Legislative Update: 2019 Session – Week 3

Legislative Update: 2019 Session – Week 3

Week 3: March 18 – 22, 2019

Elections:

The House State Affairs Committee heard SAC 1, Elections, sponsored by the House State Affairs Committee. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to a second committee. The PCB bill makes the following changes to the Florida Election Code:

  • Extends the deadline for curing defective vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot signatures from 5 p.m. on the day before the election to 5 p.m. on the second day after an election.
  • Moves the last day for voters to request VBM ballots from six days to ten days before an election, and it prohibits supervisors of elections (supervisors) from mailing out such ballots less than eight days prior to the election (currently four days).
  • Allows supervisors to mail domestic VBM ballots earlier, and allows such VBM ballots to be mailed between 40 days and 28 days before an election instead of the current one-week window of 35 to 28 days.
  • Allows canvassing of VBM ballots to start one week earlier at 22 days before an election, rather than 15 days before the election.
  • Moves the deadline for a voter to update his or her signature for purposes of validating a VBM ballot from the beginning of the VBM canvassing period to when the VBM ballot is received.
  • Allows a voter to drop off his or her VBM ballot at a secure drop box located at each early voting location.
  • Requires the Department of State (DOS) to provide formal signature matching training to supervisors and county canvassing board (CCB) members.
  • Creates a provisional ballot signature cure process that mirrors the revised VBM signature cure process. The provisional ballot signature defect may be cured until 5 p.m. on the second day after an election.
  • Allows supervisors to designate one additional “wildcard” early voting site per election.
  • Requires a candidate pay his or her qualification fee with a certified check.
  • If a CCB meeting is recessed for a certain period, then it requires the CCB to post on the county’s website and the supervisor’s website the anticipated time the board expects to reconvene. If the CCB does not reconvene at the specified time, then the board must provide at least two hours’ notice before reconvening.
  • Limits the amount of alternate members of the CCB to seven per CCB member.
  • Requires each CCB member and all CCB staff to wear identification badges during any period in which the CCB is canvassing votes or engaging in other official duties.
  • Expands the no-solicitation zone at polling places and early voting sites from 100 feet to 150 feet.
  • Allows a voter to photograph his or her ballot in a polling place.
  • Prohibits precinct-level results by ballot type if 30 or fewer votes are cast rather than 10 to ensure voter anonymity.
  • Requires the DOS rule regarding minimum security standards, and addresses the chain of custody of ballots, transport of ballots, and ballot security.
  • Provides ballot uniformity, and requires that ballot instructions either be centered across the top of the ballot or in the leftmost column so long as there are no individual races below the instructions in the leftmost column. It also requires all vote targets be ovals.
  • Allows supervisors to use ballot-on-demand printing systems at polling places on Election Day.
  • Allows a supervisor to forego publication of a sample ballot in a newspaper of general circulation if the supervisor e-mails or mails every registered voter a sample ballot at least seven days before an election.
  • Prohibits a supervisor from receiving a special qualification salary for a period of 24 months after being found to have willfully violated the Florida Election Code.

Emergency Services:

The Senate Rules Committee and the House Judiciary Committee heard SB 96/ HB 67, Police, Fire, and Search and Rescue Dogs, sponsored by Senator Bean and Representatives Byrd and Tomkow. The bill would increase the penalty for intentionally and knowingly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or death to, police canines or horses, fire canines, or search & rescue canines. The bill would also increase the penalty for using a deadly weapon upon police canines or horses, fire canines, or search & rescue canines. The Senate bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Chamber for a second reading. The House bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House Chamber for a second reading.

The Senate Rules Committee heard SB 494/ (HB 161), The Firefighters’ Bill Of Rights, sponsored by Senator Hooper. The bill revises the definition of the term “interrogation” to include questioning pursuant to an informal inquiry, and requires that witnesses be interviewed and certain information be provided to a firefighter subjected to interrogation before the interrogation is conducted. This bill also prohibits a firefighter from being threatened with certain disciplinary action during the course of an interrogation. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Chamber for a second reading.

