Legislative Update for ASID Florida South Chapter – Update for March 19th 2021





Today marks the end of the 3rd week of the Florida Legislative Session. We have 6 more weeks to go until the scheduled end on Friday, April 30, 2021.

SB 344 “Legislative Review of Occupational Regulations” by Sen. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) was heard this week and approved by a 5-0 vote in the Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee. 

However, prior to passage, Sen. Diaz significantly amended his bill to remove all “health care-related professions and occupation” and “remove any provisions relating consequence to the repeal and converts the bill into a review and not a repeal or Sunset of any of the professions.”  SB 344 is now a review-only bill; it is no longer a Sunset bill.  The bill still must be heard in two 2 more committees to move forward.

The House version HB 471 “Legislative Review of Occupational Regulations” by Rep. Alex Rizo (R-Hialeah) remains a Sunset Review and would establish a schedule for the systematic review of occupational regulatory programs to determine whether the program should be allowed to expire, be fully renewed, or be renewed with modifications.  Per the bill, the statute that regulates registered interior designers – Chapter 481, Part I, F.S. - would be repealed on July 1, 2025, unless renewed by the Legislature. But the bill has not been heard in any of its four committees of reference so far.

A sunset review is a provision within a statute or regulation requiring the statute or regulation to expire or cease to be effective on a certain date unless the legislature takes action to renew the statute or regulation. A sunset review allows regulations to be periodically examined to determine if they are necessary or if the need to be changed, improved, or reduced.

HB 55 "Building Design" by Rep. Toby Overdorf (R-Stuart) prohibits local governments from adopting land development regulations that require specific building design elements for single- and two-family dwellings unless certain conditions are met. 

 The bill defines these "building design elements" to mean exterior color, type or style of exterior cladding, style or material of roof structures or porches, exterior nonstructural architectural ornamentation, location or architectural styling of windows or doors, location and orientation of the garage, and number, type, and layout of rooms.  Rep. Overdorf stated that this bill is needed to prevent local governments from placing costly design and aesthetic requirements on the building homes on single-lots outside of a development or a community redevelopment area.

 HB 55 was approved in its last committee of reference has now been placed on the House Calendar for consideration. 

The Senate version, SB 284 "Building Design" by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), was approved in its first committee hearing today by a 6-3 vote. Sen. Perry amended his bill to further exclude dwellings in Community Redevelopment Agencies, Planned Unit Developments, and Community Development Districts.  Democratic members are opposed to the bill over concerns that it preempts local regulations and requirements, so the bill remains a work in progress. The bill has two more committees of reference before it can move to the Senate Floor.

HB 403 "Home-based Businesses" by Rep. Mike Giallombardo (R-Cape Coral) provides that local governments may not enact or enforce any ordinance, regulation, or policy, or take any action to license or otherwise regulate a home-based business in a manner that is different from other businesses in a local government’s jurisdiction.  It lays-out the criteria to be considered a home-based business and that these home-based businesses will only be subject to any applicable business tax in the county or municipality where it is located. As an example, the bill sponsor has stated that there are some municipalities that may charge more for home-based business license (up to $500) in comparison to more traditional, brick-and mortar businesses.

The opponents of the bill are concerned that it would preempt local zoning requirements and was not specific enough to protect against unintended consequences, such as allowing vacation rentals (like Airbnb) which local governments have outlawed or placed restrictions on such rentals.  HB 403 was approved by its 2nd committee of reference, the House Commerce Committee, by a 14-8 vote along party lines.  HB 403 has been placed on the House Calendar for consideration. 

The Senate version SB 266 “Home-based Businesses” by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) was heard this week in the Senate Community Affairs Committee.  Sen. Perry amended the bill to further clarify that the home-based businesses may only have two non-resident employees or independent contractors and involve activities secondary to the property's use as a residential dwelling. The amendment also specifies that a home-based business must comply with all local regulations related to parking, hours of operation, and business activities conducted outside of the primary residential structure, and all relevant local, state, and federal regulations regarding the use, storage, or disposal of any corrosive, combustible, or other hazardous or flammable materials or liquids.

SB 266 was approved by a 6-3 vote along party lines with similar concerns as presented on the House bill. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Commerce & Tourism Committee on Monday, March 22, 2021.

HB 667 “Building Inspections” by Rep. James Mooney, Jr. (R-Key West) which requires local building enforcement agencies to allow requests for inspections to be submitted electronically. The accepted methods of electronic submission include e-mail, an electronic fill-in form available on the building department’s website or a third-party submission management software, or a form that can be downloaded on a mobile device.

