April 2012

2012 Florida Legislative Session Recap

Eyes on Tallahassee, Recap
Nathan A. Adams IV | Lawrence N. Curtin | Lawrence E. Sellers | Eddie Williams III
The 2012 Florida Legislative Session focused primarily on the once-a-decade redistricting process and the annual balanced budget exercise to shore-up a nearly $2 billion deficit.

The 2012 session began on January 10, two months earlier than normal due to the redistricting process, and adjourned sine die on March 9. Eyes on Tallahassee is Holland & Knight’s annual summary of bills that passed during the 2012 session.

Members of the Florida Government Advocacy Team (FGAT) can provide more information or answer questions on any specific legislation addressed during the session. Please contact either Bob Martinez or Eric Eikenberg, FGAT co-chairs.

In this issue:




Sovereignty Submerged Land Leases

HB 13 provides for the lease of sovereignty submerged lands for private residential single-family docks and piers, private residential multifamily docks and piers and private residential multislip docks. The bill also provides for the term of the lease and for the lease fees and provides for the inspection of such docks, piers and other related structures by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The bill clarifies the authority of the board of trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund and DEP to impose additional fees and requirements.

Specific Provisions:

  • Creates Section 253.0347, F.S., to provide for private residential dock leases of sovereignty submerged lands to not exceed 10 years, with successive renewal terms of up to 10 years if the leasee has complied with the terms of the lease and applicable laws
  • Multifamily docks that are limited to one wet slip for each upland owner are not required to pay for more than 10 square feet for each linear foot of shoreline with no fee required upon the transfer of title to homestead property
  • Requires DEP to inspect each leased dock at least once every 10 years

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Electronic Filing of Construction Plans

CS/HB 387 provides for certain documents to be electronically signed and sealed by a licensee and electronically transmitted to a building code administrator or building official for approval. Specifically, the legislation provides that the building code administrator or building official may allow for electronic dating, signing, sealing and filing of plans, specifications, reports and other documents.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Construction Permits

CS/CS/CS/CS/HB 503 creates, amends and revises numerous provisions relating to: development, construction, operating and building permits; permit application requirements and procedures, including waivers, variances and revocation; local government comprehensive plans and plan amendments; programmatic general permits and regional general permits; permits for projects relating to stormwater management systems, coastal construction, dredge and fill activities, intermodal logistics centers and commercial and industrial development; sanitary program surveys of certain water systems; innocent victim petroleum storage system restoration, ambient air quality and water quality standards, and solid waste disposal; and the sale of unblended gasoline for certain uses. The bill also provides an exemption from payment to authorizing agencies for use of certain extensions and provides two-year permit extension.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Amends Section 125.022, F.S., (as to counties) and Section166.033, F.S., (as to municipalities) to prohibit the issuance of development orders conditioned on the issuance of any other state or federal permit

The bill contains the following provisions related to the Department of Environmental Protection:

  • expands the use of Internet-based self-certification of services for exemptions and permits
  • exempts permits for certain underground injection wells
  • reduces permit processing time from 90 days to 60 days
  • prohibits condition of permit approval on the issuance of any other local, state or federal permit or approval
  • authorizes the use of state or regional general permits to eliminate overlapping federal or state regulations for the same resources
  • directs implementation of a voluntary state general permit with water management districts for all dredge and fill projects impacting three acres or less of wetlands or surface waters
  • expands zones of discharge to groundwater for installations existing as of June 12, 2009
  • amends Section 403.1838, F.S., to exclude "sludge" produced by an industrial waste treatment works from the definition of "solid waste"
  • allows recycled renewable energy to count towards a county's recycling goals
  • permits waste-to-energy facilities to maximize acceptance and processing of nonhazardous solid and liquid waste
  • extends permits for certain solid waste management facilities for up to 20 years (or up to 10 years, if it has no leachate control)
  • grants general permits for the construction, alteration and maintenance of existing stormwater management systems serving up to 10 acres under certain conditions
  • expands expedited permitting to commercial and industrial projects in which businesses are located that have at least 50 employees
  • defines "alternate fuel" to include that provided from biomass
  • extends various permits issued by DEP and the water management districts

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Reducing and Streamlining Professional Regulations

CS/HB 517 requires certain appraisers to follow specific standards of professional practice in appraisals involving restoration of Lake Apopka Basin; waives initial licensing, application and unlicensed activity fees for certain military veterans; revises certain licensure requirements and continuing education requirements for reactivating license, certificate, or registration to practice certain professions and occupations regulated by Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) or board or council within DBPR, including community association management, employee leasing, home inspection, mold-related services, real estate appraisal, cosmetology, architecture and interior design, landscape architecture, construction contracting, and electrical and alarm system contracting; and provides exemption from licensure as asbestos consultant or contractor for activities involving pipe or conduit used for gas service.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Amends Section 455.213, F.S., to require a fee waiver for military veterans applying within 24 months of an honorable discharge
  • Amends Section 455.217, F.S., to prohibit any requirement for the completion of more than one renewal cycle for re-activation of a license(except for real estate and public accounting licensees)
  • Amends Section 468.841, F.S., to exempt landscape architects from "mold assessment" provisions
  • Add gas piping to Section 469.002(4)(a), F.S., exemptions from licensing requirements as an asbestos contractor
  • Changes Chapter 481, F.S., relating to architects by:
    • deleting from licensure the graduate of an unaccredited school or college and removing the one-year internship requirement before taking the examination from Section 481.209(1)(b), F.S.
    • deleting a specific requirement of an architecture internship in Section 481.211, F.S., and to authorize the board to set such requirements by rule
    • adding a requirement for licensure by reciprocity to applicants who are not certified by National Council of Architectural Registration Boards(NCARB) in Section 481.213(3), F.S.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation Package

HB 693 redefines the term "agent" as it relates to cigarette tax, to conform to changes made by the act; deletes the provision that allows cigarette tax to be paid by affixing a stamp insignia through a metering machine; deletes provisions authorizing use of metering machines; requires retail dealers of cigarettes, rather than wholesale dealers, to affix to each such machine, in a conspicuous place, an identification sticker furnished by the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco within DBPR; deletes the provision that prohibited the division from approving use of meter machines to evidence payment of taxes on cigarettes except to qualified wholesale dealers; and deletes the provision that provides that the licensee of the department who changes from inactive to active status is not eligible to return to inactive status until the licensee thereafter completes the licensure cycle on active status, etc.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Amends Section 455.271, F.S., to delete the limitation of completing a licensure cycle on active status before changing to inactive status, however, unlike the provision in CS/CS/CS/CS/HB 503, this provision does not exclude real estate and public accounting licensees

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Business and Professional Regulation

CS/CS/HB 887 authorizes credit for sale of tobacco products to be extended to retail dealers under specified conditions; provides for suspension of the sale of tobacco products to retail dealers delinquent in their credit payments until certain conditions are met; waives initial licensing, application and unlicensed activity fees for certain military veterans; revises continuing education provider and course approval procedures; limits to DBPR authority to reinstate a license that has become void; provides for certain notices by email; authorizes distance learning courses as an acceptable alternative to classroom instruction for renewal of a real estate instructor permit; provides that distance learning courses are under discretion of a school offering a real estate course; requires distance learning courses to adhere to certain requirements; revises the definition of the terms "appraisal management company" and "appraisal management services"; defines the term "subsidiary"; revises requirements for issuance of registration or certification upon receipt of proper documentation; revises provisions relating to titles that an appraisal management company must be registered to use; provides exemptions from registration requirements; provides additional grounds for the discipline of appraisal management companies to which penalties apply; revises procedures for cosmetology licensure by endorsement; authorizes performance of cosmetology and specialty services in a location other than a licensed salon; deleting the definition of "glass and glazing contractors"; reenacts and revives grandfathering provisions and establishes a new deadline for applications for certification of certain registered contractors; deletes exemptions from certain restrictions on specified amateur matches and other events; and repeals provisions relating to the requirement that each person or club that holds or shows pugilistic matches on a closed circuit telecast viewed within the state must file certain reports.

