Legislative Update - February 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Senate Building Code Bill Had Hearing

On February 1 the Senate Community Affairs Committee heard SB 704 Building Codes. There were eight amendments filed for the bill hearing, three of them filed the day of the hearing. Five of the amendments were adopted. Following are the provisions of the bill as passed by the Committee, CS/SB 704.

CS/SB 704 makes the following changes to law:

  • Makes several adjustments to the training and experience required to take the certification examinations for building code inspector, plans examiner, and building code administrator;
  • Authorizes a local jurisdiction to allow an individual who possesses a residential certification issued by the International Code Council to be a residential building code inspector or plans examiner within said jurisdiction;
  • Allows Category I liquefied petroleum gas dealers, liquefied petroleum gas installers, and specialty installers to disconnect and reconnect water lines in the servicing or replacement of existing water heaters;
  • Exempts employees of apartment communities with 100 or more units from contractor licensing requirements if making minor repairs to existing electric water heaters or existing electric heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, if they meet certain training and experience criteria and the repair involves parts costing under $1,000;
  • Adds Division II contractors to the Florida Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund section, which would allow homeowners to make a claim and receive restitution from the fund when they have been harmed by a Division II contractor, subject to certain requirements and financial caps;
  • Exempts specific low-voltage landscape lighting from having to be installed by a licensed electrical contractor;
  • Clarifies that a portable pool used for swimming lessons that are sponsored or provided by school districts is a private pool and not subject to regulation;
  • Provides funding for the recommendations made by the Building Code System Uniform Implementation Evaluation Workgroup and provides funding for Florida Fire Prevention Code informal interpretations;
  • Allows the creation of local boards to address conflicts between the Florida Building Code (Code) and the Florida Fire Prevention Code;
  • Restricts the Florida Building Code from requiring more than one fire service access elevator in residential buildings of a certain height, and adds new provisions to the Florida Fire Prevention Code;
  • Authorizes local building officials to issue phased permits for construction;
  • Replaces advanced course provisions for Code training with Code-related training regarding the Florida Building Code Compliance and Mitigation Program and accreditation of courses related to the Code;
  • Prohibits a municipality from denying development permit applications for a single-family home solely because a lot or combination of lots does not meet the current underlying zoning dimensional standards for minimum lot size and area;
  • Prohibits local enforcement agencies from requiring payment of any additional fees, charges, or expenses associated with providing proof of licensure as a contractor, recording a contractor license, or providing or recording evidence of workers’ compensation insurance covered by a contractor;
  • Adds Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., to the list of entities that are authorized to produce information on which product approvals are based, related to the Code;
  • Exempts wi-fi smoke alarms and those that contain multiple sensors, such as those combined with carbon monoxide alarms, from the 10-year, nonremovable, nonreplaceable battery provision;
  • Prohibits adopting mandatory blower door and air infiltration testing and mechanical ventilation device requirements into the 2014 Code and reverts to the 2010 Code;
  • Reinstates a wind mitigation exemption for professional engineer certification of HVAC units being installed;
  • Adds provisions to the Code regarding fire separation distance and roof overhang projections;
  • Creates the Construction Industry Task Force within the University of Florida Rinker School of Construction;
  • Requires a restaurant, a cafeteria, or a similar dining facility, including an associated commercial kitchen, to have a fire area occupancy load requiring sprinklers consistent with the Florida Fire Prevention Code;
  • Creates the Calder Sloan Swimming Pool Electrical-Safety Task Force to study and report on specific standards, especially with regard to minimizing risks of electrocutions linked to swimming pools; and
  • Allows a specific energy rating index as an option for compliance with the energy code.

