1000 Friends of Florida

2013 Florida Legislative Session

2013 Legislative Wrap Up

Check below for a summary of major planning, conservation and housing bills that passed and failed during the 2013 Florida Legislative Session. You may also check out the webinar broadcast and PowerPoint which provide summaries.

To keep abreast of key issues facing our state, please sign up for 1000 Friends of Florida’s email alerts, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. As always, we recommend that those of you seeking more information check the websites of our conservation colleagues.

Legislation that Passed:

Growth Management

OPPOSED HB319 RayThis problematic  growth management bill  restricts mobility plans and fees, which many local governments have adopted instead of transportation concurrency.  Developers want to place the same restrictions on those plans regarding credits, proportionate share and prohibiting operating and maintenance costs.  Last year, 1000 Friends recognized and presented awards to Alachua & Pasco Counties for their mobility programs, and if this bill were to pass, their innovative programs would be prohibited in the future.  We believe the bill unnecessarily restricts local government flexibility regarding mobility plans and mobility fees even though it appears to protect existing programs.  The Florida Association of Counties also expressed concerns about the bill.

HB537 Moraitis – This bill comes from a citizen-initiated referendum challenge to a development order in Boca Raton.  It would EXPRESSLY PROHIBIT any referendum process affecting five (5) or fewer parcels of land, unless such a procedure existed as of June 1, 2011.  Comparable legislation was passed in 2012 (excepting grandfathered communities), but apparently, many local government charters contain a general provision allowing citizen referenda on ordinances without limit.  This bill would make such provisions null and void except for those with specific land development and/or comprehensive plan referendum provisions in place as of the above date.

Land Acquisition

SUPPORTED SB1784This land buying bill is meant to protect the perimeter of military bases as a buffer consideration.  It provides for DEO to make recommendations regarding the acquisition of buffer lands, including non-conservation type lands, to the Governor & Cabinet, in order to prevent encroachment of inappropriate development adjacent to military bases.

The Environment

Please also check the Florida Conservation Coalition and Audubon of Florida for more detailed information on environmental legislation!

OPPOSED HB999 — Senate companion, SB1684, was not used– The House agreed with the Senate to delete two of the worst provisions:  (1) 298 special districts exemption from local wetland ordinances; and (2) pre-emption of local fertilizer ordinances, and the House agreed to those deletions.  The bill is still bad as it contains the approval of the no-bid 30 year sugar leases (moots a legal challenge filed by FL Wildlife Federation), general permits for mooring fields for up to 100 boats (no size limit on the boats), restricts DEP water quality monitoring, restricts how local governments deal with development proposals by limiting how many times additional information can be requested; prohibits water management districts from reducing permitted water withdrawals where alternative water uses are available; and expedites natural gas pipeline permit applications.

SB 948 Grimsley/CS/HB 203  – Changes Chapter 373 by directing Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to develop an ag water supply plan with a 20 year planning horizon, and requires water management districts to consider future water supply demands projected by DACS as “best available data.”  This bill sets the stage for granting new water rights to agricultural users during periods of drought and promote irrigation over other uses during water shortages. 1000 Friends of Florida, the Florida Conservation Coalition and Sierra Club outlined a list of concerns about the bill.

The Everglades

SUPPORTED HB7065 and SB 768Thanks to effective negotiations by conservationists, 1000 Friends and others supported this Everglades legislation.  For more information on the details of the compromise, please read this article in The Florida Current.  And thank you for your calls and emails.  They made a difference!

Planning-related Issues

SUPPORTED SB50 Negron– “Right to Speak Bill” Relating to public meetings, this legislation gives the public a reasonable opportunity to speak prior to elected board action.  The speaker does not have to be at meeting where decision is made.  Attorney fees may be assessed for violations or frivolous challenges.  The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he heard from people who had been denied the right to speak at meetings of public boards, such as city councils, county commissions or taxing districts. The measure has exemptions for quasi-judicial meetings, and allows time and decorum restrictions.

SB84 Diaz de la Portilla – This bill allows public-private agreements for construction/upgrades of “predominantly” public facilities if determined to be in the public interest.  It includes a very broad allowance for all types of infrastructure including roads, schools, water, wastewater, etc.  Projects such as those involving school boards require local government approval.  Notice must be given to affected local jurisdictions (that contain some or all of the project) that are not partners.

HB203 Beshears/Edwards This prohibits local government from regulating bona fide agricultural activities and/or charging assessment fees related to such activities.

HB357 Boyd– This allows local governments to create a “master development approval” process and “program” for expediting and coordinating state permit approvals to incentivize local manufacturing projects.  DEO is directed to prepare a model ordinance.  It reduces the review process from 90 to 60 days, and failure to comply means permits are issued.  Agencies have to request additional information within 20 days of applications being filed, and must request further information within 10 days.  No growth management approvals are cited (i.e., plan amendments).  A  very similar process already exists in state law (403.973, F.S.).

