Legislative Update – March 17 2017

The latest bill tracking report, as of March 17, can be viewed here.  Of note, the following bill actions have taken place since the last report.

Growth Management

Subdivided Lands:  Two bills dealing with old platted communities were filed earlier this month and recently assigned to committees of reference.  HB 1241 (Representative Eagle) and SB 1696 (Senator Steube) both establish priorities for use by certain entities when awarding grants or financial assistance for “legacy” communities.  A legacy community is defined as “lands under a recorded plat which were registered as subdivided lands on or before July 1, 1985 under former chapter 498 or former chapter 478.”  Each state agency and each public or private entity or corporation that administers a dedicated grant program or trust fund and receives legislative appropriations to fund grants or to provide financial assistance for community development or redevelopment, environmental protection or preservation, local improvements, concurrency, or management and development of real  property in this state, shall award a portion of those grants or trust funds to entities with a legacy community that have filed an application.  First priority is given to an incorporated municipality for assistance with the following items:

  • To fund electrical, natural gas, water, or wastewater utility service infrastructure projects
  • To fund transportation infrastructure projects
  • To construct public schools, libraries, public safety facilities, or governmental facilities
  • To vacate or replat a previously recorded plat, or take land management actions to concentrate or aggregate lot owners in the areas of the legacy community that need updated or more efficient municipal services
  • To acquire, dedicate, or set aside portions of the legacy community to protect potable water supplies or water resources, or to create conservation easements, parks, or recreational areas in the legacy community

The bills state that second priority shall be given to any special district municipal service taxing unit or municipal benefit units, which encompasses any portion of a legacy community. Third priority is given to other applicants but only if funds remain after the priorities for legacy community applicants have been funded.  These requirements do not apply to state agencies that administer the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts program.

Vacation Rentals:   HB 425 (Representative La Rosa) returns the preemption authority with respect to vacation rentals back to what was enacted during the 2011 Legislative Session. Specifically, the bill prevents local governments from enacting any new law, ordinance, or regulation that prohibits, restricts the use of, or regulates vacation rentals based on classification, use, or occupancy. The bill keeps the grandfather provision relating to local regulations enacted prior to June 1, 2011. Any local regulation adopted after June 1, 2011, including those adopted pursuant to the standards under the 2014 law, will be preempted, and would be void and unenforceable.

The bill was moved favorably by the House Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee on March 14 and now moves to the Careers and Competition Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.  SB 188 (Senator Steube) is the Senate companion bill but has not yet been heard in committee.  Note that there are two bills, HB 6003 and SB 1516, that would allow local governments to regulate vacation rentals based on classification, use or occupancy.  Neither of these bills has been heard in committee yet.

Onsite Sewage and Treatment and Disposal System Inspections:  CS/HB 285 (Representative Fine) would require that septic tanks be inspected at the point of sale in real estate transactions.  It also removes a provision in the onsite sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation and assessment program which prohibits local ordinances from mandating a septic tank evaluation at the point of sale in a real estate transaction and from requiring a soil examination.  On March 14, the bill was amended in the House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee to only apply in areas designated by the Department of Environmental Protection as an impaired waterway and its related watershed area.  It was also amended to provide that the inspection would be good for one year. The bill now moves to the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.  SB 1748 (Senator Stewart), which also deals with this issue, has not yet been heard in committee.

Linear Facilities: SB 1048 (Senator Lee) amends paragraphs 380.04(b) and (h), F.S., which contain the exemptions from “development”.  The bill provides that the exemption for work done on established rights-of-way applies also to rights-of way and corridors to be established. It also provides that the exemption for the creation of specified types of property rights applies to creation of distribution and transmission corridors. The bill makes the same changes to s. 163.3221, F.S., which provides definitions for use in the Florida Local Government Development Agreement Act, which provides for agreements between local governments and developers.  According to the legislative staff analysis, this bill overturns a Third District Court of Appeal (the court) decision in a power plant siting case (Miami-Dade County, et al v. In Re: Florida Power & Light Co. etc. et al).

