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2018 Florida Legislative Session

Agriculture Issues for 2018

The 2018 Regular Legislative Session is complete.

The full text of each bill and any amendments can be found on the legislative web sites. (http://www.flsenate.gov; http://www.myfloridahouse.com; and http://www.leg.state.fl.us.) Updates from the previous report appear in bold text.

Water and Natural Resources

C-51 Reservoir Project: HB 1149 by Representative Payne and Senator Book revises requirements related to the operation of water storage and use for Phase I and Phase II of the C-51 reservoir project if state funds are appropriated. The bill also authorizes the South Florida Water Management District to enter into capacity allocation agreements and to request a waiver for repayment of certain loans and authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to waive such loan repayment under certain conditions. HB 1149 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Reclaimed Water Use: HB 1149 by Representative Payne and Senator Perry expands the mandates for the rule to be developed by DEP for the use of reclaimed water. The legislation will also require DEP to enter memorandums of understanding with Water Management Districts by December 1, 2018 to provide for the coordinated review of reclaimed water permits. HB 1149 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Section 404 Delegation: SB 7043 by Representative Raschein and Senator Simmons seeks legislative approval for the Department of Environmental Protection to assume administration of section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  There will continue to be a separate permit issued, and the assumed permitting will follow all current federal rules, including wetlands jurisdiction, exemptions, etc.  It will not follow state time lines, there will be no default permits and applicants will continue to receive consultation from the USFWS for endangered species.  HB 7043 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Constitution Revision Commission

The CRC continues to meet. Any proposal must receive a vote of support by at least 22 of the 37 Commissioners to make it onto the ballot.  Final decisions of the Commission will be made by May 10, 2018.  Proposals and schedules of the CRC can be viewed here: https://www.flcrc.gov/

Proposal 23 establishes a broad constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment for every person. It also creates a private right of action to allow a citizen to enforce the constitutional rights created. It has been introduced by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, an appointee of Senate President Negron, and has been referred to two committees. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Proposal 29 mandates the use of the federal E-Verify system by employers. The proposition is in response to the agriculture industry’s prior successful efforts to prevent legislative adoption of the same requirement. It has passed all committees and is pending a vote by the full Commission.

Proposal 48 would expand the authority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to regulate wildlife habitats and wildlife corridors. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Agricultural Operations

Nonnative Animals: SB 168 by Senator Steube and Representative Beshears requires the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to establish a pilot program to mitigate the impacts of priority invasive species by authorizing FWC to enter into competitively bid contracts with individuals and entities to capture and destroy the priority invasive species found on public lands and public waters. SB 168 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Theft: HB 491 by Representative Roth and Senator Grimsley extends the mandatory $10,000 fine to theft of commercially farmed animals to bee colonies. HB 491 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS): SB 740 by Senator Stargel and Representative Raburn is the annual DACS package, which contains various changes within the Department’s jurisdiction. The bill’s highlights include the removal of a requirement that payment for pesticide registration fees be submitted electronically and a specified methodology for the value assessment of screen enclosed structures used in citrus production for pest exclusion. It also includes a provision to relax weight load requirements for agricultural products in an emergency. SB 740 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Young Farmers and Ranchers: SB 872 by Senator Grimsley and Representative Raburn creates the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Advisory Council within the department; requiring the department to establish a clearinghouse on its website for resources to assist young and beginning farmers and ranchers. SB 872 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Medical Marijuana:  HB 6049 by Representatives Jones and Newton and Senator Rouson eliminates the requirement that one of the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses be issued to a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. The bill retains the existing requirement that one of the licenses be issued to a recognized class member of Pigford v. Glickman or In Re Black Farmers Litigation. It also creates an easier mechanism than what is available under current law for a medical marijuana patient to change doctors. HB 6049 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Property Rights, Budget, and Taxes

Tax Package: The tax package, HB 7087, includes several measures relevant to the agriculture industry, as explained in detail below:

Sales and Use Tax

  • Temporary Refund for Nonresidential Farm Buildings – House Bill 7087; Effective upon becoming law and retroactive to September 10, 2017 
    • Creates a temporary refund for building materials used in the repair of nonresidential farm buildings damaged as a result of Hurricane Irma. The refund applies to materials purchased between September 10, 2017 and May 31, 2018. The refund application and a signed affidavit must be submitted by December 21, 2018.
  • Temporary Refund for Agricultural Fencing – House Bill 7087; Effective upon becoming law and retroactive to September 10, 2017 
    • Creates a temporary refund for materials used in the repair of farm fences damaged as a result of Hurricane Irma. The refund applies to materials purchased between September 10, 2017 and May 31, 2018. The refund application and a signed affidavit must be submitted by December 21, 2018.
  • Aquaculture Exemptions – House Bill 7087; Effective July 1, 2018
  • Expands various agricultural exemptions to clearly include aquaculture activities including exemptions for liquefied petroleum gas to be used in tractors or farm equipment, electricity used in the raising of aquaculture products, and machinery and equipment used in aquaculture activities.

