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2013 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature
Prepared by Metz, Husband & Daughton, P.A.
March 29, 2013
As the fourth week of the nine-week 2013 Session draws to a close, the House and the Senate are moving forward with their respective proposals for the state budget for fiscal year 2013-14.
With a projected state budget surplus for the first time in seven years, the House spending plan features an increase of $1 billion in K-12 education funding and also restores the $300 million reduction in state university funding that occurred last year. In recognition of the potential economic fallout from the “sequester” of federal funds, the House would maintain over $1.2 billion in state reserves. The Senate will be advancing its version of the budget through committee next week.
Against this backdrop, the Legislature is churning through literally thousands of bills filed for consideration during the 2013 Session. At present, we are tracking 151 bills that would have some impact on the construction industry. Beyond the bills that AGC is actively trying to pass, AGC must also determine the impact of dozens of other bills and decide to support, oppose, or amend them as warranted.
Outlined below is an ever-expanding list of major bills and issues on which AGC is pursuing the interests of Florida’s general contractors during the 2013 Session here in Tallahassee.
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 84 - Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R - Miami)
HB 85 - Rep. Greg Steube (R - Sarasota)
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are contractual arrangements formed between a public agency and a private sector entity that allow for more significant private sector participation in the delivery and financing of public buildings and infrastructure projects. In addition to the sharing of resources, each party shares in the potential risks and rewards in the delivery of the service or facility.
The most common form of PPP is a Design-Build-Finance-Operate (DBFO) transaction, where the government contracts with a private vendor, granting the private vendor the right to develop a new piece of public infrastructure. The vendor takes on full responsibility and risk for the delivery and operation of the public project in accordance with the terms of the partnership. The vendor is paid through the revenue stream generated by the project, which could take the form of a user charge (such as a highway toll) or, in some cases, an annual government payment for performance (often called a “shadow toll” or “availability charge”).
While PPPs often result from a more “conventional” procurement process in which the government issues a request for proposals and then receives competing responses from private vendors, PPPs may also be initiated by the government’s receipt of an unsolicited proposal from a private entity. Generally, the government requires a processing fee to cover the cost of its technical and legal review of the unsolicited proposal. If the government is interested in pursuing the project, the government issues public notice and solicits competing proposals before entering into any partnership for the facility in question.
Expanding upon the current PPP program operated by the Florida Department of Transportation, this bill creates a PPP procurement process for use by counties, cities, school boards, universities, and regional entities. The bill specifies the requirements for such partnerships, which include provisions that require public entities to provide notice of unsolicited proposals, conduct independent analyses of proposed partnerships, notify other affected local jurisdictions, and enter into comprehensive agreements for qualifying projects. The bill provides that public entities may approve a qualifying project if there is a need for or benefit derived from the project, the estimated cost of the project is reasonable, and the private entity’s plans will result in the timely acquisition, design, construction, improvement renovation, expansion, equipping, maintenance, or operation of the qualifying project. The bill also specifically authorizes counties to use PPPs for construction, operation, ownership, and financing of transportation facilities.
UPDATE: As of the end of this fourth week of the 2013 Session, the bill has two legislative committees left to navigate in the Senate and two in the House. SB 84 is scheduled to be heard in its next committee on Tuesday, April 2. If the bill makes it through these remaining committees, it can then be considered by the full Senate and House. With government budgets and bonding capacity stretched thin, there is considerable support for encouraging innovative solutions to the delivery of public facilities. At the same time, there are some lingering doubts about the ability of local governments to responsibly enter into and implement PPPs over the long term. AGC will continue to support the advancement of this legislation as a creative means to help address Florida’s infrastructure needs.
ATTORNEY’S FEES ON LIEN & BOND CLAIMS
AGC POSITION: OPPOSE
Since 2010, material suppliers have been pushing for a change in the law that would fundamentally alter how “prevailing party” attorney’s fees are awarded in suits over liens and payment bond claims. Rather than relying on long-established precedent which requires a court to look at the case as whole to determine which party “prevailed” on the significant issues in a payment dispute, the change sought by material suppliers would have awarded attorney’s fees to the supplier or subcontractor if they recovered any amount at all in the litigation, even $1.