The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee heard SB 536/ (HB 441), 911 Services, sponsored by Senator Brandes. The bill requires counties to develop a plan for implementing a text-to-911 system, and to implement a system to receive E911 text messages by a specified date. This also requires that the Technology Program within the Department of Management Services develop and implement a plan that requires emergency dispatchers to be able to transfer an emergency call from one E911 system to another E911 system in the state. The bill defines the terms “first responders” and “911 public safety answering point” or “PSAP”, and requires a PSAP to be able to directly communicate by radio with first responders. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Environmental:

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee heard SB 1758, Water Quality Improvements, sponsored by Senator Mayfield. The bill requires the Department of Environmental Protection, in coordination with the Department of Health, to develop a report to be submitted to the Legislature by a specified date on the impacts of transferring the onsite sewage program of the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection by a type two transfer. The bill also revises the requirements for a basin management action plan for an Outstanding Florida Spring, and establishes a wastewater grant program within the Department of Environmental Protection. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government.

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee heard HB 771/ (SB 816), Environmental Regulation, sponsored by Representative Overdorf. The bill requires counties and municipalities to address the contamination of recyclable materials in specified contracts, and prohibits counties and municipalities from requiring the collection or transportation of contaminated recyclable material by residential recycling collectors. The bill also specifies required contract provisions, and prohibits local governments from requiring certain project verifications from the DEP. It also revises types of dock and pier replacements and repairs that are exempt from verification and certain permitting requirements. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House State Affairs Committee.

Local Government:

The Senate heard SB 82/ (HB 145), Vegetable Gardens, sponsored by Senator Bradley. The bill prohibits local governments from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties except as otherwise provided by law, and specifies that such regulations are void and unenforceable. The bill was read a third time in the Senate Chamber and was passed favorably with 35 yeas and 5 nays. SB 82 was immediately certified and is now in the House messages.

The Senate Finance & Tax Committee heard SB 144/ (HB 207), Impact Fees, sponsored by Senator Gruters. The bill revises minimum requirements for adoption of impact fees by specified local governments, and authorizes the prevailing party to recover attorney fees under certain circumstances. This would also exempt water and sewer connection fees from the Florida Impact Fee Act. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Senate Finance & Tax Committee heard SB 336/ (HB 5), Local Tax Referenda, sponsored by Senator Brandes. The bill provides that a referendum to adopt or amend a local discretionary sales surtax must be held at a general election. The bill was passed favorably with 6 yeas and 2 nays and will move on to the Senate Rules Committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Civil Justice Subcommittee heard SB 1140/ HB 829 Attorney Fees and Costs, sponsored by Senator Hutson and Representative Sabatini. The bill waives the sovereign immunity of local governments for liability for certain attorney fees and costs, and provides for awards of attorney fees, costs, and damages in successful civil actions challenging local ordinances as being preempted by the State Constitution or state law. The bill would also prohibit an award of attorney fees and costs under certain circumstances. The Senate bill was passed favorably with 4 yeas and 2 nays and will move on to the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The House bill was passed favorably with 10 yeas and 3 nays and will move on to the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee and the House State Affairs Committee heard SB 1244/ HB 641, Community Development District Bond Financing, sponsored by Senator Wright and Representative Andrade. The bill requires district boards to authorize bonds by two-thirds majority vote. The Senate bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Finance & Tax Committee. The House bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House Chamber for a second reading.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee heard SB 1730, Community Development and Housing, sponsored by Senator Lee. The bill prohibits a county from adopting or imposing a requirement in any form relating to affordable housing which has specified effects, and requires that a county review the application for completeness and issue a certain letter within a specified period after receiving an application for approval of a development permit or development order. The bill also requires a local government to credit certain contributions, constructions, expansions, or payments toward any other impact fee or exaction imposed by local ordinance for public educational facilities. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee.

The Senate heard SB 7012/ (HB 7027), Vaping, sponsored by the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee. The bill Implements s. 20, Art. X of the State Constitution, as amended by Amendment 9 (2018), and prohibits vaping in an enclosed indoor workplace, except as otherwise provided. This bill provides exceptions to the prohibition against vaping and smoking in an enclosed indoor workplace, and requires the proprietor or other person in charge of an enclosed indoor workplace to develop and implement a policy regarding specified smoking and vaping prohibitions. The Senate bill was read a third time and was passed unanimously, and is now in the House messages. 

