Look Back at 2018 Session

The 2018 Legislative Session proved to be a very disappointing one for our industry. With roughly 3,200 bills being filed and just about 200 bills passing, this session passed the fewest number of bills since 2002.

While we at ABC do not necessarily equate MORE legislation with a better regulatory environment, we also know that there was some very good policy left on the table that would have positively impacted our industry as a whole.

Here is a more comprehensive look at what did and didn't happen this session.

What Happened to Permit Reform

As you'll recall, ABC of Florida had three top Legislative Priority Bills this session:
• Permit Fee Transparency (HB 725/SB 1144)
• Owner-Direct Purchase Reform (HB 715/SB 1108
• Workforce Task Force Legislation (HB 1251/SB 1642)

With about three weeks left of session, it became clear that the ABC Permit Bill was most likely to pass out of both chambers and be signed into law. On February 14th, our bill (House Bill 725/Williamson), passed out of the House with unanimous support. On February 27th, and with ten days left in session, our Senate companion passed with unanimous support out of our final committee reference in the Senate. The bill was ready to be taken up on the calendar for final consideration, debate, and passage.

Unfortunately, and after exerting every effort and every possible legislative maneuver we had available to us, the bill was not heard on the Senate floor.

We want to thank our House Sponsor - Rep. Williamson for passing this bill in the House. We want to thank Senator Perry for doing everything he could to pass the Senate companion measure.

Other Industry Legislation

While ABC of Florida had three bills of priority this session, we also tracked hundreds and engaged on those bills that impacted our industry. Here is some information that would have impacted our industry:

Impact Fees (HB 697/SB 324) - this legislation would have tried to positively address where, when, how and why impact fees could be assessed and collected. Local officials don't often realize that impact fees ultimately impact the end user, thereby increasing the overall cost of the product to the taxpayer. This legislative effort by the Home Builders was a positive effort that we supported. This bill did NOT pass.

Construction Bond Bill (SB 908/HB 723) - this legislation would have amended the steps required before a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier could issue a notice of nonpayment. ABC objected to this legislation due to its contents. It appeared unnecessarily burdensome on smaller contractors and subcontractors. It extended the period of non-payment that must be experienced before a notice of non-payment could be issued. It required new and substantial back-up that must be due at the time the notice is filed or penalties would be imposed on the company filing the notice. While we understand and support efforts to streamline and clarifying certain industry processes, we raise objections when it might benefit one aspect of our industry over all others. We objected to this effort. This bill did NOT pass.

Construction Defect Legislation (House Bill 759/SB 680) - this legislative effort was aimed at addressing a cottage industry of attorneys who have become successful in helping parties circumvent and manipulate the Chapter 558 Notice to Owner/Opportunity to Defend/Cure process. We agree with the premise that Chapter 558 can and should be improved. We had concerns with this language because it attempted to clean up a muddled process by adding layers and layers of new regulations and requirements to the process. Chapter 558 is intended to allow the owner of a property and their contractor the opportunity to identify an issue and provide an opportunity to fix the problem without automatically going to court. The proposed legislation would have made the 558 process more difficult to manage than it already is. We objected to this effort. This bill did NOT pass.

Florida Building Commission (House Bill 299) - this legislative effort would have reduced the overall number of seats on the commission. It would have also eliminated certain sub-trades from holding a seat and at times, and in various drafts, added seats for residential contractors over all else. While we agree with the premise that the Commission can be streamlined and restructured, again, we objected to efforts to benefit one aspect of the industry over all others without the ability to explain the benefits in doing so. We objected to this effort. This bill did NOT pass.

Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Programs (HB 711/SB 1388) - this legislation would have created a new statewide task force on apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship, would have requested a study on how we can expand the programs in Florida and would have provided certain levels of funding to support the effort.

ABC is the largest single provider of Apprenticeship training in the state. We applaud any discussion of how Florida can expand our efforts in these areas whether the apprenticeship be in construction or other industries.

We objected to this legislation in its current form because we believe the state hasn't finished addressing the Construction Workforce Task Force and their recommendations from a few years ago - many of which seem to be reflected in this legislation. We believe that the Department of Education and the Department of Economic Opportunity should be given until their July 1 deadline to report back on our Task Force recommendations before the legislature give them funding or time to consider how to assist in other areas. We haven't yet seen a complete willingness to support the recommendations for our industry. We objected to this effort in its current format. This bill did NOT pass.

For more information contact:
Carol Bowen at cbowen@abceastflorida.com or call 954-465-6811