Legislative Update - December 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Florida Building Code Commission Makeup Might Change

HB 299 Florida Building Commission by Rep. McClain was heard in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Beshears, on November 15. Rep. McClain, a building contractor from Ocala, presented his bill. The bill eliminates the building products manufacturing representative from the Florida Building Commission. From his remarks it was apparent he does not understand the importance of this representative on the Commission. FBMA spoke against the bill.

  • Others speaking against the bill were:
  • American Association of Architects
  • Building Owners Association
  • Florida Manufactured Housing Association
  • Florida Building Officials Association

No audience members spoke for the bill. There did seem to be sympathy among legislators for reducing the number of Commissioners. Architects, engineers, disabled and green industry reps were all called out by legislators as needing to be protected on the Commission. Despite the negative testimony, the bill passed on a 10-4 vote. Voting against the bill were Reps. Alexander, Harrison, Jacquet, and Silvers.

The bill now goes to the House Commerce Committee. FBMA is working to reinsert the building products manufacturing representative on the Commission in the bill. HB 299 has not yet been scheduled for another hearing.

If you have members who know Rep. McClain, or House leaders, it would be helpful to make a visit or put in a call to them to talk about this issue.

Florida Constitution Revision Commission Hard at Work

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission meets every 20 years and 2017 is the year. It is composed of the Attorney General; 15 members selected by the Governor, 9 members selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; 9 members selected by the President of the Senate; and 3 members selected by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, for a total of 37 members. The Governor designates the chair. The website for the Commission is http://flcrc.gov/. Their work will be finished on May 10, 2018, the last day for submitting amendments to the Florida Constitution for the November ballot.

Hundreds of proposals were submitted by citizens from around the state for consideration. Of those, over 100 proposals have been selected for further consideration by the Commission. Three of those proposals are getting significant attention from the business community at this time: Proposal #23 Environmental Rights; Proposal #29 E-verify; and Proposal #48 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The week of November 27, all three of these proposals were discussed by Commission Committees. Below is a description of the proposals and the action taken in November.

Proposal #23 Environmental Rights – This proposal is sponsored by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch. It was discussed in the Commission Judicial Committee on November 28. The proposal guarantees everyone the right to a clean and healthful environment, including clean air and water; control of pollution; and the conservation and restoration of the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the environment. It allows any person to enforce this right against any public or private party, subject to any reasonable limitation that might be provided by law.

Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch, a teacher, realtor and environmental advocate from southeast Florida presented the proposal to the CRC Judicial Committee. Following her were students who organized the River Keepers in the Indian River/Martin County area and who claimed responsibility for the proposal, with help from some prominent environmentalists in Florida. Also speaking for the proposal was an individual from a conservation group. Speaking in opposition to the proposal were the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Poultry Federation, and the Manufacturers Association of Florida. Speakers pointed out that the proposal is broad, vague, impractical and limitless. The Commission did not vote on the matter, but said the measure would come back before them later in December or January.
  
Proposal 29 E-Verify – This proposal is sponsored by Commissioner Rich Newsome. It was discussed by the Commission General Provisions Committee on November 28 and again on November 30. It provides that any employer who holds any license in Florida and knowingly or intentionally employs an unauthorized alien violates the employer’s licenses. Further, effective July 1, 2020, every employer would be required to verify the employment eligibility of each new employee using the federal employment authorization program. Penalties are provided for violations and a random audit program would be instituted.

The proposal could have a significant impact on agriculture, construction, tourism and other industries.

Proposal #48 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee - This is another proposal sponsored by Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch. The proposal would give the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee authority over a broad range of wildlife habitats, including wildlife corridors. “Habitats” could refer to anything in water or on land across the state, including all private lands.

It was discussed in the Commission Executive Committee on November 28, but no vote was taken. It will be back again for a vote at a later date and could be amended at that time. The regulated community is concerned about broadening the Commission’s authority over private land.

Legislature Closing Out the Year

The last week of legislative committee meetings for the year are the week of December 4. The main focus of these meetings is the Governor’s proposed state budget and related appropriations issues. The Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness will meet twice during the week to discuss recommendations for changes in law related to these issues.

HB 7009 Workers Compensation is expected to be acted on soon after Session begins by the House. Industry representatives do not believe it will have any impact on reducing workers comp insurance rates and are not supporting it. There is a distraction from state policy issues this holiday season, as legislators address the political fallout from issues of extramarital affairs and sexual harassment by legislators. According to SachsMedia Group, in the past 30 years the State of Florida has paid out $10 million to settle sexual harassment cases in state agencies.

The Florida Legislative Session begins on Tuesday, January 9, 2017. 

 

Nancy Stephens, CAE, DPL 12/4/2017

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