Legislative Update – January 25 2018

The latest APA Florida Bill Tracking Report, as of January 24, can be viewed here.

Of note, the following bills were filed or had action during this third week of session.

Growth Management

Developments of Regional Impact:  CS/HB 1151 (Rep. La Rosa) basically eliminates most of the existing DRI process.  The bill makes many changes to the existing statute, among which are the following:

  • Eliminating state and regional review of existing Developments of Regional Impact (DRIs) and eliminates the Florida Quality Development (FQD) program and transferring the responsibility for implementation of, and amendments to, DRI and FQD development orders to the local governments in which the developments are located.
  • Repealing DEO authority to issue binding letters but allows local governments to amend binding letters of vested rights based on standards and procedures in the adopted local comprehensive plan or land development code
  • Deleting all requirements for DRI applications and review procedures, reporting requirements and substantial deviation criteria
  • Preserving all essentially built-out agreements and determinations, binding letters and clearance letters, master incremental DRI agreements, preliminary development agreements, areawide DRI approvals
  • Stating that selection of contractor or design professional related to construction or expansion of public facility by private developer pursuant to a development order condition is not subject to competitive bidding or competitive negotiation
  • Stating that amendments to a DRI does not diminish or alter and credits for a development order or exaction or fee when the credits are based on a developer’s contribution of land or public facility
  • Requiring local governments to review changes to a DRI based on the standards and procedures in its local comprehensive plans and land development regulations, and limiting new development order conditions to only those impacts directly created by the proposed change
  • Repealing all rules related to DRIs that are codified in chapter 73C-40 and repealing aggregation rules

The amended bill was reported favorably on January 23 by the House Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee with two amendments to the original bill; these amendments basically added back in sections deleted in the original bill when existing statutory sections were reorganized.  The bill now moves to the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.

CS/SB 1244 (Sen. Lee), which was filed as an identical bill to HB 1151, was reported favorably by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on January 23, with two amendments tracking the House amendments described above.  In addition, the bill was amended to close a loophole in current law that allows an independent special district to convert to a municipality even if it has no population.  The amended bill adds a criterion to now require that the district must meet the minimum populations standards specified in s. 165.061(1)(b).    The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, its second of three committees of reference.

Impact Fees/Permit Fees:  CS/CS/HB 725 (Rep. Williamson) was a strike all amendment reported favorably by the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee on January 23.  The bill now:

  • Provides that the governing body of a local government with a schedule of reasonable fees must post its building permit and inspection utilization report on its website instead of posting a link to the report on its website.
  • Provides that the governing body of a local government must post its building permit and inspection utilization report on its website by December 31, 2019.
  • Provides that a governing body of a local government must amend its building permit and inspection utilization report before adjusting its fee schedule.
  • Removes the provision that a building permit and inspection utilization report must include the costs related to the review of building fire inspections.
  • Replaces the term “implement” with “enforce.”

The bill now moves to the House Government Accountability Committee, its last committee of reference.

CS/SB 1144 (Sen. Perry), a similar bill to HB 725 as originally filed, is in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax, its second committee of reference.  The bill requires the governing body of a local government to post its building permit and inspection fee schedules on its website with a link to the building permit and inspection utilization report. The bill also requires that before making any adjustment to a fee schedule, the governing body of the local government must publish a building permit and inspection utilization report and post it on its website. The report must be updated annually on the website and be easily accessible to the public.

Public Meetings/Public Participation:   HB 79 (Rep. Roth) revises Florida’s Sunshine law.   Specifically, the bill provides definitions for the terms: “de facto meeting,” “discussion,” “meeting,” “official act,” and “public business.”   The bill clarifies that de facto meetings are subject to the Sunshine law.  The bill also specifies that members of a board may participate in “fact-finding” exercises or excursion to research public business, and may participate in meetings with a member of the Legislature if:

  • The board provides reasonable notice;
  • A vote, official act, or an agreement regarding a future action does not occur;
  • There is no discussion of “public business” that occurs; and
  • There are appropriate records, minutes, audio recordings, or video recordings made and retained as a public record.

Finally, the bill provides in statute that notice is not required when two or more members of a board are gathered if no official acts are taken and no public business is discussed.

The bill was reported favorably by the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee on January 23 and now moves to the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.

A similar bill, SB 192 (Sen. Baxley), was Read Second Time on January 24 and placed on the Senate Calendar for Third Reading on January 31.