 

More details of happenings at the Committee meeting are below:

Amendment 502700 by Sen. Hutson was the amendment that the Florida Home Builders were advocating. That amendment said that:

“The Florida Building Commission must adopt into the Florida Building Code the following:
Section 406 relating to the Alternative Performance Path, Energy Rating Index of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) may be used as an option for chapter 553 and Florida Building Code compliance. TABLE R406.4 MAXIMUM ENERGY RATING INDEX shall reflect for Climate Zone 1, an index of 65; for Climate Zone 2, an index of 65.”
This amendment is controversial. Our intelligence found that the American Chemistry Council, the Fenestration Manufacturers Association, Cardinal Glass, the Responsible Energy Code Alliance and some insurance agencies are either not supportive, or opposed, to the above provision. At the bill hearing, the American Chemistry Council spoke against the amendment, as they had in the House committee. While the amendment was adopted in Committee, Senator Hutson said that he would take another look at this provision to see if it needed to be modified again.
Amendment 254638 by Senator Simpson was added to the above amendment, providing that
“Notwithstanding any law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, a restaurant, a cafeteria, or a similar dining facility, including an associated commercial kitchen, shall have a fire area occupancy load requiring sprinklers consistent with the Florida Fire Prevention Code.”

Amendment 423720 was added to the Amendment by Senator Brandes that relates to smoke alarms in one-family, two-family and townhomes. Current law says that a battery powered smoke alarm that is newly installed or replaces an existing battery-powered smoke alarm must be powered by a nonremovable, nonreplaceable battery that powers the alarm for at least 10 years. Further, the battery requirements of this section do not apply to a fire alarm, smoke detector, smoke alarm or ancillary component that is electronically connected as a part of a centrally monitored or supervised alarm system. The amendment adds to the battery requirements that do not apply to a fire alarm, a component “that uses a low-power, radio frequency wireless communication signal; or that contains multiple sensors, such as a smoke alarm combined with a carbon monoxide alarm or other devices as the State Fire Marshal designates by rule.” This amendment was also controversial.

Amendment 303364 by Sen. Hutson made many changes to the bill to include:

  • Funding for code work
  • Local board appeals of Building Code and Fire Code issues
  • Fire service access elevators
  • Adds an architect and an engineer to the Building Officials Association of Florida local building officials review committee
  • Permits for the construction of foundations
  • Prohibiting denial of a building permit for undersized lots
  • Restricting fees by local building departments
  • Allowing code-related training
  • Adding Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. to the list of those authorized to provide product approval information to the Florida Building Commission
  • Adding walls fastened to roofs or installed on the ground to those means deemed to comply with Code wind resistance requirements
  • Changes to energy requirements
  • Fire department communications
  • Fire separation distance
  • Addition of a Construction Industry Workforce Task Force
  • That amendment passed with the addition of the two amendments described above.

The last amendment to the bill was Amendment 303722 by Senator Simpson that allows an individual who possesses a residential certification issued by the International Code Council to be a residential building code inspector or plans examiner within said jurisdiction.

All of these amendments have been incorporated in CS/SB 704 and that revised bill is available from FBMA. 


House Finance & Tax Committee Passes Out Tax Package


The House Finance & Tax Committee met on February 3 to review their proposed committee bill on taxes, also known as the House Tax Package. Key elements that may be of interest to FBMA members include:

  • A reduction in the business rent tax from 6% to 5% with an additional one percentage point reduction to 4% in calendar year 2018.
  • Provides sales tax exemptions for building materials, pest control, and rental of tangible personal property used in new construction in rural areas of opportunity; certain equipment, electricity and building materials used by datacenters, veterans’ organizations, and certain industrial, post harvest activity and metal recycler machinery and equipment.
  • Extends the renewable energy technology tax credit for one year.
  • Extends the renewable energy production tax credit for one year.
  • Increases the total amount of research and development tax credits for one year.
  • Increases the total amount of tax credits for the rehabilitation of drycleaning-solvent contaminated sites and brownfield sites in designated brownfield areas for one year.
  • Provides an exemption from the sales and use tax for the retail sale of certain clothes, school supplies, and personal computers and personal computer-related accessories during a specified period
  • Provides an exemption from the sales and use tax for the retail sales of certain items and articles of tangible personal property by certain small businesses during a specified period
  • Provides an exemption from the sales and use tax on the retail sale of certain firearms, ammunition for firearms, camping tents, and fishing supplies during a specified period