Applicable Provisions:

  • As with CS/HB 517, amends Section 455.213, F.S., to waive fees for military veterans
  • Amends Section 455.2179, F.S., to authorize the DPBR to approve continuing education providers, without the approval from any board
  • Amends Section 455.271(6)(b), F.S., to authorize the DBPR to grant hardship waivers for license fees, with or without approval from any board and adds specific reference to "economic" hardships
  • Authorizes email notifications for license renewals and deletes notice requirements regarding effect of missing two renewal cycles
  • Deletes 2011 addition of "Glass and Glazing Contractor" as a Division II licensee
  • Extends "grandfathering" of applications by registered contractors to become certified

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is October 1, 2012.

Public Records Exemption for Agency Personnel

CS/CS/HB 1089 provides exemption from public records requirements for personal identification and location information of current and former investigators and inspectors of DBPR and spouses and children of such investigators and inspectors; provides condition to exemption; provides for future review and repeal of exemption; provides exemption from public record requirements for personal identifying and location information of county tax collectors and spouses and children of such tax collectors; provides condition to exemption; provides for future review and repeal or exemption; and provides statement of public necessity.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Creates an additional public records exemption for personal identifying and location information of both current and former department investigators and inspectors

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Regulation of Hoisting Equipment

CS/CS/HB 521 preempts to state regulation of certain hoisting equipment; provides that the act does not apply to regulation of elevators or to airspace height restrictions. This bill was originally filed years ago in response to a Miami-Dade County ordinance enacted when a crane collapsed. That ordinance was later struck down by the courts.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Building Code Notices and Public Bids

CS/CS/SB 704 revises the authorized methods of sending notices to violators of local codes; requires a county or municipality, a department or agency of the state, a county, or a municipality, or any other public body or institution to open a sealed bid and announce the name of each bidder and the price submitted in the bid at a public meeting and make such information available upon request; and authorizes a building code administrator or building official to approve the electronic filing of building plans and related documents.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Creates Section 255.0513, F.S., requiring the opening of public bids by a public body or institution for construction or repairs on a public building or public works, at a public meeting. The bidders' names and prices must be announced and made available. Note: This overrides the public records exemption found in Section 119.071(1(b), F.S.
  • Amends Section 381.0065(2)(b), F.S., to add a definition of "bedroom" for purposes of septic tank permits and is identical to the provision also contained in CS/CS/CS/HB 1263 described below
  • Amends Section 381.065(4), F.S., to add new provisions that allow for:
    • transfer of permit with title to property
    • non-abandonment and re-connection to a structure rebuilt after disaster
    • application of rules in effect at the time of permit approval (if within five years)
    • no modification of permit required upon remodeling of a single-family home where no bedroom is added

Note: CS/CS/CS/HB 1263 described below contains identical provisions, except that it also includes a prohibition that, absent an ordinance adopted prior to January 31, 2012, a governmental entity may not require an engineer-designed, performance-based treatment system before completion of the Florida Onsite Sewage Nitrogen Reduction Strategies Project.

The legislation amends Chapter 468, Part XII, F.S., as follows:

  • creates subsection (4) regarding electronic filing of construction plans (as identical to that contained in CS/HB 387 described above)
  • amends Section 468.609(2)(c)4, F.S., to add "Fire Safety Inspector" with minimum of five years' verifiable full-time experience in inspection or plan review for Building Code Inspector or Plans Examiner categories
  • amends Section 468.609(7), F.S., to reduce provisional certificates to one year (current law is one to three years), but renewal at discretion of licensing authority not extending total license time beyond three years
  • amends Section 468.841, F.S., to exempt Landscape Architects from compliance with provisions relating to mold assessors (as is also provided for in CS/HB 517, described above)
  • amends Section 468.329(5), F.S., to exempt from licensure any person who submits for approval to a governmental agency planting plans that are independent of or a part of construction documents prepared by a "Florida licensed professional" (this appears to include an architect or engineer)

The legislation amends Chapter 489, Part I, F.S., as follows:

  • Section 489.105(3), F.S., definition of "contractor" to include demolition of ALL buildings, regardless of height (current law provides for only those buildings over three stories in height)
  • Section 489.105(3)(e), F.S., definition of "roofing" contractor to include "skylights" and as to "any related work," as well as to add "any related work" to the repair or replacement of wood roof sheathing or fascia
  • Section 489.105(3)(f), (g) and (i), F.S., to provide that any of those contractors (Class A and Class B air conditioning and mechanical contractors) can test and evaluate central air conditioning, refrigeration, heating, and ventilation systems, including duct work
  • Section 489.105(3)(m), F.S., is amended to allow a plumbing contractor to perform drain cleaning and clearing, and to install and repair rain catchment systems

The legislation amends Chapter 533, F.S., regarding the Florida Building Code, as follows:

  • amends Section 553.73(10), F.S., to add to permit exemptions "a building or structure of less than 10,000 square feet constructed and owned by a natural person for hunting and which is repaired or is reconstructed to the same dimensions and condition as existed on January 1, 2011"
  • amends Section 553.79, F.S., to require any permit denial or revocation to include the identifying non-compliance features and specific code chapters sections
  • requires the Florida Building Commission to establish a workgroup to assist the commission in the development of a rule for implementing an "alternate design method" for screen enclosures which allows for removal of screen sections for high-wind events, to include "site-specific engineering"

Note: This appears to conflict with the provision contained in Section 489.113(9)(b)2, F.S.

The legislation amends Chapter 633, F.S., regarding the Florida Fire Code, as follows:

  • amends Section 633.0215 of the Florida Fire Code to add subsection (15), allowing for electronic filing of plans

EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill was approved by the governor on March 23 and will take effect on the July 1, 2012, except as otherwise expressly provided in this act and except for Section 20, which took effect on March 23. It has been codified in Chapter 2012-13, Laws of Florida.

Construction Liens and Bonds

CS/CS/HB 897 provides that a public entity may not make payment to a contractor unless the entity has received a certified copy of the bond; provides that part of the payment bond furnished for a public works contract that limits or expands effective duration of the bond or adds a conditions precedent that is unenforceable; revises bond form provisions and requirements; provides that payment to a contractor who has furnished a payment bond on a public works project may not be conditioned upon production of certain documents if surety has given written consent; provides prerequisites for action against payment bond; requires that a public body open sealed bids for competitive solicitation at a public meeting; revives grandfathering provisions and sets a new deadline by which certain registered contractors may apply for certification; provides that a specified notice concerning a lessor's liability for liens for improvements made by a lessee prohibits liens in certain circumstances; revises provisions relating to service of specified items; specifies requirements for certain written instruments; and clarifies applicability of certain provisions.

Applicable Provisions:

  • The legislation amends Section 255.05, F.S., regarding bonds on public projects, as follows:
    • requires addition on the face of the bond the number thereof assigned by the surety
    • requires the contractor to provide a certified copy of the recorded bond to the public entity before commencing work
    • prohibits payments to the contractor until compliance
    • prohibits any limits on the duration of the bond or any conditions precedent to payment
    • requires that service of the Notice of Contest against the payment bond served by the contractor or contractor's attorney (rather than by the clerk of court), and that service of the notice is recorded
    • adds subsection (11) to prohibit a public entity from conditioning the bond on its payment to the contractor or on a release from the waiver from a claimant, to require written consent from the surety to the public entity regarding the project or payment in question and authorizes the surety to revoke its consent or to direct the public entity to withhold a specified sum from a payment
    • creates Section 255.0513, F.S., to require that bids for construction or repairs on a public building or public works be opened at a public meeting and that the names of each bidder and the price submitted be announced and made available, notwithstanding Section 119.071(1)(b), F.S.
  • Amends Section 489.118, F.S., to extend the grandfathering provisions for a registered contractor to become certified from November 1, 2005, to November 1, 2015, (as is also contained in CS/CS/HB 887 described above)
  • The legislation changes the lien provisions of Chapter 713, Part I, F.S., as follows:
    • amends Section 713.10, F.S, regarding the extent of liens on leasehold improvements to add a requirement that the "blanket notice" under subsection (2) effectively prohibits liens for such improvements made by a tenant even if other leases on the parcel do not expressly prohibit such liens or if the provisions on each lease restricting liens are not identical
    • amends Section 713.13, F.S., regarding Notice of Commencement to delete from the expiration date that it may not be before completion of construction and final payment to the contractor, and to delete the jurat
    • amends Section 713.132(1)(f), F.S., regarding Notice of Termination to add service by the owner on each lienor who has a direct contract with the owner
    • amends Section 713.16(2) and (3), F.S., regarding demands for statements on account to require that any demand include a description of the property, the name of the contractor (and that of the owner as to a lienor's demand), and the name of the lienor's "customer" (as set forth in the lienor's Notice to Owner)
    • amends Section 713.118, F.S., regarding service to include common carrier delivery service and Global Express Guaranteed, and to add the use of United States Postal Service addressing standards, with public information, if any addresses in the Notice of Commencement or in the Building Permit Application are incomplete; this provision also adds surety bonds on public transportation projects, as well
    • amends Section 713.22, F.S., regarding Notice of Contest of liens to require the clerk's service to reflect the date of service and to delete that service if deemed complete upon mailing
    • amends Section 713.23, F.S., regarding payment bonds to provide that: (1) if the Notice of Commencement with the bond attached is not recorded before commencement of construction, a lienor who is not in privity with the owner may elect to serve the Notice to Contractor up to 45 days after service of a copy of the bond; (2) a combined form of Notice to Owner/Notice to Contractor can be utilized and modifies the form of Notice to Contractor; (3) service of the Notice of Contest and Notice of Bond must be served either by the contractor or by the contractor's attorney (rather than by the clerk); and (4) prohibits payment bonds limiting the effective duration of the bond or additional conditions precedent to the enforcement

