2018 Legislative Session Week 6 Update

Posted By: Courtney Barnard Advocacy News ,
Friday, February 23, marked the end of the sixth week of legislative session. Here is a summary of what happened in Tallahassee since our last update:
 
HB 529 (Doorstep Trash Collection): FAA priority bill SB 746, filed by Sen. Aaron Bean (FL-4, R), passed the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday, February 22. This was the final committee stop for the bill, which now will be read and then voted on by the Senate. If it is approved, either the House or Senate draft of the bill will be adopted by both chambers and sent to the governor for final signature.
 
HB 529 and SB 746 impact the doorstep waste collection industry and clarify the legality of the trash collection services across Florida. The Florida Fire Prevention Code is ambiguous with regard to allowing trash containers to be placed temporarily in hallways and breezeways. The Florida Apartment Association, in conjunction with the doorstep waste collection industry, is seeking clarification of the code.
 
The doorstep waste removal industry is made up of several independent businesses that provide more than 1,200 jobs across Florida and generate an economic impact of more than $68 million annually. Halting doorstep trash collection services would eliminate jobs and disrupt a valuable apartment service. Doorstep trash collection service is allowed across the United States, and clarity in the Florida Fire Prevention Code will allow the industry to continue to do business.
 
Housing Discrimination: House Bill 853, filed by Rep. Tracie Davis (FL-13, D), passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, February 21. This was the final committee stop for the bill, which now will be read and then voted on by the House. In order for the bill to be sent to the governor for final signature, the bill would have to be added to the Senate Special Order Calendar for a reading before the full Senate and then a vote. FAA is working to keep the bill out of the Senate.
 
HB 853 is similar to legislation filed in 2017. Both bills would greatly alter Florida’s legal system in multiple ways. The legislation would double the timeframe for filing a fair-housing civil suit against an apartment community. Any current or past resident could file a claim up to two years after an alleged incident occurred. Secondly, the legislation allows those who file a claim to bypass any HUD investigation or conciliation process before pursuing a civil suit. This means that an apartment resident could sue an apartment community before their claim is investigated or vetted through the current state procedures.  This bill could greatly increase the number of un-vetted civil suits brought against apartment communities and could encourage unnecessary or frivolous lawsuits.
 
Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund (UPDATE): Gov. Rick Scott has recently called both chambers to review their budget numbers in order to provide for increased school security in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. FAA will continue to monitor any budget changes and will report how these changes may impact funds previously directed toward affordable housing.
 
As reported in week five, the Senate had chosen to fully fund affordable housing and allocate $120 million to affordable housing projects, and the House had cut funds to $74 million. The two chambers must come to a budget agreement by the end of session.
 
For further information on the 2018 budget breakdowns, please see the linked sheet highlighting funds that would go to apartments. Funds are color-coded as follows: yellow for hurricane relief, red for general use, green for workforce housing, and blue for homelessness housing.
 
The Sadowski Act passed in 1992 created a dedicated revenue source to fund Florida’s affordable housing programs. Affordable housing helps to house Florida’s most vulnerable populations, including veterans, the elderly, those experiencing homelessness, and persons with special needs. The housing trust fund is funded by document stamp taxes paid on all real estate transactions.
 
There are simply not enough apartment homes in Florida. Sadowski funds help to balance the high demand for new affordable units across the state by aiding in the construction and refurbishment of affordable properties. More than 911,000 Floridians spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing, and the National Apartment Association estimates Florida will need an additional 669,000 apartment homes by 2030 to meet Florida’s housing demand.  
 
FAA will continue to monitor legislation and advocate for our industry throughout the legislative session; if you have any questions or concerns, please emailCourtney@faahq.org. For an in-depth update from FAA government affairs director Courtney Barnard, please listen to the 2018 mid- session update call here.