The bill was moved favorably by the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee on March 14 and now moves to the Senate Community Affairs Committee, its last committee of reference.  The House companion bill, HB 1055 (Representative Ingram) was moved favorably by the House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on March 15. This bill now moves to the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.

Utilities:   HB 687 (Representative La Rosa) bill would create the Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act which defines a process for locating small wireless devices in public rights of way. It would prohibit the Department of Transportation and certain local governmental entities, collectively referred to as the “authority,” from prohibiting, regulating, or charging for the collocation of small wireless facilities in public rights-of-way under certain circumstances.  Authorities are required to approve a request unless an application does not meet uniform building, fire, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical codes adopted by a recognized national code organization, or local amendments to those codes, enacted solely to address threats of destruction of property or injury to persons.  It should be noted that aesthetic or design issues are not included in what authorities are allowed to consider.   CS/HB 687, a strike-all amendment, was moved favorably by the House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on March 15.    It adds that applicable local government historic preservation zoning regulations consistent with the preservation of local zoning authority under 47 U.S.C 24 s. 332(c)(7), the requirements for facility modifications under 25 47 U.S.C. s. 1455(a), or the National Historic Preservation Act 26 of 1966, as amended, and the regulations adopted to implement these laws, still will apply.  It states that an authority utility pole does not include utility poles owned by a municipal electric utility or any utility poles used to support municipally owned or operated electric distribution facilities. It also provides that the act does not authorize a person to collocate small wireless facilities on a privately owned utility pole, a privately owned wireless support structure, or other private property without the consent of the property owner.

The bill now moves to the House Commerce Committee, its last committee of reference.  A similar bill, CS/SB 596 (Senator Hutson) is now in the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, its second committee of reference.

Annexation Procedures for Municipalities: HB 1087 (Representative Silvers) revises the requirement for a municipality to obtain consent from at least 50 percent of owners in an area proposed to be annexed, when more than 70 percent of the land is owned by individuals, corporations, or legal entities, by removing a condition that these owners of more than 70 percent of the affected land must not be registered voters in the area to be annexed. The bill would also allow an area to be annexed without a vote of the electors if there are no registered electors that own property in the area proposed to be annexed on the date the ordinance is adopted. The bill was moved favorably by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on March 15 and now moves to the House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee, its second of three subcommittees. The Senate companion bill, SB 1488 (Senator Clemens) has been referred to three committees but has not yet been heard.

Affordable Housing


Task Force on Affordable Housing: SB 854 (Senator Brandes), which would create a task force to development recommendations for the state’s affordable housing needs, was amended and moved favorably by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on March 14.  The amended bill increased the task force membership from 10 members to 13 members, with the additional three members being appointed by the Governor.  Of the now five total gubernatorial appointees, the amended bill requires that one must be an advocate for the homeless, one must be an advocate of the needs of individuals with disabling conditions and persons with special needs as defined in s. 420.0004, one must represent the building or development community, and one must be a realtor licensed in Florida.  CS/854 now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, its second of three committees of reference. HB 1013 (Representative Newton), the House companion bill was moved favorably by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on March 15.  The House bill does not currently include the Senate amendment language.

 

Economic Development/Redevelopment
Rural Economic Development Initiative:  SB 600 (Senator Grimsley) would require the Office of Economic and Demographic Research and the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability to provide an analysis of rural areas of opportunity and the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) every three years, starting by January 1, 2020.  It also makes changes to the duties, responsibilities and membership of REDI.  Among these changes, the bill amends the definition of a “rural area of opportunity” to include rural communities or regions which face competitive disadvantages such as low labor force participation, low educational attainment levels, high unemployment, a district grade of “D” or “F” pursuant to s. 1008.34, high infant mortality rates, and high diabetes and obesity rates.  The bill was moved favorably the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee and is now in the Senate Agriculture Committee, its second of four committees of reference.  A similar bill, HB 333 (Representative Clemons) has not yet been heard in committee.