Note: There is a question as to how the "commencement of construction" will be determined.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is October 1, 2012.

Residential Construction Warranties

CS/HB 1013 provides legislative findings; provides legislative intent to affirm limitations to the doctrine of implied warranty of fitness and merchantability or habitability associated with construction and sale of new home; prohibits cause of action in law or equity based upon the doctrine of implied warranty of fitness and merchantability or habitability for off-site improvements, except as otherwise provided by law; provides for applicability of the act; and provides for severability.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Creates Section 553.835, F.S., and is a reflection of the recently conflicting judicial decisions regarding the application of theories of implied warrant of fitness for a particular purpose and merchantability or habitability when applied to the construction and sale of a home, as set forth in Lakeview Reserve Homeowners v. Maronda Homes, Inc., 48 So. 3d 902 (Fla. 5th DCA), which is now pending appeal in the Florida Supreme Court following oral arguments held on December 6, 2012

Note: It will be interesting to see how the court deals with the "law of the case" in light of this statutory change, which appears to apply retroactively.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012, and applies to all cases accruing before, pending on, or filed after that date.

One-Stop Licensing

HB 5501 directs the Department of Revenue (DOR) to establish the One-Stop Business Registration Portal through which individuals and businesses may submit applications for various licenses, registrations, or permits, file various documents, or remit payment for various fees to a state department or agency; authorizes DOR to contract for development and maintenance of the portal's Internet website; requires certain state departments to cooperate with DOR in development and implementation of the portal; requires DOR to submit an annual report to the governor and Legislature on the portal's implementation and expansion; authorizes DOR to provide certain information relative to the portal to certain state departments and agencies and local governments; authorizes DOR to adopt rules; deletes provisions relating to the One-Stop Permitting System of the former State Technology Office (STO); and repeals provisions relating to the One-Stop Permitting System Grant Program and Quick Permitting County Designation Program.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Provides businesses and individuals a single point-of-entry for
    • completing and submitting applications for various licenses, registrations or permits that must be issued by state agencies or departments to do business in Florida
    • filing of documents that must be submitted to state agencies or departments to transact business in Florida
    • remitting of payments for the various fees that must be paid to state agencies or departments to obtain licensure, registration or a permit
  • Authorizes the DOR to competitively procure and contract for services to develop and maintain the One-Stop Business Registration Portal
  • Directs the Departments of Business and Professional Regulation, Economic Opportunity, Financial Services, Lottery, Management Services and the state to cooperate with DOR in the development and implementation of the One-Stop Business Registration Portal

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

HB 5505 redefines the term "employee" for purposes of workers' compensation; revises requirements for submitting a notice of election of exemption; revises duties of DFS relating to expiration of certificates of exemption; expands applicability of requirements relating to certificates of exemption; and repeals the provision relating to the duty of DFS to produce an annual report on administration of Chapter 440, F.S., Workers' Compensation Law, to specified officials.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Amends the workers' compensation statutes as follows:
    • allows for the electronic submission of workers' compensation exemption applications, with streamlined reporting requirements
    • requires applicants for workers' compensation exemptions to report their date of birth and Florida driver's license number or Florida identification card number
    • applicants for a construction industry exemption must also provide a statement of ownership interest
    • provides that all certificates of election to be exempt issued on or after January 1, 2013, are valid for two years from the effective date stated on the certificate

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Swimming Pools

CS/CS/CS/HB 1263 revises the purpose of the Department of Health (DOH); revises duties of the state surgeon general; eliminates officer of Women's Health Strategy; eliminates the Florida Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Trust Fund as a trust fund under DOH; provides that two or more counties may combine for operation of a county health department under certain conditions; requires DOH to be responsible for the state public health system; requires DOH to provide leadership for a partnership involving federal, state and local government, and the private sector to accomplish public health goals; allows counties to enact health regulations and ordinances consistent with state law; requires DOH to establish rules for conditions and procedures for imposing and releasing quarantine; provides that rules established under this section supersede all rules enacted by other state agencies, boards, or political subdivisions; and provides that violation of rules established under this section, quarantine, or requirement adopted pursuant to declared public health emergency is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Applicable Provisions:

  • Repeals Section 381.0065(5), F.S., first enacted in 2011, mandating a five-year septic tank inspection program
  • Also repeals Section 381.00656, F.S., creating a grant program to assist with the costs of mandatory inspections
  • Enacts Section 381.0065, F.S., allowing local governments whose boundaries include "First Magnitude Springs" to enact a local ordinance for septic tank inspections
  • Amends Section 514.03, F.S., to transfer plan approval for swimming pools from the Department of Health to local governments pursuant to the Florida Building Code (which would appear to require the department to repeal many of its Chapter 9 rules governing such plan approval and regulation, although permitting authority is still retained in Section 514.025, F.S.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.


Communications Services Tax

CS/HB 809 makes several definitional and terminology changes relating to the communications services tax (CST). In addition, the bill:

  • modifies the requirements relating to the approved situsing methods by providing that a dealer who incorrectly assigns a customer to a local CST taxing jurisdiction may be held liable for the net aggregate underpaid local CST tax and any penalties or interest due as a result of that incorrect assignment only if: (i) the failure to use one of the approved situsing methods results in a net aggregate underpayment of local tax; and (ii) the department has first determined the amount misallocated by the dealer between all jurisdictions
  • provides that if a dealer does use one of the three methods, with or without due diligence, the Department of Revenue may not deny that dealer's collection allowance because of incorrectly assigned customers
  • revises the definition of "sales price" to expand the existing provisions relating to what charges a dealer may exclude from the taxable sales price of communications services

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Department of Revenue Tax Package

HB 7087 exempts leasehold interests in property of the United States, the state of Florida or any of its several political subdivisions, municipalities, agencies, authorities and other public bodies corporate of the state from the intangibles tax when the lessee serves or performs a governmental, municipal or public purpose or function. This exemption shall apply retroactively to all governmental leaseholds in existence as of January 1, 2011, but does not create a right to a refund before the bill's effective date. In addition to providing other economic development incentives, this bill also provides the following:

  • continues the current tax rate on the severance of phosphate rock at $1.61 per ton until January 1, 2015, when the rate temporarily increases to $1.80 per ton for eight years and earmarks the additional monies to fund projects on the Nonmandatory Land Reclamation Trust Fund's list; on January 1, 2023, the tax rate reverts to the current rate of $1.61 per ton; the distribution formula is modified to hold recipients harmless during the period that the rate is increased and the monies are earmarked for the Nonmandatory Land Reclamation Trust Fund's list
  • imposes the oil production tax on mature field recovery oil which is defined as "barrels of oil recovered from new wells that begin production after July 1, 2012, in fields that were discovered prior to 1981"
  • provides an exemption from tax on electricity used directly or indirectly for packing or used directly or indirectly in a packinghouse
  • provides an exemption from tax on all replacement engines, parts and equipment, and labor charges for the repair and maintenance of aircraft of more than 2,000 pounds maximum certified takeoff weight
  • provides an exemption from tax on chemicals, machinery, parts and equipment used and consumed in the manufacture or fabrication of aircraft engines and gas turbine engines and other parts
  • provides an exemption from tax on the sale or lease of accessible taxicabs
  • allows existing eligible businesses that filed an application for the Urban High-Crime Area Job Tax Credit on or before January 1, 2009, to refile such applications on or before December 31, 2012, if certain requirements are satisfied
  • provides for an increase of the exemption in calculating the liability for the Florida Corporate Income Tax and the Franchise Tax from $25,000 to $50,000
  • provides a sales tax holiday for the period from August 2, 2012, through August 5, 2012, on the sale of specific items

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012, except as otherwise provided.

