Legislative Update – January 12, 2017

The first week of the 2018 Legislative Session has concluded.  On Tuesday, Governor Scott gave his final State of the State  address.

The latest APA Florida Bill Tracking Report, as of January 12, can be viewed here. Of note, the following bills were filed or had action this week:

Growth Management

Annexation of Property: SB 1722 (Sen. Torres) was filed on January 5 and is similar to HB 1121 (Rep. Silvers).  The bills amend the definition of enclave in s. 171.031 to add:

1) Any unincorporated improved or developed area that is enclosed on all sides by at least two municipalities and at  least one of those municipalities provides first responder  services to the area by a formal mutual aid agreement or on an ad hoc basis that requires the nearest first responder to  respond when requested; and
2) Any unincorporated improved or developed area in which at least 75 percent of the area is bounded on three or more sides by one municipality and that municipality provides first responder services to the area by a formal mutual aid agreement  or on an ad hoc basis.

The bills also amend the annexation procedures in s.171.0413 (5) and (6) to state that if the area to be annexed has 25 or fewer registered electors and those electors do not own property in the area to be annexed, a vote of the electors is not required.   They add a new section 171.044 to state that a municipality may annex unincorporated property it owns that is contiguous to its border or is separated from the municipality by a natural or man-made barrier such as a canal, river, rail road right-of-way, or highway right-of-way. The municipal governing body may initiate the annexation process by adopting a resolution of the governing body in lieu of requiring a petition of property owners.  Finally, the bills add a new subsection in s. 171.046 which states that, when two or more municipalities form an enclave, as defined in s. 171.031, the most appropriate jurisdiction to annex the property shall be the municipality providing services to the enclave. If more than one municipality provides services or proposes to provide services to the enclave, then any of the municipalities providing services or proposing to provide services may annex any portion of the enclave pursuant to the provisions of subsection (2) as long as the entire enclave is annexed by one or more of the eligible municipalities under this section.

Impact/Permit Fees:   CS/HB 697 (Rep. Miller), a strike-all amendment, was moved favorably by the Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on January 10.   The amendment made technical changes to s. 163.31801, F.S., and provides a limitation on the timing of collecting impact fees to no earlier than the issuance of a building permit.  (The bill as originally filed stated that fees could not be collected earlier than the certificate of occupancy.)  The bill also codifies requirements for imposing and using impact fees articulated by the Florida Supreme Court in St. Johns County v. Northeast Florida Builders Association, Inc., 583 So. 2d 635, 637 (Fla. 1991). Under the amendment, impact fees will be required to have a rational nexus to both the need for additional capital facilities and the expenditure of funds collected and the benefits accruing to the new construction. Local governments will be required to designate the funds collected by the impact fees for acquiring the capital facilities to benefit the new residents. Finally, impact fees collected by a local government may not be used to pay existing debt or pay for prior approved projects unless such expenditure has a rational nexus to the impact generated by the new construction.  The bill now moves to the House Ways & Means Committee, its second of three committees of reference.

Linear Facilities:   HB 405 (Rep. Williamson) and SB 494 (Sen. Lee) are identical bills which amend two of the items excluded from the definition of “development” in relation to the Florida Electrical Power Plant Siting Act by:

  • Providing that the exclusion for work done on established rights-of-way applies to established rights-of-way and corridors and to rights-of way and corridors to be established; and
  • Providing that the exclusion for the creation of specified types of property rights applies to creation of distribution and transmission corridors. The bill makes identical changes to the definition of “development” in the Florida Local Government Development Agreement Act.

HB 405 was moved favorably by the House Commerce Committee, its last committee of reference on January 11 and placed on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading.  SB 494 was temporarily postponed by the Senate Community Affairs Committee, its last committee of reference, on December 5 but is scheduled to be heard in committee on January 16.

Sports Franchise Facilities:  HB 13 (Rep. Avila) would prohibit a sports franchise from constructing, reconstructing, renovating, or improving a facility on public land leased from the state or a political subdivision thereof. The bill also requires a lease of a facility on public land by the state or a political subdivision to a sports franchise to be at fair market value. In addition, the bill requires a sale of public land by the state or a political subdivision for a sports franchise to construct, reconstruct, renovate, or improve a facility on such land to be at fair market value. The bill requires a contract or agreement, or a renewal of or an amendment to an existing contract or agreement, entered into on or after July 1, 2018, between the state or a political subdivision and a sports franchise to fund the construction, reconstruction, renovation, or improvement of a facility to include a provision requiring the sports franchise to pay any outstanding debt incurred by the state or political subdivision to fund such construction, reconstruction, renovation, or improvement if the sports franchise permanently discontinues use of the facility.  The bill specifies that the provisions in the bill may not be construed to impair any contract entered into before July 1, 2018, without the consent of the parties.

This bill was moved favorably by the House Government Accountability Committee, its only committee of reference, on October 10 and was placed on the Special Order Calendar on January 11.  It was read the 2nd time and placed on Third Reading.  SB 352 (Sen. Garcia), a similar bill, has been referred to four committees of reference.

Vegetable Gardens:  SB 1176, filed on January 5 by Senator Bradley, would prohibit local governments from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties. The bill is awaiting committee assignment.

Economic Development

Community Redevelopment Agencies: CS/HB 17 (Representative Raburn), placed on Third Reading on January 11, provides that the creation of new CRAs on or after October 1, 2018, may only occur by special act of the Legislature. It provides for the eventual phase-out of existing CRAs at the earlier of the expiration date stated in the agency’s charter or on September 30, 2038, with the exception of those CRAs with any outstanding bond obligations. However, phase-out may be prevented if a supermajority of board members serving on the board of the entity that created the CRA vote to retain the agency. The bill provides a process for the Department of Economic Opportunity to declare a CRA inactive if it has no revenue, expenditures, and debt for three consecutive fiscal years.

