2018 Legislative Session Update: Week Eight

2018 Session Updates ,
Sunday, March 11, marked the end of the eighth and final week of Florida’s legislative session. The legislature adjourned at 4:16 pm on Sunday and both chambers have ceased to meet regarding any more legislation. Here is a summary of what happened in Tallahassee since our last update:
 
HB 529 (Doorstep Trash Collection): FAA priority legislation House Bill 529, sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz (R-103), was voted on by the House on January 31 (113 yay, 0 nay) and was sent to the Senate to replace Senate Bill 746 sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean (R- 4). The bill was voted on by the Senate on Friday, March 9 and passed (37 yay, 1 nay).  It will now be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature, per Article III, section 8, of the Florida Constitution, which states "Every bill passed by the legislature shall be presented to the governor for approval and shall become a law if the governor approves and signs it, or fails to veto it within seven consecutive days after presentation. If during that period or on the seventh day the legislature adjourns sine die or takes a recess of more than thirty days, the governor shall have fifteen consecutive days from the date of presentation to act on the bill." The legislature adjourned on Sunday, March 11, so Gov. Scott has 15 days to act on HB 529 after it is presented to his office. A total of 200 bills passed during the legislative session and 176 bills are currently awaiting presentation.  
 
Gov. Scott’s office contacted FAA for input on HB 529, and FAA provided a statement of support for the legislation and explained in depth to the governor’s staff how the bill benefits apartment residents and the apartment industry.
 
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.
 
HB 853 (Housing Discrimination): House Bill 853, filed by Rep. Tracie Davis (FL-13, D), was read for a third time in the House and passed the House with a vote of (111-3). FAA was successfully able to keep this bill from being presented to 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 would allow 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 the 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): The final budget has been sent to Gov. Scott and, as noted in prior weeks, the House and Senate have adjusted affordable housing allocations in order to fund protection measures for Florida students in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
 
The current budget includes a total of $123,630,000 in Housing Trust Fund monies: $44,450,000 to be used for SHIP (homeownership programs) and the remaining $79,180,000  to be split amongst local municipalities, where a minimum of 60 percent of funds are mandated to be spent on apartment-related development and refurbishment. Typically, only 30 percent of funds are allocated to SAIL (apartment funds); this year’s increase may be due to increased awareness of apartment rental housing in fighting the affordable housing crisis in Florida. The governor has the ability to “line-item veto” any part of the budget. 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 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. Additionally, 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 any budget updates; if you have any questions or concerns, please email Courtney@faahq.org. For an in-depth update from FAA government affairs director Courtney Barnard, please be sure to join the 2018 end-of-session update call on March 27 at 11 am EST.
 
Dial-in: 1-866-613-5223  Pass Code: 7647753