UPDATE: AGC has been the primary construction group vocally opposed to this proposed change in the law. During the run-up to the 2013 Session, material suppliers again initiated a discussion on this topic. While AGC offered a possible compromise on one of the issues raised in the material suppliers’ proposal, no agreement could be reached on their broader agenda. AGC will have to remain vigilant throughout the Session to ensure that this very bad attorney’s fee provision does not get amended onto one of the many construction-related bills moving through the Capitol.
BACKGROUND CHECKS ON SCHOOL CONTRACTORS
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 318 - Sen. Denise Grimsley (R - Sebring)
HB 21 - Rep. Keith Perry (R - Gainesville)
Florida law requires individuals who work in, or provide services to, public schools and school districts to undergo a fingerprint-based state and federal criminal background check before being permitted access to school grounds. The background screening standards vary depending upon the individual’s duties, whether or not the individual is a school district employee, and the degree of contact the individual has with students. Currently, there is no required uniform, statewide identification badge that signifies that a non-instructional contractor has satisfied background screening requirements.
This bill requires the Department of Education (DOE) to create a uniform, statewide identification badge signifying that a non-instructional contractor has satisfied the specified background screening requirements, which would be valid for 5 years. The badge must include a photograph of the contractor and be recognized by each Florida school district. School districts must issue the badge to a contractor if he or she is a U.S. resident and citizen or permanent resident alien; 18 years of age or older; and meets the specified background screening requirements. DOE would determine a uniform cost that a school district may charge for the badge, which would be borne by the recipient.
UPDATE: AGC is a strong supporter of this bill, which has made significant progress over the last few weeks. HB 21 has passed successfully through all of its legislative committees and is scheduled to be discussed on the House floor on Tuesday, April 2, with a vote on the bill likely later in the week. SB 318 has likewise made it through the committee process and is ready for consideration by the full Senate. After several years of effort, the outlook for passage of this bill is very positive.
SUPPLEMENT TO PECO FUNDING
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
HB 5101 - Education Approp’s Subcommittee
Florida public schools and universities may be facing another year without significant money from the state to renovate existing buildings or build new ones. A decision from the Florida Department of Education to build reserve funds, coupled with the federal sequestration, is expected to use up about $80 million in cash that was otherwise expected to be available for Public Education Capital Outlay (“PECO”) projects. The state’s chief economist told a Senate committee on Wednesday that this would probably leave virtually no funds left for the Legislature to appropriate for construction in the coming budget year.
PECO funds are generated through a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on the sale of electricity and a 2.52 percent tax on communications services. This revenue stream, established by a 1963 amendment to the state constitution, has dried up as consumers have bought more energy-efficient appliances and moved from land-line telephones to cell phones, with all proceeds essentially bonded out. PECO revenue has shriveled from a high of $1.2 billion in the 2007-2008 fiscal year to what was expected to be about $80 million for the 2013-2014 state budget. The past two sessions lawmakers appropriated $55 million in PECO money to charter schools and none to traditional K-12 schools.
UPDATE: Released this week as House and Senate budgets begin to take more definite shape, HB 5101 would allow individual universities to increase student fees, including one dedicated to capital improvements. The Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF) fee currently cannot exceed 10 percent of tuition. The average CITF fee is $6.56 per credit hour for the 2012-2013 academic year, representing 6 percent of tuition. To better fund university construction needs, HB 5101 authorizes universities to charge an additional $18.59 per credit hour in CITF fees up to a maximum of $28.92 and changes the maximum annual increase from $2 to $3. As such, if a university implemented the maximum $3 increase per year, reaching the CITF fee cap would take place over the course of seven years. In order to increase the CITF, an appointed fee committee at each university must recommend the increase, with the university board of trustees then seeking approval from the Board of Governors.
