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Daily Legislative Brief from April 9, 2019

Taxation

SB 1000 – Relating to Communication Services

On Tuesday, April 9, SB 1000 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) was heard before the Senate Finance and Tax Committee and was reported favorably with 5 yeas 2 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

This bill changes the way the use of public rights-of-way by providers of communications services are governed. Specifically:

  • Prohibiting a local government from instituting permits for collocation of small wireless facilities or related poles.
  • Deleting the authority for a local government to require performance bonds and security funds.
    • Instead, the bill allows them to require a construction bond limited to no more than 1 year after the construction is completed;
  • Requiring a local government to accept a letter of credit or similar instrument issued by any financial institution authorized to do business within the U.S.;
  • Allowing a provider of communications services to add a local government to any existing bond, insurance policy, or other financial instrument, and requiring the local government to accept such coverage;
  • Prohibiting a local government from requiring a permit applicant to provide inventories, maps, or locations of communication facilities in the rights-of-way, unless it is necessary to avoid interference with existing facilities
  • Providing additional requirements for a local government’s permit registration and application process for communications services providers’ use of public rights-of-way

SB 1000 will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AIF supports legislation that will both reduce the communications services permitting process and have a positive financial impact on Florida’s consumers, many of whom are businesses that pay for cable or satellite service.

Insurance

HB 1399 – Relating to Workers Compensation

On Tuesday, April 9, HB 1399 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) was heard in the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and was reported favorably with 12 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in opposition to this legislation.

The workers’ compensation system should be a self-executing system and should “assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker’s return to gainful reemployment at a reasonable cost to the employer.” This bill makes changes to the workers’ compensation law to address the delivery of benefits and system cost drivers, but unfortunately does not adequately address the real cost driver: litigation.

HB 1399 will now move to the House Commerce Committee.

AIF supports workers’ comp reform that attacks the real cost drivers, most specifically, litigation. We support SB 1636, Relating to Workers Compensation, and hope that HB 1399 will be similarly strengthened to provide marketplace certainty in response to the Castellanos case.

Legal & Judicial

SB 1730 – Relating to Community Development and Housing

On Tuesday, April 9, SB 1730 by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) was heard in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee and was reported favorably with 7 yeas and 1 nay. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

This bill amends various statutes relating to growth management, restricts the ability of a county or municipality to adopt and enforce inclusionary housing ordinances or regulations, and sets timeframe parameters for building application approval or denial. After receiving a development permit application, the county and municipality must review the application for completeness and issue a response within 30 days. The bill also requires the collection of impact fees, which are an important source of revenue for local governments to fund infrastructure projects. Additionally, the bill prohibits a local government from charging an impact fee for the development or construction of affordable housing but provides an exception under certain circumstances.

SB 1730 will now move to the Senate Rules Committee.

AIF supports legislative efforts to maintain our state’s infrastructure and assist Florida’s workforce with access to affordable housing.

HB 17 – Relating to Damages

On Tuesday, April 9, HB 17 by Representative Tom Leek (R-Daytona Beach) was heard in the House Judiciary Committee and was reported favorably with 12 yeas and 6 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

Florida currently has the highest tort system costs among U.S. states as a percentage of state GDP, at 3.6%. In 2016, the total amount paid in costs and compensation within Florida's tort system averaged $4,442 for each Florida household. 

A flawed tort system generates exorbitant damages and unpredictability, causing: 

  • Increased economic costs and increased risks of doing business;
  • Higher insurance premiums; 
  • Increased healthcare costs and declining availability of medical services; and 
  • Deterrence of economic development and job creation activities.


HB 17 will now move to the House floor.

AIF supports tort reforms which will dramatically reduce the costs of the tort system in Florida while providing a better business climate in the state.

SB 7096 – Relating to Constitutional Amendments

On Tuesday, April 9, SB 7096, sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committee, was heard in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development and was reported favorably with 5 yeas and 3 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

This bill changes the process for amending the constitution by citizen initiative by:

  • Requiring petition gatherers to be Florida residents and registered with the Secretary of State;
  • Disqualifying petitions collected by unregistered petition gatherers from counting toward the number of petitions required for an initiative amendment to appear on the ballot;
  • Prohibiting compensation to petition-gatherers on a per-signature basis; and
  • Requiring the ballot for an initiative amendment include:
    • A bold-font, capitalized statement regarding the financial impact to the state if the Financial Impact Estimating Conference determines that the measure will increase costs, decrease revenue, or have an indeterminate fiscal impact;
    • A “yes” or “no” determination by the Florida Supreme Court as to whether the policy in the amendment could instead be accomplished by the Legislature instead of through the initiative amendment; and
    • The name of the amendment’s sponsor and the percentage of contributions received by the sponsor from in-state contributors.


SB 7096 will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AIF supports legislation that adds transparency and accountability to amending the Florida constitution by citizen imitative.

Environmental

SB 816 – Relating to Environmental Regulation

On Tuesday, April 9, SB 816 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) was heard in the Senate Community Affairs Committee and was reported favorably with 5 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

This bill requires local governments to work with residential recycling collectors and material recovery facilities to reduce contamination of curbside recycling. As Florida continues to move toward the statewide 75% recycling goal, this legislation is specifically designed to improve the capture rate of clean recyclable material.

SB 816 will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AIF supports legislative efforts to achieve the statewide 75% recycling goal which helps keep Florida clean, creates jobs, and maintains our strong tourism industry.