Legislative Update – April 14, 2017

The Constitutional Revision Commission has scheduled five more public hearings in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Bay County, Lee County and Hillsborough County.  Click here for more information. All public hearings and meetings of the Commission can be viewed through a live-stream on the Florida Channel or viewed via video archive here.

The 2017 Legislative Session has three weeks left before it is scheduled to end on May 5.   Discussions are beginning to focus on the budget.  There is approximately a four billion dollar difference between the House and Senate  budgets; an overview of major differences can be read here.

The latest Bill Tracking report dated April 14 can be viewed here. This report shows the bills that APA Florida is tracking, the status of each bill and the committee in which each bill sits.  Note that substantive subcommittees in the House have completed their meeting schedule;  House bills still in a subcommittee are likely to not move further.

The following discussion highlights those bills which have had action over the past week. If you do not see a bill, its status likely did not change since the last report.  Refer to the Bill Tracking Report or to the website to review past updates.


Growth Management:

Utilities:  CS/CS/SB 596 (Rep. Hutson), which prohibits FDOT and local governments from regulating collocation of small wireless facilities in public rights-of ways, was temporarily postponed by the Senate Rules Committee, its last committee of reference, on April 12.  Four amendments to the bill have been filed including a strike-all amendment which would add in language that would allow local governments to apply objective design standard requirements.  This amendment also includes language that allows the denial of a colocation request for certain specified reasons related to transportation and pedestrian safety.  The Senate Rules Committee is next scheduled to meet on April 19.  CS/HB 687 (Representative La Rosa), which is substantively similar to CS/CS/SB 596, has been in the House Commerce Committee, its last committee of reference, since March 20 but has not been heard yet. The next opportunity for this committee to meet is on April 19.

Vacation Rentals:  CS/SB 188 (Sen. Steube) is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Community Affairs Committee, its second of three committees of reference, on April 17.  The bill permits a local law, ordinance, or regulation that regulates activities that arise when a property is used as a vacation rental only when such regulation applies uniformly to all residential properties without regard to whether the property is used as a vacation rental or a long-term rental under ch. 83, F.S., or is rented by the property owner.  The bill was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on April 3 but was temporarily postponed after one amendment was adopted. The amendment would allow local governments to require that a copy of the vacation rental license, a copy of the required certificate of registration and an emergency contact telephone number be submitted to the local government. Two other amendments were filed but not acted on:  1)  one would provide that the bill provisions do not apply to a vacation rental owned in whole or in part by a person who is activated, deployed or temporarily assigned to military service; and 2)  a substitute for 1 above that would say that the bill provisions do  not apply to a vacation rental owned in whole or part by a  person on active duty or temporary duty or owned by a disabled veteran with a disability of 30 percent or more.

HB 425 (Rep. La Rosa), which prohibits local governments from restricting, prohibiting or regulating vacation rentals solely on their classification, use, or occupancy, is in the House Commerce Committee, its last committee of reference.  The next opportunity for this committee to meet is on April 19.

Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems: CS/CS/CS/HB 285 (Rep. Fine) has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for April 18. The bill requires that sellers statewide must provide buyers with a disclosure that the property contains an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system.  The bill includes specific language that must be included in the disclosure; this language was amended by the House Commerce Committee during its meeting on April 6.  The bill also requires the Department of Health to identify all onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems in the state and submit a report on the number and location to the Governor, Senate President and House Speaker by January 1, 2019.  Note there is no related bill in the Senate.

Vessels:  CS/SB 1338 (Sen. Book)  provides, among other things, that local governments may enact and enforce regulations to require vessel owners or operators to provide proof of properly disposed of sewage in marked boundaries of a permitted mooring field and designated no discharge zones.  Before such a regulation can be adopted, the local government must provide adequate pumpout services and the regulation must be approved by the FWCC.  A local government is not prohibited from enacting or enforcing pumpout requirements for live-aboard vessels with in any area of its jurisdiction.   The bill was reported favorably on April 13 by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, its second of three committees of reference. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which next meets on April 20.  A similar bill, CS/HB 7043 (Rep. Raschein), was to have been heard by the House Government Accountability Committee on April 6 but it was not considered.  The next opportunity for this committee to meet is on April 19.