BAN ON LOCAL SICK LEAVE ORDINANCES
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 726 - Sen. David Simmons (R - Altamonte Springs)
HB 655 - Rep. Steve Precourt (R - Orlando)
In 2012, a petition drive in Orange County sought to place before local voters a proposed ordinance that would require all employers to offer prescribed sick leave benefits to their employees when they are sick or caring for a sick family member. Employers with 15 or more employees would be required to provide paid sick time, with employees accruing one hour of sick time for every 37 hours worked, capped at 56 hours in a calendar year. Employers with fewer than 15 employees would not have to offer paid sick time, but those employers could not retaliate against workers who take unpaid sick time. While procedural wrangling kept the proposed ordinance off the ballot in Orange County in the fall of 2012, court action has now forced the Orange County Commission to place the proposal before local voters in August 2014.
In the wake of these events, state legislators are advancing different bills that would prohibit local governments from adopting ordinances requiring private employers to offer sick leave to their employees.
UPDATE: Having successfully advanced through the last of its legislative committees, HB 655 would broadly prohibit local governments from mandating all kinds of employee benefits, including health and disability benefits, sick leave and vacation time, and retirement benefits. At present, HB 655 would also prohibit local governments from requiring private vendors to offer higher wages or more generous benefits as a condition of entering into a contract to supply goods or services to the local government, and would prohibit local governments from awarding bid preferences on such a basis. HB 655 is scheduled to be discussed on the House floor on Tuesday, April 2, with a possible vote later in the week.
On the other side of the Capitol, SB 726 has one committee left before it can be taken up by the full Senate. This bill is limited to prohibiting local regulation of sick leave. As originally filed, the bill would have adopted some new statewide requirements for sick leave for those employees working a minimum of 1,250 hours annually. The bill was later amended to remove those new statewide requirements. In their place, the bill now establishes a state task force to study the impact of prohibiting local regulation of such benefits and to make recommendations for further legislative action.
BAN ON WAGE PROTECTION ORDINANCES
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 1216 - Sen. Rob Bradley (R - Orange Park)
HB 1125 - Rep. Tom Goodson (R - Titusville)
A few years ago, Miami-Dade County passed a local ordinance to regulate “wage theft”-- the underpayment or nonpayment of wages earned. The ordinance sets up a local quasi-judicial process through which wage theft claims can be reported and processed. Backed by unions, the ordinance primarily targets industries that have a significant number of minimum wage, low-wage, or day labor workers, such as agriculture, restaurant/lodging, construction, and retail. Palm Beach County has considered a similar ordinance, one was recently adopted in Broward County, and Alachua County is now actively considering such a measure.
Of course, numerous federal and state laws already address issues of wage protection and the unfair treatment of workers. Layering on top of this established legal framework a series of inconsistent local regulations and processes that vary from one city or county to the next will impose unnecessary additional burdens and expenses on Florida employers.
As in past years, bills have been filed in the 2013 Session to preempt local governments from passing these kinds of wage protection ordinances.
UPDATE: HB 1125 now creates a statewide system for addressing wage theft complaints, granting exclusive jurisdiction of such claims to the county courts. The employee would be required to serve a pre-suit notice on the employer, identifying the amount owed and the relevant work dates and hours. The employer would then have 15 days to resolve the matter before the employee could bring a suit in county court. The aggrieved worker could recover only the compensation due and owing. Local governments would be prohibited from adopting any quasi-judicial processes for resolving wage theft claims, but they could adopt programs to help workers pursue their claims in county court. The Miami-Dade ordinance would be allowed to remain in place, but it could apply only to an employer with gross sales of less than $500,000. In addition to opposing the bill, labor groups and local legislators are trying to fully remove the existing Miami-Dade and Broward ordinances from the bill’s reach. HB 1125 has two legislative committees left to navigate. The next committee is chaired by Rep. Eddy Gonzalez (R - Hialeah Gardens), who is the subject of significant local pressure not to let the bill advance.
