FRSA Legislative Report- Other Issues
Design Professionals – After two or more years of trying, this legislation (CS/SB 286 by Joe Negron, R-Palm City) has passed the legislature, and the effort to have Governor Scott veto the bill (just as Governor Crist did a few years back) is underway. This legislation exempts architects, interior designers, landscape architects, engineers, and geologists from individual liability for damages from negligence within the course and scope of a professional services contract under certain circumstances. It does not exempt such business entities – only the individual licensees. The primary opponents of this legislation were general contractors, trial lawyers, and property owners.
Jessica Lunsford – This bill is almost passed the Legislature. HB 21 by Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) has passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate, possibly this week. The legislation requires the Department of Education to set a uniform cost and create a uniform, statewide identification badge signifying that a contractor has met the requirements of this law, and it requires a school district to issue a photograph ID badge (valid for 5 years) if the contractor is:
- Is a US citizen and resident or a permanent resident alien
- Is 18 years or older
- Meets the background screening requirements
Property Insurance – We are fighting a late session effort by some (not all) property insurers to disallow assignment of rights or benefits for property insurance claims. The claim is that contractors do more work than is necessary before the insurance company has an opportunity to inspect the damage. Probably one of the real (but unstated) reasons is that contractors are better equipped to fight the insurance company on a low-ball offer than the typical consumer. There are a lot of property insurance bills filed, but the two that include language related to this issue are CS/CS/HB 909 by John Wood (R-Winter Haven) and SB 1770 engrossed by Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. What we can accomplish on this issue is uncertain. We may be able to require an insurer to include a contractor as a payee on any check, but our goal would be to stop a prohibition on assignment of rights or benefits.
Energy – Property Assessments – Consistent with a constitutional amendment in 2008, there is an effort to implement the limitation on increases in property value assessments for improvements related to wind damage resistance and renewable energy source devices. The bill, CS/CS/HB 277 by Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee), has been modified to exclude wind damage resistance improvements (because without that, the bill would not progress). It appears this has to do with reducing the loss of tax revenue for local governments (never mind that a constitutional amendment calls for it). The bill has passed the House. The Senate version, SB 1064 by Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) has progressed enough that passage of the House bill by the Senate is possible and maybe likely.
Repeal of Ethanol Requirement – It looks like this may pass this session. HB 4001 by Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar) has passed the House, and the Senate version, SB 320 engrossed by Greg Evers (R-Pensacola), is on the Senate floor.
(From FRSA Legislative Report prepared by FRSA Lobbyist Cam Fentriss)
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
1211 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602