Both the House and Senate initiated the process of closing a loophole that allows for-profit affordable housing developers to receive an exemption from ad valorem taxes. HB 921 by Rep. Renuart and SB 740 by Sen. Simpson passed their first committees this week. According to the Revenue Estimating Conference, by closing the loophole created in 2011, local governments will save $117 million in FY 13/14, with annualized savings exceeding $140 million by FY 17/18.  

HB 319, which requires counties to implement a proportionate share funding system for transportation, passed its first committee of reference. The bill was amended to help those counties that have implemented alternative mobility planning systems continue with minimal impact from the proportionate share process. FAC’s Eric Poole opposed the bill in committee.

The House Economic Affairs Committee on Thursday approved HB 1061 (Rep. Artiles) that would place restrictions on how local governments use red light cameras. While this bill does not prohibit their use, it does prevent cities and counties from issuing citations for drivers who make right turns at red lights. Additionally, the bill also prescribes yellow light signal duration times in law. FAC will continue to work with the sponsor to ensure these two measures are addressed.

Read more on transportation and growth management bills…

Transportation Concurrency
HB 319 (R. Ray)/SB 972 (S. Hukill)

  • Summary: 
  • Bill requires counties that have an alternative to traditional transportation concurrency (i.e., Mobility Plan, Mobility Fees, Timing and Phasing) to allow developers to use the proportionate share funding process.   
  • The effect of that process means that a county can never deny or delay approval of a development project when it has failing roads and the developer agrees to make a partial payment for road improvements. Unless additional funds are available, adequate improvements may never be made.
    • Status: House bill passed the Tourism and Economic Development Committee in week two.  FAC opposed the bill.

Transportation Bills
PCB THSS2 (R. Artiles)/SB 1132 (S. Brandes)

  • Summary: Primary issues relating to FDOT operations of interest to counties:  
  • Sound Mitigation Requirements on Counties
    • House PCB  was amended to eliminate the requirement that counties adopt sound mitigation standards and regulations into their comprehensive plans that are applicable to proposed development projects adjacent to FDOT highways. The language remains in the Senate bill.
    • Regional Tollway Authorities
      • House: eliminates this provision
      • Senate: allows for the creation of regional toll authorities by a county or two or more counties.  Designates three toll authorities: Northwest Florida (Escambia and Santa Rosa); Okaloosa-Bay (Okaloosa, Walton, Bay);  Suncoast (Citrus, Levy, Marion, Alachua)      
      • Metropolitan Planning Organizations
        • House/ Senate: Allows an increase in MPO membership – from 19 members to 25 – if an MPO includes a new urbanized area; or, there is the consolidation of two or more MPOs.
        • Parking Meters
          • House: requires local governments to share parking meter revenues with the state if they are collected within the right-of-way limits of state road.
          • Senate: traveling amendment eliminates this provision.
  • Status:  Senate bill passed Transportation Committee during first week of session. House bill passed Transportation Committee during week two.    

Affordable Housing
SB 928 (S. Simpson)/HB 437 (R. Davis)

  • Summary:  SB 928 represents this year’s affordable housing package for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
  • Bill does not address funding issues for the State/Local SHIP programs, which will be addressed in during the budgeting process.  (Worth noting that the Governor has budgeted $50 million for SHIP.)
  • Closes loophole created in 2011 that allows for-profit affordable housing developers to transfer ownership to a non-profit entity for the purpose of receiving an exemption from ad valorem taxes.
  • HB 237 is identical to SB 928, except it does not include tax loophole fix.
    • Status: HB 437 has passed its first committee of reference.  SB 928 passed the Community Affairs Committee with no opposition from the committee or the public. Revenue Estimating Conference reported that closing the loophole will save local governments $117 million in FY 13/14 and more than $140 million by FY 17/18

Affordable Housing
(Property Tax Loophole)
SB 740 (S. Simpson)/HB 921 (R. Renuart)

  • Summary
    • Stand-alone bills to close affordable housing tax exemption loophole.
  • Status: HB 921 passed the Tourism and Economic Development Committee in week two. 

Red Light Cameras
HB 4011 (R. Campbell)/No Senate Companion

  • Summary: Prohibits counties and cities from using red light cameras.
  • Status: Bill narrowly passed its first committee of reference.
  • Outlook: Has a strong chance of passing next committee (Appropriations) and possibly House Chamber, similar to 2012.  However, there appears to be no interest on Senate side for an outright prohibition.  The following bills, however, may have a stronger chance of moving. They include:

-   HB 1061 (Artiles) –  Prohibits citations for turning right on red lights; requiring citations be sent certified mail; and providing prescriptive changes to yellow light signals. Bill passed the Economic Affairs Committee in week two.

-   HB 1203 ( Nelson) –  Prohibits citations for turning right on red lights; and providing prescriptive changes to yellow light signals.

-   SB 1342 (Abruzzo) – Prohibits citations for turning right on red lights; allows violators to petition a hearing officer; includes county penalties.

-   SB 1658 (Evers) –allows violators to petition a hearing officer.

Internet Cafes

  • Summary:
  • HB 155 (R. Trujillo)/No Senate Companion prohibits the operation of Internet Cafes.
  • HB 257 (R. Tobia)/SB 502 (S. Diaz de la Portilla) authorizes local governments to regulate (and prohibit) the operation of internet cafes.
  • HB 951 (R. Patronis)/SB 1030 (S. Thrasher) creates a two year moratorium (from July 2013 – July 2015) on the establishment of any new Internet Cafes.
    • Status: No bill has been heard in committee. The House has scheduled a special meeting of its Select Committee on Gaming for 3/15/13. The only bill on the agenda is HB 155, which bans internet cafes.  A similar bill passed the House last year.  Similarly, the Senate Select Committee on Gaming is scheduled to meet on 3/18/13 to address SB 1030, which imposes a two year moratorium on new cafes.