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The Florida Legislature convened for its regular annual session on Tuesday, January 10. This is earlier than usual because one of the big issues, if not the biggest for the legislators, is redistricting. This, of course is done, every ten years after the census. It sets the districts for the next ten for the Florida House and Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Redistricting is not the only big issue to face the Legislature. It is estimated that there will be a $2 billion shortfall in this year’s budget. In addition, the proposal for allowing destination gambling resorts in Dade and Broward County will be a huge fight as it always is when there is a lot of money involved. Estimates for the construction work alone ranges from $3 to $10 billion.

We present our annual Legislative Preview for your consideration. It must be recalled that this is a very dynamic process and the provisions in bills change daily and new issues will arise. The Legislate website may be accessed at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/. It allows you to follow the progress of bills and you can sign up to receive alerts if you wish. Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Senate Bill 1202 – Construction Liens and Bonds

This bill makes what are referred to as technical changes to Florida Statutes Section 255.05 relating to bonds on public projects and Chapter 713 Part I relating to liens and bonds for private work.

For Section 255.05 this bill would:

  • Require that the bond number assigned by the surety be placed on the first page of the bond
  • Require the contractor to record the bond in the official records of the county where the project is located
  • Require the governmental entity having charge of the work to provided a certified copy of the contract and the bond upon request to a claimant
  • Not allow any limitations on the duration of a bond
  • Allow the contractor to serve a Notice of Contest of Claim Against Payment Bond rather than the Clerk of Court
  • Clarify that the time for serving a Notice to Contractor where a bond is not recorded extends to 45 days after a claimant is notified, in writing, of the existence of the bond
  • Require that any Notice of Nonpayment of a claimant who is not in privity with the contractor must specify the portion of the amount of the claim that is for retainage
  • Change the requirement that a Notice to Contractor be “delivered” to a requirement that it be “served”
  • Clarify that “services” are covered by the bond
  • Extend the statute of limitations for suit on a payment bond where the bond is not recorded to one year from the date a claimant is notified, in writing, of the existence of the bond

For Chapter 713 Part I this bill would:

  • Amend 713.132 – Notice of Termination – to require service of the Notice of Termination only upon the those who have served a Notice to Owner or who have a direct contract with the owner
  • Amend 713.16 – Demand for copy of contract and statements of account – to require that any request for sworn statement include a description of the project, the names of the owner, contractor, and the lienor’s customer sufficient for the lienor to properly identify the account in question
  • Amend 713.16 to remove the restriction that a lien be recorded before a potential lienor can send a request for sworn statement
  • Amend 713.18 – Manner of serving notices and other instruments – to add “common carrier delivery service” and “global express guaranteed” to the methods of service and deleting “overnight or second day delivery” and would allow posting on the site only when other methods of service cannot be accomplished
  • Amend 713.18 – Manner of serving notices and other instruments – to allow reformatting a bad address in a Notice of Commencement and use of an address from the building permit application if the address in the Notice of Commencement is bad
  • Amend 713.22 – Duration of lien – to allow an owner or the owner’s attorney to serve a Notice of Contest of Lien rather than the current requirement that the Clerk serve it
  • Amend 713.23 – Payment bond – to clarify that a combined Notice to Owner and Notice to Contractor may be used and make minor changes to the statutory form of the Notice to Contractor
  • Amend 713.23 – Payment bond – to allow a contractor to serve a Notice of Contest of Bond rather than the current requirement that the Clerk serve it
  • Amend 713.23 – Payment bond – to allow a contractor to serve a Notice of Bond rather than the current requirement that the Clerk serve it

This bill would take effect October 1, 2012.

 SB 1202 Construction Liens and Bonds

House Bill 79 – Repeal of Septic Tank Inspections

Several years ago the Legislature decided that an inspection of existing septic tanks every five years would be a good idea. They have since decided that it was not such a good idea. This bill would eliminate the requirements for the inspection program. This bill is similar to a previous bill filed in 2011. That one did not get through both the House and the Senate. However, an amendment was added to another bill that removed any funds for the Department of Health to enforce this requirement. At this point, the inspections are required, but there are no funds to enforce the requirement.

This bill would take effect upon becoming law.

