendment failed and a final vote on Proposal 95 was postponed until today. This morning, Senator Lee asked the Committee to vote down his own Proposal, partly because the amendment he supported had been voted down in last week’s Committee meeting. Senator Lee stated the Proposal wasn’t ready for “Prime Time” and he will continue to work on the language as a possible amendment on the floor of the CRC. We will keep you posted if this issue progresses. CRC Commissioner Bob Solari gave an impassioned speech in support of local governments and the need to protect Home Rule. Watch the recording (speech starts at 21:31). ( Cruz )
Proposal 61 A Transparent Preemption Process
Also this morning, Proposal 61 ( Chris Smith ) failed to pass the CRC Legislative Committee by a vote of 2-2. Proposal 61 would have created a transparent process for the legislature to preempt the Home Rule authority of municipalities. The Proposal would have required the Legislature to enact each preemption of Home Rule authority as a stand-alone bill, rather than tacked on to “must-pass” legislation during the final hours of the legislative session, without the benefit of a full debate in broad daylight. Unfortunately, three members of the Legislative Committee were not in attendance to vote on Proposal 61. Please thank CRC Commissioners Darryl Rouson and Belinda Keiser for voting Yes on Proposal 61.
Schedule for Public Meetings Posted
This was the last week of CRC committee meetings. The CRC will now hold public hearings around the state. Visit our resource page for a schedule of dates and locations. 
Firefighter Cancer Benefits
This week, both the House and Senate bills that mandate a package of benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer were heard. The bills entitle firefighters that receive any diagnosis of cancer to receive a benefit package, at no cost to the firefighter, that includes health insurance that covers cancer treatment and reimbursement for coinsurance, copays and deductibles, and a cash payout of $25,000. These benefits must be available to the firefighter for 10 years after they leave employment. The benefit package also includes disability retirement and death benefits. The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee amended and approved CS/SB 900 ( Flores ).

The amendment did address a few of the League’s concerns. Specifically, it clarifies that the cash payout of $25,000 is a one-time payout due at the initial cancer diagnoses. Unfortunately, the amendment does not address the League’s greatest concerns, including that it covers any and all cancer diagnoses; as such, the League remains opposed to the bill. The House companion measure, HB 695 ( Latvala ), was the focus of a workshop by the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee. No vote was taken. At this time, the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee is not excepted to meet again this session. ( Hughes )
Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders/Mental or Nervous Injury (PTSD)
This week, the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee passed CS/HB 227 ( Willhite ). The legislation provides that a mental or nervous injury suffered by a first responder is compensable under the workers’ compensation law if the mental or nervous injury was shown to meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The bill could have a significant fiscal impact to workers compensation insurance premiums paid by cities.
CS/HB 227 was amended in the Subcommittee to require the mental or nervous injury resulted from the first responder acting within the course of his or her employment and witnessing a murder, suicide, fatal injury, child death, or mass killing or treating or transporting a deceased child or the victim of a murder, suicide, or fatal injury. The amended version of CS/HB 227 maintains a clear and convincing evidentiary standard. The bill now requires new first responder hires to undergo a pre-employment mental health examination to reveal any pre-existing diagnosis of PTSD. Lastly, 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 Rentals
The Senate Community Affairs Committee heard CS/SB 1400 ( Steube ) this week in committee, a bill that completely preempts the regulation of vacation rentals to the state. The meeting was filled with chaos and confusion, multiple strike-all amendments, and even two hand-written amendments thrown in for good measure. ( Watch the recording. The vacation rental discussion starts at 14:00. ) When the dust settled, and despite the compelling testimony from city officials in the audience, the preemption bill passed the committee on a 4-3 vote. SB 1400 now travels to its second committee of reference, Regulated Industries, and will most likely be on next week’s agenda. The House companion, HB 773 ( LaRosa ), will also most likely be heard next week in the Government Accountability Committee. We will send out a legislative alert if either bill makes it on an agenda next week. ( Cook
New Bill Would Create New State Office to Investigate Misuse of Public Funds by State and Local Governments
PCB PIE-04 ( 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. ( O’Hara )
Tree Preemption Pruned, Prompting Movement in House and Senate 
CS/HB 521 ( Edwards ) was substantially amended this week in the House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee. As amended, the bill no longer preempts local government regulation of tree trimming on private property. Instead, the bill preemptions local government regulation of tree trimming by state agencies and special districts in rights-of-way needed for flood protection and drainage control. The amended bill language is muddy and overbroad (it applies to community development districts, neighborhood improvement districts, and may not be limited to rights-of-way only used for drainage), but the sponsor is willing to work on ways to tighten it up. The Senate companion measure, SB 574 ( Steube) is on the agenda for the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 6. An amendment similar to CS/HB 521 has been filed.  Unfortunately, the amendment to SB 574 also includes language to remove an existing statutory exception for certain local government tree protection ordinances relating to electric utility line rights-of-way. The League opposes the removal of this provision . ( O’Hara )