Lands Used for Governmental Purposes:  CS/HB 1173 (Rep. Raschein) adds additional procedures for the selection of lands under the Military Base Protection Program by requiring DEO to annually to request military installations in Florida to submit a list of base buffering encroachment lands for acquisitions.  The Florida Defense Support Task Force is required to analyze the resulting list and provide ranking recommendations to DEO, with DEO submitting its final list to the Board of Trustees for acquisition.  The Board of Trustees is required to use federal appraisal standards and to disclose its appraisal to the seller when federal partnership funds are available. The bill authorizes the Board of Trustees to lease or convey the acquired military buffer land at less than appraised value to the military installation, provided the conveyance states the land will revert to the Board of Trustees if the military installation does not use the land as a buffer or if the military installation closes.

The bill also addresses the purchase of land in an area of critical state concern,  Specifically, the bill authorizes the Board of Trustees to purchase lands within areas of critical state concern to  1) prevent or satisfy private property rights claims resulting from limitations imposed by the designation of an area of critical state concern if such acquisition fulfills a public purpose listed in s.259.032(2) or 2) to prevent or satisfy private property rights claims resulting from limitations imposed by the designation of an area of critical state concern.  DEP, when purchasing lands under this authority, could use alternative valuation methods if the parcel is estimated to be worth $500,000 or less, the cost of an outside appraisal is not justified, and the public’s interest is reasonably protected.  It also authorizes each land authority to contribute tourist impact tax revenues to the county or the county’s housing authority to purchase land in the county, not just the most populous municipality, for the construction, redevelopment, or preservation of affordable housing in an area of critical state concern.

The amended bill was reported favorably by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on January 24 and moves to the House Ways and Means Committee, its second committee of reference.  SB 1622 (Sen. Flores), a similar bill, has been referred to four committees of reference but has not yet been heard in committee.

Linear Facilities: HB 405 (Williamson) was Read for the Second Time on January 24 and placed on the January 25 calendar for Third Reading.   An identical bill, SB 494 (Sen. Lee), has been placed on the Senate Calendar on Second Reading.

The bills amend the exemptions from the land-use-consistency provisions of the Power Plant Siting Act (PPSA) and Transmission Line Siting Act (TLSA) to provide that they apply to established rights-of-way and corridors, to rights-of-way and corridors yet to be established, and to creation of distribution and transmission corridors. The bill establishes the standard to be used in authorizing variances in a site certification under the PPSA and the TLSA. It also provides that the PPSA and TLSA cannot affect in any way the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) exclusive jurisdiction to require transmission lines to be located underground.

Economic Development/Redevelopment:

Community Redevelopment Agencies/Districts:  SB 1348 (Sen. Perry) states that a petition to establish a new community development district of less than 2500 acres over land in one jurisdiction may identify adjacent parcels that the petitioner expects to add to the district’s boundaries within the next 10 years.  Specific information regarding these parcels is required and no parcel can be included in the petition without the written consent of the landowner.  The bill also includes a process for amending the district to include such a parcel.  The bill was moved favorably by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on January 23 and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  CS/HB 883 (Rep. Ingoglia), a similar bill, is in the House Government Accountability Committee, its last committee of reference.

Economic Development and Tourism Promotion Accountability:  CS/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 similar requirements on local economic and tourist development agencies.  The bill does not pally to entities that are wholly private if they are not funded by local government entities or taxes and do not have dual role employees. The bill was Read for the Second Time by the House on January 24 and placed on the calendar for Third Reading on January 25.  A similar bill, SB 1714 (Sen. Perry) will be heard by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, its first committee of reference, on January 29.

Rural Economic Development:  HB 1103 (Rep. Albritton), makes changes to the Regional Rural Development Grants Program and the Rural Infrastructure Fund.  It was reported favorably by the House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee on January 23 and moves to the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.  The bill makes the following modifications to the Regional Rural Development Grants Program:

  • Increases the maximum grant amount that can be received by a regional economic development organization serving a rural area of opportunity from $150,000 to $250,000;
  • Revises the match requirement from an equal amount to a 25 percent annual match; c
  • Clarifies how grants may be used to build the professional capacity of regional economic development organizations;
  • Authorizes grants to be used by an organization to provide technical assistance to local governments;
  • Removes the authorization that DEO contract for the development of an enterprise zone web portal or website.

