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FLERAlert Volume 1 Issue 9

March 31, 2017 by flera

This week, the House and Senate unveiled their initial budgets.  The Appropriations Committees will meet next week to pass the respective budgets, which will then go to the floor of both chambers.  Once the House and Senate have passed their budgets, the conference process can begin.

Land conservation is not faring well in either budget this year.  The Rural and Family Lands program received no funding on either side.  Last year, the program received $35M.  Florida Forever also received no funding in the House, but did receive $15.2M in funding in the Senate.  This represents a carryover of the recurring funds received last year.  Florida Communities Trust received $10M in the House and $5M in the Senate.

The Local Government Cleanup Contracting program received full funding of $14M in the Senate but received $13M in the House.  The Distribution to Counties from Motor Vehicle Registration Proceeds for air pollution programs was fully funded on both sides at $8.7M.

Notably, the Senate also transferred $111M in agency employee salaries and benefits from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to General Revenue (GR), thus freeing these funds up for environmental programs.

Funding for other major environmental programs on both sides includes: Beaches, $30M in the House (no Hurricane Matthew recovery funding) and $100M in the Senate (including $50M for Hurricane Matthew recovery and $50M for the traditional program); Everglades, $165M in the House and $275M in the Senate; Springs, $40M in the House and $50M in the Senate; Water Projects, $20M in the House and $64M in the Senate.


Building Code
HB 901 by Representative McClain received its first hearing in the House this week.  This is the companion to SB 7000, which has been the subject of much controversy because it requires Florida to use the most recent Florida Building Code as the base code in each triennial cycle, as opposed to the International Code Council’s I-Code.  HB 901 was amended in committee to go back to the I-Code and extend the current 3 year code cycle to 5 years.  Additionally, Florida-specific amendments would no longer have to be resubmitted for each new code cycle.  HB 901 was also amended to reduce the size of the Florida Building Commission from 27 to 11.  This was a controversial proposal and generated lengthy testimony from opponents.

SB 7000 has also been amended onto SB 860, which also contains an internship path for building code inspector certification and would create a provisional certification for code inspectors and plans examiners who meet certain requirements.  Both SB 7000 and SB 860 are in their last committee, Appropriations.  HB 901 has two committees remaining.


Recovered Materials
HB 1133 by Representative Toledo and SB 1288 by Senator Baxley add wood, asphalt, and concrete to the list of recovered materials defined in statute.  Recovered materials must have known recycling potential and be removed from the waste stream.  By adding these materials to the definition of recovered materials, these bills exempt wood, asphalt, and concrete and facilities that store, process, resale or reuse them from solid waste regulations if they meet certain criteria in statute.  Facilities storing, processing, reselling, or reusing these materials would not have to meet the criteria for construction and demolition debris facilities or organic processing and recycling facilities.  Further, this change would prohibit certain local government regulation of these materials and facilities.  HB 1133 has one committee remaining and SB 1288 has two more committees.


Septic Tanks
HB 285 by Representative Fine passed its second of three committees in the House this week.  Previously, the bill required inspections of septic tanks within one year of the sale of a property and removed a local government preemption related to septic tank inspections.  However, it was amended in committee to require a study of the locations of septic tanks in Florida and to require a disclosure upon the sale of a property, rather than an inspection.  The companion, SB 1748 by Senator Stewart, has not been heard.


Specialty License Plates
HB 1375 by Representative Grant (J) was heard in its second of three committees this week in the House.  The bill currently contains provisions that require the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to stake steps towards standardizing license plates in Florida, so that drivers would no longer to be able to purchase optional plates, and would instead purchase a small decal for the standard license plate to support their favorite causes.  Many of the plate stakeholders testified in strong opposition to that proposal this week.  The plate designs help to market and message on the causes they support.  Research has shown that drivers are much less likely to purchase the decals, so the change would likely result in a sharp drop in revenue for the programs that have optional plates.

Several of these plates support environmental causes such as oceans, springs, the Everglades, and the Indian River Lagoon, as well as wildlife conservation for species such as marine turtles, manatees, bears, panthers, dolphins and whales.  Representative Grant stated in committee that he has heard the concerns loud and clear and will address them at the next hearing.  The bill does not have a clear companion but could be paired with SB 1374 by Senator Perry, a bill related to Transportation.


2017 FLERA Annual Conference
Your Conference Committee is finalizing preparations for the 2017 FLERA Annual Conference at the  Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota from August 2-4, 2017. A draft agenda and hotel options will be available by April 15th. Registration is now open and the early bird pricing is valid through July 2nd.


FLERA Capitol Days are April 5-6, 2017
For additional information email executivedirector@flera.org


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