2017 Legislative Session Update: Week 4

| Posted By: Courtney Barnard| Advocacy News |
This week marked the end of the fourth week of legislative session. Many bills that could potentially affect the apartment industry are on the move. Here is an update of what happened in Tallahassee last week.

Property Tax Assessments: HB 21, sponsored by Rep. Colleen Burton, was voted on in the House on Thursday, March 23. The bill passed with a vote of 110 yeas and three nays. The bill has been referred to the Senate. In messages, the Senate has indicated it will most likely adopt HB 21 to replace its Senate companion, SB 76 sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee. In order to pass, the bill will need to pass three committees on the Senate side and then be approved by the full Senate. This bill is one of the 2017 priorities decided by FAA members and presented to legislators at the annual Legislative Conference.

How this affects you: HB 21 and SB 76 will create a joint resolution to place the 10 percent non-homestead assessment cap language back on the ballot for voters in 2018. Apartment communities are considered non-homesteaded properties and benefit from a cap on how much taxable assessments can be raised each year. If the cap is not reauthorized, then yearly assessments can increase by any amount for non-homestead property. This could mean apartment owners would see a jump in their property taxes in 2019. Drastic property tax increases could also result in a loss of apartment industry jobs.

Housing Discrimination: Bills changing the process of housing discrimination claims, including SB 268 sponsored by Sen. Darryl Rouson, its companion SB 742 sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, and HB 659 sponsored by Rep. Holly Raschein, have not been heard in any committees. FAA’s legislative priorities including opposing all changes to administrative remedies regarding housing.

How this affects you: SB 268, SB 742, and HB 659 would allow a person who alleges housing discrimination to file a civil action up to two years after an alleged incident and before a complaint has been filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations or a local housing discrimination agency. This legislation would greatly increase the incident of unvetted and possibly frivolous civil suits against apartment communities in Florida.

Military Affairs: SB 1588, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, and its House companion, HB 1235 sponsored by Rep. Chris Latvala, appeared on the FAA radar after each sponsor submitted amendments on their respective bills to further a 2016 law to expedite rental applications for military service members.  Current Florida law requires rental applications for military members to be processed within seven days; the submitted amendments would extend the law to cover spouses of military service members and adult dependents residing in the same unit (if required on rental application). Each bill has one more committee stop before being considered for final passage.

How this affects you: Apartment owners and managers could face increased costs if they are required to expedite service member spousal rental applications and background checks. The current bill states that “. . . Absent a timely denial of the rental application, the landlord must lease the rental unit to the service member if all other terms of the application and lease are complied with. . .” FAA is communicating with the bill sponsors to ensure apartment owners and managers are not unfairly penalized with extra fees as a result of this legislation.

What is happening in week five: The House and Senate will be having several budget discussions and meetings. No FAA-related bills have been scheduled in committee at the time of publication.

FAA will continue to monitor and advocate for our industry throughout the legislative session; if you have any questions or concerns, please email me at Courtney@faahq.org.

For an in-depth mid-session update from FAA government affairs director, Courtney Barnard and FAA lobbyist, Kelly Mallette, please join us on the upcoming legislative update call on Friday, April 7 at 2 pm Eastern time. Call in information is:

Dial-in: 1-866-613-5223

Pass Code: 7647753

Stay tuned for next week's update!