Related bills – SB178, SB 114, HB 999, SB 820

 HB 0079 Repeal of Septic Tank Inspections

House Bill 153 – Preference to Florida Businesses in Procurement of Personal Property and Services

This would amend the “Buy Florida Act.”  This Act already provides that where an out-of-state vendor is from a state which grants any preferences to businesses located in that state, the State of Florida and its political subdivisions are required to grant a preference to Florida businesses. The preference is the same preference granted by the state in which the out-of-state vendor has its principal place of business. This bill would add a provision that even if the out of state vendor state did not grant a preference, Florida businesses would receive a preference of 5 percent. It continues the requirement that any vendor whose principal place of business is outside the state of Florida must provide an opinion of an attorney licensed to practice law in that state as to what preferences exists within the state where the principal place of business is located. It applies to purchases of personal property through a competitive solicitation.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 538

 HB 0153 Preference to Florida Businesses in Procurement of Personal Property and Services

House Bill 155 – Procurement of Professional Architectural, Engineering, Landscape Architectural and Surveying or Mapping Services

This bill would amend the Competitive Consultants Negotiation Act (“CCNA”). It would add consideration of the fees for the professional services to the selection process. Presently, the firms seeking to offer services to public entities are ranked based solely on the qualifications of the bidders. Three firms are short listed and ranked in accordance with their qualifications. The public entity then negotiates with the first ranked firm for a price for the work. In the event an agreement cannot be reached, the public entity must cease all negotiations with the firm ranked number 1 and proceed to negotiate with the firm that is ranked number 2. There is no ability for the public entity to go back to the number 1 ranked firm in the event that it is unable to reach an agreement with the number 2 ranked firm.

Something called the “best value selection” process would be added to the CCNA. It provides for each public entity to adopt rules governing the use of the best value selection process. This must include, at a minimum, a public solicitation consistent with the requirements of the best value selection process and shall contain the criteria procedures and standards for the evaluation of proposals. A two step selection process is established. In the first stage of the process the competing firms are ranked using the same process as now exists. In the second stage of the process, the firms selected are asked to submit a compensation proposal for the work. The compensation proposal will then be evaluated along with the information obtained in the initial step of the selection process to make a best value selection. The compensation portion may not exceed 50 percent of the total weight of the published evaluation criteria for selection.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 246

 HB 0155 Procurement of Professional Architectural, Engineering, Landscape Architectural and Surveying or Mapping Services

House Bill 319 – Residential Properties

This is an omnibus bill that deals with a number of issues relating primarily to condominium associations and home owner associations. The items of interest to contractors would include the following.

The requirement for update of existing elevators and escalators to require Phase 2 firefighter services on the elevators by July 1, 2015 would be deleted and would require such upgrades only when the elevator is replaced or requires major modification. This bill also addresses the responsibility for hurricane protection and clarifies the responsibility of the condominium association and the unit owners for providing hurricane protection. It also adds impact glass, code compliant windows or doors and other types of code compliant hurricane protection to the work that may be done. This bill would allow condominium boards to install code compliant hurricane doors and other types of code compliant hurricane protection. This bill would also extend the expiration of the Distressed Condominium Relief Act which is intended to deal with bulk buyers of condominium units. Bulk buyers are those who acquire more than seven condominium units in a single condominium. This Act was due to expire July 1, 2012 and under this bill the expiration is extended to July 1, 2015.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 680

 HB 0319 Residential Properties

House Bill 337 – Public/Private Partnerships

This bill would establish the Florida Public/Private Partnership Act. The primary purpose of this bill is to encourage the development of Public/Private Partnerships in certain types of projects. These projects include any public purpose facility or project including, but not limited to public school buildings and related structures such as stadiums, buildings or facilities with a public purpose operated by or for any public entity, improvements including equipment for buildings to be principally used by a public entity, or water or waste water management facilities and other related infrastructure. The stated intent is to encourage investment in the state by private entities, to facilitate various bond financing mechanisms, private capital, and other funding sources for the development and operation of qualifying projects including expansion and acceleration of such financing to meet the public need and provide the greatest possible flexibility to public and private entities to contract for the provision of public services. The responsible public entities would be required to adopt and make publically available guidelines that are sufficient to enable the responsible public entity to comply with the requirements of this Act.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 576

 HB 0337 Public/Private Partnerships

House Bill 373 – Environmental Permits

This bill would require that by July 1, 2012, the Department of Environmental Protection must initiate a rule making process to adopt a general permit for storm water management systems serving airside activities at airports. The general permit applies state wide and shall be administered by any water management district or any delegated local government pursuant to the operating agreement of the parties. This bill would also authorize conceptual permits for urban redevelopment projects. A municipality or county that has created a community redevelopment area or an urban infill and redevelopment area pursuant to Chapter 163 may adopt a storm water management plan to address the quantity and quality of storm water discharges for the redevelopment or infill area and obtain a conceptual permit from the water management district or the Department of Environmental Protection. It then goes on to set criteria for the storm water management plan.