HB 667 clarifies that any government entity with authority to enforce the Building Code may perform virtual inspections at the discretion of the government entity. However, a government entity may not perform a virtual inspection for structural inspections on threshold buildings. A “virtual inspection” is defined as an inspection that uses visual or electronic aids to allow a building official or inspector to perform an inspection without having to be physically present at the job site during the inspection.

Also, the bill provides that a local enforcement agency must refund 10 percent of the permit and inspection fees if:

  • the inspector or building official determines the work, which requires the permit, fails an inspection; and
  • the inspector or building official fails to provide a reason that is based on compliance with the Florida Building Code, the Florida Fire Prevention Code, or local ordinance, indicating why the work failed the inspection within 3 days.

HB 667 was approved unanimously (17-0) in its 1st committee hearing but has 2 more committees before it can advance for a vote by the full House. 

The Senate bill, SB 1382 “Building Inspections” by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), was approved by a 9-0 vote in its 1st committee this week but it has two more committees of references before it can move to the Senate Floor.

HB 735 “Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing” by Rep. Joe Harding (R-Ocala) expressly preempts the licensing of occupations to the state and supersedes any local government licensing of occupations. However, any licensing of occupations adopted prior to July 1, 2021, will continue to be effective until July 1, 2023, at which time it will expire. Any licensing of occupations authorized by general law is exempt from the preemption.

The bill specifically prohibits local governments from requiring a license for a person whose job scope does not substantially correspond to that of a contractor or journeyman licensed by the Construction Industry Licensing Board, and specifically precludes local governments from requiring a license for: painting, flooring, cabinetry, interior remodeling, handyman services, driveway or tennis court installation, decorative stone, tile, marble, granite, or terrazzo installation, plastering, stuccoing, caulking, canvas awning installation, and ornamental iron installation.

HB 735 also expressly authorizes counties and municipalities to issue journeyman licenses in the plumping, pipe fitting, mechanical and HVAC trades, as well as, the electrical and alarm system trades, which is the current practice by counties and municipalities. The licensing of these specific local journeyman is exempt from the preemption in the bill.

The bill was approved this week on a 19-5 vote by the House Commerce Committee and has now been placed on the House Calendar for consideration by the full House.  

The Senate companion – SB 268 “Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing” by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) – was approved by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee by a 7-1 vote this week.  It still has two more committees of reference before it can move to the Senate Floor.

A bill that may be of interest to many interior designers in purchasing and procuring building and design products is HB 15 “Sales and Use Tax” by Rep. Chuck Clemons (R-Gainesville) and SB 50 “Sales and Use Tax” by Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota).

The bill would require out-of-state retailers and marketplace providers with no physical presence in Florida to collect Florida’s sales tax on sales of taxable items delivered to purchasers in Florida if the out-of-state retailer or marketplace provider makes a substantial number of sales into Florida.

The legislation is projected to raise over $1 billion in revenue to the state and in an amendment added to the bill this week, all revenue generated under this legislation would be directed to Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund. This amendment is supported by the leaders of both chambers, Florida Speaker of House Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Spring Hill), as a revenue-neutral approach that would avoid an automatic trigger of an unemployment tax increase assessed on struggling Florida businesses.  With the amendment added to HB 15, the bill was approved by a 16-2 vote in the House Ways and Means Committee and has one more committee of reference before it will be heard by the full House.

The Senate version, SB 50 by Sen. Gruters, was scheduled to be heard by the full Senate this week but was Temporarily Postponed due to the fact the Sen. Gruters has been exposed to COVID-19 and is in quarantine. SB 50 will be heard upon Sen. Gruters’ return to the Capitol.

While the Senate President and House Speaker have agreed on this proposal and it will likely pass both the Senate and the House, it remains to be seen if Gov. Ron DeSantis will support it and sign it into law.  He has stated in the past that he does not support tax increases.

As background, 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair has opened the door for states to now collect sales tax on online sales.  Previously, a company needed a nexus or physical presence in a state for that state to be able to collect sales tax on online sales.  But the Supreme Court ruling in Wayfair struck down that standard and opened the door for Florida to consider this legislation.  Forty-one other states have already adopted similar measures.

Please let me know if you have any questions on these bills or any other legislation.

Respectfully submitted,

David J. Roberts

Nortelus Roberts Group

If any ASID FSC members have any questions, please contact Christian J. Alexander, Government Affairs Chair / Legislative Liaison @ cja@christianjalexander.com

Thank you!