Ad Valorem Tax

  • Citrus Processing – House Bill 7087; Applies to the 2018 tax roll 
    • Tangible personal property owned and operated by citrus fruit packaging or processing facility will be valued no greater than its salvage value if the property is no longer used in the operation of the facility due to the effects of Hurricane Irma or to citrus greening. The State will offset any reductions in revenues to fiscally constrained counties.
  • Agricultural Classification Extension – House Bill 7087; Applies to the 2018 through 2022 tax rolls
  • Lands classified as agricultural, which are not currently being used for agricultural production due to a 2017 hurricane, will continue to be classified as agricultural lands through December 31, 2022, unless the lands are converted to a nonagricultural use.

Documentary Stamp Taxes

  • Exemptions for Certain Loans – House Bill 7087; Effective July 1, 2018
  • Creates exemptions for loans made under the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program and the Agricultural Economic Development Program

Motor Fuel Tax

  • Temporary Refunds for Agricultural Transportation – House Bill 7087; Effective upon becoming law and operating retroactively to September 10, 2017

Creates a partial refund for fuel purchased from September 10, 2017 through June 30, 2018, which was used for agricultural shipments to an agricultural processing or storage facility.  

Miscellaneous

  • Agricultural Truck Tractors License Plate Fees – House Bill 7087; Effective July 1, 2018

Expanding the current 150-mile radius for tractor trailers used for forestry, agriculture, or horticulture products to also allow statewide travel.

HB 7087 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Budget: The total Environment and Natural Resources budget came out to a total of around $4 billion. The final budget includes over $7 million in funding for the Citrus Health Response Program. Florida Forever is funded at $100 million, which includes $25 million for springs restoration and over $24 million for water projects. Rural and Family Lands is funded at $5.8 million.

Water Management District Surplus Lands: HB 703 by Representative Burgess and Senator Baxley revises the circumstances when a water management district must publish its intention to sell surplus lands and revises the process for selling certain lower valued surplus lands. HB 703 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.)

Other Legislation of Interest

Daylight Saving Time: HB 1013 by Representatives Nunez and Fitzenhagen and Senator Steube provides that it is the intent of the Legislature to adopt daylight saving time as the year-round standard time in Florida contingent on an act of Congress to allow the change. The bill is on Third Reading. HB 1013 has passed the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor. (Chapter 2018-___, Laws of Florida.) 

Bills That Did Not Pass

Federal Immigration Enforcement: HB 9 by Representative Metz creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The bill passed the full House and was in Senate messages. The Senate companion, SB 308 by Senator Bean was scheduled for its first of two committees but was temporarily postponed and never taken up again.

Agency Rulemaking: CS/CS/HB 83 makes a number of changes to the agency rulemaking process. It has been amended to remove a problematic provision establishing that in a challenge to repeal an agency rule, the repeal would be considered presumptively correct by the adjudicating body. The bill has passed the full House was in Senate messages. The Senate companion, SB 912 Senator Broxson passed one of three committees.

Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC): HB 203 by Representative Willhite changes how the Governor may fill vacancies on the ERC and changes the voting requirements for certain standards approved, modified, or disapproved by the ERC. The bill passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 316 by Senator Stewart passed two of three committees.

“Fracking” Regulation: HB 237 by Representative Peters creates an outright ban to any well stimulation treatment for the exploration or production of oil or natural gas, basically banning “fracking” in any form. The Senate companion, SB 462 by Senator Young passed two of three committees.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: HB 339 by Representative Harrell requires that minimum of the lesser of either 7.6 percent or $50 million must be appropriated annually each fiscal year for projects dedicated to the conservation and management of the Indian River Lagoon. The Department of Environmental Protection is required to use the funds to make grants for projects that implement the updated Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, including multiyear grants for the planning and construction of such projects. The bill was been referred to three committees. The Senate companion, SB 786 by Senator Mayfield also had three committees.

Public Records Exemption for Trade Secrets: HB 461 and HB 459 are related bills by Representative Massullo that repeal all of the various trade secret exemptions that apply to specific agencies and replace them with one uniform exemption.  The bills provide that agency contracts and agreements and related information cannot be trade secrets. The bills also detail a process for the owner of trade secret information to claim an exemption from disclosure as a public record and remove liability provisions for agency employees who release such records in good faith. The bills have the effect of significantly limiting protections for trade secrets related to agency contracts from disclosure as public records. The bills passed the full House. The Senate companions, SB 956 and 958 by Representative Mayfield had three committee references.

Tree and Timber Trimming, Removal, and Harvesting: HB 521 by Representative Edwards preempts to state the regulation of trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and timber on private property. The bill also prohibits certain local governmental actions relating to trimming or removal of trees or timber and burial of vegetative debris on private property. It passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 574 by Senator Steube passed its first of three committees.

Ad Valorem Taxation: SB 916 by Senator Grimsley defines the terms “heavy equipment rental property,” “dealer of heavy equipment rental property,” and “short-term rental,” and redefines the term “inventory,” for purposes of provisions relating to the imposition of ad valorem taxes. The bill had three committees. The House companion, HB 1271 by Representative Ahern had two committee references.

