January 27-31, 2020
Most associations and interest groups have a designated week or day at the Capitol during session, when their members meet with legislators and make their presence known. This week, children, sheriffs, counties and pediatricians jockeyed for elevator space and thronged the Capitol hallways.

Similarly, week three of session came with crowded committee agendas as legislators sought air time for the hundreds of bills still waiting for that all-important first hearing. Several bills of importance to cities made the cut and were heard for the first time this week, including SB 1336 (Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing) by Perry, SB 772 (Recreational Vehicle Parks) by Hutson, HB 865 (Emergency Reporting) by Rodriguez (Anthony), and SB 1390 (Everglades Protection Area) by Simmons. These bills still have a long way to go -- and as we finish the third week of session -- a short time to get there.

As always, make sure you stay on top of things by tuning into our Monday morning Legislative call-ins , and stand ready to respond to our legislative alerts for action on key issues.  

Keep reading for more highlights on week three and what’s ahead for week four.
Bert Harris Act/Private Property Rights
On Thursday, CS/HB 519 (Grant, J.) passed the House Commerce Committee (13-8). Please thank the following representatives for voting no on CS/HB 519: Rep. Loranne Ausley , Rep. Joseph Casello , Rep. Javier Fernandez , Rep. Al Jacquet , Rep. Evan Jenne , Rep. David Silvers , Rep. Richard Stark and Rep. Matt Willhite .

CS/HB 519 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.