On the other side of the Capitol, SB 1216 has had great difficulty getting out of the first of its four committees, where it has been scheduled for a hearing twice but not considered. The bill is once again scheduled for committee consideration on Monday, April 1, where numerous amendments have been filed, including one to allow an aggrieved worker to recover damages in an amount up to twice the compensation due and owing.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT OF DESIGN &“CM” SERVICES
AGC POSITION: OPPOSE
SB 1002 - Sen. Darren Soto (D - Kissimmee)
HB 739 - Rep. Larry Metz (R - Groveland)
The “Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act” (s. 287.055) allows public entities to procure services within the practices of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, and surveying and mapping, as well as construction management and project management services, through a competitive qualifications-based selection process.
Once firms are ranked based upon their qualifications, the public entity conducts negotiations with the top-ranked firm, during which fees are a negotiated item. If the public entity and the top-ranked firm cannot come to an agreement, then the public entity may terminate those negotiations and begin negotiations with the second-ranked firm (and so on) until an agreement satisfactory to the public entity is reached.
The CCNA process, adopted in Florida in the 1970’s, is used by federal agencies and by 47 of the 50 states. It is also the prevailing method for procuring similar services in the private sector. This process contrasts with the more traditional competitive bidding method in which bids end up primarily ranked based upon price.
The CCNA responds to a variety of concerns about applying a strict “low-bid” scenario to these types of design and construction services, e.g., stifling innovative design and construction solutions, the resulting loss of larger cost savings in both the construction and operation of public facilities, public safety concerns, and the practical inability of public owners to precisely define the scope of work early in the design process.
For the third year running, bills have now been filed to directly insert price back into the vendor selection process. The bills for 2013 would allow a public owner to use a two-stage “best value” selection process. In the first stage, the public entity would evaluate firms using the qualifications-based criteria established in current law and “short-list” several firms. In the second stage, the public entity would solicit cost proposals from the short-listed firms and select the firm representing the “best value,” with the cost factor comprising no more than 50% of the firm’s total score.
UPDATE: Historically, this bill has been strongly opposed by AGC, as well as the architects and engineers. To date, the bill has not been heard in a legislative committee.
BAN ON LOCAL BID PREFERENCES
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 684 - Sen. Alan Hays (R - Umatilla)
HB 307 - Rep. John Tobia (R - Melbourne Beach)
This bill would prohibit any local ordinance or regulation that grants a preference to a “local” bidder based upon the bidder maintaining a business office or principal place of business in the local jurisdiction, the bidder hiring personnel or subcontractors from within the jurisdiction, or the bidder paying local taxes, assessments, or duties. This prohibition would apply to any local public construction project for which payment is to be made in whole or in part from funds appropriated by the state.
In addition, the bill would require each state agency, university, college, school district, or other political subdivision of the state procuring construction services to award a bid preference to Florida-based businesses. If the low bidder on a Florida project is from a state that awards its own in-state preference, then the same degree of preference would be awarded to the Florida-based bidders. If the low bidder is from a state that does not award its own in-state preference, then Florida-based bidders would receive a 5% preference.
UPDATE: HB 307 has passed successfully through one of its four legislative committees. SB 684 is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Tuesday, April 2. While AGC strongly supports these bills, our past experience has been that, while a legislator will often oppose local bid preferences in the abstract, that legislator often changes his or her position once they understand that: (a) one or more local governments in their legislative district have a local bid preference; and (b) the local contractors in that jurisdiction support the bid preference.
WORKERS’ COMP / DRUG BENEFITS
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 662 - Sen. Alan Hays (R - Umatilla)
HB 605 - Rep. Matt Hudson (R - Naples)
Chapter 440, Florida Statutes, generally requires employers and carriers to provide medical and indemnity benefits to workers who are injured due to an accident arising out of and during the course of employment. Medical benefits can include, but are not limited to, medically necessary care and treatment and prescription medications. In Florida, the prescription reimbursement rate for dispensing physicians and pharmacies is the average wholesale price (AWP) plus a $4.18 dispensing fee, or the contracted rate, whichever is lower.
