Legislative Update - February 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

Senate Building Codes Bill Moves to Next Committee

SB 704, the Senate Building Code bill, was heard in the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee on February 17. It took over an hour for the presentation of the bill, questions from senators, testimony from the audience, and debate on the bill. The bill passed the Committee on a 5-1 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee where again it is expected to pass without amendments. Senator Hutson, the bill sponsor, informed the Committee that he is still working with all the interested parties on amendments and expects them to be ready for the bill when it hits the Senate Calendar. In the House, the House companion bill is expected to be “workshopped” at its final committee stop.

In the Senate Committee today, Senator Dean asked the sponsor a number of questions about changing the energy efficiency requirements in the bill. The Florida Home Builders said that they want more options for the builders in how they meet the energy efficiency code. Senator Dean and others wanted to know how that flexibility impacted the homeowner. Senator Margolis was concerned about the fire safety provisions proposed, saying she is more comfortable in following the recommendations of the Fire Chiefs.

Speaking for the bill were the Florida Home Builders, National Utility Contractors, Florida Nursery Growers, Air Conditioning Institute, Florida Apartment Association, Swimming Pool Association, and Associated Building Contractors.

Speaking against the bill were the Sierra Club (opposes optional blower door testing), the Florida Refrigeration and Contractors Association (opposing section 6 that allows apartment owners to make minor repairs to their property), Lisa Miller & Associates (opposing optional blower door testing), FAIR (opposing optional blower door testing), Brevard Summers, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (opposing optional blower door testing), Florida Refrigeration (opposing repairs being made by apartment building owners), Florida Building and Construction Trade Contractors (opposing repairs being made by apartment building owners), Florida Air Conditioning Contractors, League of Cities (opposing zoning preemption on nonconforming lots), Naples Fire Chief, and Florida Fire Marshall & Inspectors Association (opposing fire elevators, elevator lobby, zero lot line, fire sprinkler provisions).

Committee members were struggling with how to make a decision on the bill, given its technical nature and the controversy surrounding blower door testing; minor repairs at apartment complexes by unlicensed individuals; preemption for zero lot lines; and fire safety requirements related to elevators, the elevator lobby and sprinklers.

The earliest the bill could be heard again in the Senate is Wednesday, February 24 but that agenda has not been set yet for the Fiscal Policy Committee. We will keep you posted.

Nancy Stephens, CAE, DPL 2/19/2016

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