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“Post-Session Highlights” from the 2014 Florida Legislative Session

Published: May 6th, 2014

By: John L. Wharton Peter M. Dunbar Martha J. Edenfield

Dean Mead’s Government Relations, Lobbying and Administrative Law industry team are pleased to provide a summary report of the highlights from the 2014 Florida Legislative Session.

May 6, 2014

Dean Mead is pleased to present this post-session report of legislation that may be of interest to your business. The bill numbers are shown below under these headings: Agriculture, Water, and Other. “SB” is the abbreviation for Senate Bill, and “HB” is the abbreviation for House Bill.  The full text of each bill can be found on the legislative web sites. (http://www.flsenate.gov; http://www.myfloridahouse.gov; and http://www.leg.state.fl.us).

The Legislature concluded its regularly scheduled Session on Friday, May 2, 2014. The Governor has not taken final action on any of the measures.

Agriculture

Agricultural Industry Certifications. CS/CS/CS/HB 487 by Representative Raburn requires DACS to annually provide information and industry certifications for farm occupations and adopt rules for implementing an industry certification process. CS/CS/CS/HB 487 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CS/HB 7091 by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee revises the powers and duties of DACS, and reorganizes Chapter 570. It also authorizes the property appraiser to grant an agricultural classification for land, and provides that lands participating in dispersed water storage programs can continue to be classified as agricultural lands for assessment purposes. CS/HB 7091 amends the requirements for registration and distribution of discontinued pesticides and pesticide applications. CS/HB 7091 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Farm Signs. CS/CS/CS/SB 218 by Senator Grimsley exempts farm operation signs from permitting which denote only the distance or direction of a farm operation and are erected at the State Highway System. This exemption applies only during the harvest seasons of a farm operation, not to exceed 4 months. CS/CS/CS/SB 218 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Water

Public Utilities Rates. CS/CS/CS/SB 272 by Senator Simpson requires the Public Service Commission to adjust public water or wastewater utilities rates, and consider the quality of water provided when fixing rates. The bill also provides for the conditions under which the certificate of authorization may be revoked by the Commission. CS/CS/CS/SB 272 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Reclaimed Water. CS/CS/SB 536 by Senator Simpson require DEP to study reclaimed water in cooperation with the stakeholders. CS/CS/SB 536 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Minimum Flows and Levels for Water Bodies. HB 7171 by the State Affairs Committee exempts the proposed rule 62-42.300 from legislative ratification which establishes minimum flows and levels for water bodies. HB 7171 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Ethics and Lobbying.  CS/CS/CS/SB 846 by Senator Latvala extends the lobbyist registration requirements to water management districts and expressway authorities. It also makes a variety of changes to the ethics and lobbying laws, including the requirement that authorities adopt a code of ethics policy.  CS/CS/CS/SB 846 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Other

Economic Development. CS/HB 7023 by the Economic, Development, and Tourism Subcommittee modifies the rural job tax credit. It also modifies several programs administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity and makes changes to Space Florida’s duties. It is intended to assist small business development and rural areas. CS/HB 7023 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Growth Management. SB 374 by Senator Detert revises the referendum process for local comprehensive plans and maps. SB 374 passed has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CS/HB 7147 by the Energy and Utilities Subcommittee revises DACS’ duties for renewable energy resources and energy conservation, including alternative fueling stations and electric vehicle charging stations. It also defines an “eligible issuer” who is authorized to issue Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds for qualified projects. It also provides that the Commissioner of Agriculture may appoint a member to serve on the Southern States Energy Board. CS/HB 7147 has passed the full legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Orlando-Orange County Expressway. CS/CS/SB 230 by Senator Simmons revises the duties of the Orlando-Orange County Express Authority and limits its authority to enter into a lease-purchase agreement. CS/CS/SB 230 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. 

Security of Personal Information. SB 1524 by Senator Thrasher creates the Florida Information Protection Act of 2014. The bill requires notice of a security breach in a computer system that contains personal information to be given to the Department of Legal Affairs and affected persons. SB 1524 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

Medical Marijuana. SB 1030 by Senator Bradley authorizes physicians to prescribe “low-THC cannabis” in a non-smoking form for cancer patients or patients suffering from a physical medical condition that involves seizures or severe spams. SB 1030 has passed the full Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

 

Dean Mead’s Governmental Relations, Lobbying & Administrative Team:

Peter Dunbar’s practice focuses on governmental, administrative, and real property law. He began his long career in Florida government in 1967 as staff director in the Florida House of Representatives. Mr. Dunbar later served for five terms as a distinguished member of the Florida House representing Pinellas and Pasco counties in the Florida Legislature. Upon leaving the Legislature, he held the posts of General Counsel and Director of Legislative Affairs under Governor Bob Martinez and as General Counsel at the Department of Financial Services. Mr. Dunbar served as Chief of Staff during the transition from the Martinez administration to the administration of Governor Lawton Chiles, and he is former Chairman and two-term member of the Florida Ethics Commission.

Mr. Dunbar was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1972. He is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, an adjunct professor at Florida State University College of Law, and has recently been selected by his peers as a member of Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite Hall of Fame.

Martha Edenfield focuses her practice on governmental affairs, environmental land use and administrative law. Now in her 30th year of private law practice in Tallahassee, she has gained a wide variety of experience representing clients before the Florida Legislature, the Governor, the Cabinet and state agencies. Ms. Edenfield utilizes her political leadership skills to advocate for her clients and coordinate a legislative team. Ms. Edenfield has extensive experience as legal and governmental counsel for agricultural trade groups, industrial associations, medical professionals and local governments.

John Wharton represents both public and private clients in cases from application creation to administrative litigation before state and federal agencies. He also practices general litigation in state and federal courts.

Mr. Wharton has over 25 years of experience in Tallahassee practicing before and often litigating against numerous state agencies in the areas of water resource planning; permitting and regulation; mitigation banking; health care; utility law and utility regulation; professional regulation and environmental law. Mr. Wharton has represented clients before the Florida Public Service Commission, the Division of Administrative Hearings, the Department of Environmental Protection, the St. John’s River Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the South Florida Water Management District, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Financial Services, various boards within the Department of Professional Regulation, the Department of Health, the Florida Department of Lottery, and the Governor and Cabinet sitting as the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, among others.

Ashley Gault’s practice focuses on Real Property and Administrative law. While completing law school, she served as a law clerk at the Florida Department of Financial Regulation and her former law firm, Pennington, P.A. As a member of the Florida State moot court team, Ms. Gault took first place in 2012 Kaufman Memorial Securities Competition in New York City. She has represented clients before the Florida Supreme Court and the district courts of appeal.