The senate companion, SB 1766 (Lee), is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, February 4 at 12:30 p.m. by the Senate Judiciary Committee . PLEASE CONTACT THE MEMBERS OF THIS COMMITTEE AND ASK THEM TO VOTE AGAINST THIS BAD BILL. Click here for talking points. (Cruz)
House Water Quality Bill Clears First Committee
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/SB 712 saw no action this week, but it’s teed up for a final committee hearing next week in Senate Appropriations with a pending amendment to further address issues raised by stakeholders. HB 1343 passed the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee this week unanimously. It has two additional committee stops before reaching the full House for a vote.  (O’Hara)
Unanimous Committee Vote to Double Environmental Fines
SB 1450 (Gruters) and HB 1091 (Fine) increase civil and administrative fines by 50% for violations of various state environmental laws. The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources passed the bill on January 27. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government. HB 1091 is awaiting its first committee hearing. (O’Hara)
Reclaimed Water Bill Carries Massive Price Tag for Water Utilities
HB 715 (Maggard) and 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 and fiscally constrained governments 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. SB 1656 gets its first hearing next week in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee on February 3. The League OPPOSES the surface water discharge mandate in the bills but SUPPORTS the provisions relating to potable water reuse.  (O’Hara)
Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing Headed to House Floor
On Thursday, The House Commerce Committee passed CS/HB 3 (Grant, M.). 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 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. The League OPPOSES the bill. (Cruz)
Fiduciary Duty Bills Get First Committee Hearings Next Week
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, finance officers, etc.). The bills appear to create legal duties of care for these officials and impose training requirements on them relating to the various duties of care and responsibility 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 will be considered by the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on February 3 and HB 1113 will likely be on agenda for the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee on February 6. The League OPPOSES the bills.  (O’Hara)
Building Design Elements Preempted 
CS/HB 459 (Overdorf) passed out of the Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday. The bill prohibits municipalities adopting zoning and development regulations that require specific building design elements for single- and two- family dwellings, unless certain conditions are met. This legislation would significantly affect municipalities ability to preserve the character of traditional neighborhoods. The League OPPOSES this bill.  (Branch)  
Everglades Protection Bill Lengthens Review Process for Comprehensive Plan Amendments
CS/HB 775 (Avila) and SB 1390 (Simmons) would require comprehensive plan amendments within or near the Everglades Protection Area to undergo the lengthy “state coordinated review process” rather than the faster “expedited” review process under current law. The bills also direct the Department of Environmental Protection to comment on and suggest changes to plan amendments that would adversely impact Everglades Restoration.  The bills have many technical problems, and if your municipality is located in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe or Collier counties, you’re going to want to take a closer look at these bills and talk to your planning department about them.   (O’Hara)  
Electric Bicycles Glide Through Committee 
CS/HB 971(Grant, M.), a bill related to electric bicycles, passed the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Tuesday. The bill creates regulations governing the operation of e-bikes by permitting them to operate where bicycles are allowed. However, local governments would be allowed to prohibit the operations of an e-bike if the entity finds the restriction is necessary in the interest of public safety. The FLC OPPOSES this bill.  (Branch)  
Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Mandate Moves 
SB 1000 (Perry) and HB 1371 (Fine) mandate local government regulation of midblock crosswalks. The bills would require municipalities to either install traffic control devices (unfunded mandate) or remove the midblock crosswalks by October 1, 2024. The FLC OPPOSES these bills.  (Branch)  
CST Rate Cut Bill Up Next Week
Next Monday, February 3, SB 1174 (Hutson) is on the agenda for the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. Please reach out to the members of the committee and let them know we OPPOSE this bill. Click here to view the League's Legislative Action Alert. 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. (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) 
Let’s Compare Apples to Giraffes 
The House State Affairs Committee introduced a proposed committee bill, SAC 20-03, which requires DFS to create a website and mail a report to every household that compares and ranks cities and counties on a mutilated of budget and economic factors. To facilitate this report, local governments will have to submit certain information to DFS. DFS will adopt, by rule, the method and format of the requirement reporting. Some of the information that may need to be submitted includes government spending per capita, government debt per capita, crime rates, school grades, median income and unemployment. Give the difference in municipalities, ranking and comparing municipalities will put data out there that has no value and could cause confusion among residents. The League OPPOSES this bill. (Hughes)
Local Government Fiscal Transparency Sees Its Way Through Committee
HB 1149 (DiCeglie) passed (11-4) the House Ways and Means Committee. 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. The League OPPOSES this bill. (Hughes)
Preemption of Conditions of Employment
HB 305 (Rommel) passed (10-5) the House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. The bill prohibits a political subdivision, including a municipality, from establishing, mandating or otherwise requiring an employer to offer conditions of employment not otherwise required by state or federal law. Examples of conditions of employment include preemployment screenings, hours of work and schedule changes. The bill does not impact the ability of municipalities regulate conditions of employment for their employee or contractors who provide goods or services to the municipality. The League OPPOSES the bill. (Hughes) 
Finally, a Quiet Week for Vacation Rentals
It was a quiet week for the vacation rental bills after an exciting first two weeks. Neither bill was heard, but we’re hearing rumors that both bills will be up on Tuesday, February 11. For those coming to Tallahassee for Legislative Action Days, make sure that you are here by 9:00 a.m. that Tuesday when the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee meets to hear HB 1011 (Fischer). (Cook) 
Public Notices on the Web 
A League-supported bill injecting local control into the state’s public notice laws passed through its second 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 heads to its final committee reference, the House State Affairs Committee. The League SUPPORTS this bill. (Cook) 
Private Property Comprehensive Plan Element
This week, CS/SB 410 (Perry) passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The bill requires local governments to adopt by July 1, 2023, a new mandatory element in their comprehensive plans that addresses the protection of private property rights. The League OPPOSES the legislation due to the costs associated in making the comprehensive plan amendments by the deadline outlined in the bill. (Cruz)
Don’t Sweep the Sadowski Trust Fund
SB 306 (Mayfield), if passed, would prohibit the Legislature from sweeping the Affordable Housing (Sadowski) Trust Fund. This bill is scheduled to be heard on Monday, February 3 at 4:00 p.m. in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee . Please contact the members of this committee. The FLC SUPPORTS this bill. (Branch)
(Another) Record Budget Starts to Take Shape
This third week of the session saw the release of nascent budget plans from the House and Senate. The Florida Senate’s $92.83 billion budget proposal would be about a 2 percent increase over the current year’s budget and includes $643.6 million for water quality and protection-which is an $18.6 million increase over what the governor proposed for water quality spending. The Senate's initial bid also allocates $500 million to increase teacher pay—short of the $602 million proposed by Governor DeSantis. The Senate proposal fully funds affordable-housing programs at $387 million. Also, the Senate said the budget includes such things as a $368.5 million increase in the Department of Transportation’s work program and would not increase tuition in state colleges and universities.

The House budget proposal allocates $646.8 million for environmental/water projects-including $318 million for Everglades restoration ($4 million than requested by the governor), $122 million for stormwater and wastewater grants (including money to fund septic to sewer projects), $20 million for Florida Forever funding (this is significantly lower than the $100 million the governor proposed), $50 million for spring protection and another $50 million for beach restoration projects. The House spending plan sweeps part of the Affordable Housing Trust fund to use in other parts of the budget and designates only $147 million to address affordable housing issues.

Several areas of the budget reflect significant policy differences between the House and Senate as well as between the governor and legislature. These problem areas include teacher pay, affordable housing, and funding for the state’s public-private tourism marketing agency, Visit Florida (the House plan includes no money for this public-private agency responsible for while the senate and governor both allocated $50 million for Visit Florida.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are slated to begin taking up their respective spending plans next week and over the next five weeks the two chambers will hammer out a final spending plan.