2017 Legislative Session Update Week 5

Posted By: Courtney Barnard Advocacy News ,

This week marked the end of the fifth week of legislative session, we are nearing the final countdown of the 60-day session. Many bills that could potentially affect the apartment industry are on the move! Here is an update of what happened in Tallahassee this week.

Certified Law Enforcement Officers:  A bill that could give law enforcement officers the right of early lease termination has been postponed. HB 545, a bill titled ‘‘Relating to Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’’ and sponsored by Rep. Bobby Payne, was temporarily pulled from the schedule of its final committee stop before a House vote. The bill, which until previously had no industry impact, was amended on Tuesday to include provisions that would allow state-certified law enforcement officers to terminate their lease with 10 days’ notice due to a job transfer, harassment, vandalism of property, or at the officer’s discretion of his or her best interest. The bill does not include a description of who is a certified law enforcement officer (state definitions include a wide range from police officers to state attorneys). The bill also would allow the officer to not be liable for any termination or damage fees.

On Thursday, FAA held an emergency Government Affairs Council meeting and was able to file an amendment within the deadline to strike the language. The bill was pulled from the schedule for reasons not related to FAA’s amendment. However,  FAA is ready with language in the event the bill is rescheduled.

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 expedite rental applications for military service members, their spouses, 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. FAA has drafted alternative language to be presented in the next committee. The bills could be heard in committee next week.

How this affects you: Apartment owners and managers could face increased costs dues to expediting 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 by this legislation.

Property Tax Assessments: The Senate adopted HB 21, sponsored by Rep. Colleen Burton to replace SB 76, sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee. The newly adopted bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and was placed on the agenda for the Senate Rules Committee.  Once the bill passes its final committee it will be voted on in the Senate and then be approved to be added to the 2018 ballot. 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% 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: FAA priority bills including SB 268, sponsored by Sen. Darryl Rouson, and 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 opposes 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 for two years after an alleged incident 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 incidence of unvetted civil suits against apartment communities in Florida.

What is happening next week: 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 end-of-legislative update call on  Friday, May 12 at 2 pm Eastern time. Call-in information is:

Dial-in: 1-866-613-5223

Pass Code: 7647753