Transferee Tax Liability

HB 103 repeals the tax liability statutes applicable to sales and communications services businesses and amends the statute relating to all taxes owed to the state in order to consolidate all transfer of tax liabilities provisions into a single statute. The bill prohibits transferees or taxpayers who quit a business without paying all taxes due from engaging in any business until the tax liability is paid. This bill also provides that the maximum tax liability of the transferee is the fair market value or purchase price paid for the business, whichever is greater, net of any liens or liability to non-insiders.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Renewable Energy Technologies Tax Incentives

CS/CS/HB 7117 reinstates tax incentives in order to promote the development of renewable energy infrastructure to aid investors in building power plants. In addition to other tax incentives, the bill:

  • reinstates the biofuel portion of the Renewable Energy Technologies Investment Tax Credit for another four years, and expands it to include materials used in the distribution of other renewable fuels, up to a limit of $10 million in taxes each state fiscal year for all taxpayers; the credit can be used for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, and will be granted in an amount equal to the eligible costs incurred between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2016
  • reinstates and modifies the Florida Renewable Energy Production Credit for electricity produced and sold on or after January 1, 2013, through June 30, 2016; the credit is equal to $0.01 for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced and sold or used by a new or expanded Florida renewable energy facility during a given tax year up to a limit of $5 million in taxes for all taxpayers in state fiscal year 2012-2013 and $10 million for all taxpayers in state fiscal years 2013-2014 through 2016-2017

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Tax Credit

HB 5505 provides a $1.5 billion tax credit program for insurance companies that provide financing for the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Tangible Tax

CS/HJR 1003 proposes a constitutional amendment that would provide an additional exemption from ad valorem taxes on tangible personal property valued between $25,000 and $50,000.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The proposed amendment will be placed on the ballot for the general election in November 2012. This new exemption, if approved by the voters, will take effect on January 1, 2013, and applies to the 2013 tax roll and subsequent tax rolls. A county or municipality may adopt an additional exemption from ad valorem taxes or other ad valorem tax relief on tangible personal property through the adoption of a local ordinance.

Unemployment Compensation

CS/HB 7027 renames the state's unemployment compensation system as the "Reemployment Assistance Program" and provides optional training for workers scoring low on an initial skills test that is a requirement of receiving benefits. The bill reduces the increase in unemployment compensation taxes paid by businesses. Additionally, automatic tax hikes to help pay back the interest on federal loans for Florida's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund were spread out over five years, instead of three years.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill was approved by the governor on March 28 and will take effect on the July 1, 2012. It has been codified in Chapter 2012-30, Laws of Florida.

Business Regulations

CS/HB 517 reduces the regulatory requirements for professions and businesses, and streamlines the regulatory functions primarily for programs under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation relating to construction contracting, the Florida Building Code and the distribution of prescription drugs. The bill removes some of the continuing education requirements and decriminalizes agency rules for barbers and auctioneers, among other state-regulated professions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

State Budget

The Conference Report for HB 5001 provides general appropriations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012. The $70 billion budget includes no new taxes, $1 billion more for public schools and nearly 4,000 fewer state jobs. The budget also contains cuts to the state university system, hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. Specifics of the budget include:

  • spending $17.2 billion on public schools, an increase of $1.1 billion but contains $259 million in cuts to higher education
  • cutting rates for Medicaid payments to hospitals by 7.5 percent, increasing the Medicaid budget for new cases by $305 million and raising child abuse investigators' pay by $4,000 per year
  • eliminating 2,267 full-time criminal justice positions (1,786 of which are filled)
  • cutting county clerks' budgets by $31 million, which eliminates an additional 900 jobs
  • providing $30 million for restoration of the Everglades and $8 million for Florida Forever
  • freezing state workers' pay for the sixth consecutive year and eliminating 4,355 state jobs

Governor Scott can sign the budget into law, veto it, or use his line-item veto authority.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012, or upon becoming law, whichever occurs later; however, if it becomes law after July 1, 2012, then it will operate retroactively to July 1, 2012.

Bills That Did Not Pass:

Fair Economy Act: HB 1335 would have closed business tax loopholes to increase revenue and avoid spending cuts, including, for example, requiring members of unitary business (or water's edge group) to file combined corporate income tax returns and allocate income to Florida using a single apportionment computation.

Local Business Tax: HB 4025 and SB 760 would have repealed local business taxes authorized by Chapter 205, F.S.

Online Sales Tax: SB 2098 and HB 1085 would have required companies that make mail order sales to collect sales and use tax on such transactions.

Online Travel Tax: HB 1393 and SB 1888 would have imposed tax on only the amounts received by the operators or owners of the physical transient rental accommodations, not on the service fees or markup online travel companies receive for facilitating the booking of reservations.

Super Homestead Exemption: HJR 1289 would have proposed a constitutional amendment providing a homestead exemption equal to 30 percent of the homestead property's just value between $75,000 and $200,000, plus 15 percent of the property's just value between $200,000 and $400,000. The additional homestead exemption would have been reduced by the difference between the just value of the property and the assessed value under the "Save Our Homes" provision in Article VII, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution.


State Funding

The Conference Report for HB 5001 provides general appropriations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012. Governor Scott can sign the $70 billion budget into law, veto it, or use his line-item veto authority. Highlights in the budget relating to education were:

  • provided a $1 billion increase for the K-12 Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP)
  • increased the virtual education contribution by an additional $15 million to provide $5,200 per student, up from $4,800 in the current year
  • funded enrollment growth in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) with an increase of approximately $29 million in funding; VPK providers must implement pre- and post-assessments of the program's effectiveness and the State Board of Education must develop a value
  • added measure of learning gains
  • provided level funding the same as last year for institutions making up the Florida College System, but authorized those institutions to levy a 5 percent tuition increase
  • funded a potential $250-million deficit in Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funding for previously appropriated and approved projects
    appropriated $300,000 to the board of governors of the state university system to study the potential creation of a new online university

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012, or upon becoming law, whichever occurs later; however, if it becomes law after July 1, 2012, then it will operate retroactively to July 1, 2012.

Florida Polytechnic and University Tuition

HB 7129 splits off the University of South Florida's branch campus in Lakeland and creates the state's twelfth university. The bill also effectively allows the University of Florida and Florida State University to raise tuition beyond the current limits in state law. The bill provides tuition and academic flexibility to research universities that meet standards including selectivity of admissions, student retention, graduation rates, size of endowment, amount of annual giving, faculty membership in a national academy, number of patents awarded, number of doctoral degrees awarded, number of postdoctoral appointees, two categories of research expenditures and three types of national rankings.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Digital Education

CS/CS/HB 7063 expands virtual education programs in public schools. The bill allows students in grades K-5 to enroll on a part-time basis in the Florida Virtual School and expands part-time options for students in grades K-8 in district virtual instruction programs. The bill also authorizes full-time students enrolled in the Florida Virtual School to participate in interscholastic extracurricular activities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

High School Sports

CS/CS/CS/HB 1403 imposes fines on coaches, rather than schools, and removes the penalties for athletes who have been recruited. The bill requires the Florida High School Athletics Association's investigators to undergo background checks and allows a parent to be present when investigators interview student athletes. Furthermore, the bill establishes new due process standards that the Florida High School Athletic Association must follow when making student eligibility determinations and allows student athletes to more easily change schools. Additionally, the bill allows any high school in the state, including charter schools, virtual schools and home education cooperatives to become a member of Florida High School Athletics Association and states that membership is not mandatory for any school. The bill requires the Florida High School Athletics Association to allow competition between member schools and non-member schools and prohibits penalizing member schools for such competition. The bill also prohibits the Florida High School Athletics Association from unreasonably withholding its approval of an application for membership in the National Federation of State High School Associations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

School Vouchers

CS/CS/CS/HB 859 raises the tax credit cap, allowing more children from low-income families to receive scholarships to private schools. The bill also provides certain tax credits for businesses that donate to the program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill was approved by the governor on March 23, 2012, and took effect on the same date. It has been codified in Chapter 2012-22, Laws of Florida.

