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The Florida Legislature will go into its annual sixty day session on Tuesday, March 5. This may be a more “normal” session as compared to the previous few years when budget issues dominated the sessions. As usual there are a number of bills filed that touch on the construction industry. The information we have is based on bills that have been filed. This does not mean that other issues won’t pop up as amendments to existing bills. Also while we have identified specific bill numbers, the bills discussed often have companion bills in the other chamber that deal with the same or similar issues as the bills discussed below.

To review the current status of any bill you can go to http://www.flsenate.gov/ for Senate bills or http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/ for House bills. For Senate bills, there is a box at the top of the home page. Enter the bill number and it will take you to the section for that bill. For the House, click on “Bills” tab at the top of the home page, put the bill number in the box that appears and it will take you to the section for that bill.

House Bill 73 – Residential Properties

This would delete the requirement that Phase II Firefighter’s Service be installed on elevators by July 1, 2015. It puts off until the elevator is replaced or requires major modification for condominium or multi-family residential buildings. The rest of the bill is generally taken up with minor changes in the operations of condominiums associations. It also clarifies when a condominium association is required to maintain, repair or replace the various types of hurricane protection.

This act would take effect July 1, 2013.

 HB 73 Residential Properties

Senate Bill 112 – Property Fraud

This would prohibit a person from filing or causing to be filed, with the intent to defraud another, a document relating to the ownership transfer or encumbrance or claim against real or personal property for any interest in real or personal property that contains a material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission of fact. It also provides for criminal penalties. This act does not apply to the recording of a claim of lien pursuant to Chapter 713. That continues to be is dealt with in Section 713.31 and this new act would not apply to it.

This bill would take effect October 1, 2013.

 SB 112 Property Fraud

Senate Bill 156 – Swimming Pools and Spas

This inserts “maintained for purposes of water treatment” into the definition of the contractor in Section 489.105. That phrase is defined as applying only to cleaning, maintenance and water treatment of swimming pools and spas. The effect of this is to require a license for pool cleaning and maintenance.  The remaining portion of the statutes is modified to conform to this change.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2014

 SB 156 Swimming Pools and Spas

Senate Bill 346 – Electrical Contracting

This is a bill that has been filed for a number of years and but has never made any progress in previous years. It would allow a municipality or county to require that there be one electrical journeyman possessing a certificate of competency issued by the municipality or county conditioned on passing a competency examination to be on any industrial or commercial new construction site in excess of 5,000 gross square feet or electrical work in excess of 98 volts.

This act would take effect July 1, 2013.

 SB 346 Electrical Contracting

House Bill 181 – Ban of Project Labor Agreements

This bill would prevent local governments from using project labor agreement which are often referred to as PLA. These PLA’s are favored by the unions and often require that only union labor be used.

This also changes the time within which a notice of protest of a public bid must be filed from 72 hours to 7 days.

This act would take effect upon becoming law.

 HB 181 Ban of Project Labor Agreements

Competitive Consultants Negotiation Act

One issue that is not yet attached to a bill relates to the Competitive Consultants Negotiation Act. This act has been used for a number of years for the selection of design professionals and construction managers. It is a two phase process in which the applicants for the work are ranked based solely on their qualifications to perform the work without any consideration of price. Once this phase is completed, the public body then enters into negotiation of the price and terms for the work starting with the top ranked firm. If they are unable to conclude an agreement, they close out those negotiations and go to the second ranked firm and if necessary then to the third ranked firm. Some local governments have begun interpreting the statutes to permit consideration of price in the first phase of the selection process. This creates a lot of expense and uncertainty for the applicants. With this process they have to take on the often times considerable expense of preparing a bid for the project without knowing if they have any prospect of receiving the work. There will be an attempt to amend the law to make it clear that price would not be considered in the first phase of the selection process.