Below is a quick inventory of FHBA priority legislation identified at the start of session. These issues were lobbied by FHBA members who “took to the hill” during the 2022 FHBA Spring Conference.

  • Construction Defects: After negotiations between the Senate and the House continued late into the night on Thursday, March 10, it became clear that finding a deal which advanced the industry’s position and was acceptable to the House could not be crafted. Despite this, the FHBA team was successful in convincing the Senate and key House members the importance of lowering the statute of repose and revising the definition of material violation to avoid the disastrous economic consequences of nuisance suits. The work on this issue will continue.
  • Tortoise Sanctuaries: Language in Senate Bill 494, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission package by Sen. Hutson, establishes a process for public lands to be used as tortoise sanctuaries. Opening more lands for use of sanctuaries should reduce the costs to relocate a tortoise.
  • Additional Personnel for 404 Permitting: The FHBA supported and lobbied for the Governor’s budget proposal to add an additional 23 FTE’s to the Department of Environmental Protection’s 404 Permitting Operations. Budget negotiations resulted in an additional 25 positions being funded. Special thanks to Chair Senator Albritton for holding the line on the needed positions and Chair Representative Tomkow for working the House the raise the bar.
  • Private Inspections of Septic Tanks: Representative Fetterhoff and Senator Brodeur successfully passed legislation allowing private inspections of septic tanks. This is a much-needed provision in areas where septic tank inspections can take up to six weeks for completion.
  • Code Timing: Although legislation requiring energy software to be available at least 3 months prior to the effective date of the building code and the fire code to be completed and least 3 months prior to its effective date was never considered, a major concession and future strategy resulted from the bill being filed. We have a commitment from the State Fire Marshal that the fire code will be finalized at least 3 months prior to its effective date. Additionally, policymakers expressed a concern over delaying the building code because energy software (a private -market product) was not available in a timely fashion, but expressed interest in exploring the delay of the specific Energy Code if such software was not timely available.
  • School Concurrency: Legislation by Representative McClain and Senator Perry passed specifying proportionate-share mitigation may be set aside and not spent if improvements have not been identified, a sort of “pay-as-you-go” provision to address school concurrency.

A couple other issues of interest:

  • Sadowski Funding: True to the commitment made last year, the Trust Fund was not “raided” as more than $300 million was appropriated for affordable housing. In addition to the traditional SHIP and SAIL Funds, the legislature provided down payment assistance for a program called “Home Town Heroes” for first responders, teachers, and certain health care professionals.
  • Association Standing to File Suite Over Excess Permit Fees: Homebuilder, FHBA Member and State Representative Blaise Ingoglia added a provision specifically granting legal standing to local and state associations to file a suit against a local government for exceeding the statutorily-authorized amount for excess permit fees to HB 423 by Representative Lamarca.
  • Tax Package: The Legislature gave final approval to HB 7071 during the extended session along with the vote on the state budget. The omnibus bill includes a two-year sales-tax free period, beginning July 1, 2022, for impact-resistant windows, doors and garage doors. The bill also includes a two-year timeframe for a sales-tax exemption for Energy Star appliances, commencing July 1, 2022. HB 7071 also creates a “Tool Time” sales-tax free holiday, September 3-9, 2022. Tools typically utilized by skilled-trades are exempt from the tax, including hand tools, power tools, power-tool batteries, work gloves, safety glasses, coveralls, work boots, tool belts, tool boxes, vehicle tool boxes, industry text books and code books, LED flashlights, shop lights, electrical testing and voltage equipment and handheld pipe cutters, drain-opening tools and plumbing inspection equipment. HB 7071 also includes a two-week “Back-to-School” sales-tax holiday, a two-week “Disaster-Preparedness” sales-tax holiday expanded to include pet supplies, and a “Freedom Week” holiday for outdoor recreational activities and supplies, concerts, attractions, museums, theatre tickets, and pool supplies.
  • Condominiums: Bills filed by Senator Bradley and Representative Perez attempted to include several recommendations from the Florida Bar RPPTL Condominium Law and Policy Life Safety Advisory Task Force, however disagreement on mandatory reserve studies and whether reserves could be waived by associations and developers resulted in the legislation’s demise. Both bills would have required milestone inspections for all multifamily residential buildings three-stories or more, with more frequent inspections for buildings within 3 miles of the coast.