Prescription drug repackagers are licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Drug repackagers purchase pharmaceuticals in bulk from the manufacturer and repackage the drugs into individual prescription sizes. The repackaged drugs are assigned a new National Drug Code and can be assigned a new, higher AWP than the original manufacturer’s AWP.
The bill revises requirements for determining the amount of reimbursement for prescription medications of claimants by providing that the reimbursement amount is the same for repackaged or relabeled drugs as for non-repackaged drugs. The bill expressly prohibits the price of repackaged or relabeled drugs from exceeding the amount that would otherwise be payable had the drug not been repackaged or relabeled. NCCI has estimated that the bill would reduce workers’ compensation premiums by 1.1%.
UPDATE: Despite heavy lobbying by drug repackaging companies, HB 605 has now moved successfully through two of its three legislative committees. SB 662 has received one committee hearing to date, with two committees remaining.
DESIGN PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY
AGC POSITION: OPPOSE
SB 286 - Sen. Joe Negron (R - Palm City)
HB 575 - Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R - Naples)
As you may recall, the architects and engineers championed a bill in 2010 to limit their malpractice liability. Under current law, individual design professionals are personally subject to malpractice claims, regardless of what the contract between the employing design firm and the project owner or general contractor may provide regarding limitations on the design firm’s contractual liability, required insurance coverages, etc.
The 2010 bill would have granted immunity to individual design professionals and eliminated all malpractice claims with respect to damage to the project itself. A breach of contract action, subject to the liability limitations and insurance requirements of the contract, would control all questions of liability for such damages caused by faulty design work. For damages arising from personal injuries or from collateral property damage, a professional malpractice claim against a design professional would still exist. The 2010 bill passed the Senate (33-4) and the House (111-2). Ultimately, however, Governor Crist vetoed the bill.
The same bill was resurrected in the 2011 Session. After intense lobbying by a coalition comprised of AGC, other construction groups, condominium owners, and trial lawyers, the Senate version was voted down in its first legislative committee early in the Session and advanced no further in either chamber.
After taking a year off in 2012, the architects and engineers have advanced a re-tooled bill in 2013. Instead of granting an outright statutory immunity to individual architects and engineers, the new bill is premised upon giving the project owner the “right” to waive in advance any malpractice claims against those parties. The bill allows an owner (or general contractor) entering into a contract with a design firm to waive any potential malpractice claims against the firm’s individual professionals if:
- The contract is made between the business entity and a claimant or another entity for the provision of services to the claimant;
- The contract does not name an individual employee or agent as a party to the contract;
- The contract prominently states that an individual employee or agent may not be held individually liable for negligence;
- The business entity maintains any professional liability insurance required under the contract; and any damages are solely economic in nature and do not extent to persons or property not subject to the contract.
UPDATE: While AGC repeatedly testified against the bill before legislative committees and spearheaded the same coalition that was able to defeat the bill in 2011, the re-tooled SB 286 successfully passed the full Senate this week. In a last ditch effort, AGC advanced an amendment on the Senate floor to condition the waiver of malpractice claims against individual architects and engineers on the design firm disclosing in its contract with the owner the policy limits of the firm’s professional liability insurance (if any). While this amendment generated considerable floor debate, it was ultimately unsuccessful. In large part, the rapid progress of the bill was a byproduct of the fact that the bill sponsor, Sen. Negron, is currently the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is likely to be a future Senate President. Sen. Negron was also the original sponsor of the earlier versions of the bill in 2010 and 2011.
On the other side of the Capitol, HB 575 likewise moved successfully this week through the last of its three legislative committees, and the measure is now poised for passage by the House. Despite several meetings with the bill sponsor and much public testimony against the bill, we face an equally difficult fight on this bill in the House— the House sponsor of this bill in prior sessions was Rep. Steve Precourt, an engineer who is now the House Majority Leader.
