Like sand through the hourglass, so go the days of our lives AND the 2012 Session!
Week 6 included extended floor activity by the House on an economic development measure that became a magnet for a host of amendments sponsored by the minority party Democrats; lengthy Senate debate on prison privatization; a marathon Senate Budget Committee meeting; and the House adopting tax cuts and exemptions for Florida businesses totaling $121 million per year.
The following is a brief summary of some of the key legislation that was addressed during the past week.
SB 840 (Diaz de la Portilla) which authorized the Miami-Dade County Commission to terminate a community redevelopment agency (CRA) under certain conditions was on the agenda of the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The bill was temporarily postponed and no action was taken on the measure. The measure is likely dead for this session.
The Senate Community Affairs Committee passed SB 576 (Bennett). The bill provides for certain qualifying projects to be fulfilled by public-private partnerships. When a qualifying project is approved and negotiated by a local government a private entity can construct the project and charge user fees, lease payments or service payments. The League supports this bill.
The Senate Community Affairs Committee also approved SB 1022 (Garcia) which allows certain municipalities to create sales tax incremental financing districts. The League supports this bill.
FINANCE and TAX
Proposed Committee Bill (PCB) EAC 4 by the House Economic Affairs Committee which exempts real estate associates and broker associates from the Local Business Tax was approved with only one dissenting vote. It has been estimated that this bill will have a negative fiscal impact of $3.8 million per year to local governments. The League spoke in opposition of this bill.
The House Economic Affairs Committee removed language from HJR 1003 (Eisnaugle), opposed by the League, which would have enshrined in the constitution, the authority of the legislature to provide by general law that taxes on tangible personal property are not due unless the assessed value of the property exceeds a specified amount greater than twenty-five thousand dollars; tangible personal property is subject to taxation at a specified percentage of its assessed value; or that tangible personal property is totally exempt from taxation. The amended version of the bill which passed out of committee has a targeted exemption that only applies to small businesses and has a local option component that allows municipalities to offer addition tangible personal property relief to at their discretion. The League supports this compromise language.
HJR 93 (Harrison) passed the House by a vote of 115 to 0 on Thursday. This is a proposed constitutional amendment that gives an additional homestead exemption to the surviving spouse of first responders.
GROWTH MANAGEMENT HB 7081 (Workman) address non-substantive modifications from last session’s comprehensive growth management legislation. Modifications include fixing cross-references, updating outdated language, and removing provisions throughout the statutes that were made obsolete. HB 7081 was amended on the House floor to provide that a regional planning council may not provide consulting services to a private developer if the council will serve in a reviewing capacity in the future. CS/HB 7081 is now waiting for a vote on the House floor.
SB 692 (Bennett) revises the deadline for the submission of a feasibility study on the proposed incorporation of a new municipality. SB 692 was amended on the floor of the Senate to provide for a new way for an independent special district that was created by judicial decree or special act of the legislature to convert into a new municipality by an elector-initiated referendum. SB 692 is now waiting to be voted on by the full Senate.
ENERGY and ENVIRONMENT Governor Rick Scott signed HB 7051 (Caldwell) relating to numeric nutrient criteria. HB 7051, a League priority, exempts the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) proposed numeric nutrient criteria rules from the legislative ratification requirement in current law. The bill also provides that, after adoption of the DEP numeric nutrient rule, any subsequent rule or amendment altering the effect of that rule must be submitted to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives for legislative ratification prior to taking effect. Finally, the bill requires DEP to submit, within 30 days after the effective date of this bill, its proposed numeric nutrient criteria rules to the Environmental Protection Agency for review under the Clean Water Act.
CS/HB 999 (Dorworth) passed the House Appropriations Committee unanimously. The bill repeals the Department of Health’s mandatory septic tank inspection program and only mandates those local governments which have a first magnitude spring within their boundaries to develop an inspection program provided that the program meets the limitations provided in the bill. There is an opt-out provision available to those local governments. However, if a local government chooses to opt out, they are prohibited from enacting any local pollution control program dealing with septic tanks. The bill grandfathers in septic tank inspection programs in existence prior to July 1, 2011 except those with a point of sale inspection requirement.
The Senate Agriculture Committee passed CS/CS/SB 2094 (Senate Agriculture Committee), a statewide energy package. The bill will require the state to conduct a review of state owned facilities in terms of energy efficiency and provides a total of $16 million dollars in tax incentives for renewable energies. The bill preempts electrical charging stations for electric vehicles to the state, eliminating authority of the Public Service Commission. The House Finance and Tax Committee passed the House version of the statewide energy package, CS/HB 7117 (Plakon). The House version mirrors the Senate companion.
The Agriculture Committee also passed CS/SB 1858 (Altman) dealing with public-private partnerships on private agricultural lands for the purpose of water storage and water quality improvements.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee passed CS/HB 1021 (Albritton), which prohibits cities from levying stormwater fees on bona fide farming operations or agricultural lands if the farm: has a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES); an Environmental Resource Permit; or utilizes a best management practice enacted by either the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The bill will have an $800,000 fiscal impact to cities throughout the state.
The Senate version of the bill, CS/CS/CS/SB 1184 (Norman), passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee this week.
The House passed a number of measures the League has been monitoring. HB 7045 (T. Williams), which allows for alternative water consumptive use permits issued by the water management districts to be issued for a period of 30 years passed by a vote of 116-0 and CS/HB 7003 (Crisafulli), which develops a statewide environmental resource permit for surface waters also passed unanimously, 115-0.
PUBLIC SAFETY The Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee attempted to amend CS/HB 343 (Nehr), with language transferring the local government share of red light camera violations ($75) away from cities and instead sent the money to the state General Revenue Fund. This would have effectively ended red light camera programs in the state. Thanks to some great questions by Representatives Dwayne Taylor, Evan Jenne, Richard Steinberg, and Jeff Brandes, as well as a strong lobbying effort from municipal lobbyists, the bill was temporarily postponed. The committee does not meet for the rest of Session--effectively killing the bill. CS/HB 343 http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/0343
Another bill dealing with red light cameras, CS/SB 590 (Garcia), passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously. The bill requires local governments and the Department of Transportation to use the nationally recognized Institute of Transportation Engineers formula for developing minimum traffic signal timing. The bill implements standards for when local governments can issue red light cameras violations for right turns on red. The bill clarifies that drivers receiving red light camera violations identified through the affidavit process are not automatically issued uniform traffic citations but instead have 30 days to challenge the ticket or pay the $158 fine. Finally, the bill makes it clear that the deceased cannot receive red light violations. The bill now heads to the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations. CS/SB 590 http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/0590
URBAN ADMINISTRATION CS/SB 292 (Bennett) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill requires newspapers to place all legal notices published in the newspaper also on their website and a website established and maintained by the Florida Press Association. In addition, the bills specify that newspapers cannot charge more than 85 percent of the original rate for government notices that are required to be published more than once. The bill now heads to the Senate Budget Committee.
Have a great weekend and THANKS for all your help on these important issues!!
Finally, each election cycle, the League sponsors a campaign school for any local government official considering running for the Florida Legislature. The program, called the Institute for Civic Leadership, will hold its first session on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at the Orlando Renaissance Airport Hotel, from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Orlando Renaissance Airport Hotel 5445 Forbes Place Orlando, FL 32812 407-240-1000
Please RSVP by Monday, April 16th to Rose Hall here at the League office (850) 701-3655 to reserve your seat for the seminar TODAY!
FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR CIVIC LEADERSHIP, click here