Legislative Update: Week 6 (February 17-21)

Legislative Update: Week 6 (February 17-21)

Headlines

Abortion: This week, after two days of grueling and heated debate, parental consent for minors’ abortions was voted to become law by the Florida House. SB 404 by Senator Kelli Stargel is now headed to Governor DeSantis’ desk for review and signature. Florida law currently requires that parents or guardians are notified if a minor gets an abortion, however, minors can also obtain a judicial waiver to bypass that requirement. This new legislation, effective July 1, 2020, will require both parental consent and notification if a minor gets an abortion. The judicial waiver requirement remains in effect. The House members passed the legislation in a 75-43 vote split amongst party lines.

Amendment 4 Unconstitutional: This week a federal appeals court ruled that it was unconstitutional to force Florida felons to first pay off their financial obligations before registering to vote. This requirement was decided last year by the Republican led legislature who instituted a poll tax and stripped the voting rights of convicted felons due to this financial obligation requirement. The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Amendment 4 proponents, backing the more than 65% of Floridians who voted in 2018 for re-enfranchisement. Unfortunately, Amendment 4 being upheld won’t automatically make voting easier for returning citizens, however, it is a start to restoration of their rights.

Vacation Rentals: This week HB 1011 by Representative Jason Fischer passed favorably in the Commerce Committee in a 14-9 vote. Vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, etc., must now collect and remit taxes on vacation rental properties, ensure that only properly licensed rentals are advertised, and provide the state with specific information about the rentals. Regulation is now preempted to the state, largely preventing local governments from regulating vacation rentals. Local governments could only regulate the rentals in the same way as other properties in neighborhoods, a restriction that cities and counties strenuously oppose. Many feel that a requirement like this is best left up to local officials and not up to the state. The Senate companion, SB 1128 by Senator Manny Diaz, is now in Rules waiting to be heard.

Occupational Licensing: This week HB 3 by Representative Michael Grant passed favorably on the House floor in a 78-40 vote. This legislation would preempt local governments from requiring occupational licenses that are not mandated by the state. It would bring “uniformity” to a broad range of trade classes including, “flooring, cabinetry, painting, interior, remodeling, driveway or tennis court installation, decorative stone, tile, marble, granite, or terrazzo installation, plastering stuccoing, caulking, canvas awning, installation, and ornamental iron installation.” The Senate companion, SB 1336 by Senator Keith Perry, was temporarily postponed in its second committee of reference, Innovation, Industry, and Technology.

Tallahassee Updates

Contamination: This week SB 1350 by Senator Dennis Baxley passed favorably in its second committee stop, Judiciary, in a unanimous vote. There is a companion bill in the House, HB 609, by Representative Daniel Perez. This legislation provides changes to Florida’s brownfield program which include but is not limited to: providing sales tax exemptions for building materials for construction projects abutting designated brownfield areas that set aside certain portions of the project for affordable housing; revising a corporate income tax credit for 25% of the total rehabilitation costs for a brownfield site, not to exceed $500,000, for projects that include residential portions, if the developer agrees to set aside at last 20% of the housing units for affordable housing, etc.

A brownfield is a property of which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Unsafe levels of environmental contamination on a brownfield may result from past or current industrial, commercial, residential, agricultural, or recreational uses and practices. Contaminants may be found in soil, water or air. A committee substitute was filed by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee removing the expanded application of the sales tax exemption and the corporate income tax exemption for building materials for construction as it relates to affordable housing. SB 1350 has one more committee stop, Appropriations, before reaching the Senate floor.

Special Neighborhood Improvement Districts: This week HB 1009 by Representative Wengay Newton passed favorably on the House floor in a 113-0 vote. Neighborhood Improvement Districts (NIDs) are authorized under the Safe Neighborhoods Act of 1987 to address deteriorating business and residential neighborhoods and help revitalize them. By definition, a NID must use more than 75% of the land within its boundaries for either residential purposes or commercial, office, business, or industrial proposes, excluding land used for public facilities. This bill increases the number of members that can serve on special NID boards to allow three, five, or seven members and increases board member terms to four-year staggered terms. The bill requires members to be landowners in the proposed area who are subject to ad valorem taxation. The bill also requires counties or municipalities to specify the number of members in the ordinance creating the NID. The next stop for this legislation is to be heard on the Senate floor for a vote. If the Senate vote is favorable, the next stop for this legislation is the Governor’s desk.

There is a companion bill, SB 1424, by Senator Joe Gruters, that passed favorably in the Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee, in a 9-0 vote. SB 1424 has one more committee stop, Rules, before reaching the Senate floor.

Dissolution of Municipalities: This week HB 1209 by Representative Jason Fischer passed favorably in the Ways & Means Committee in a 15-1 vote. A municipality may be dissolved subject to a special act of the legislature or an ordinance passed by the governing body of the municipality approved by the voters at a referendum. This bill would require any municipality that meets one or more specified criteria to hold a referendum on municipal dissolution. Those criteria include but are not limited to:

  • The municipality was determined to be in a state of financial emergency subsequent to June 17, 2004 and has been in a state of financial emergency for two or more years.
  • The municipality has failed to comply with the terms of any signed agreement with the Governor’s office as part of a financial emergency where a financial emergency board has been established.

This bill has one more committee stop, State Affairs, before reaching the House floor. There is a Senate Companion, SB 1522 by Senator Doug Bronson, that is referred to three committees, however, said bill has not been heard.

Housing: This week SB 998 by Senator Travis Hutson passed favorably in the Infrastructure and Security Committee in a 7-0 vote. This bill addresses several housing issues related to development zoning and impact fees; the provision of affordable housing; and taxation, regulation, ownership, and tenancy related to mobile homes and mobile home parks. With respect to zoning, impact fees, and affordable housing, the bill includes but is not limited to:

  • Notwithstanding other laws and regulations, authorizes local governments to approve the development of affordable housing on any parcel zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use;
  • Provides that local governments may adopt an ordinance to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in any area zoned for single-family residential use;

With respect to housing issues related to mobile homes, this bill includes but is not limited to:

  • Mobile home buyers will have the option to receive the seller’s prospectus or a new prospectus;
  • Requires mobile homeowners to receive written permission from park owner before exterior modifications or additions

There is a companion bill, HB 1339 by Representative Clay Yarborough, that passed favorably in the House Ways and Means Committee with a unanimous vote. This bill has one more committee stop, Commerce, before reaching the House floor. Senator Hutson’s bill is now in its last committee stop, Appropriations, before reaching the Senate floor.