Regional Rural Development Grants Program: SB 936 (Senator Montford) changes the Rural Regional Grants Program which was established to build the professional capacity of regional economic development organizations in Florida.  Among the changes, the local match requirement is removed and the amount of funds that can be expended by the program is increased to $1 million. It also increases the maximum amount that can be awarded from $150,000 to $250,000.  The bill was moved favorably by the Senate Commerce and Trade Committee on March 13 and now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, its second of three committees of reference.  A similar bill, HB 1415 (Representative Ponder) has been referred to three committees of reference but has not been heard.

Hazard Mitigation

Natural Hazards: CS/HB 181 (Representative Jacobs) would create an interagency workgroup to share information, coordinate ongoing efforts and collaborate on initiatives relating to natural hazards, extreme heat, drought, wildfire, sea-level change, high tides, storm surge, saltwater intrusion, stormwater runoff, flash floods, inland flooding, and coastal flooding.  The workgroup would include representatives for each agency within the executive branch and water management districts, and the Public Service Commission. It would be coordinated by the DEM director and an annual report would be submitted to the Governor and Legislature.  The House Appropriations Committee amended the bill on March 15 to include funding from the Grants and Donations Trust Fund for the upcoming fiscal year to implement the bill.  The bill now moves to the House Government Accountability Committee, its last committee of reference. The Senate companion bill, SB 464 (Senator Clemens), which does not currently include the funding language, is in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, its third of four committees of reference.

Schools

Maximum Class Room Size: HB 591 (Representative Massullo) amends ch. 1002 and 1003 F.S. with respect to how compliance calculations are done for schools that fail to comply with the class size requirements created in the 2003 constitutional amendment.  The bill removes the exemptions for class size requirements for charter schools, district-operated schools of choice, district innovation schools of technology program and PAPPI schools.  It maintains class size compliance for each classroom but revises the method for calculating the penalty, for schools that fail to comply with the class size requirements, to be done at the school average. The bill repeals an increase in the penalty for failure to comply with the class size requirements and provides that a district may not have its class size categorical allocation reduced for the 2017-18 or 2018-19 fiscal year if it meets certain requirements.

The bill was passed favorably by the House Pre-12 Innovation Subcommittee on March 14.  It now moves to the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.  The Senate companion bill, SB 808 (Senator Mayfield) has been assigned to four committees of reference but not yet heard.

Transportation

Transportation Network Companies (TNC):  CS/SB 340 (Senator Brandes) was moved favorably by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on March 14. It creates statewide requirements for transportation network companies and provides that TNCs will be governed exclusively by the state.  It establishes insurance and driver requirements.  The bill also prohibits local governments from imposing taxes or licensing requirements on TNCs, TNC drivers, or TNC vehicles. It also prohibits local governments from requiring TNCs or TNC drivers to obtain business licenses or similar authorization to operate within a jurisdiction. The bill  as amended also requires a TNC to submit a procedures report to the Department of Financial Services  when requested.   The bill now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  A similar bill, CS/HB 221 (Representative Sprowls) has moved favorably through its two committees and was placed on the House Calendar on February 28.

High-Speed Passenger Rail:  CS/SB 386 (Senator Mayfield), a strike-all amendment, was moved favorably by the Senate Transportation Committee on March 14.  The amended bill creates the Florida High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act, assigning various duties to the FDOT related to certain privately owned high-speed rail operations. The bill requires installation of certain technology and equipment, and allocates costs and responsibility for certain rail corridor improvements. The bill contains provisions for penalties and suits to enforce them, and provides the act does not prohibit local ordinances regulating the speed limits of railroad traffic due to certain local safety hazards.  The bill now moves to the Senate Community Affairs Committee, its second of three committees of reference.  A similar bill, HB 269 (Representative Magar) has not yet been heard in committee.