The Bottom Line: Construction Issues Bountiful During the 2019 Session

The Bottom Line: Construction Issues Bountiful During the 2019 Session

Here we are, starting the second week of the 2019 Legislative Session on the eve of our annual Day on The Hill. The FHBA is proud to announce that we have over 100 participants registered to attend our Legislative Conference. Frankly, we can use the help.

Our tracking list is over 40 pages! Why are so many construction bills filed? I can only surmise policy makers feel empowered as Governor DeSantis encourages bold thinking, as people react to Hurricane Michael, as the pictures of green slime and red-tide remain in the headlines, as the affordable housing crisis intensifies, as over 30 new legislators file legislation, and as we at the FHBA begin challenging local government’s unbridled thirst for revenue from new construction.

With all these influences converging, the 2019 Session will see a record number of construction bills filed. Having everyone in Tallahassee for the 2nd week of session will, hopefully, help focus legislators on the issues important to the FHBA.

Here is the rundown of our key issues this year:

  • Collection of Impact Fees – Local governments are collecting impact fees early in the development process. In at least one county, the fee is now being collected at the time of platting, even though the actual impact may not be felt for years or even a decade or more. Carrying such impact fees earlier in the planning and development process will result in increased housing costs. In addition, codifying current case law to clarify that local governments may not use impact fees to pay for existing debt service and their focus is limited to the actual impact of the development is a top priority.

FHBA Position:  Seek legislation which statutorily dictates a more reasonable time to collect impact fees consistent with the impacts of development, ensures that fees do not fund existing debt and provides other potential reforms.

Sponsors:  HB 207 by Rep. Donalds and SB 144 by Sen. Gruters.

  • Growth Management Package – Another legislative vehicle to address timing of impact fees and codify case law. It expands the impact fee provisions by providing recovery of legal fees for a person who successfully sues a government for inappropriately administering impact fees. This bill also prohibits local governments from mandating the sales prices points of new homes (inclusionary zoning). It requires local governments to respond to applications for development permits within 30 days.

FHBA Position: Support legislation which prohibits the collection of impact fees prior to issuance of permit, reinforces the requirements for such fees to contain a rational-nexus to the capital facilities being funded and expediting the permitting process.

Sponsors: HB ___ by Rep. ___ and SB 1730 by Sen. Lee

  • Construction Workforce – Though the housing market is rebounding from the depths of a recession, a major impediment to maintaining the current building tide is the critical lack of a skilled workforce. Several states have been successful in growing their construction workforce by providing funding to consistently educate the public about careers in construction.  Many kids and parents hold a negative opinion about the ability to make a decent living in the construction trades.  This perception must change.

The legislation supported by FHBA provides funding for the Workforce Consortium whose duties would include:

  1. Coordinating with institutional partners, including the Department of Education, Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Corrections, and CareerSource Florida, Inc.
  2. Research into construction education issues.
  3. Advocacy of construction employment at the K-12 school levels.
  4. Development and maintenance of a Build Your Future Florida website.
  5. Hosting construction careers job fairs.
  6. Sponsorship of K-12 after-school activities that focus on construction careers.

FHBA Position:  Support legislation establishing a permanent Construction Workforce Consortium with a dedicated funding source–a small portion of the building permit surcharge–to educate about profitable careers in construction.

Sponsors: HB 775 by Rep. Leek and SB 1118 by Sen. Hutson

  • Construction Workforce Graduation Requirements – High Schools have not been prioritizing the trades as part of their educational curriculum. Fortunately legislation has been filed which requires each district to develop a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Graduation Pathway by substituting certain academic requirements for CTE courses.

FHBA Position: Support any mechanism to introducing kids to career and technical education.

Sponsors: HB 661 by Rep. Duggan and SB 770 by Sen. Hutson & Sen. Perry

  • Sadowski Affordable Housing Funds – For the last several years, monies have been swept from the Sadowski Trust Fund to provide financial resources for other state programs. Full funding of the housing trust fund creates an economic benefit in excess of $3 billion and creates nearly 30,000 jobs while providing safe and affordable homes.

FHBA Position:  Support full funding of the Sadowski Program and legislation requiring trust fund monies be spent on their requisite purpose.

Sponsors: This is a budget issue and the subject of HB 1103 by Rep. Silvers and SB 70 by Sen. Mayfield

  • OSTD (Septic Tank) Regulations – The recent experience of the FHBA during the BMAP (Basin Management Action Plans) has exposed a barrier to meeting the new standards for OSTD’s: the lack of viable alternatives to meet these new standards that are passive and less expensive. Revisions to the current process utilized to develop OSTD standards in Florida, specifically focusing on how national viable systems can be adopted by Florida, must be pursued. OSTD Vendors are not willing to work within the confines of Florida’s Department of Health as the OSTD regulator. The Department of Environmental Protection has the expertise to regulate the program and understands the need to attract innovative technologies to Florida.

FHBA Position:  Support legislation that simplifies the process by which new OSTD technologies are approved in Florida, even if that means transferring the regulatory duties from the Department of Health, provided the receiving agency can issue permits in every county.

Sponsors:  HB 973 by Rep. Payne and SB 1022 by Sen. Albritton

  • Mitigation Banking – Several years ago, the Legislature adopted a bill prohibiting publicly- owned lands from being used in mitigation banking. Now in areas such as Miami/Dade County, a severe shortage of privately-owned mitigation banks exists, yet cities, counties and water management districts that cannot accept mitigation banking credits need funds to control exotic species and other issues for vast slots of land.

FHBA Position:  Seek legislation which alleviates the shortage of lands used for mitigation banking.

Sponsors:  HB 521 by Rep. McClure and SB 532 by Sen. Lee

  • Local Enterprise Funds – Local permit fees are required to be deposited in a fund whose purpose is limited to building department functions. It has been reported that multiple jurisdictions have extreme balances (millions), yet refuse to lower permit fees. Other local jurisdictions would like to tap the funds to assist local school boards and the community in developing workforce education programs, however, this is not allowed under the current law.

Legislation has been filed which caps the amount of money which may be held in the fund to no more than the average of the prior two years’ operating funds. Funds which exceed this amount can only be used to enhance services, be rebated or be donated to a 501(c)3 charity whose primary function is workforce training.

FHBA Position: Support legislation capping the amount of monies (via some formula) and requiring excess funds to result in increased services, a refund or assistance with local Vocational Training

Sponsors: HB 715 by Rep. Robinson and SB 1036 by Sen. Gruters

These are just the key issues we are pursuing. Other bills we are actively working on include the move to deregulate professions regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, including construction. Both the House and Senate have bills pending which places a moratorium on building permits if the local governments in BMAP areas fail to enact and fully implement new fertilizer and septic regulations. Yet another bill requires envelope hardening with non-combustible material within 10 miles of the coast along high velocity wind zones. There is even a bill filed suggesting the Florida Building Commission can consider code amendments which fail to accommodate a Florida need. This is but the tip of the iceberg of the legislation the FHBA is engaging in on behalf of the industry.

Stay tuned to for updates on legislative activities. It is going to be a wild wide between now and May 3rd.