The House State Affairs Committee heard HB 9/ (SB 1054), Community Redevelopment Agencies, sponsored by Representative LaMarca. The bill specifies ethics training requirements for community redevelopment agency commissioners, and establishes procedures for appointing community redevelopment agency board members. It also requires referendum to create community redevelopment agency, and establishes procurement procedures. The bill provides reporting and boundary map requirements, as well as termination dates for certain community redevelopment agencies. HB 9 also provides a phase-out period for existing community redevelopment agencies, and requires the DEO to declare certain community redevelopment agencies inactive. The DEO would be required to maintain a website identifying inactive community redevelopment agencies, and specifies the level of tax increment financing that the governing body may establish. The bill also revises requirements for budgets of community redevelopment agencies, and revises requirements for annual audit. The bill was passed favorably with 16 yeas and 7 nays and will move on to the House Chamber for a second reading.

The House Ways & Means Committee heard HB 15/ (SB 1350), Local Government Fiscal Transparency, sponsored by Representative Burton. The bill revises the Legislative Auditing Committee duties and specifies the purpose of local government fiscal transparency requirements. The bill also requires local governments to post voting record information on websites and requires property appraisers and local governments to post property tax information and history on websites. It also requires public notices for public hearings and meetings prior to increases of local government tax levies and specifies noticing and advertising requirements. HB 15 also requires local governments to conduct debt affordability analyses under specified conditions and also provides a method for local governments to post certain required information. The bill was passed favorably with 13 yeas and 2 nays and will move on to the House State Affairs Committee.

The House Commerce Committee heard HB 101/ (SB 246), Public Construction, sponsored by Representative Andrade. The bill revises the amounts of retainage that certain local government entities and contractors may withhold from progress payments for construction services contract. The bill also revises requirements for DMS rules governing certain contracts, and revises the amounts of retainage that certain public entities and contractors may withhold from progress payments for construction services contracts. The bill was passed favorably with 14 yeas and 1 nay and will move on to the House Chamber for a second reading.

The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee heard HB 693/ (SB 1000), Communications Services, sponsored by Representative Fischer. The bill reduces the communications services tax rate on the sales of communications services, and it also revises authority for municipalities and counties to impose permit fees on providers of communications services that use or occupy municipal or county roads or rights-of-way. The bill also deletes procedures, requirements, and limitations with respect to such fees. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House Ways & Means Committee.

The House Business & Professions Subcommittee heard HB 715/ (SB 1036). Florida Building Code Enforcement, sponsored by Representative Robinson. The bill prohibits local government from carrying forward more than a specified amount of unexpended revenue, and revises requirements for the expenditure of certain unexpended revenue. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House State Affairs Committee.

The House Sports Franchises and Facilities Committee heard HB 791, Sports Franchises and Facilities, sponsored by Representative Avila. The bill deletes provisions authorizing counties to impose specified taxes to pay debt service on bonds related to sports facilities, and prohibits counties from leasing specified professional sports franchise facilities. The bill also prohibits the lease of public lands for certain purposes related to sports franchises and their facilities, and it requires the lease of a facility on public lands for certain purposes to be at fair market value. It also requires a sport franchise to repay specified debt incurred by a local government related to the construction of facilities. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House Chamber for a second reading.

The House Business & Professions Subcommittee heard HB 1139/ (SB 1752), Inspections and Permits, sponsored by Representative Plakon. The bill requires that counties or municipalities that impose inspection fees establish an expedited inspection process that provides priority processing for such inspections, and also authorizes counties or municipalities to charge an additional fee up to a specified amount for an expedited inspection process. The bill also requires such local governments to establish an expedited permitting process that provides priority processing for such permits, and authorizes local governments to charge an additional fee for an expedited inspection process. It also provides that local governments must require an applicant to pay only a specified percentage of fees due upon the receipt of the application. HB 1139 also provides for a reduction of outstanding fees due, and provides for a refund of fees. It also specifies that certain procedures apply to building permit applications for any nonresidential buildings. The bill was passed favorably with 11 yeas and 3 nays and will move on to the House State Affairs Committee.

