HB503 and SB1986: More New 2012 Florida Legislation That Impacts Florida Real Estate Developers and Investors

by Rosa Eckstein Schechter


The Florida Legislature was very busy this month, getting legislation passed and over to Governor Rick Scott's desk before the end of the 2012 Legislative Session this month.  Lots of people are still combing through all the things that the Florida Legislature undertook in 2012; here are two new laws that are of interest to Florida real estate developers and investors.  Both will be effective July 1, 2012, unless Governor Scott blocks them.

1.  HB503 (read the full text of HB503 here)

From its summary, the Florida Legislature provides the following description of this new law:

  • Prohibits a county or a municipality from conditioning the processing for a development permit on an applicant obtaining a permit or approval from any other state or federal agency;
  • Authorizes the DEP to issue a coastal construction permit before an applicant receives an incidental take authorization;
  • Expands eligibility for those entities entitled to reduced or waived permit processing fees;
  • Expands the use of Internet-based self-certification services and general permits;
  • Exempts previously authorized underground injection wells from ch. 373, part III, F.S., except for Class V, Group 1 wells;
  • Reduces the time for agency action or proposed action on a permit from 90 to 60 days;
  • Provides for an expanded state programmatic general permit;
  • Raises the qualifying low-scored site initiative priority ranking score from 10 to 29, and exempts certain expenditures from counting against the program;
  • Revises qualifications for fiscal assistance for innocent victim petroleum storage system restoration;
  • Provides expedited permitting for intermodal logistic centers (inland ports);
  • Authorizes zones of discharges existing installations, with certain limitations;
  • Revises requirements for permit revocation;
  • Revises the definition for “financially disadvantaged small community”;
  • Revises the definition of industrial sludge;
  • Specifies recycling credits available for counties that operate waste-to-energy facilities;
  • Revises provisions related to solid waste disposal and management;
  • Provides for a general permit for small surface water management systems;
  • Expands the definition for “transient noncommunity water systems” to include religious institutions;
  • Clarifies creation of regional permit action teams for certain businesses;
  • Allows for sale of unblended fuels for specified applications, and specifies that alternative fuels other than ethanol may be used as blending fuels for blending gasoline; and
  • Prohibits the collection of permit renewal fees for those permits that were automatically extended by Chapter 2011-139, ss. 73 and 79, L.O.F.

What is happening here?

With HB503 the Florida Legislature has done some housekeeping in the way that environmental permits are given here in the State of Florida.   HB503 changes the environmental permitting process in several ways - one which may get more and more chatter involves nixing the ability of local governments to make a development permit dependent upon another state permit.   Another change: HB503 also gives more time to those seeking environmental resource permits.

2.  SB1986 (read the full text of SB1986 here)

From its summary, the Florida Legislature provides the following description of this new law:

  • Authorizes the Legislature to set the maximum millage rate for each district.
  • Removes a provision requiring that the maximum property tax revenue for water management districts revert to the amount authorized for the prior year if the Legislature does not set the amount.
  • Removes the maximum revenue limitation for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
  • Creates s. 373.535, F.S., to require each water management district to submit a preliminary budget by January 15 for legislative review, requires the preliminary budget to include certain information, and authorizes the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to submit comments regarding the preliminary budget to the district by March 1. Requires each district to respond to the comments no later than March 15.
  • Provides for the preliminary budget reviewed by the Legislature to be the basis for developing each district’s tentative budget for the next fiscal year.
  • Provides criteria for the Legislative Budget Commission (LBC) to use in approving the tentative budget of a district and authorizes the LBC to reject certain district budget proposals.
  • Requires a district to submit for review a description of any significant changes made from the preliminary budget to the tentative budget.
  • Requires that a five-year water resource development work program describe the district’s implementation strategy and funding plan for water resource, water supply, and alternative water supply development components of each approved regional water supply plan.
  • Authorizes the governing board of a water management district to provide group insurance for its employees and the employees of another water management district.
  • Allows each water management district to own, acquire, develop, construct, operate, and manage a public information system, and exempts local government review or approval of such public information system.
  • Revises the definitions of the terms “regularly established position” and “temporary position” for purposes of district positions within the state retirement system, effective October 1, 2012.

What's happening here?

With SB1986, the Florida Legislature erased caps that were in place for funding Florida Water Management Districts - which is a good thing, considering that the statehouse had passed legislation in 2011 that took away over $200 million in funding for WMDs.

Assuming that July 2012 sees SB 1986 becomes effective law here in Florida, developers will see revenue caps lifted and districts will decide their funding levels (though there will be state legislative review).



DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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