Governor DeSantis Signs Priority Legislation

Following a three month hold on 2020 bill signings due to COVID-19, Governor DeSantis went into overdrive in June to weigh in on bills and the budget.  This included signing FHBA priorities:  SB 712 Environmental Protections, SB 1066 Impact Fees, HB 1339 Community Affairs, HB 1193 Deregulation of Professions and Occupations, and Sadowski funding. Legislative highlights include:

 SB 712 “Environmental Resources” by Senator Debbie Mayfield

(Representatives Bobby Payne and Blaise Ingoglia)

Approved by Governor DeSantis 6/30/2020; Chapter No. 2020-151

 Quite possibly the greatest priority for FHBA in 2020, was the state preemption of local Rights of Nature ballot initiatives (charter amendments) that attempt to grant individual rights to natural systems, such as rivers and forests.  The proposals intend to set up a new counterbalance between conservation and growth, and thereby would open a new battlefront between environmental interests and development interests.  Specifically, they would grant citizens the right to sue developers and builders, and many go as far as shifting the burden of proof to the defendant.  SB 712 preempts these movements.

Effective July 1, 2021, the type two transfer of the State’s Onsite Sewage Program from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

  • By December 31, 2020, FDEP and FDOH must submit recommendations to the Governor regarding the transfer, including the continued role of county health departments in the permitting, inspections, data management, and tracking of OSTDS’ under the direction of DEP.

Further, the bill expands Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to include onsite sewage treatment and disposal system (OSTDS) remediation plans; requires FDEP to update storm water design, operation rules and to establish a real-time water quality monitoring program, and provides that DEP must adopt new rules relating to OSTDS setback distances by July 1, 2022.


SB 1066 “Impact Fees” by Senator Gruters

(Representative Nick DiCeglie)

Approved by Governor DeSantis 6/20/2020; Chapter No. 2020-058

 Although we were unable to tackle the definition of infrastructure in 2020, SB 1066 provides two critical reforms:

  1. Ensures impact fee increases do not apply to pending permit applications submitted before the effective date of an increase; and
  2. Allows developers to move credits from one development or parcel to any other within the same impact fee zone or in an adjoining impact fee zone which still receives benefits from the improvement or contribution.
  • Credits must still be used for the same type of infrastructure.

Additionally, HB 1339’s mandatory impact fee reporting will provide FHBA the ammunition we need to move forward with defining infrastructure in 2021.


HB 1339 “Community Affairs” by Representative Clay Yarborough

(Senator Travis Hutson)

Approved by Governor DeSantis 6/09/2020; Chapter No. 2020-027

 The de facto “affordable housing” bill of 2020.  HB 1339 authorizes local governments the ability to approve affordable housing on any parcel zoned for:

  • Residential;
  • Commercial; or
  • Industrial

Further, it permits local government to adopt an ordinance to allow accessory dwelling units (aka Mother-in-Law suites) in any area zoned for single family residential use.  Effectively eliminating the requirement that such an ordinance must be conditioned upon a finding that there is a shortage in affordable rentals within the jurisdiction.

HB 1339 requires local governments that adopt “linkage fees” on residential or mixed-use housing to fully offset all costs to the developer (i.e. by waiving impact fees, etc.).

Lastly, in lending a hand to the intent of SB 1066, HB 1339 requires local governments to provide specific impact fee reporting in their annual financial audit to the Florida Department of Financial Services (including the specific purpose and specific infrastructure).


HB 1193 “Deregulation of Professions and Occupations” by Rep. Blaise Ingoglia

(Senator Ben Albritton)

Approved by Governor DeSantis 6/30/2020; Chapter No. 2020-163

One of the Governor’s legislative priorities in 2020, HB 1193:

  • Decreases the Florida Building Commission (FBC) from 27 members to 19 members, effective January 1, 2021;
  • Creates another path for out of state contractors to receive a license by endorsement, provided they have at least 10 years of experience, complied with workers compensation requirements, their application is within two years of holding an active license in another state or territory, and they complete a two-hour CILB approved course on wind mitigation under the Florida Building Code;
  • Eliminates a section from the construction contractor certification examinations if the applicant graduated with a 3.0 grade point average or higher from a four-year building construction degree program;
  • The bill renames a “one and two family dwelling inspector” to “residential inspectors” and expands the scope to include inspecting one-family, two-family, or three-family residences, and
  • Lastly, the bill increases the handy man exemption from $1,000 to $2,500, effective July 1, 2020.


Sadowski Trust Fund

2020-21 Budget Approved by Governor DeSantis 6/29/2020

Coming out of Session in March, the Legislature had secured full funding for Sadowski for the first time in years.  In fact, 2020 was on pace to be only the fourth time since 2004, where lawmakers did not draw monies from the trust fund into general revenue. As of March 19, 2020, all of the $370 million was set for Sadowski, including $225 million for the State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP), $115 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program (SAIL), and $30 million for the Hurricane Housing Recovery Program.  However, due to impending revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19, on June 29, 2020, Governor DeSantis vetoed $225 million in SHIP funding.  While noting that he would be redirecting $250 million in CARES Act (federal) funding for rental and mortgage assistance. Final funding for Sadowski is $145 million.


SB 664 “Verify Employment Eligibility” by Senator Tom Lee

(Representative Cord Byrd)

Approved by Governor DeSantis 6/30/2020, Chapter No. 2020-150

 Verify Employment Eligibility, also known as Employment Verification (E-Verify), is a federal program that checks the immigration status of workers. The Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Chamber of Commerce, FHBA, and other industry leaders were successful in lobbying to allow employers the option to continue using the current I-9 system.  As signed, SB 664 requires businesses to either use the federal E-Verify system or keep a three-year record of documents used by the applicants when filling out a Form I-9. Most notably, effective July 1, 2020:  E-Verify will be mandatory for all public construction contracts within the State of Florida.

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