The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee heard HB 1159/ (SB 1400), Private Property Rights, sponsored by Representative La Rosa. The bill prohibits local governments from requiring permits, fees, or other notices for certain tree activity on residential property under specified conditions, and also deletes a provision that authorizes electric utilities to perform certain right-of-way tree maintenance only after certain local government approval. The bill also creates a Property Owner Bill of Rights, and requires county property appraisers to provide specified information on their websites. The bill was passed favorably with 12 yeas and 3 nays and will move on to the House Commerce Committee.

The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee heard HB 1169/ (SB 1572), Displacement of Private Waste Companies, sponsored by Representative McClure. The bill requires local governments to pay a specified amount of compensation to displaced private waste companies at the end of a specified notice period, and removes a provision relating to the authorization of local governments to pay a specified amount of compensation to private waste companies as an alternative to delaying displacement for a specified period. The bill also removes provisions authorizing local governments and private waste companies to negotiate such compensation and notice. The bill was passed favorably with 11 yeas and 2 nays and will move on to the House Business & Professions Subcommittee.

The House Appropriations Committee heard HB 7053, Taxation Transparency sponsored by the House Ways & Means Committee. The bill renames certain fees and assessments as taxes, and renames certain surcharges as surtaxes. It also renames certain fees as surtaxes, and requires municipalities, counties, and special districts to rename certain levies and assessments as specified taxes. The bill also repeals obsolete provisions, and provides appropriations. The bill was passed favorably with 21 yeas and 9 nays and will move on to the House State Affairs Committee.

Misc.:

The Senate heard SB 184/ (HB 7019), Aging Programs, sponsored by Senator Book. The bill would transfer the powers, duties, and functions of the Department of Elderly Affairs relating to hospices, assisted living facilities, adult family-care homes, and adult day care centers to the Agency for Health Care Administration. The bill would also establish that the agency is the lead agency responsible for the regulation of hospices, assisted living facilities, adult day care centers, and adult family-care homes. The Senate bill was read a third time, passed unanimously, and immediately certified. The bill is now in the House messages.

The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee and the House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee heard SB 1024/ HB 735, Blockchain Technology, sponsored by Senator Gruters and Representative Santiago. The bill establishes the Florida Blockchain Working Group in the Agency for State Technology, and provides for membership and duties of the working group. The bill also requires the working group to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature and to make presentations. The Senate bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee. The House bill passed unanimously and will move on to the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee.

Public Records:

The Senate and the House heard SB 142/ HB 127, Permit Fees, sponsored by Senator Perry and Representative Williamson. The bill requires the governing bodies of counties and municipalities to post their permit and inspection fee schedules and building permit and inspection utilization reports on their websites. It would also require certain governing bodies of local governments to post their building permit and inspection utilization reports on their websites by a specified date. The Senate bill was read a second time and amendment 255262 was adopted. The Senate bill was placed on the calendar for a third reading on 03/27/19. The House bill was read a second time and amendment 308689 was adopted. The House bill was read a third time, passed unanimously, and immediately certified.

The Senate heard SB 186, Public Records/Victim of Mass Violence, sponsored by Senator Lee. The bill defines the term “killing of a victim of mass violence”, and it also expands an existing exemption from public record requirements for a photograph, video, or audio recording held by an agency which depicts or records the killing of a law enforcement officer. This would also include a photograph, video, or audio recording held by an agency which depicts or records the killing of a victim of mass violence. This bill also provides for future legislative review and repeal of the exemption, and it provides a statement of public necessity. The bill was read a second time and amendment 772026 was adopted. The bill was then placed on the calendar for a third reading on 03/27/19.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee heard HB 407/ (SB 602), Public Records, sponsored by Representative Ray Wesley Rodrigues. The bill prohibits the agency that receives a request to inspect or copy a record or from responding to such request by filing civil action against the individual or entity making said request. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House State Affairs Committee.