The bill makes the following modifications to the Rural Infrastructure Fund:

  • Removes the requirement that total project grants be up to 40 percent of the total cost for catalyst site projects;
  • Increases the maximum amount that DEO may award for projects that are not located on designated catalyst sites from 30 percent to 50 percent;
  • Expands eligible projects and uses to include broadband Internet service; and
  • Removes a reference to projects located in an enterprise zone as it relates to DEO’s application and funding reevaluation and review requirements.

In addition, the bill creates contract/agreement requirements for both the Regional Rural Development Grants Program and the Rural Infrastructure Fund. Contracts/agreements involving the expenditure of grant funds are to be placed on the regional economic development organization’s or DEO’s website, respectively, for review 14 days before execution. The bill requires the contracts/agreements to include the purpose, performance standards, budget, value of services, and travel and entertainment expenses.

A similar bill, SB 1646 (Sen. Montford), will be heard by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, its first committee of reference, on January 29.

Environment/ Natural Lands:

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: CS/SB 370 (Sen. Bradley) was Read for the Second Time on January 24 and placed on the calendar on Third Reading for January 31.   In its last committee stop, the bill was amended 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, has been referred to three committees of refence but has not yet been heard in committee.

School Planning:

Public School Transportation: HB 1299 (Rep. Raburn) was reported favorably by the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee on January 23 and moves to the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.  The bill requires that districts provide transportation to students whose homes are more than 1.5 miles from the nearest appropriate school, rather than students whose homes are “more than a reasonable distance” or 2 miles or more from school. Districts shall report these students for transportation funding from the state.

Districts must also transport all students in grades K-12 if they are subject to hazardous walking conditions. The criteria for determining a hazardous walking condition is revised as follows:

  • For walkways parallel to the road, a speed limit of 45 rather than 50 miles per hour constitutes a hazardous walking condition.
  • For any road at any uncontrolled crossing site which students must walk in order to walk to and from school, a speed limit of 45 rather than 50 miles per hour, or the road has four rather than six lanes (excluding turn lanes) regardless of the speed limit constitutes a hazardous walking condition.

The bill requires a superintendent to request a review of a road to determine if a hazardous walking condition exists if a parent of a student in the district requests a review of a road in writing. Additionally, the bill requires, rather than authorizes, a district school board to initiate a proceeding to determine whether a condition constitutes a hazardous walking condition, if the governmental representatives were unable to reach a consensus on the initial request.

SB 188 (Sen. Steube), a similar bill,  has been referred to three committees of reference but not yet heard in committee.

Transportation:

Metropolitan Planning Agencies:  HB 807 (Rep. Diamond) deals with the membership of MPO designated after July 1, 2018. For an MPO designated on or after July 1, 2018, these bills state that the voting membership shall consist of at least 5 members, with the exact number determined on an equitable geographic-population ratio basis, based on an agreement among the affected local governments and the Governor.  The Governor may also allow MPO members who represent municipalities to alternate with representatives from other municipalities with the metropolitan planning area which do not have members on the MPO. Voting members shall be elected officials of general-purpose local governments, one of whom may represent a group of general-purpose local governments through an entity created by an MPO for that purpose. An MPO may include, as part of its apportioned voting members, a member of a statutorily authorized planning board, an official of an agency that operates or administers a major mode of 63 transportation, or an official of Space Florida.

HB 807 was reported favorably by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, its first of three committees of reference on January 23 and now moves to the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.  A similar bill, SB 984 (Sen. Brandes), has been referred to three committees of reference but has not yet been heard in committee.

Constitutional Revision Commission

The Constitutional Revision Commission committees are in the process of meeting to discuss various submitted proposed amendments.  Currently, 103 proposals have been filed by commissioners and 782 proposals have been filed by the public.  You can view the various proposals as well as the committee meeting schedules on the Constitution Revision Commission website.

Of note, Proposal 95, filed by Commissioner Tom Lee, create a new section 6 in Article VIII of the State Constitution and would state that a county, municipality, or special district may only regulate commerce, trade, or labor occurring exclusively within the respective entity’s own boundaries in a manner not prohibited by law. A regulation enacted by a county, municipality, or special district may not intrude upon or impede commerce, trade, or labor across the respective entity’s boundaries.  The proposal appears to be a broad preemption of local government authority. The proposal will be heard by the Local Government Committee on January 26 and APA Florida has submitted a letter of opposition to this proposal.