Legislation

Each year during the annual session of the Florida Legislature, FACERS assists FAC staff in reviewing proposed legislation that affects the public works programs.

2020 Legislative Session

During the 2020 Session of the Florida Legislature, FACERS reviewed and provided recommendations for several bills that pertained to local agency public works organizations and operations. The following summary is an excerpt from a complete review of the session prepared by the Florida Association of Counties. It is available here. The complete text of these bills and final disposition of all bills can be found here.

Local Government Construction Bill Passes

Stance: Not Supported by FACERS
HB 279 (Local Government Public Construction Works) by Representative David Smith was considered on the House Floor. The bill was amended to make technical changes and removed a requirement that the report be submitted to the Auditor General and instead allows the report be made available to the Auditor General. The bill passed 114 - 1. A companion legislation, SB 504 (Local Government Public Construction Works) by Senator Perry, was substituted on the Senate Floor for HB 279. The bill passed 36 - 1 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.

Continuing Contracts Legislation Passes

Stance: Supported by FACERS
SB 506 (Public Procurement of Services) by Senator Perry was substituted on the Senate Floor for HB 441 (Public Procurement of Services) by Representative DiCeglie. The bill revises the maximum dollar amount for continuing contracts for construction projects under the Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act (CCNA) from $2 million to $4 million, while study activity is raised from $200,000 to $500,000. The bill passed 40 - 0 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.

Occupational Deregulation Sunset Legislation Passes House, Fails this Session

Stance: FACERS objected to sunset of licenses for engineers and surveyors.
HB 707 (Legislative Review of Occupational Regulations) by Representative Renner passed the House but stalled in Senate committee. The bill establishes a schedule for systematic review of the costs and benefits of occupational regulatory programs to determine whether to allow the program to expire, renew without modifications, renew with modifications, or provide for other appropriate actions. Any occupational regulatory program that expires through scheduled repeal may not be subsequently regulated by a local government. The regulation of any occupation repealed by this act is preempted to the state unless local regulation of such occupation is expressly authorized by law and provides for a schedule of repeal for occupational regulatory programs. A companion legislation, SB 1124 (Legislative Review of Occupational Regulations) by Senator Diaz, stalled with two committee stops remaining.

Mid-Block Crosswalk Replacement Fails

Stance: Not Supported by FACERS
HB 1371 (Traffic and Pedestrian Safety) by Representative Fine was considered on the House Floor. The bill:
  • Allows yellow rectangular rapid flash beacons (RRFBs) to be used on a road if there are no more than two lanes and a speed limit of 35 mph or less.
  • Yellow RRFBs must be removed by 10/1/24 and can be retrofitted with legally acceptable equipment
  • FDOT must submit a request by 10/1/20 to the Federal government to allow yellow RRFBs to be replaced by red RRFBs. If approved, all yellow RRFBs must be replaced with red RRFBs within 12 months of federal authorization
  • Requires a pedestrian-facing sign containing language stating duties applicable to the pedestrian at each crosswalk.

Growth Management Bill Passes without 2/3rds Threshold

Stance: FACERS objected to the provision requiring all permits to be processed in the same timetable as communications service providers.
HB 203 (Growth Management) by Representative McClain was substituted for SB 410 (Growth Management) by Senator Perry and considered on the House and Senate Floors. The bill requires local governments to include a private property rights component in its comprehensive plan. The bill also requires that preference for technical assistance funding be given to counties with populations less than 200,000 when determining whether they have appropriate land uses and natural resource protections in relation to a multi-use corridor interchange. The bill was amended to additionally:
  • Require all municipal comprehensive plans “effective,” as opposed to “adopted,” after 1/1/19, to incorporate development orders existing before the plan’s effective date.
  • Provide that in a county with a population of less than 750,000, a county charter provision or comprehensive plan goal, objective, or policy adopted after 1/1/20, may not impose a limitation on lands within a municipality unless the municipality, by referendum or local ordinance, adopts and imposes the provision, goal, objective, or policy.
  • Require counties and cities to process utility permit applications for the use of the public ROW within the timeframes currently applicable to permit applications submitted by communications services providers.
  • Allow a DRI agreement previously classified as or officially determined to be essentially built out, and entered into on or before 4/6/18, to be amended to authorize the developer to exchange approved land uses.
  • The bill was also amended on the floor to include a provision: Except as otherwise provided in s.171.205, a municipality may not annex an area within another municipal jurisdiction without the other municipality’s consent
The bill passed 71 - 43 on the House Floor and passed the Senate 23 -16 failing to meet the 2/3rds threshold for legislation that has an unfunded state mandate. The bill now heads to the Governor for signature or veto.

FACERS Priority - Indexing Local Gas Taxes

For the 2020 Legislative Session, FACERS had recommended legislation to index local gas taxes to the Consumer Price Index in the same way state gas taxes are determined. No bill was filed during the 2020 session to accomplish this. This is an issue FACERS may recommend again for a future legislative session.

Issue Summary

Motor fuel tax revenues and buying power are constantly eroding as the costs of road construction and maintenance increases and vehicles become more fuel efficient. The statutes allow the State’s motor fuel tax rate to rise with increases in the cost of goods and services, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Local rates have not been similarly indexed and, thus, local revenues are not keeping pace with the transportation costs and needs.

Background

The motor fuel taxes are the principle source of funding for the construction, maintenance, and operation for most of Florida’s local agencies. The costs of transportation system construction and operation are linked to the costs of goods and services, which continues to rise. As the costs of goods and services – measured by the Consumer Price Index- continue to rise, the buying power from there revenue generated from motor fuel taxes will continue to decrease. Sec. 206.41(f) and (g) allows for the State Comprehensive Enhanced Transportation System Tax and “fuel sales tax” to be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. These taxes are state-levied. The fuel taxes authorized to be levied by counties, (contained in Sec. 206.41(1)(a)-(f) and Sec. 206.60) are not indexed.

Analysis

Since 1997, when State’s Highway Fuel Sales Tax has been indexed, the CPI has risen 54%. The State’s fuel tax, which was 6.9 cents/gallon has since risen to 20.8 cents/gallon in 2017. The local tax rate has been fixed since at least 2007. Though some costs were reduced during the great recession due to decreased demand for building materials, the long-term trend will continue to be increased costs and, thus, decreased value.
Florida’s local governments play an integral role in funding Florida’s local, regional, and state transportation system and that system will see increasing deterioration if this vital funding source is not reinforced.

In aligning the state and counties with the same indexing system, it would allow counties to strategically fund projects from revenue generated within their county thus allowing for a more targeted control of maintenance, development, and investment. According to the FDOT website, “The department (FDOT) received about $690 million additional revenue in fiscal year 2015-16 when compared to what collections would have been without fuel tax indexing.” If aligned, counties would likewise see a funding increase.

Fiscal Impact:

Figure 2. from FDOT’s 2017 version of Florida’s Transportation Tax Sources: A Primer shows the relative increase in historical fuel taxes by levying entity and shows the rate at which the rate would have increased.

Resources:

FACERS encourages members to brief their commissioners and delegations regarding this legislative priority. The following resources are available for distribution as education material:

County by County Data from the Florida Department of Revenue

2019 Legislative Session

Click here to view FDOT's summary of legislation from the 2019 session that pertains to transportation. Legislation affecting other local public works functions may not be included here.