Legislative Update – November 17, 2017

The Legislature will meet during the week of December 4 for its last series of interim committee meetings before the 2018 session begins on January 9.  The latest APA Florida Bill Tracking Report, dated November 17, can be accessed here.

Since the last update, the following bills had action or were filed:

Growth Management:
Linear Facilities:  HB 405 (Representative Williamson) and SB 494 (Senator 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 Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on November 15 and now is in the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.  SB 494 was moved favorably by the Senate Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee on November 14 and now moves to the Senate Community Affairs Committee, its last committee of reference.

Impact/Permit Fees:   HB 697 (Representative Miller) was filed on November 14 and would provide that impact fees be collected by the local government no earlier than at the time of issuance of the certificate of occupancy for the property which is the subject of the fee.  This bill is similar to SB 324 (Senator Young) which was billed in September and has been referred to three committees of reference.

HB 725 (Representative Williamson) was filed on November 16 and would require that local governments must post their permit and inspection fee schedules on their websites with a link to the building permit and inspection utilization report required under s. 553.80(7).

Public Lodging: SB 884 (Senator Steube) was filed on November 14 and would create a new s.509.093 which would prohibit transient lodging establishments form requiring minimum stays of  greater than one night.

 

Economic Development/Redevelopment:

Community Redevelopment Agencies:  CS/HB 17 – Community Redevelopment Agencies (Representative Raburn):  The bill 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 now will head to the House floor.

SB 432(Senator Lee) also deals with Community Redevelopment Agencies and was moved favorably by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on November 7 and is now in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, its second of four committees of reference.   This bill does not include language related to phasing-out of CRAs but does provide a process for the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to declare a CRA inactive if it has no revenue, expenditures, and debt for 3 consecutive fiscal years.  The bill also includes a number of changes related to increasing accountability and transparency of CRAs by:

  • Providing registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists of CRAs;
  • Requiring the commissioners of a CRA to undergo 4 hours of ethics training annually;
  • Requiring two additional non-elected officials with substantive expertise to be members of the CRA board in certain circumstances;
  • Prohibiting the use of tax increment revenues for CRA activities related to festivals or street parties designed to promote tourism, grants to entities that promote tourism, and grants to nonprofit entities providing socially beneficial programs;
  • 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 published on the agency website;
  • Providing that moneys in the local government redevelopment trust fund may only be expended pursuant to an annual budget adopted by the board of commissioners for the CRA and only for those purposes specified in current law beginning October 1, 2018;
  • Requiring a CRA created by a municipality to provide its proposed budget, and any amendments to the budget, to the board of county commissioners for the county in which the CRA is located 10 days after the adoption of such budget;
  • Limiting to 18 percent administrative and overhead expenses for the CRA’s total annual budget;
  • Requiring counties and municipalities to include CRA data in their annual financial report


Rural Economic Development Initiative:
SB 170 – (Senator Grimsley):  SB 170 makes several changes to the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) 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 was moved favorably by the Senate Commence and Tourism Committee, its first of four committees of reference, on November 6 and now moves to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

 

Environment/ Natural Lands:

Fracking:  Two additional bills which would prohibit fracking were filed on November 9 by Senator Farmer.  SJR 828 proposes an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit extreme well stimulation.  SB 834 would create the “Stop Fracking Act” and prohibit persons from engaging in extreme well stimulation.

 

School Planning:

HB 175– School District Best Financial Management Practices (Representative Daniels): This bill was originally assigned to three committees of reference but was withdrawn on November 13 prior to introduction.

Additionally, HB 511 (Senator Bean), would have required that charter schools, that receive capital outlay funding used for certain purposes, ensure that new facilities comply with state requirements for educational facilities in the Florida Building Code.  This bill was also withdrawn on November 14 prior to introduction to its first committee of reference.

 

Transportation:

High-speed Passenger Rail:  CS/SB 527 (Senator Mayfield) which creates the Florida High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act, was moved favorably with a minor technical change on November 14 by the Senate Transportation Committee, and now moves to the Senate Community Affairs Committee, its second of three committees of reference.  A similar bill, HB 525 (Representative Grail), is in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, its first of four committees of reference.

CS/SB 527 provides a short title, definitions relating to the act, Legislative intent, and applicability; assigns various duties to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT); and imposes certain reporting requirements on railroad companies and the FDOT. The bill specifies that the reporting requirements are for informational purposes only and may not be used to economically regulate a railroad company. The bill also requires railroad companies to install certain technology and equipment; allocates responsibility for certain maintenance, repair, improvement and upgrade costs to railroad companies; and provides that it does not impair existing contracts with respect to its requirements related to maintenance and repair of roadbeds, tracks, and culverts, as well as safety equipment maintenance and improvements and upgrades to railroad-highway crossings. The bill also provides for enforcement jurisdiction and requires any penalty for a violation of the bill’s provisions to be imposed upon the railroad company that commits such violation.