2012 Florida Legislative Review

The 2012 Florida Legislature was surprisingly active on construction related issues considering the twin problems of reapportionment and a budget shortfall. Highlights include the passage of the crane regulation bill after years of trying. For registered contractors the ability to become certified contractors by a grandfathering procedure has been revived.

There were some changes in some of the statutory forms related to liens and bonds. The revised forms have been posted in the Forms section of the website. There were changes related to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation including the deletion of licensing of glass and glazing subcontractors that was inserted just last year.

You are cautioned that at the time of posting not all of these bills have been addressed by the Governor so those not addressed are subject to veto. You must also recognize that these are only summaries and portions of some bills not deemed relevant to the construction industry are not part of these summaries.

There were a couple of notable failures. The Workplace Security Act (HB 1059/SB 1610) would have established a single system for obtaining security checks and issuance of badges to allow contractors to work on school sites. Presently, this must be done with each separate school board. It passed the House and two of the three committees in the Senate, but was not taken up by the Senate. The Fair Competition Act would have banned local preferences in construction bidding. It passed two committees in the House and one in the Senate but got no further.

As always, we are available to discuss the impact of any of these bills on your business. Please contact me at (813) 251-3013 or Steve@MarloweMcNabb.com

House Bill 521/Senate Bill 992 – Regulation of Cranes

This issue has been before the legislature for several years and finally passed in this session. It amends Section 489.113 of the Florida Statutes to preempt any regulation of hoisting equipment, mobile cranes, conveyors, and tower cranes used in construction. This prevents a patchwork of different regulations by cities and counties. The effect is to make the recent OSHA changes to the rules regulating crane operations as the single standard to be followed. In addition, the prohibitions and preemptions include worksite regulations regarding hurricane preparedness or public safety.

The bill has been signed by the Governor and takes effect immediately.

 HB 0521 Regulation of Cranes

House Bill 897/Senate Bill 1202 – Construction Liens and Bonds

This bill makes a number of technical changes to Florida Statutes Section 95.11 relating to statutes of limitations, Section 255.05 relating to bonds on public projects and Chapter 713 Part I relating to liens and bonds on private projects and modifies Section 255.0518 to require public bid openings.

Section 95.11 was amended to make it clear that payment bonds under Section 255.05 and Chapter 713 as well as payment bonds under Section 337.18 are subject to the one year statute of limitation established in those sections. Payment bonds which are not subject to those sections also have a one year statute of limitation under Section 95.11(5)(e).

For Section 255.05 this bill now:

Section 255.0518 was amended to:

For Chapter 713 Part I, this bill:

This becomes law on October 1, 2012.

 SB 1202 Construction Liens and Bonds

House Bill 1013/Senate Bill 1196 Construction Warranties

A number of years ago, Florida courts created a common law implied warranty for construction called the Warranty of Habitability. This is similar to the implied Warranty of Fitness and implied Warranty of Merchantability that is applicable to goods. The implied part means that it exists as a matter of law as distinguished from a written warranty. The Warranty of Habitability extends only to residential improvements and only to the first purchaser. Several cases have addressed the issue of how far the coverage of this warranty extends. They have held that the warranty only extends to the home or other improvements immediately supporting the home.

In a recent case, this warranty was extended to cover roads and drainage systems that were part of the subdivision improvements where the home in question was located. This Act creates Section 553.835 in the Florida Building Codes section of the statutes and contains legislative findings that this warranty should not extend to “off-site Improvements.” Off-site improvements are defined as the street, road, driveway, sidewalk, drainage, utilities or any other improvement or structure that is not located on or under the lot except for improvements that are shared by two or more separately owned structures that are attached, if such improvements affect the habitability of one or more of the structures.

This act forbids any cause of action by the purchaser of a home or a homeowners’ association for off-site improvements. This does not alter any existing rights of purchasers of homes or homeowners’ associations to pursue any other causes of action arising from defects on offsite improvements based on contract, tort or statute including, but not limited to, Sections 718.203 and 719.203. This act is retroactive which means that it will apply to any pending cases.

This becomes law on July 1, 2012.

 HB 1013 Construction Warranties

House Bill 1277/Senate Bill 1586 Regulation of Money Services Business

This bill places new regulations on check cashing services. A statewide grand jury found a number of instances in which shell corporations were formed. The shell would then obtain minimal workers’ compensation coverage and proceed to lend its name and policy to unlicensed, uninsured contractors to allow them to meet requirements for insurance to work on a project. Payment would then be made by the general contractor by check to the shell company. That check would then be converted to cash by the check cashing service and the money divided among the parties participating in the scheme.

This becomes law on July 1, 2012.

 HB 1277 Money Services Businesses

House Bill 885 Copper Theft Bills

This bill deals with the continuing problem of theft from job sites of metals for recycling.  It establishes a number of new requirements for second hand metal dealers. Among these are electronic transmissions of all purchases by 10:00 AM, the next day to local law enforcement. It limits the types of identification that can be used. It definesrestricted regulated materials” as things such as manhole covers, street signs, copper coils, stainless steel beer kegs, among others and requires proof of ownership before a sale.

This becomes law on July 1, 2012.

 HB 885 Copper Theft

Senate Bill 704 Building Code Bill

This is the glitch building code bill for the Session.  It has the same language as SB 1202 requiring local governments to publicly open and read bids. It also has the same language as HB 387 allowing voluntary electronic filing of construction plans.

Among other things it:

This act takes effect July 1, 2012 and has been approved by the Governor.

 SB 704 Building Code

 

House Bill 317 Streamlining and Reducing Regulation

This bill addresses a number of statutes primarily regulating various professions. It waives the initial licensing fee for military veterans who apply for a license within 24 months of being honorably discharged.  The current requirement for reactivating inactive licenses is that the license holder seeking to reactivate the license must complete all of the continuing education requirements for the period that the license was inactive.  This has now been reduced to no more than the equivalent of one renewal cycle for a license. The exceptions to this are accountants and real estate brokers. Most of the rest of this bill deals with changes to appraisal and real estate regulations as well as regulation of prescription drugs.

This act takes effect July 1, 2012.

 HB 317 Streamlining and Reducing Regulations

House Bill 887/Senate Bill 1252 Department of Business and Professional Regulation

This bill also contains the same language found in HB 317 waiving fees for military veterans and changing the continuing education requirements for reactivation of an inactive license.

It allows DBPR to approve continuing education providers and courses rather than the separate regulatory boards.  The DBPR will determine the contents of any documents submitted for approval of a continuing education provider or course rather than each individual board setting its own documentation requirements.

It allows for email notice of licensing renewal and requires each licensee of the DBPR to provide an email address to the DBPR.

This also has similar language regulating real estate appraisal as that found in HB 317.

It makes it a disciplinary violation for an appraisal management company to require an individual appraiser to sign an indemnification agreement holding the appraisal management company harmless.

It deletes the provision for licensing as a glass and glazing contractor that was added last year.

Up until 2005 there were provisions for registered contractors to be grandfathered in to become certified contractors.  It required a valid registered local license, passing of a written exam substantially similar to the requirements of a certified contractor, at least 5 years of experience as a contractor, no license revocation or suspension and no fine in excess of $500.00 in the previous 5 years and there is compliance with the insurance and financial responsibilities set out in Section 489.115(5).  This has been effectively reenacted by moving the expiration date to November 1, 2014.

This bill has been signed by the Governor and the majority of its provisions take effect October 1, 2012.

 HB 887 DBPR

Florida Bar
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