Protection of Vulnerable Persons

CS/CS/CS/HB 1355 imposes a $1 million fine on public and private colleges, universities and schools whose personnel or law enforcement agencies fail to report certain child abuse taking place on campus or at an event or function sponsored by the college, university, or school. Additionally, the bill revises the language concerning child abuse reporting. The bill criminalizes aggravated child abuse and provides for the prosecution of persons who abuse a child and cause mental injury, without an accompanying physical injury.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is October 1, 2012.

School Improvement and Education Accountability

HB 7127 substantially revises Florida's differentiated accountability system to align the state law with Florida's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Rather than the combined use of state and federal measures required by ESEA, the waiver authorizes Florida to use its school grading system to identify schools in need of intervention and support to improve student academic performance.

The bill requires the Department of Education to identify public schools in need of intervention and support to improve student performance, based on school grades. All schools earning a grade of "D" or "F" are schools in need of intervention and support.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to provide the most intensive intervention strategies to schools earning an "F" grade. Additionally, the bill revises the requirements for restructuring low performing schools.

The bill targets struggling students in need of additional support to close the achievement gap for all subgroups of students, which include economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency. The bill establishes the same differentiated accountability requirements for charter schools and traditional public schools.

Under the bill, at least 50 percent of a high school's grade would be based on statewide assessments and the remaining percentage on additional outcomes, such as students who earn industry certifications in high demand occupations and the graduation rate of at-risk students.

For the 2012-2013 school year, the bill requires school districts to use an amount equal to 15 percent of federal funds allocated under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for supplemental educational services, such as tutoring and summer camps in reading and mathematics, for the lowest performing students in all Title I schools. The bill also eliminates duplicative testing for certain students.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Postsecondary Education

HB 7135 provides certain requirements for planning for system and institution goals and objectives and authorizes the Board of Governors (BOG) to waive its regulations to reduce barriers and support attainment of goals identified in institutional plans as necessary. The bill also requires the State Board of Education (SBE), in consultation with the BOG and the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), to adopt a unified state plan for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Additionally, the bill requires the Higher Education Coordinating Council to annually report recommendations for postsecondary education. Other provisions in the bill include:

  • requires all private postsecondary institutions that receive state funds to collect and report student data
  • revises provisions related to general education course requirements
  • establishes a formula for ranking state universities that apply for performance funding supporting certain engineering and technology programs, and authorizes awards
  • requires the DEO to prepare economic security reports of employment and earning outcomes for degrees or certificates earned at a public postsecondary educational institution
  • repeals an exemption from SBE approval of certain Florida College System (FCS) baccalaureate degree programs
  • requires the SBE to identify the role of each FCS institution in baccalaureate degree production and establish criteria for service delivery areas of FCS institutions authorized to grant baccalaureate degrees and to identify performance metrics for the FCS and develop a plan that specifies goals and objectives for each FCS institution
  • requires an FCS institution notice of intent to propose a baccalaureate degree program that must include independently-determined workforce demand and unmet need data
  • requires each FCS institution offering baccalaureate degree programs to annually report its status using specific performance and compliance indicators

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Bills That Did Not Pass:

Parental Trigger: One notable K-12 education bill that failed to pass was the "Parental Trigger" bill, CS/CS/SB 1718, which would have allowed parents at low-performing schools to demand changes, including having the school converted into a charter school.


Growth Management

The 2011 Legislature made wholesale changes to the growth management law with the passage of the Community Planning Act, sunset of the Florida Department of Community Affairs and designation of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) as the state's planning agency. The 2012 Legislature came back to fix a number of "glitches" which were discovered after these new laws took effect.

CS/HB 7081 was the major "glitch bill" that contained most of the technical changes to the Community Planning Act. Among other things, the bill:

  • grandfathers in existing local government charter provisions allowing either an initiative or referendum process for approval of a development order of the plan or map amendment
  • makes technical changes relating to coordination with the military
  • requires that population projections for a municipality must be consistent with the proportionate share of that city's population within the county
  • provides a means for local governments to exempt themselves from optional school concurrency requirements
  • makes changes in the interlocal agreement requirements for school planning
  • amends the Florida Education Code to delete references to the interlocal agreements for school planning
  • clarifies some time periods; local governments would have 10 working days to transmit comprehensive plans with the final agency action occurring in the same time period as other actions which affect substantial interests under Chapter 120, F.S.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Developments of Regional Impact

CS/CS/HB 979 makes technical changes relating to the Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) law. The bill clarifies that comprehensive plan amendments which are part of a DRI are subject to the state coordinated review process. The bill also restricts comments from the regional planning councils to only the review of statutes, rules, and ordinances applicable to the proposed development. DRIs must still be consistent with an adopted strategic regional policy plan and consistent with standards required by the water management district. The bill exempts certain DRIs for developments defined as "qualified target industry business" under an exemption agreement with the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

CS/CS/HB 979 also contains an "agricultural enclave" provision. An owner of agricultural property over 500 acres but less than 640 acres that is surrounded at least 95 percent by land designated as industrial, commercial or residential may apply for a comprehensive plan amendment and be presumed not to be urban sprawl. The agricultural enclave exemption does not apply to lands within the Everglades Protection Area or Wekiva Study Area.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Growth Policy

HB 4003 corrects a citation error in the Community Planning Act to authorize the urban infill and redevelopment plan of the Miami River Commission to be considered under the Growth Policy Act.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Reclaimed Water

CS/HB 639 provides that reclaimed water projects are eligible for alternative water supply funding and authorizes certain contract provisions for development of such supplies with public participation. The bill prohibits the exclusion of reclaimed water use in regional water supply planning and prohibits water management districts from requiring permits for the use of reclaimed water and from requiring or restricting services provided by reuse utilities. The legislation requires the Department of Environmental Planning (DEP) and each water management district to initiate rulemaking to adopt specified revisions to the water resource implementation rule.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Septic Tank Inspections

CS/CS/CS/HB 1263 amends Chapter 381, F.S., to repeal the onsite sewage treatment and disposal system evaluation program and requires counties and municipalities with first magnitude springs to implement local evaluation and assessment programs, unless the county or municipality opts out. The bill authorizes all other counties and municipalities to do the same, and establishes criteria for such programs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Water Management Districts

SB 1986 authorizes the Legislature to set the maximum millage rate for each district and requires each water management district to submit a preliminary budget for legislative review. The bill further requires the preliminary budget to include certain specified information. Under the bill, budget amendments greater than $1 million must be reviewed and approved by the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG) which must notify the Legislative Budget Commission of such approval. Upon review and approval by the EOG and after providing notice of their intention to amend to the Legislative Budget Commission, a water management district may amend unanticipated funds into its final budget. A five-year water resource development work program is required and must describe the district's implementation strategy and funding plan for water resource, water supply and alternative water supply development components of each approved regional water supply plan.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Numeric Nutrient Criteria

In response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated numeric criteria for the discharge of nutrients into Florida's water bodies to replace the existing Florida narrative nutrient standards. The initial EPA rules for lakes and springs were originally scheduled to go into effect on March 6, 2012. After discussions with DEP and regulated interests, however, EPA agreed that if Florida promulgated its own rules which are then approved by EPA, it would withdraw the federal numeric nutrient criteria for waters covered by the new and approved state version. The effective date of the federal rules was moved to June 4, 2012. The DEP rules were modified and approved by the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) on December 8, 2011, but were administratively challenged by various environmental groups, meaning the rules could not go into effect until the challenge was resolved. Amendments to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) passed in 2010, required that rules having significant economic impact must be ratified by the Legislature prior to taking effect. The timing of all of this meant that the new Florida rules likely would not be ratified during the 2012 Legislative Session which was convened in early January due to reapportionment. As a result, HB 7051 was passed this session to remedy the situation. The bill exempts the numeric nutrient rules as adopted by the ERC from the ratification process and requires DEP to publish a notice of the exemption from ratification when the rules are finally adopted. The bill further provides that any subsequent rule or amendment altering the effect of the rules must be ratified by the Legislature prior to taking effect. This ensures that if any changes are required as a result of the administrative hearing process, those changes will be subject to the ratification procedure. A ruling on the administrative challenge is expected in the very near future.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill was approved by the governor on February 16, 2012, and took effect on the same date. It has been codified in Chapter 2012-3, Laws of Florida.

