Florida Building Code – A mildly interesting wild ride this session has been the annual building codes bill. As usual, it was intended to be for non-controversial codes/construction changes. Because of that, we could not get traction for our effort to pull back on the ICC takeover of Florida.
The starting point was HB 1245 by Daniel Davis (R-Jacksonville) and SB 1252 by Wilton Simpson (R-New Port Richey). Of interest to us, the bills contain the following changes:
- Increases the maximum civil penalty a local government may impose against an unlicensed contractor from $500 to $2,000
- Increases the per day civil penalty that may be imposed by a local enforcement or licensing board (or designated special magistrate) from $1,000 to $1,500
- Allows local building departments to keep 75% of fines imposed against licensed contractors (registered or state-certified)
- Eliminates the monopoly on things energy held by Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)
All was moving as expected until a lobbyist representing the masonry industry bullied his way onto the bill with language to create a “masonry council” (more like an effort to impose an assessment for marketing purposes). The measure, that includes creating a corporation by statute, may allow the industry to do things not otherwise acceptable or legal. This caused the bill to be sent back to the first committee of reference and the timing of that delay was enough to put the whole bill at risk.
To avoid the risk, the substance of the building codes bill (including the masonry language) was moved to another bill (SB 1080 relating to green building and lumber), but that bill then stalledThe next hop was to yet another bill (SB 156 relating to pool servicing contractors), but this time, the masonry language was excluded (finally, someone got the message that the bill will not pass with that in it). This is where things stand right now, but the pool provisions in SB 156 are questionable, so there will be another effort to move the building codes language to some other bill (which one is not yet known). It may be possible to have the Senate take up HB 1245 (if it passes the House – it is now CS/CS/CS HB 1245 and has passed all its committees and can be placed on the House calendar for passage) and abandon any Senate bill.
Most of the ride has been more interesting for legislative process junkies than anyone else, but it is a good example of what happens to a bill like this when controversial topics are added along the way. (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