Budget Items

The House and Senate have agreed upon the following budget allocations.  Each is subject to a line-item veto by Gov. Scott:

Florida Forever:

  • $10 million in general revenue
  • $10 million from Land & Water Trust Fund for military buffers
  • $50 million from sales of surplus lands

Everglades Restoration:

  • $70 million from trust funds ($35 milliion for shovel ready and/or restoration projects underway, $32 million for water quality projects and $3 million for the Department of Agriculture Consumer Services to develop BMPs for lands north of Lake Okeechobee)

Springs Protection

  • $10 million

Conservation and Rural Lands

  • $11.1 million from General Revenue (real/new money)

Greenways and Trails

  • $10 million a year for 5 years from the FDOT Trust Fund

SB 1852 Housing

  • •$200,080,474, of which $140 million is for affordable housing


Growth Management and Transportation

OPPOSED HB321 La Rosa/SB1716 Garcia – Also problematic, this growth management legislation would have PROHIBITED any local government from applying transportation concurrency and traffic impact fees for commercial buildings of 6,000 square feet or less, including proportionate share contributions, through July 1, 2017, unless 2/3 of elected officials vote to do so.  The same wording applies to existing impact fee ordinances.  This bill would over-ride existing local government authority which already exists to suspend concurrency and/or impact fees.  We believe local governments are in the best position to determine when, or if, such action is appropriate.  We argued that local governments should be allowed to make this decision to suspend concurrency and/or impact fees, not Tallahassee. We OPPOSED these bills as unnecessary and interfering with local home rule authority.

SB1132 –  This was the main FDOT bill for this session.  It contained language creating county regional tollway authorities that may authorize portions of the FDOT Corridor Plan.  We have submitted a placeholder amendment and will be in discussion with our conservation partners on final language.  The bill also has a dangerous provision that allows FDOT to authorize “ancilliary development” within existing railroad rights of way, a measure also opposed by the cities and counties – an amendment should remove that provision this week.   1000 Friends worked with FDOT to help develop an amendment to clarify that regional tollway authorities must remain consistent with the provisions of local and regional plans, MPO plans, and the FDOT transportation plan.  THIS BILL WAS DROPPED IN FAVOR OF HB7127.

SUPPORTED HB89 Pafford/SB348 Soto – This legislation would have re-established an urban infill grant program that was abolished last year because it had not been funded for 10 years.  There was no appropriation or potential source of revenue identified.

SB786 Simpson– This legislation would have created a “new” expedited pilot plan amendment review process for communities that were part of the original “expedited review process” prior to the passage of HB7207 in 2011.  It included Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Hialeah, Pinellas County and Broward County.  Of note is that unlike the original pilot program, citizen challenges to amendments adopted under this process would carry the more difficult “fairly debatable” legal test rather than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard used previously without any problems.

HB 673 Perry/SB 772 Brandes – This would have modified development exactions by local governments “rational nexus test” to “essential nexus” and prevents exactions where any required by a state or federal agency for the same impact have been covered.  Did contain language saying nothing prevents local governments from levying assessments that are “reasonably necessary” and are “roughly proportionate” to development impacts on public infrastructure. Click here to see the letter sent regarding these bills.

SUPPORTED SB1698 Latvala/HB4041 Raulerson— This cleanup bill would have eliminated a never used piece of DRI law that allows a local government to apply and be certified by the state land planning agency to handle DRI reviews itself.  Getting rid of this provision was appropriate and not controversial.

HB299 Grant/SB192 Legg – This legislation would have required designation of economic development related STEM zones in all areas with a state university doing “high research,” and conferred incentives/benefits as do enterprises zones.

HB679 Nelson/ SB564 Simmons – These 45-page-long bill would have changed Part 4 of Chapter 163 regarding neighborhood improvement districts.  They deleted the prior emphasis on crime prevention and instead focus primarily on urban infill and redevelopment projects.  As in the past, if a district is created a plan must be developed and it (and any amendments) still must be certified by the local government to be consistent with the local comprehensive plan.  However, this legislation would have allowed these districts to do millage assessment (up to 2 mils) and to bond.

The Environment

SUPPORTED  HB 789 Stewart/SB 978 Soto – Springs Revival Act would have required water management districts to identify all magnitude 1 and 2 springs in their jurisdiction that “are in decline”, develop 5 year restoration plans, authorizes implementing rule development, and requires quarterly reports on progress by the districts to the Governor, Senator President and House Speaker.

Land Acquisition

DIED IN COMMITTEE! OPPOSED HB33 Smith/SB466 Altman would have allowed landowners adjacent to state-owned land to petition the Governor and Cabinet to use those lands for private agricultural uses, and not even address environmental consequences appropriately.  Also, there was no requirement for any public benefit from the exchange.

DIED IN COMMITTEE!  OPPOSED HB901 Stone would have prohibited state and local agencies from purchasing additional conservation lands unless an equal amount of acreage held by those agencies was sold.  This would not only severely restrict new land acquisition, but would also  restrict  efforts to protect and restore springs, create new state and local parks, enhance military base buffers, and provide economic benefits to local and state governments from conservation and recreation programs.   

DIED IN COMMITTEE! OPPOSED! SB584 called for a moratorium on all future local and state land acquisition programs unless other state lands are sold.   While it died this year, this issue is far from resolved, and will return next year.

Charity Navigator Foresight cover Foresight cover

Current Foresight

Annual Reports

Annual Reports

1% for the Planet