Economic Development/Redevelopment:

Community Redevelopment Agencies: CS/SB 1770 (Sen. Lee) was moved favorably by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on April 3.  As originally filed, the bill provides for the eventual phase-out of CRAs, in existence on July 1, 2017, at the earlier of the expiration date stated in the CRA’s charter or on September 30, 2037, with the exception of those CRAs with any outstanding bond obligations. Additionally, on or after July 1, 2017, the governing body of a county or municipality may create a CRA only by a super majority vote of the members of the governing body of the county or municipality. The bill also makes a number of changes to increase accountability and transparency for CRAs.  The bill was amended by the Senate Community Affairs Committee; among the changes were the following:

  • adds language that would allow a local government to vote to continue an existing CRA beyond the proposed expiration date through a supermajority vote.
  • amends the definition of blighted area to include four additional criteria related to unemployment rates, poverty rates, foreclosure rates and infant mortality rates
  • deletes existing language that allows local governments to define blight through an interlocal agreement
  • amends the makeup of the CRA governing body to require the appointment of two additional members , that are not elected officials, with expertise in certain areas
  • deletes some of the proposed performance data
  • amends the date after which redevelopment trust fund money can only be spent pursuant to an adopted annual budget from July 1, 2017 to October 1, 2017 to coincide with the fiscal year of local governments

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Committee, its second of four committees of reference, on April 18.

CS/CS/HB 13 (Rep. Rayburn), which originally proposed the termination of existing CRAs by September 30, 2037, was amended through a strike-all amendment by the House Ways & Means Committee on April 5.   Among the amendments, the bill now include language that would allow a local government to vote to continue an existing CRA beyond the proposed expiration date through a supermajority vote, similar to the amendment to SB 1170.  It was not amended to include the language that would allow new CRAs to be created after July 1, 2017, which is found in the Senate version. The bill also includes a number of changes to increase accountability and transparency for CRAs.  The bill is in the House Government Accountability Committee, its last committee of reference, whose next opportunity to meet is April 19.

 Schools:

Public Educational Facilities:  CS/SB 642 (Sen. Garcia) was reported favorably, with two amendments by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education on April 13.    The bill specifies, for the purposes of determining the capacity of school facilities as reported in the Florida Inventory of School Houses, that a school containing kindergarten through grade 5 is considered an elementary school and a school containing students in grades 6 through 8 is considered a middle school.   It was amended to clarify that this classification applies to school facilities that are K-8 schools.  It now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, its last committee of reference, whose next opportunity to meet is April 20.  A similar bill, HB 559 (Rep. Duran) is in the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee.

Shared Use of Public School Playground Facilities:  CS/HB 1131 (Rep. Drake), has been placed on the House Calendar.  It creates a new section in Chapter 1013 which directs the Department of Education to promote the shared use of playground facilities.  Additionally, a Shared Use Task Force would be created to identify barriers in creating shared use agreements and make recommendations to facilitate shared use in high-need communities.  The task force is required to submit a report of its findings to the Senate President and House Speaker by June 30, 2018, upon which it will expire.  CS/SB 984 (Sen. Bean), a similar bill, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Prek-12 Education, its second of three committees of reference, on April 18.

Water/Natural Resources:

Water Resources:
  CS/SB 10 E1 (Sen. Bradley) establishes options for providing additional water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, including the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir and the C-51 reservoir project.   It also establishes the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program within DEO to provide training and other services to stimulate job creation in areas of agricultural unemployment.  The bill was passed by the Senate, with two floor amendments, on April 12.  One amendment changed the timeframe for getting congressional approval; the other amendment expanded the scope of the training program to include industry jobs with verifiable interest in operating in the Everglades Agricultural Area and  in those counties that provide for water storage and dispersed water storage that is located in Rural Areas of Opportunity.


Land Acquisition Trust Fund: CS/CS/CS/SB 234 E1 (Senator Bradley) was passed by the Senate on April 13.  It requires $20 million to be appropriated from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund annually to the St. Johns River Water Management District for projects dedicated to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region.  The bill was amended on the floor to amend the allocation from $45 million to $20 million. An amendment to include a provision that would require the annual  dedication of a minimum of 25% of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund each year, for acquiring conservation and recreation lands through the Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust programs, was withdrawn on the bill’s second reading.

 Miscellaneous:

Small Food Retailers:  CS/SB 1592 (Sen. Bean), was reported favorably with a minor amendment by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources on April 13.  The bill establishes a three-year Healthy Food Assistance Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  The purpose of the program is to provide a process for small food retailers to receive assistance for projects that increase the availability and sales of fresh and nutritious food, including fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafood in low-income and moderate-income communities. The program would end on June 30, 2020 unless reenacted by the Legislature.  It was reported favorably by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources on April 13.  It now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, its last committee of reference as the reference to the Rules Committee was removed on March 28.  A similar bill, CS/HB 1083 (Rep. Lee Jr.) is in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Unmanned Aircraft:  CS/HB 1027 (Rep. Yarborough) vests the authority to regulate the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) with the state.  However, this would not limit the authority of a local government to enact or enforce local ordinances relating to nuisances, voyeurism, harassment, reckless endangerment, property damage, or other illegal acts arising from the use of unmanned aircraft systems if such laws or ordinances are not specifically related to the use of an unmanned aircraft system for those illegal acts.   The bill has been placed on the House Special Order calendar for April 18.  CS/SB 832 (Sen. Young) is a similar bill and is in the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, its third of four committees of reference, whose next opportunity to meet is April 19.