 

During the Committee meeting this week, the Committee members added amendments to the bill that would increase from $8 million to $10 million, the total amount of the tax credits which could be granted for contaminated site rehabilitation tax credits in the 2016-2017 fiscal year; increased from $15 million to $18 million, the total amount of research and development tax credits that could be granted in the 2017 calendar year; changed the dates for filing certain tax returns collected under Chapter 220, F.S.; increasing from $8 million to $10 million the amount of tax credits available for rehabilitating drycleaning contaminated sites in the 2016-2017 fiscal year; and removed a Plastic Bag Reduction Pilot Program.


As the Chairman wrapped up remarks about the bill, the Democrats disappeared from the room, one by one. When it was time to vote there were only Republicans left in the room. Fortunately they still had a quorom and the bill passed the Committee 11-0. Immediately following the vote, Chairman Gaetz and key members that had their individual tax bills wrapped up in the committee bill held a press conference. Each of them talked about their portion of the bill. The bill has now been assigned a number, HB 7099. It has now been scheduled to be heard by the full House on their Special Order Calendar on Wednesday, February 10 at 1:00 p.m.

    
 

 
 
 

Appropriations Bills on Schedule

The House and Senate released their respective Appropriations bills this week. House released the full text of HB 5001 (Appropriations) as well as the text of the 2016 budget implementing bill (HB 5003) and other bills; the Senate released the full text of SB 2500 (Appropriations) as well as the text of the 2016 budget implementing bill and other bills.

Status of All FBMA Tracked Bills That Moved Week of February 1

  

Bill Number/ Subject

Topic

Action

SB 120 - Relating to Prohibited Discrimination

Creating the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”; revising provisions to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and the perception of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, handicap, or marital status as impermissible grounds for discrimination; providing an exception for constitutionally protected free exercise of religion, etc.

On Committee agenda - Judiciary, 02/08/16, 1:30 pm, 110 S

SB 180 - Relating to Trade Secrets

Expands the definition of the term “trade secret,” as provided in s. 812.081, F.S., to expressly include financial information. An individual who steals, copies without authorization, or misappropriates financial information which meets the criteria as a trade secret is guilty of a third degree felony under s. 812.081, F.S.

1/27/16 passed the Senate

SB 530 - Relating to Calder Sloan Swimming Pool Electrical-Safety Task Force

Creates the Calder Sloan Swimming Pool Electrical Safety Task Force within the Florida Building Commission. The task force will make recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives for statutory revisions regarding all electrical aspects for safety in and around public and private pools by November 1, 2016.

1/28/16 passed the Senate

SB 562 - Relating to Consumer Debt Collection

Amends a provision of the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), which regulates consumer collection practices in order to protect consumers from deceptive, unfair, or abusive collection practices. Provides that an original creditor collecting a debt is not liable for communicating with a debtor, who is known to be represented by an attorney, if the debtor’s attorney fails to provide notice of representation.

2/1/16 Favorable with CS by Commerce and Tourism

SB 704 - Relating to Building Codes

Senate Building Code Bill.See details in story above.

2/1/16 Favorable with CS by Community Affairs

HB 775 - Relating to Emergency Preparedness and Response

Directs the Division of Emergency Management to establish a statewide system to facilitate the transportation and distribution of essentials and restoration of utilities throughout the state during times of emergency. The term “essentials” means any goods that are consumed or used as a direct result of an emergency or that are consumed or used to preserve, protect, or sustain life, health, safety, or economic well -being. The system may allow for certification of persons both before and after a declaration of emergency. If requested by the employer, a certification of the employer constitutes a certification of the employer’s employees. The division may certify only a person who routinely transports or distributes essentials or assists in restoring utility services.

2/3/16 Favorable with CS by Finance & Tax Committee

Nancy Stephens, CAE, DPL 2/8/2016

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