CONSTRUCTION LIEN LAW
AGC POSITION: OPPOSE
SB 1136 - Sen. Arthenia Joyner (R - Tampa)
HB 889 - Rep. Mike Fasano (R - New Port Richey)
In apparent response to homeowner concerns that have bubbled up in prior years, this new bill would significantly change the state’s construction lien law. The bill includes the following provisions:
- Current law requires a lienor’s notice to owner to be served before commencing, or not later than 45 days after commencing, to furnish labor, services, or materials. The bill would strike that language and allow the lienor’s notice to owner to be served at any time before the date on which payment is due to the lienor for its labor, services, or materials.
- Requires the prime contractor to provide the owner with a notarized list of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of each party owed money in a particular request for payment, along with the written releases currently required by law.
- Removes current law stating that any payments made by the owner after the expiration of the notice of commencement are considered improper payments. Thus, an owner who let the notice of commencement expire would no longer face the threat of paying twice for the work in question – once to the prime contractor and then again to the subcontractor.
UPDATE: To date, neither bill has been heard in any legislative committees
ELECTRICAL JOURNEYMAN REQ’TS
AGC POSITION: OPPOSE
SB 346 - Sen. Darren Soto (D - Kissimmee)
Current law allows a county or city to adopt an ordinance requiring one electrical journeyman to be present on an industrial or commercial new construction site of 50,000 gross square feet or more when electrical work in excess of 77 volts is being performed.
The bill would remove this provision and replace it with a statewide requirement that one electrical journeyman must be present on any industrial or commercial new construction site of 5,000 gross square feet or more when electrical work in excess of 98 volts is being performed.
AGC opposes any such state mandate. The decision on how any particular job should be staffed should be left to the electrical contractor and should not be dictated by state law.
UPDATE: SB 346 has not been heard in any legislative committee. Because there is no companion bill in the House, this issue will likely not advance any further in the 2013 Session.
BAN ON “PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS”
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 1118 - Sen. Alan Hays (R - Umatilla)
HB 181 - Rep. Charles Van Zant (R - Palatka)
“Project labor agreements” (PLA’s) are sometimes imposed by government entities on public construction projects and typically require that the contractor hire all workers through union halls, that nonunion workers pay dues for the length of the project, and that the contractor follow union rules on pensions, work conditions and dispute resolution. In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13502, which allows federal agencies to require contractors on large-scale government construction projects to enter into PLA’s as a condition of a contract award.
This bill prohibits government entities from requiring that a contractor, subcontractor, supplier or carrier on a public works project enter into an agreement with a labor union and prohibits government entities from restricting otherwise qualified/licensed/certified bidders from doing any of the work described in a bid document.
The bill also limits the ability of government entities to require a contractor, subcontractor, supplier or carrier on a public works project to: pay employees a predetermined amount of wages or wage rate; provide employees a specified type, amount, or rate of employee benefits; control or limit staffing; recruit, train, or hire employees from a designated or single source; designate any particular assignment of work for employees; participate in proprietary training programs; or enter into any type of project labor agreement.
UPDATE: Neither bill has yet been scheduled for a legislative committee hearing, and their prospects in the 2013 Session are bleak.
LIMITING LOCAL GOV’TS SELF-PERFORMING WORK
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 602 - Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R - Port Orange)
HB 687 - Rep. Charles McBurney (R - Jacksonville)
The long-standing policy of this state has been to require local governments to put public construction work out for competitive bid. This policy maximizes the efficient use of public funds, with fair and open competition among experienced private sector contractors delivering the best possible project to the community at the lowest possible price for taxpayers. Under current law, local governments must competitively award all construction work with a value in excess of $200,000 (as adjusted for inflation), unless a recognized statutory exception applies, e.g., repairing damage from natural disasters or where a dangerous condition exists, repairing public utilities, etc.
Some local governments, however, are abusing these exceptions to get around the state’s competitive bidding requirements. The most frequently abused statutory exception to competitive bidding is one that allows a local government to “self-perform” construction work with its own employees and equipment if the local government simply determines that it is “in the public’s best interest.”