Interruption of Services Bill Heads to House Commerce Committee
CS/HB 971 ( Fine ) and SB 1368 ( Mayfield ) would require municipalities to issue credits or refunds to customers for missed solid waste collection. The bills do not require a customer provide any notice to the municipality of a missed collection, and make no exception for interruptions caused by natural disasters. CS/HB 971 passed the Energy & Utilities Subcommittee and is expected to be heard next week by the Commerce Committee. SB 1368 has not yet been heard. ( O’Hara )
Smoking in Public Parks
CS/SB 562 ( Mayfield) flew through its second committee of reference this week. The bill which allows cities to prohibit smoking in municipal parks and is supported by the League, passed the Senate Health Policy Committee on an 8-0 vote. ( Cook
Impact Fees for Affordable Housing Developments
The Senate Community Affairs Committee passed  SB 1328 ( Perry) which creates additional processes to expedite the development of affordable housing. Of specific concern to the League, the bill preempts local government from charging mobility fees and impact fees for the development of affordable housing for a five-year period beginning July 1, 2018. The House bill, HB 987 (Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Committee) has passed one of its three committees of reference. The League opposes the bills. ( Branch)
Local Government Fiscal Transparency
The Senate Committee Affairs Committee passed SB 1426 ( Lee ) which 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. HB 7 ( Burton ) passed the House last week (vote: 91 Yeas / 12 Nays) and is now in Senate messages. ( Hughes
House and Senate Propose Changes to State Ethics Code to Address Sexual Harassment
CS/SB 1628 ( Book ) would amend the state Code of Ethics to prohibit public officers, employees and lobbyists from sexually harassing any person. The bill was substantially amended in the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee to impose new legal duties, standards, enforcement and increased penalties applicable to state and local public officers and employees, state and local government lobbyists, and private individuals, relating to sexual harassment.  HB 7007 ( Public Integrity & Ethics Committee ) is a bill addressing state government ethics reform. The bill was amended this week to include various changes to the state Code of Ethics relating to sexual harassment. These changes are applicable to local government, as well as state government public officials and employees. The amended bill defines “sexual harassment” in the Code of Ethics and prohibits it in the workplace and in the conduct of public business. The amendment would require state and local agencies to establish policies and rules consistent with provisions and procedures required by the new law. 

The League supports measures to protect public officials and employees from sexual harassment in the workplace and in the conduct of public business, but municipal officials and their attorneys should carefully look at these proposals to determine municipal impact and identify implementation issues that should be pointed out to legislators. ( O’Hara )
Wastewater Utility Incentives Bills on the Move  
CS/HB 837 ( Edwards ) and SB 244 ( Brandes ) establish a statewide voluntary program for wastewater treatment system assessments, investments, rehabilitation, and electric power outage mitigation planning. The bills provide regulatory incentives for utilities to implement the program. HB 837 passed the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee this week, and SB 244 will be considered Monday by the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee. The League supports the bills. ( O’Hara )
Storm Debris and Solid Waste Bill Scaled Back to Exclude Storm Debris Provisions
CS/HB 879 ( Toledo ) and SB 1326 ( Baxley ) expand the statutory definition of “recovered materials” to include wood, asphalt and concrete. The bills also include provisions that require local governments to suspend exclusive contracts for storm-generated debris under specified circumstances, and prohibit the use of exclusive contracts after a specified date. CS/HB 879 passed the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee with an amendment that stripped everything out of the bill except for the change in definition for “recovered materials.” This amendment addressed the League’s primary objections to CS/HB 879. The Senate bill has not yet been heard.  (O’Hara )
Economic Development
CS/SB 1714 ( Perry ), a bill establishing reporting and accountability requirements for economic development and tourism-promotion agencies, passed through the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee this week. If your city handles economic development in house, you need to review this bill to ensure that your operations will not be impacted. ( Cook
Local Tax Referenda
CS/CS/HB 317 ( Ingoglia ) passed the full House (vote: 84 Yeas / 27 Nays) this week and is now awaiting Senate action. The bill amends when a local government may put a local discretionary surtax ballot initiative before the voters. The bill now requires a referendum to adopt or amend a local discretionary surtax be held at a state general election, and would require a simple majority of voter approval for passage. CS/CS/SB 272 ( Brandes ) still has two committees of reference remaining, Senate Appropriations and Senate Rules. ( Hughes
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.