This bill would take effect July 12, 2012.

Related bills – SB 602, CS/HB 503, SB 716

 HB 0373 Environmental Permits

House Bill 387 – Electronic Filing of Construction Plans and Related Documents

This bill would allow, upon approval of the local building code administrator or building official, that construction plans, drawings, specifications, reports, final documents, or documents prepared or issued by a licensee for review by the building officials may be transmitted electronically and may be signed by the licensee and dated and sealed electronically with the licensee seal in accordance with existing Florida Statutes.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bills – CS/SB 600, HB 651, SB 704

 HB 0387 Electronic Filing of Construction Plans and Related Documents

House Bill 487 – Gambling Resorts

This bill would allow the establishment of three (3) “destination resorts” in Broward and Dade County for the purpose of permitting casino gambling. It is beyond the scope of this review to go into all of the details of this large bill. Essentially, it permits the establishment of the casinos that may occupy no more than 10 percent of the floor area of the destination resort. It also establishes a Department of Gaming Control to oversee all gambling in the State of Florida. It authorizes collection of taxes on gambling and a number of other administrative details. Various estimates are that this bill would cause from $3 to $10 billion dollars of construction work.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bills – HB 489, HB 491, SB 710, SB 712, SB 714

HB 0487 Gambling Resorts

House Bill 503 – Environmental Regulation

This bill would make a number of changes relating to environmental regulation. It would prohibit a county or municipally from requiring, as a condition of approval for development permit, that an applicant obtain a permit or approval from any other state or federal agency. This would deal with instances where a local government development permit was conditioned upon the acquisition of permit approval from a state or federal agency regardless of whether state or federal approval was required. This bill would also establish procedures for request for information in relation to the permitting process for coastal construction permit requests. It sets a time limit of 90 days within which the permit applicant must respond to a request for information. This bill also makes a number of technical amendments that are primarily aimed at reducing or in certain cases suspending certain environmental requirements.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bills – SB 716, HB 373, HB 663, HB 691, HB 747, HB 987, HB 4123, SB 602, SB 738, SB 758, SB 994, SB 1032

 HB 0503 Environmental Regulation

House Bill 511 – Workers Compensation

There have been complaints that doctors treating workers under the workers’ compensation system are repackaging or relabeling prescription drugs and inflating the prices of prescription medication. Studies have shown that this is adding substantially to the costs of the workers compensation system. This bill would limit the cost of repackaged and relabeled drugs to the same average wholesale price and dispensing fee of the drugs prior to any repackaging or relabeling.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 668

 HB 0511 Workers Compensation

House Bill 515 – Growth Enterprise Development

This would substantially revise the One-Stop Permitting System that was previously established. It moves it to the Department of Economic Opportunity and substantially restructures the program. It also establishes authorization for local governments to establish growth enterprise development programs. This is designed to allow master development approval for a development or expansion of a site owned and operated by growth enterprise within the local governments geographic boundaries. It sets forth the items that must be addresses in the master development plan.

This Act would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 786

 HB 0515 Growth Enterprise Development

House Bill 517 – Reducing and Streamlining Regulations

This addresses a number of regulations and activities within the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. It would reduce the required continuing education necessary to reactivate an inactive license to only those hours required in a single renewal cycle instead of requiring all hours for all of the years the license was inactive. The reduction of the continuing education to reactivate licenses would apply to home inspectors, mold assessors and remediators, architects, landscape architects, construction contractors and electrical contractors among others.

It would decriminalize some violations of certain professional boards’ rules and administrative procedures that currently carry second degree misdemeanor fines and penalties and adopt new professional standards for appraisers. The decriminalization section deals with the Florida Board of Auctioneers, The Florida Real Estate Commission, The Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board, The Barbers Board and The Board of Cosmetology.

This Act would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 762

 HB 0517 Reducing and Streamlining Regulations

House Bill 521 – Regulation of Cranes

This is a bill that has been proposed for several years. It would limit the ability of local governments to regulate hoisting equipment, mobile cranes and tower cranes. This arises out of concerns that there will be a patchwork of different regulations by cities and counties. It would adopt the recent changes made by OSHA amending the rules regulating crane operations.

The bill would take effect upon becoming law.

Related bill – SB 992

 HB 0521 Regulation of Cranes

House Bill 603 – Growth Management

This bill would prohibit application of transportation or school concurrency requirements and proportionate share contributions for construction of new developments until July 1, 2015 unless there is a 2/3 vote of the local government’s governing authority. This would not apply to proportionate share contribution for developments before July 1, 2012. In order to qualify the development must receive a Certificate of Occupancy by July 1, 2016. If the Certificate of Occupancy is not received by July 1, 2016, local government may apply the transportation or school concurrency requirements.