The referenced bills would repeal this exception to competitive bidding. Both bills are strongly opposed by local governments.
UPDATE: HB 687 was heard in the first of its three committees this week. While local governments are still battling against the legislation, HB 687 was amended in committee to keep the “public’s best interest” exception in place but to significantly limit its use, allowing a local government to use the exception to avoid competitive bidding and self-perform the work only if there are no state funds being used to pay for the construction work in question. At present, SB 602 is stalled in its first legislative committee.
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 972 - Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R - Port Orange)
HB 319 - Rep. Lake Ray (R - Jacksonville)
In 2011, the Legislature passed a new law dramatically curtailing state oversight of local growth management decisions. Those changes gave cities and counties the option of requiring “transportation concurrency,” with developers paying only their “proportionate share” for road improvements needed.
Some local governments, such as Pasco County, have developed transportation mobility plans or fee systems that they claim are not subject to the proportionate share requirement.
In response, these two bills would make clear that local government mobility fee systems are subject to the proportionate share requirement.
UPDATE: SB 972 is scheduled to be heard in the second of its three legislative committees on Tuesday, April 2. HB 319 moved successfully through the last of its committees this week and is now available for consideration on the House floor.
REGULATION OF COAL ASH
AGC POSITION: SUPPORT
SB 682 - Sen. Wilton Simpson (R - New Port Richey)
HB 659 - Rep. Tom Goodson (R - Titusville)
Coal ash is a byproduct of the burning of coal in power plants and cement kilns, which typically contains mercury, cadmium and arsenic. In 2010, 6.6 million tons of coal ash, including fly ash, was produced in Florida. Usually 30 to 50 percent of coal ash is used for cement production, road construction, wall board manufacturing, and for agricultural use as a part of fertilizer.
After a well-publicized incident four years ago in which a dam break in Tennessee caused a coal ash pond to spill into tributaries of the Tennessee River, the EPA has been considering whether to classify coal ash as a hazardous waste. Under current Florida law, hazardous waste landfills are prohibited in the state due to the permeability of the soil and high water table. The EPA’s classification of coal ash as hazardous waste could therefore present a major problem for disposal.
As a result, the two referenced bills would exempt coal ash from the state’s current prohibition on hazardous waste landfills. Anyone wishing to store coal ash at a Florida site, however, would still be required to obtain a hazardous waste facility permit. Certain “beneficial” uses for coal ash, including use as fill dirt, fertilizer, or as a material in concrete or asphalt, would not be subject to many hazardous waste regulations.
UPDATE: SB 682 should be heard in its second legislative committee on Tuesday, April 2. HB 659 moved successfully through the last of its committees this week and is now available for consideration on the House floor.
BUILDING CONSTRUCTION & INSPECTION
AGC POSITION: MONITOR
SB 1252 - Sen. Wilton Simpson (R - New Port Richey)
HB 1245 - Rep. Daniel Davis (R - Jacksonville)
A bill is filed almost every year making changes to the laws surrounding the Florida Building Code, and this year is no exception. At present, the bill is expected to contain the following provisions of note:
- Increases the maximum civil penalty imposed by local code enforcement for unlicensed contractor activity from $500 to $2000 for both state and local license, certification or registration requirements;
- Allows local governments to collect delinquent fines and retain 75%, remitting 25% of fines to DBPR.
- Deletes specific code citation in International Residential Code for mandated sprinklers and instead clarifies that any provision in IRC mandating fire sprinklers may not be incorporated into the Florida Building Code.
- Authorizes building site plans to be maintained electronically at the worksite and open to inspection by the local building official or duly authorized representative.
- Requires DBPR to provide statewide oversight of multiple alternative energy-efficiency building rating systems, to include whole building energy evaluation systems established by the Residential Energy Services Network, Commercial Energy Services Network, or Building Performance Institute, or a nationally- recognized rating system approved by DBPR.
UPDATE: HB 1245 passed successfully through its first legislative committee this week and has two committees remaining. SB 1252 is in a similar procedural posture.