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Florida Session Update #3

Advocacy News ,
 
Florida Legislative Session Update #3
 
This is the third in a series of several email updates regarding the 2020 Florida legislative session. For more information regarding the legislation FAA is watching in 2020, please click here to see FAA's 2020 Legislation tracker or email amanda@faahq.org.
 
FAA's 2020 Legislative Priorities on the Move:
Protect the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund (SB 306/HB 381)
  • SB 306 passed out of the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee with a favorable recommendation by an 8-0 vote on February 3. The bill now advances to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development for further consideration.
  • This important legislation would prevent the legislature from sweeping monies from the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund for other purposes within the state budget.
  • It is unlikely that HB 381 will be scheduled for a hearing in the House.
 
Reduce Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Fraud (HB 209/SB 1084)
  • This important legislation would establish a criminal penalty for falsifying an emotional support animal and codify the right for property owners to ask for reliable documentation from a licensed professional when an individual's disability-related need is not readily apparent.
  • An amended version of HB 209 passed with a favorable recommendation on February 12 from the House Judiciary Committee and is now on the House floor on second reading.
  • The bill was amended to ensure the text of the bill was consistent with HUD's newly released guidelines on assistance animals.
  • The definition of an ESA was updated to reflect the definition used in the new guidelines.
  • Language was added to allow telehealth providers who are licensed or registered within the state of Florida to verify the disability related need for an ESA.
  • Language was added to allow out-of-state providers to verify the disability-related need so long as the practitioner has provided in-person care or services to the tenant on at least one occasion and is acting within the scope of his/her practice.
  • Language was added to ensure an emotional support animal registration of any kind (identification card, patch, certificate) from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient information to reliably establish that a person has a disability or disability-related need for an ESA.
  • The Senate companion bill, SB 1084, passed out of the Rules Committee with a favorable recommendation on February 19 and is now scheduled for a vote in the Senate on February 26.
 
Increase Affordable Housing Tax Incentives (HB 1339/SB 998)
  • A committee substitute for HB 1339 passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee with a favorable recommendation by a 12-0 vote on February 3. HB 1339 now advances to the House Commerce Committee for further consideration.
  • The Senate companion bill, SB 998, passed out of the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee on February 17 and is now awaiting consideration in the appropriations committee.
  • HB 1339/SB 998 would make a series of changes related to housing. If enacted, the bills would provide local governments with the ability to approve the development of affordable housing on any parcel of land that is zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use. The bills would also impose additional impact fee reporting requirements on local governments and establish biannual affordable housing workshops, among other changes.
  • Amendments were recently added to both HB 1339 and SB 998 that would allow counties to grant property tax exemptions at the local level for affordable housing units.
  • FAA looks forward to HB 1339 or SB 998 advancing to the floor for a vote before the conclusion of the 2020 session.
 
Other Legislation FAA is Watching in 2020
Housing Discrimination Complaints
  • HB 175 is now awaiting final consideration in the House Judiciary Committee and SB 374 is currently on the Senate floor on second reading but has not been scheduled for a vote.
  • This legislation would allow someone who believes they are a victim of housing discrimination to bypass the administrative complaint process and proceed straight to legal action, which would increase legal costs for property owners.
  • FAA is once again strongly opposing this legislation. The government affairs team will continue to discuss the negative implications of this policy change with leadership in the House and Senate.
 
E-Verify
  • Governor DeSantis has asked the legislature to pass a bill that would require all employers to participate in the federal E-Verify program. E-Verify is a federal database that was designed to aid employers in identifying undocumented immigrants who are ineligible to work in the U.S. 
  • This policy is highly controversial and, as a result, SB 664 has seen extensive changes during the committee process. The current version of the bill would require all Florida employers with 20 or more employees to register with and use E-Verify or an alternative employment verification system.
  • SB 664 is now awaiting consideration in the Senate Rules Committee, which is the bill's final stop before moving to the Senate floor.
  • This is a developing issue. The FAA government affairs team will continue to monitor this legislation and communicate future updates as they arise.
 
Preemption of Local Licensing
  • HB 3 recently passed by a 78- 40 vote on the House floor.
  • The Senate companion bill, SB 1336, recently passed out of the Senate Community Affairs Committee on February 3. The bill is now awaiting further consideration in the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee.
  • This bill prohibits local governments from requiring a license for a person whose job scope does not substantially correspond to that of a contractor or journeyman. This would prevent local governments from imposing licensing requirements for painting, flooring, cabinetry, interior remodeling, tile, marble, granite, or terrazzo installation, plastering, stuccoing, or caulking to name a few examples.
  • FAA strongly supports this legislation and is hopeful the Senate will also pass HB 3.
 
Subscribing Witness Requirement
  • HB 469 recently passed by a unanimous vote in the House on February 5. The Senate companion bill, SB 1224, is currently on second reading on the Senate floor.
  • HB 469/SB 1224 would remove the subscribing witness requirement for leases that exceed one year. 
  • FAA strongly supports HB 469/SB 1224. This legislation is important for FAA members because lease renewals, which are often completed via an electronic signature, routinely exceed one year. When using an electronic signature the witness requirement that currently exists in state law can be problematic.
 
Evictions During a State of Emergency
  • A committee substitute for HB 321 recently passed out of the House Civil Justice Committee with a favorable recommendation by an 11-0 vote on February 4. HB 321 now advances to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. The Senate companion bill, SB 480, has not had a committee hearing at this time.
  • As introduced these bills would prohibit a writ, process, warrant, order, or judgment relating to a residential eviction from being served during a state of emergency declared by the president, governor, or governing body of a political subdivision. The legislation as introduced would also impose a 15-day waiting period after the end of a declared state of emergency before an eviction could be served.
  • During HB 321's initial committee hearing, Rep. Grieco (the bill sponsor) introduced a substitute that included drastic changes to the bill language. The substitute Rep. Grieco presented would prohibit a sheriff from serving or executing a writ of possession in a county that is under a hurricane watch or hurricane warning until five days after the termination of the hurricane watch or hurricane warning. The committee voted to advance this revised version of the bill on February 4.
  • There is concern that this legislation could be misused to unjustly delay or complicate the eviction process. The FAA government affairs team is closely monitoring this legislation and will be sharing the industry's concerns with committee leaders in the House and Senate.