Florida Climate Protection Act

During his first year in office, former Governor Charlie Crist signed a series of executive orders addressing climate change issues. Executive Order 07-127 established greenhouse gas reduction targets for Florida and mandated that the DEP develop a rule for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities to certain target levels over time. DEP initiated rulemaking later in 2007 and requested legislative authority to implement a market-based trading program for the control of greenhouse gas emissions. HB 7135 was passed by the 2008 Legislature and provided for the establishment of a cap and trade regulatory program to include greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities. The legislation provided that the cap and trade rules could not become effective until ratified by the legislature. SB 648 passed this session repeals the cap and trade program and removes it from the Florida Statutes. The result is that any source requiring a permit for greenhouse gas emissions under the Federal Clean Air Act will be required to obtain the permit from EPA, since without some legislative authority, DEP cannot obtain delegation of the federal program to issue the permits.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Environmental Resource Permit

Development of wetlands, stormwater issues, and surface water management issues for projects that are not exempt are generally covered by the state Environmental Resource Permit (ERP). The ERP permitting process is administered by the five water management districts and the DEP, depending upon the type of project involved. To implement the program, each of the water management districts and DEP have adopted rules which contain the procedures and the requirements and conditions for permit issuance. These separate rules have resulted in some inconsistencies among the ERP programs. To remedy this, CS/HB 7003 was passed by the legislature. The bill requires that DEP, in consultation with the water management districts, adopt statewide ERP rules by October 1, 2012. The rules are to govern the construction, alteration, operation, maintenance, repair, abandonment and removal of stormwater management systems, dams, reservoirs, appurtenant works, or works. The rules are to provide for statewide, consistent regulation of the activities, relying primarily on the existing rules of the DEP and the water management districts in effect immediately prior to the effective date of the bill. However, DEP is authorized to reconcile differences and conflicts to achieve a consistent statewide approach and to account for different physical or natural characteristics and also to implement additional permit streamlining measures. Once adopted, these rules can be implemented by the water management districts without further rulemaking. The DEP adopted rules are considered to also be rules of the water management districts. Local government programs that have received delegation of ERP permitting must implement these rules without modification. The bill, however, does not prohibit the local governments from adopting more stringent programs. The existing ERP rules will remain in effect until the revised rules are adopted.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Streamlined Environmental Permitting

CS/CS/CS/HB 503 provides that local development orders cannot be conditioned on having a state or federal permit prior to issuance of the development order. Certain injection wells are removed from water management district permitting. Small stormwater systems (up to 10 acres) are exempt from permitting. This bill sets time limits on ERP applications (agency action within 60 days). It allows for extensions of ERP permits (two additional years for January 1, 2012, to January 1, 2014, expiration dates). It provides for 20-year permits for landfills with liners.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Extension of Certain Building Permits and ERPs

CS/CS/CS/CS/HB 503 provides another opportunity to qualify for the additional two-year permit extension enacted in 2011. In particular, the bill provides that any building permit and any Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) which has an expiration date from January 1, 2012, through January 1, 2014, is extended and renewed for a period of two years after its previously-scheduled date of expiration. The holder of the permit or other authorization that is eligible for the two-year extension must notify the authorizing agency in writing by December 31, 2012, (the prior deadline was December 31, 2011), identifying the specific authorization for which the holder intends to use the extension and the anticipated timeframe for acting on the authorization. In addition, the bill provides that the holder of a valid permit or other authorization is not required to make a payment to the authorizing agency for use of an extension granted in 2011 or by this bill; this provision applies retroactively and is effective as of June 2, 2011.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Solid Waste Permitting

CS/CS/CS/CS/HB 503 also extends the term for certain permits for solid waste management facilities. A permit for a solid waste management facility that is designed with a leachate control system may be issued for a term of 20 years (instead of 10 years), and permits for certain facilities that do not have a leachate control system may be renewed for a term of up to 10 years (instead of five years).

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Transportation and Mitigation Programs

CS/CS/CS/HB 599 provides the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) with the option to use a water management district or private mitigation banks when undertaking mitigation for transportation projects.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012, except as otherwise provided. (As noted below, s. 80 of the bill will be effective upon becoming law.)

Environmental Permitting at Deepwater Ports

HB 599 and SB 1998, lengthy bills dealing with transportation, each include a section that provides that a challenge to a consolidated ERP or any associated variance or any sovereign submerged lands authorization proposed or issued by the Department of Environmental Protection in connection with the state's deepwater ports must be conducted pursuant to an expedited summary hearing process. The summary hearing must be conducted within 30 days after any party requests it, regardless of whether the other parties agree. DEP must issue a final order within 45 working days after receipt of the administrative law judge's recommended order. The bills also provide that the summary hearing provisions apply to pending administrative proceedings.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of SB 1998 is July 1, 2012; if approved by the governor, the effective date of s. 80 of HB 599 is upon becoming law.

Bills That Did Not Pass:

Sovereign Submerged Lands: HB 1103 and SB 1362 addressed the delineation of the point where sovereign submerged lands end and private land ownership begins. The bill sponsors referred to decisions of the Florida Supreme Court on point, including the Tilden case. In Tilden, the court recognized Florida's varying topography and differentiated between water bodies with steep banks versus those with flat banks. Flat-banked rivers and lakes are common in Florida and these types of water bodies present the typical situation where the difficulty arises in determining where lakes or rivers end and private uplands begin. The court in Tilden stated that on low, flat-banked water bodies there is usually no clear mark on the ground, and the boundary is located where the presence of the water prevents the cultivation of ordinary agricultural crops. In the Martin case, the court explained that ordinary high water on flat-banked water bodies with shallow, vegetated shorelines can also be determined by utilizing the best methods available, and that marks upon the ground or upon local objects that are more or less permanent can be considered in connection with competent testimony and other evidence in determining the line of ordinary high water mark. On steep-banked water bodies, the court stated that the boundary is located by an observable physical mark on the ground where the presence and action of the water has wrested the bank of vegetation.

The bill would have codified the Florida Supreme Court's decisions in Tilden and Martin by establishing criteria that must be applied when determining the location of the ordinary high water mark for navigable, nontidal water bodies. It defined the ordinary high water mark as the "highest reach of a navigable, nontidal water body as it usually exists when in its ordinary condition and is not the highest reach of such water body during the high water season or in times of freshets."

Consumptive Use Permits: CS/HB 7045 would have established a new type of consumptive use permit (CUP) for the development of alternative water supplies. Extended permits approved by the state after July 1, 2012, for the development of alternative water supplies would have been for a term of at least 30 years provided there was sufficient data to provide reasonable assurance that the conditions for permit issuance would be met for the duration of the permit. Any public or private entity that wished to develop an alternative water supply could have been eligible to receive an extended permit regardless of the manner in which the water project was financed. Extended permits would have been subject to periodic compliance reviews.

Public Meetings: CS/CS/CS/SB 206 and CS/CS/HB 355 would have established a "right to speak" and would have required local and state boards to provide members of the public a reasonable opportunity to be heard on items of significant interest at or before meetings where official action is taken.

SLAPP Suits: SB 1876 would have prohibited a governmental entity or an applicant for a plan amendment or development order from filing so-called SLAPP suits ("Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation") because such person or entity had participated in the comprehensive planning process. This bill appears to have been filed in response to an appellate court decision that assessed fees against certain interest groups that had filed an appeal from the approval of a comprehensive plan amendment. Another bill, HB 1367, was not limited to land use matters and would have expanded the current prohibition against the filing of SLAPP suits to private individuals and businesses. Currently, the prohibition applies only to governmental entities.


