MAY 2013 Local/State Legislative Update

Submitted by: Christian Harden – NAIOP NEFL, VP Public Affairs
City of Jacksonville:

Partial Mobility Fee Waiver (Ordinance 2013-94-E) Approved by Jacksonville City Council.

Following the expiration of the initial moratorium on collections of the mobility fee in October 2012, legislation was introduced by Councilman Clark for a new three-year moratorium. This bill was met with significant opposition, but after several months of discussion, a compromise was reached and an 18-month sliding reduction of the mobility fee was approved by the City Council in April.

Any building permit that is obtained by January 19, 2014 is subject to a 75% waiver, between January 20, 2014-July 19, 2014 shall receive a 50% waiver, and between July 20, 2014-October 19, 2014 shall receive a 25% waiver.

An important component of the bill is that all mobility fees collected during the 18-month period are used to fund sidewalk and bicycle lane improvements.

State of Florida:

While the 2013 Florida Legislative session ended last Friday with headlines on the Medicaid expansion stalemate, several issues impacting the real estate industry were addressed during the 60 day session.

The Governor’s priority for attracting manufacturing to the state finally passed the legislature on the last day. HB 7007 passed with an exemption for machinery purchased for the use of manufacturing, compounding or production of tangible personal property for sale. NAIOP supported this exemption one of the Governor’s efforts to stimulate the economy. The bill also contains many provisions requiring reporting by industry receiving economic incentives to allow the state to monitor whether the incentives are working. The bill also fine tunes the Brownfield legislation.

The numeric nutrient rules legislation, SB 1808, also passed, giving Florida DEP rulemaking authority consistent with agreements reached with federal EPA to establish these water quality standards for state waters. While environmentalists protested and plan to challenge this in court, the state and EPA appear to have settled a longstanding lawsuit with this legislation.

The streamlined foreclosure law, HB 87, also passed, which should speed uncontested foreclosure lawsuits and return property to the market faster. Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) were the key sponsors.

As a part of the affordable housing legislation, SB 1852, $21 million was set aside for the court system for new technology systems and to hire senior judges to help address the backlog in foreclosure cases and to hire case managers who will coordinate cases and assure all documentation is furnished to help speed cases along. Affordable housing also received some $120 million in funding, more than in the last 7 years.

For developers, note that the Florida Bar-supported rewrite of the limited liability corporation act widely used in the real estate industry passed as one of the last bills of the session. The bill adopts the National Uniform LLC Act of 2006 with changes to reflect unique Florida Laws. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

HB 319, sponsored by Rep. Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville), passed. The bill addresses alternative mobility funding systems, in lieu of transportation concurrency.

Finally, HB 537 passed clarifying that local governments with charters, do not have the ability to use general referendum requirements to require a vote on development orders or permits at the local level. This should finally put the Hometown Democracy issue to rest. The bill was amended during the last days of session to clarify the language and was made retroactive to 2012. The bill sponsor was Representative George Moraitis (R-Fort Lauderdale).

Unfortunately, NAIOP’s key 2013 initiative – the elimination of the sales tax on commercial leases – did not advance after being introduced by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) and Representative Marlene O’Toole (R-The Villages). As Gene Adams reported last month, legislative leaders were very hesitant to give up any source of revenue without an offsetting increase in another source. The members of the real estate coalition which promoted the gradual elimination of the sales tax on commercial leases continues to strategize on how to re-introduce the initiative in the future.