Substances:

The Governor approved HB 7015/ (SB 182), Medical Use of Marijuana, sponsored by the House Health & Human Services Committee. The bill redefines the term “marijuana delivery device” to eliminate the requirement that such devices must be purchased from a medical marijuana treatment center, and redefining the term “medical use” to include the possession, use, or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking. The bill also restricts the smoking of marijuana in enclosed indoor workplaces, and prohibits a physician from certifying a patient under 18 years of age to smoke marijuana for medical use unless the patient is diagnosed with a terminal condition and the physician makes a certain determination in concurrence with a second physician who is a pediatrician. This bill is now Chapter No. 2019-1.

The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 595/ (SB 530), Alcohol or Drug Overdose Prosecutions, sponsored by Representative Silvers. The bill prohibits the arrest, charge, prosecution, or penalization under specified provisions of a person acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing, or believed to be experiencing, an alcohol-related overdose. It would also prohibit the arrest, charge, prosecution, or penalization under specified provisions of a person acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing, or believed to be experiencing, a drug-related overdose. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to a third committee.

Transportation:

The Senate Rules committee and the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee heard SB 310/ HB 659, Off-highway Vehicles, sponsored by Senator Perry and Representative Hage. The bill redefines the terms “ATV” and “ROV” to increase authorized width and dry weight of such vehicles, and redefines the term “all-terrain vehicle” to increase authorized width and dry weight of such vehicle. The bill also reenacts provisions relating to the operation of an ATV on certain roadways, and reenacts provisions relating to the use of certain vehicles by law enforcement agencies. The Senate bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Chamber for a second reading. The House bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House State Affairs Committee.

The Senate Agriculture Committee heard SB 1368, Fleet Vehicle Rebate Programs, sponsored by Senator Simpson. The bill creates an electric and hybrid fleet vehicle rebate program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and requires the department to determine and publish certain information regarding the availability of funds on its website. The bill also requires the department to provide an annual assessment of the program to the Governor, the Legislature, and the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development heard SB 7068, Transportation, sponsored by the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee. The bill creates the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program within the Department of Transportation. The bill specifies that projects undertaken in the corridors are tolled facilities and certain approved turnpike projects, and are considered as Strategic Intermodal System facilities. It also requires the department to identify certain opportunities to accommodate or co-locate multiple types of infrastructure-addressing issues during the project development phase. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The House State Affairs Committee heard HB 529, Use of Vessel Registration Fees, sponsored by Representative Mariano. The bill authorizes a portion of county or municipal vessel registration fees to be used for specified purposes. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House Chamber for a second reading.

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee heard HB 1221, Anchored Vessels, sponsored by Representative Polsky and Raschein. The bill directs the FWCC to conduct a study of the impacts of long-term stored vessels and certain anchored and moored vessels on local communities and the state, and to also submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature. The bill also prohibits residing or dwelling on certain derelict vessels until certain conditions are met. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee heard HB 1237/ (SB 1792), Towing and Immobilizing of Vehicles and Vessels, sponsored by Representative McClain and Ponder. The bill authorizes local governments to enact rates to tow or immobilize vessels on private property and to remove and store vessels, and also prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances that impose charges on authorized wrecker operators or towing businesses. The bill also prohibits local governments from imposing charges on specified entities, and authorizes certain persons to place liens on vehicles or vessels. It also requires persons who immobilize vehicles to be licensed, and provides procedures for licensing. HB 1237 also specifies prohibited activities and insurance coverages. The bill was passed favorably with 12 yeas and 1 nay and will move on to the House Business & Professions Subcommittee.

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee heard HB 1319/ (SB 1530), Vessels, sponsored by Representative Diamond. The bill requires vessel operators to reduce their speed in specified hazardous situations, and revises criteria for at risk vessel determinations. The bill also revises civil penalties relating to certain at risk vessels and prohibited anchoring or mooring, and provides civil penalties for vessels that fail to reduce their speed for special hazards. The bill was passed unanimously and will move on to the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.