Energy Package

The 2012 energy package, CS/CS/CS/HB 7117, provides a number of provisions promoting renewable energy, alternative fuels and overall fuel diversification. The bill revises the 10-year site plan, specifically requiring electric utilities to provide information concerning actual and planned renewable energy production. The legislation reinstates and revises a number of tax incentives including the state sales tax exemption for renewable energy technologies; the renewable energy technologies investment corporate income tax credit; and the renewable energy production corporate income tax credit. The legislation also streamlines the permitting process for biofuel feedstock crops. The renewable fuel standard is also expanded in the bill to include "alternative fuel." Regarding electric motor vehicles, the legislation provides that rates, terms and the condition of electric car charging services by a non-utility are not subject to regulation by the Florida Public Service Commission.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.


Department of Health Reorganization

CS/CS/CS/HB 1263 makes changes at the Florida Department of Health and closes the A.G. Holley tuberculosis hospital. It rewrites the department's mission and the role of the state surgeon general, while calling for parts of the agency to become more efficient. The bill calls for improvements in the Division of Medical Quality Assurance which oversees licensing and regulation of health professionals. The bill, in part, requires a plan for the division to reduce licensure time by one-third. There is also included a septic-tank inspection issue, which calls for city or county officials to develop inspection programs of their areas to include what are known as "first magnitude" springs, but it also allows those local governments to choose not to have the inspection programs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is January 1, 2013.

Healthcare Services

HB 5301 is the conforming bill for healthcare-related appropriations. The bill requires counties to reimburse Medicaid money to the state that the counties owe. Counties contend that the Medicaid monies are wrongly accounted for and incorrectly billed. Additionally, the bill allows the children of state workers to be eligible for the KidCare Program which subsidizes health insurance. It authorizes statewide enrollment for HIV/AIDS patients into Medicaid managed care plans. The bill limits emergency room visits for non-pregnant Medicaid recipients to six times per year. The bill also authorizes the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to seek approval to adjust hospital in-patient rates. The bill authorizes the expansion of the comprehensive care management pilot for home health services to a statewide basis.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill was approved by the governor on March 29 and will take effect on the July 1, 2012. It has been codified in Chapter 2012-33, Laws of Florida.

Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns

CS/CS/HB 227 creates the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns to study neo-natal withdrawal syndrome. The bill requires the task force to submit reports of its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2013, and issue a final report by January 15, 2015.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, this bill will be effective upon becoming law.

Blood Establishments

CS/HB 364 requires blood establishments to comply with certain business practices and to disclose specified information on the Internet. It prohibits local governments from restricting access to public facilities or infrastructure for certain activities based on whether a blood establishment is operating as a for-profit organization or a not-for-profit organization. Additionally, the bill prohibits a blood establishment from considering whether certain customers are operating as for-profit organizations or not-for-profit organizations when determining service fees for selling blood or blood components. It adds an exemption for certain blood establishments from the requirements to be permitted as a prescription drug manufacturer and register products. It also authorizes the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to adopt rules regarding the distribution of prescription drugs by blood establishments.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.


CS/CS/HB 509 revises the types of vaccines that pharmacists may administer to include pneumonia and shingles and authorizes pharmacists to administer the vaccine or epinephrine auto injection within the framework of established protocol. It also revises the continuing professional pharmaceutical educational requirements with respect to administering such vaccines or autoinjections.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Controlled Substances

CS/CS/HB 1175 adds to the list of Schedule I controlled substances certain specified materials, compounds, mixtures, or preparations that contain hallucinogenic substances or that contain any of these substances' salts, isomers and salts of isomers, if existence of such salts, isomers and salts of isomers is possible within specific chemical designation. It also provides for reduced penalties for possession of three grams or less of certain such substances.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill was approved by the governor on March 23, 2012, and took effect on the same date. It has been codified in Chapter 2012-23, Laws of Florida.

Human Trafficking

HB 7049 adds violations of human trafficking to the jurisdiction of the Office of Statewide Prosecution and the statewide grand jury. It requires employees of massage establishments and any person performing massages in these establishments to present, upon the request of an investigator, a valid state or federal government identification. It adds the documentation requirements for operators of massage establishments and adds additional offenses to the list of sexual predator and offender qualifying offenses. It also increases criminal penalties for offenses and provides for the forfeiture of property used, attempted to be used, or intended to be used in violation of specified human trafficking provisions. Additionally, the bill revises the provisions relating to the selling or buying of minors into sex trafficking or prostitution while authorizing for the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

University of Florida Health Insurance Benefits

HB 5009 authorizes University of Florida Board of Trustees to provide for the provision of health and other self-insurance or insurance programs. It provides requirements for state funding for such programs and the procedural requirements relating to the program for the Department of Management Services (DMS), the Executive Office of the Governor and the Legislature. The bill revises the conditions under which pharmacies are provided reimbursement for prescription medicines that are dispensed to members of state group health insurance plan under the state employees' prescription drug program and authorizes DMS to implement a supply limit program for certain maintenance drugs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Bills That Did Not Pass:

Abortion: CS/HB 277 would have required a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion could be performed. It would have restricted when an abortion could have been performed in the third trimester or after viability, and would have provided certain physician and location requirements. The bill also prohibited physicians from knowingly performing partial-birth abortions and required clinics to be owned and operated by a physician with specified training.

HPV: CS/SB 1116 sought to require schools to disseminate information about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and its effects, and available vaccines to parents or guardians of all children entering sixth grade.

Baker Act: CS/HB 1195 would have authorized physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners to initiate involuntary examinations under the Baker Act for persons believed to have mental illness.

Medical Malpractice: CS/CS/SB 1316 would have increased restrictions on malpractice lawsuits while also expanding the drug-prescribing powers of optometrists. It would have authorized ACHA to review and analyze information from sources other than Medicaid-enrolled providers for the purposes of determining fraud, abuse, overpayment, or neglect. It also would have required AHCA to submit a report to the Legislature on adverse incident reports from assisted living facilities and would have revised the federal offenses for which the Department of Health must issue an emergency order suspending the license of certain healthcare professionals.

EBT Cards: CS/CS/HB 1401 was an effort to prevent people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from buying certain things with their government-issued electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, such as junk food, alcohol, or tobacco. The bill also would have prohibited the use of EBT cards at ATMs in strip clubs and casinos.

Assisted Living Facilities: CS/HB 7133 would have increased oversight of assisted living facilities (ALFs) and would have defined the responsibilities of the Department of Children and Family Services and mental health service providers for mental health residents who reside in ALFs. The bill would have required that specified persons who have regulatory responsibilities over or provide services to persons residing in ALFs must report suspected incidents of abuse to the state's central abuse hotline. Other requirements under this bill would have been for ALFs to be under management of licensed administrators with specified training and licensure requirements. It also would have added fines and penalties for specified violations by ALFs.


Personal Injury Protection

CS/CS/HB 119 revises the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits under Florida's no-fault law, as well as the laws related to PIP motor vehicle insurance fraud. Among the various reforms, individuals seeking medical benefits through PIP have 14 days following a motor vehicle accident to receive initial medical services. Initial services are only eligible for reimbursement under PIP if authorized and supervised by a licensed physician, licensed osteopathic physician, licensed chiropractor, or licensed dentist. Services must take place in a hospital or a facility owned by a hospital. Individuals are eligible for $10,000 in PIP medical coverage if their injuries or condition seriously jeopardizes their health or results in serious impairment to their bodily functions or dysfunction to their body or organs. An individual not diagnosed under these conditions shall receive a lower maximum of $2,500 of PIP benefits.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012, except as otherwise expressly provided.

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

HB 1127 makes a number of changes to the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. The legislation divides the types of coverage into three separate accounts within Citizens and reduces the regular assessment of 6 percent per account to 2 percent for deficits in the coastal account while eliminating the regular assessment in the personal lines account and the commercial lines account. These reductions will not reduce the overall assessment authority of Citizens, but rather, they will allow for larger levies through emergency assessments, which are levied on all lines of property and casualty insurance in Florida, including policies written under Citizens. The legislation also extends the timeframe from 12 to 15 months in which an insurance company must pay assessments back to Citizens. A late-filed amendment was offered to reduce the exposure of Florida's Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, but it was defeated during Senate debate.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.


