The Bottom Line: 2017 Legislative Session

It is that time of year again. The 2017 Legislative Session officially commenced last Tuesday. No doubt you read or heard about the frosty relationship between the Governor and House Leadership. The House and Senate appear to have divergent priorities and, of course, the budget is expected to be difficult, requiring potential cuts in some areas. Many believe we are destined for an extended session or multiple special sessions. You can agree or disagree with the positions espoused by our state’s leaders, but they are bold positions.

Regardless of the public squabbling amongst the Governor, House and Senate, FHBA remains focused on policies affecting our industry. Like the Speaker and the Senate President, we have embarked on some bold initiatives. FHBA’s legislation revising how the code is put together has its detractors and they are organized and vocal. In spite of their messaging, Sen. Denise Grimsley, Chair of the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee and candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, put SB 7000 on the agenda for Wednesday afternoon. We continue to meet with all interested parties and have a series of amendment to address some of their more legitimate concerns.

Workers’ Compensation reform is a key priority for the construction industry as well as the general business community. Last week, both the House and Senate released their version of Worker’s compensation reform. As expected, both chambers included reforms to the attorney fee cap issue, while also addressing broader reforms such as limited defense costs and changing how rates in Florida are approved. FHBA’s goal is to enact legislation which first stabilizes the rate and then, if possible, achieve rate reduction. Neither proposal has been “priced” out to determine if either will result in an actual rate reduction.

Construction workforce discussions took center stage this past week in the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The Construction Industry Task Force, which was created in last year’s code bill, presented their findings and recommendations. Committee members left with an appreciation for the need to enhance the workforce and understand how the recommendations can help achieve those goals. Meanwhile in the House, Rep. McClain passed his bill authorizing appropriations for task for recommendations. A necessary procedural move for funding request in the House.

One of the issues important to the Volume Builders, the pollution control notification bill, was considered by a Senate Committee. FHBA prefers the version filed by the House. Sen. Galvano’s amendments brought his bill closer to the House version. Our goal is to ensure that the Department of Environmental Protection does not possess broad rule making authority to determine which spills are reportable and that any public notification of a spill is the responsibility of the Department and not the business entity.

Several bills of interest to FHBA will be on the agenda for week two. Amongst these are bills on the Code Process, Estopple, the Affordable Housing Task Force, the Statute of Repose Start Time and Building Officials and Inspectors Workforce Issues.

Bottom Line: FHBA has a bold agenda for 2017. What we discussed here is but the tip of the “ice-berg.” We are pushing right to cure legislation, seeking clarifying amendments to Water Restoration Licensure Bills and working to ensure that any HOA reforms do not negatively impact the industry in addition to monitoring hundreds of other pieces of legislation. See you in Tallahassee March 27-29. We will need your help.