This bill also restricts any imposition of new or existing impact fees relating to mitigation of transportation impacts on the development until July 1, 2015 unless there is an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the local government’s governing authority. To be exempt from these impact fees, the new development must receive a Certificate of Occupancy by July 1, 2016. In the event of failure to receive the Certificate of Occupancy by July 1, 2016 the impact fees for mitigation of transportation impacts may be applied.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 912

HB 0603 Growth Management

House Bill 609 – Wage Protection for Employees

This bill would preempt any county, municipality or political subdivisions of the state from adopting or maintaining any laws or ordinance that creates requirements, regulations or processes for the purpose of addressing wage theft. All such regulation of wage theft is expressly preempted to the state. Wage theft means an illegal or improper underpayment or non-payment of an individual worker’s wages, salaries, commissions or other similar forms of compensation.

This Act would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 862

 HB 0609 Wage Protection for Employees

House Bill 651 – Building Construction and Inspection

This bill clarifies and modifies some of the requirements for notices from local code enforcement boards. This bill also contains similar requirements regarding electronic filing of plans and specifications as found in HB 387. Under Florida Statutes Chapter 489, relating to licensing of Contractors, the term demolition would be modified to include all buildings or residences. Previously it only included those that were over three stories tall. It also adds existing hunting cabins not exceeding a thousand square feet to those not requiring a building permit for repair or reconstruction to the same dimension and condition as existed on January 1, 2011.

This Act would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bills – SB 704, CS/HB387, CS/SB 600

 HB 0651 Building Construction and Inspection

House Bill 673 – Preemption of Preferences

This bill would preempt the granting of preferences by local governments and state agencies for construction services and purchases of personal property. This would prevent local governments granting preference to local contractors in any bidding for  construction services, except that the statute relating to preferences for Florida businesses over out-of-state businesses (see House Bill 153) would continue, assuming that bill passes.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

 HB 0673 Preemption of Preferences

House Bill 683 – Electrical Contracting

This is a bill that has been introduced in a number of previous sessions, but has never gained any traction. It would require that there be one licensed electrician on any industrial or commercial construction project site of 5,000 square feet or more with electrical work in excess of 98 volts. This is a reduction from the present requirement of a licensed electrician on the construction of a facility in excess of 50,000 square feet.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bill – SB 78

 HB 0683 Electrical Contracting

House Bill 693 – Business and Professional Regulation

This is similar to provisions found in HB 517 that reduce the continuing education requirements to reactivate an inactive license.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bills – SB 1120

 HB 0693 Business and Professional Regulation

House Bill 719 – Project Labor Agreements

This bill would prohibit project labor agreements on any state, county, municipality, school district, Florida college system or public university or any agency, board, commission, authority or instrumentality of the state.

This bill would also modify Florida Statute Section 120.57 regarding procedures for the protest of contract awards. This would extend the time for giving notice of protest from 72 hours to 7 days from posting of the solicitation.

This Act would take effect upon becoming law.

Related bill – SB 794

 HB 0719 Project Labor Agreements

House Bill 4025 – Repeal of Local Business Taxes

This bill would repeal any local business taxes imposed by municipalities as authorized in Chapter 205 of the Florida Statutes. It is estimated that this would cost local governments $156 million in revenue.

This Act would take effect July 1, 2012.

Related bills – SB 760, HB 1063

 HB 4025 Repeal of Local Business Taxes

House Bill 4033 – Contracting Boards

This bill would eliminate the requirement that the Construction Industry Licensing Board and the Electrical Contracting Licensing Board appoint committees to meet jointly twice a year.

This Act would take effect July 1, 2012.

HB 4033 Contracting Boards

House Bill 4099 – Repeal of Taxes on Use of Real Property

This Act would repeal section 212.031 which imposes a tax for use of real property. This would repeal the sales tax on leasing of property.

This Act would take effect July 1, 2012.

 HB 4099 Repeal of Taxes on Use of Real Property

Senate Bill 214 – Work Place Safety

This bill would require collecting and retaining injury and illness data by public employers as incidents occur using OSHA Form 300 which is log of work relating injuries and illnesses already required from contractors. It would also require that all public employers comply with OSHA safety standards. Such public employers are currently exempt from OSHA requirements.

This bill would take effect July 1, 2012.

 SB 0214 Work Place Safety