Communications Services Tax (CST)

CS/HB 809 creates the 11-member Communications Services Tax Working Group within the Department of Revenue that includes representatives from cities and counties, as well as the video, telephone and cable industries. The working group is charged with, among other things, reviewing the existing state and national policies and taxing structure related to communications services, reviewing the extent to which the CST revenue has been relied upon to secure bonded indebtedness, as well as identifying options for updating and revising the existing tax structure. A report is due to the governor and Legislature by February 1, 2013.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Tangible Personal Property

CS/HJR 1005 relating to tangible personal property (TPP) provides for a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot for the November 2012 general election. Current law provides a $25,000 exemption to businesses for TPP taxes. If passed by the voters, the resolution authorizes an additional $25,000 exemption for TPP. Furthermore, this constitutional measure would authorize local governments to offer additional TPP relief to small businesses by adopting an ordinance subject to the limitations to be contained within a future legislative implementing bill.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The proposed amendment will be placed on the ballot for the general election in November 2012. This new exemption, if approved by the voters, will take effect on January 1, 2013, and apply to the 2013 tax roll and subsequent tax rolls. A county or municipality may adopt an additional exemption from ad valorem taxes or other ad valorem tax relief on tangible personal property through the adoption of a local ordinance.

Caylee's Law

Prompted by the 2008 death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, the Legislature passed legislation that would increase the penalties for lying to police when a child is reported missing. The bill, CS/HB 37, would make it a third degree felony to give false information to a law enforcement officer in the event of missing child. The bill was introduced following the highly publicized trial of Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of murder but charged with lying to police.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is October 1, 2012.


CS/HB 1227 exempts sworn law enforcement officers who want to be used as temporary public safety telecommunicators from redundant training requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The bill was approved by the governor on March 25 and will take effect on the July 1, 2012. It has been codified in Chapter 2012-24, Laws of Florida.

Local Business Taxes

HB 7125 grants a local business tax exemption from the local business tax to real estate sales and broker associates. The legislation exempts any individual who is licensed and operating as a real estate sales or broker associate from applying for an exemption from a local business tax, paying a local business tax or obtaining a local business tax receipt when operating in the employ of another. It is estimated that this bill will have a negative recurring impact to local governments of $3.8 million beginning in fiscal year 2012-13.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is October 1, 2012.

Municipal Incorporation

CS/SB 692 revises the deadline for the submission of a feasibility study on the proposed incorporation of a new municipality. The bill provides a new way for independent special districts that were created by judicial decree or by a special act of the Legislature to convert into a new municipality by an elector-initiated referendum.

EFFECTIVE DATE: If approved by the governor, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2012.

Bills That Did Not Pass:

Public Meetings: SB 206 and HB 355 would have established a "right to speak" and would have required local and state boards to provide members of the public a reasonable opportunity to be heard on items of significant interest at or before meetings where official action is taken.

Local Business Tax Repeal: SB 760 and HB 4025 would have prohibited local governments from levying "local business taxes," formerly known as occupational license fees. Currently, counties and municipalities may levy a business tax and the tax proceeds are considered general revenue for the local government.

Vendor Preference: Current law authorizes state agencies, counties, municipalities, school districts and other political subdivisions to award a preference to a Florida-based business for the purchase of personal property, through competitive solicitation, when the lowest responsible and responsive bid, proposal, or reply is from a vendor whose principal place of business is another state. Vendor preference legislation, CS/CS/HB 673 and SB 1460, would have expanded the reciprocal preference provided in current law to include the purchase of construction services and would have preempted local vendor preference ordinances.

Buy Florida Act: Vendor mandate legislation, SB 538 and HB 153, establishing the Buy Florida Act which would have expanded the existing in-state vendor preference for public printing contracts to include counties, municipalities, school districts and other political subdivisions. The legislation was amended so that the provisions only applied to state agencies and not local governments, however, both bills eventually died.

Local Pension Reform: CS/SB 910 and CS/SB 2088 dealing with municipal pensions did not pass this session. The legislation would have provided that for a firefighter or police plan established under Chapters 175 or 185, F.S., if the local government and the plan members' collective bargaining representative or a majority of the plan members mutually consent to the retirement benefits provided in the plan or to the use income for retirement benefits from premium taxes, the provisions of the agreement are deemed to comply with this chapter. The legislation would have also eliminated the requirement that a minimum of 300 hours of overtime must be included in the definition of "salary" for police officers' plans under Chapter 185, F.S.

Red Light Cameras: HB 4177 and SB 1542 would have repealed the red light camera law passed in 2010.

Neighborhood Improvement Districts: CS/CS/SB 582 and CS/HB 191 would have authorized local governments to create neighborhood improvement districts through the adoption of a planning ordinance.

Florida Infrastructure Fund Partnership

HB 1491 would have created the Florida Infrastructure Fund Partnership. The legislation provided a unique way to bring private capital to Florida in order to build much-needed infrastructure around the state that local governments, as well as the state, could not afford. The partnership would have been authorized to raise $700 million in private funds for direct investment in infrastructure projects including water and wastewater systems, communication systems, power systems, transportation systems, renewable energy systems, ancillary or support systems, and other strategic infrastructure needs.

More About the 2012 Legislative Session

Every decade, the Florida Legislature undergoes a redistricting process called "reapportionment" during which legislators draw new House, Senate and congressional district boundary lines. The 2012 reapportionment process is different than in years past due to the passage of Amendments 5 and 6 to the Florida Constitution which the voters approved during the 2010 general election. Both amendments required districts to be drawn without regard to political incumbency and also designated how legislators should draw the new congressional and legislative districts. This one partisan issue remained the focus of the 2012 session with Republicans wanting to maintain their super majorities in the House and Senate, and Democrats hoping to regain some of the power they have lost since the mid-1990s.

The only other constitutional mandate that legislators faced this session was to approve the state budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. In his opening "State of the State" address to convene the legislative session, Governor Scott urged legislators to increase state education funding by $1 billion. Lawmakers heeded the governor’s message, and education was a major focus of the legislative session, resulting in more than $1 billion in new funding for K-12 education and over $2 billion in reserves while still addressing the more than $2 billion shortfall without raising taxes in the overall budget of $70 billion ultimately approved by the Legislature.


Committee Substitute (CS) – A Senate or House bill going through the committee hearing process sometimes has numerous amendments, or the amendments change the original concept of the bill. In these instances the bill is rewritten and becomes a "committee substitute." The next committee of reference may again rewrite the bill and more than one bill may be combined. The committee substitute continues to carry the identifying number(s) of the original bill(s) filed. A CS/CS is a committee substitute for committee substitute.

Enacted – The Florida State Constitution requires that each bill be prefaced by the phrase: "Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida" which is referred to as the enacting clause. Enacted legislation refers to a bill which has been passed into law.

Enrolled Bill (ER) – This is a Senate or House measure approved by both houses and signed by the legislative officers which is then sent to the governor for action and transmittal to the secretary of state or filed directly with the secretary of state. The bill is enrolled in the house of origin under the supervision of the secretary of the Senate or the clerk of the House.

Joint Resolution (SJR, HJR) – This is a resolution that is the only authorized method by which the Legislature may propose amendments to the Florida Constitution. If passed, the proposed amendment would appear on a statewide ballot for voter approval or rejection. It must pass each house by a three-fifths vote of the membership.

Law – An act becomes a law when the governor either approves it or fails to sign or veto it within the period specified in the Florida State Constitution. An act also can become a law when a subsequent Legislature overrides a veto by the governor. While the Legislature is in session, the constitution allows a seven-day period following presentation of a bill to the governor within which the governor can sign, allow to become law without his signature or veto the bill. If the Legislature adjourns sine die before an act is presented to the governor or while an act is in the governor’s possession, the governor has 15 days following the date of presentation in which to take action. The identifying number assigned by the secretary of state to a bill that has been enacted or passed into law is referred to as the chapter law. The chapter law number indicates the year passed and the printing number. For example, Chapter 2011-100 represents the 100th law printed in the year 2011. Chapter laws are compiled and published annually in the Laws of Florida.

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