This bill also contains several elements intended to increase accountability and transparency for CRAs by:

  • Requiring the governing board members of a CRA to undergo four hours of ethics training annually;
  • Requiring each CRA to use the same procurement and purchasing processes as the creating county or municipality;
  • Expanding the annual reporting requirements for CRAs to include audit information and performance data and requiring the information and data to be posted on the agency website;
  • Providing that moneys in the redevelopment trust fund may only be expended pursuant to an annual budget adopted by the board of commissioners of the CRA and only for those purposes specified in current law beginning October 1, 2018;
  • Authorizing the local governing body creating the CRA to adjust the level of tax increment financing available to the CRA;
  • Requiring a CRA created by a municipality to provide its budget and any amendments to the board of county commissioners for the county in which the CRA is located by a time certain; and
  • Requiring counties and municipalities to include CRA data in their annual financial report.

CS/HB 17 was moved favorably by the House Government Accountability Committee, its only committee of reference, on November 14 and was placed on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading. On January 11, it was placed Third Reading.

Economic Development and Tourism Promotion Accountability:  CS/HB 3 (Rep. Grant), duplicates many of the accountability and transparency requirements put in place last session for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, and imposes those same requirements on local economic and tourist development agencies.  The bill was moved favorably by the House Ways and Means Committee, its second of two committees of reference, on January 9.  A similar bill, SB 1714 (Sen. Perry) was filed on January 5.

 Rural Communities:  HB 1415 (Rep. Beshears), which would create the Florida Rural Community Jobs and Business Resiliency Act”, was filed on January 9.  The bill is similar to SB 990 (Sen. Montford) and would allow the creation of rural growth funds, defined as an entity certified by DEO pursuant to certain criteria, which are intended to invest in rural businesses in counties of 75,000 or less. HB 1415 is awaiting committee assignment and SB 990 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on January 16.

Rural Economic Development Initiative:  CS/SB 170 (Sen. Grimsley) makes several changes to the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI).  The Senate Agriculture Committee moved the bill favorably om January 11 with a change to the definition of a rural area of opportunity; the committee substitute clarifies that a community must meet one of the criteria to be a rural area of opportunity, not all of them.  The bill amends the REDI program by:

  • Reducing the number of specified agencies and organizations that are required to designate REDI representatives;
  • Clarifying which individuals from specified agencies and organizations must be designated as REDI representatives;
  • Providing for the appointment of five additional members from the private sector:
    three of the private sector members appointed by the executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), one appointed by the President of the Senate, and one appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
  • Modifying the goals of the REDI to include job creation, community infrastructure, the development and expansion of a skilled workforce, and improved access to healthcare;
  • Modifying the definition of “rural area of opportunity” to include a rural community that faces competitive disadvantages including low labor force participation, low education levels, high unemployment, a school district grade of “D” or “F” pursuant to s. 1008.34, high infant mortality rates, and high rates of diabetes and obesity;
  • Requiring the REDI to focus its efforts on the challenges of the state’s RAOs and economically distressed rural communities, and to work with private organizations that have an interest in the renewed prosperity and competitiveness of these communities;
  • Clarifying that the REDI shall undertake outreach and capacity-building efforts in order to improve rural communities’ ability to compete in a global economy;
  • Removing the limitation on the number of RAOs that may be designated by the Governor;
  • Requiring the REDI’s annual report to be submitted to the DEO, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by September 1st of each year; and
  • Requiring the annual report to include an evaluation of organizational progress and a description of the accomplishments of the REDI.

The bill now moves to the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, its third of four committees of reference.  A similar bill, HB 1403 (Rep. Avila) was filed on January 9 and is awaiting committee assignment.

Environment/Natural Lands:

Florida Forever Trust Fund:  CS/SB 370 (Sen. Bradley) was moved favorably by the Senate Appropriations Committee, its last committee of reference on January 11.  The committee amended the bill to include language that would prohibit certain moneys in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund from being used for costs associated with certain budget entities.  The bill creates a statutory distribution from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund requiring $100 million to be appropriated annually to the Florida Forever Trust Fund. Funds appropriated into the Florida Forever Trust Fund are required to be distributed in accordance with the Florida Forever Act.  HB 1353 (Rep. Beshears), which is identical to SB 370 as originally filed, was filed on January 8 and is awaiting committee assignment.

Transportation

Metropolitan Planning Agencies:   HB 575 (Rep. Beshears) and SB 1516 (Sen. Perry) are identical bills that amend the membership of all MPO governing boards.  The bills provide that MPOs serving designated urbanized areas with populations of 500,000 or fewer will consist of at least 5 but not more than 11 apportioned members. For MPOs in urbanized areas with populations of more than 500,000, its membership will be at least five but no more than 15 apportioned members. The remainder of the statute regarding the number of members on an MPO board remains the same. The bills also prohibit the entire county commission from being members of an MPO’s governing board.  MPOs would be required to adopt bylaws governing its operation, including voting privileges. However, an MPO may not adopt a weighted voting structure. The bills retain the requirement that MPO membership is appointed on an equitable geographic-population basis. The bills establish term limits for MPO members, providing that members serve 4-year terms and may be reappointed for one additional 4-year term. Currently, there are not term limits for MPO members. The bill provides that notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, by July 1, 2019, each MPO must update its membership, interlocal agreements, governing documents, and other relevant information to comply with changes made by the bill.

HB 575 was moved favorably by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference on January 10 and is now in the House Government Accountability Committee, its last committee of reference.  SB 1516 was filed on January 4 and has not yet been assigned to committees.