Water Supply Planning: SB 1506 by Senator Farmer will require each water management district to develop estimated maximum sustainable groundwater withdrawal calculations; it will require other water management districts to implement the consumptive use permitting procedures used by SWFWMD; it will increase procedures to eliminate pollutants; and will require full implementation of BMPs in agricultural areas. The bill had three committee references, but there was no House companion bill.

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The seventh week of the 2018 Regular Legislative Session is complete.

The full text of each bill and any amendments can be found on the legislative web sites. (http://www.flsenate.gov; http://www.myfloridahouse.com; and http://www.leg.state.fl.us.) Updates from the previous report appear in bold text.

Water and Natural Resources

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: CS/SB 204 by Senator Bradley increases the annual appropriation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) for spring restoration, protection, and management projects from $50 million to $75 million. Additionally, the bill requires $50 million to be appropriated from the LATF to the St. Johns River Water Management District for projects dedicated to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region. It has passed the full Senate and is in House messages. There is currently no House companion.

“Fracking” Regulation: HB 237 by Representative Peters creates an outright ban to any well stimulation treatment for the exploration or production of oil or natural gas, basically banning “fracking” in any form. It has three committee references. The Senate companion, SB 462 by Senator Young has passed two of three committees.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: HB 339 by Representative Harrell requires that minimum of the lesser of either 7.6 percent or $50 million must be appropriated annually each fiscal year for projects dedicated to the conservation and management of the Indian River Lagoon. The Department of Environmental Protection is required to use the funds to make grants for projects that implement the updated Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, including multiyear grants for the planning and construction of such projects. The bill has been referred to three committees. The Senate companion, SB 786 by Senator Mayfield also has three committees.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: SB 370 by Senator Bradley requires an annual appropriation to the Florida Forever Trust Fund of $100,000,000. It has passed the full Senate and is in House messages. The House companion, HB 1353 by Representatives Beshears and Ausley has three committee references. It is also related to HB 7063 by the Government Accountability Committee and has passed all committees.

C-51 Reservoir Project: SB 992 by Senator Book revises requirements related to the operation of water storage and use for Phase I and Phase II of the C-51 reservoir project if state funds are appropriated. The bill also authorizes the South Florida Water Management District to enter into capacity allocation agreements and to request a waiver for repayment of certain loans and authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to waive such loan repayment under certain conditions. It has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 7063 by the Government Accountability Committee has passed all committees.

Reclaimed Water Use: HB 1149 by Representative Payne expands the mandates for the rule to be developed by DEP for the use of reclaimed water; and the legislation will require DEP to enter memorandums of understanding with Water Management Districts by December 1, 2018 to provide for the coordinated review of reclaimed water permits. HB 1149 has passed all committees. The Senate companion, SB 1308 by Senator Perry has also passed all committees.

Section 404 Delegation: SB 1402 by Senator Simmons seeks legislative approval for the Department of Environmental Protection to assume administration of section 404 of the Clean Water Act. There will continue to be a separate permit issued, and the assumed permitting will follow all current federal rules, including wetlands jurisdiction, exemptions, etc. It will not follow state time lines, there will be no default permits and applicants will continue to receive consultation from the USFWS for endangered species. The bill has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar. The House companion, HB 7043 is a committee bill by the Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee. It has passed the full House.

Water Supply Planning: SB 1506 by Senator Farmer will require each water management district to develop estimated maximum sustainable groundwater withdrawal calculations; it will require other water management districts to implement the consumptive use permitting procedures used by SWFWMD; it will increase procedures to eliminate pollutants; and will require full implementation of BMPs in agricultural areas. The bill has three committee references, but there is currently no House companion bill.

Constitution Review Commission

The CRC has continues to meet. Any proposal must receive a vote of support by at least 22 of the 37 Commissioners to make it onto the ballot. Final decisions of the Commission will be made by May 10, 2018. Proposals and schedules of the CRC can be viewed here: https://www.flcrc.gov/

Proposal 23 establishes a broad constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment for every person. It also creates a private right of action to allow a citizen to enforce the constitutional rights created. It has been introduced by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, an appointee of Senate President Negron, and has been referred to two committees. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Proposal 29 mandates the use of the federal E-Verify system by employers. The proposition is in response to the agriculture industry’s prior successful efforts to prevent legislative adoption of the same requirement. It has passed all committees and is pending a vote by the full Commission.

Proposal 48 would expand the authority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to regulate wildlife habitats and wildlife corridors. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Agricultural Operations

Nonnative Animals: HB 145 by Representative Beshears requires the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to establish a pilot program to mitigate the impacts of priority invasive species by authorizing FWC to enter into competitively bid contracts with individuals and entities to capture and destroy the priority invasive species found on public lands and public waters. The bill has passed two of three committees and was temporarily postponed in its final committee. The Senate companion, SB 168 by Senator Steube has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS): CS/HB 553 by Representative Raburn is the annual DACS package, which contains various changes within the Department’s jurisdiction. The bill’s highlights include the removal of a requirement that payment for pesticide registration fees be submitted electronically and a specified methodology for the value assessment of screen enclosed structures used in citrus production for pest exclusion. The bill has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar. The Senate companion, CS/SB 740 by Senator Stargel has passed all committees. CS/SB 740 was amended in committee this week to include a provision to relax weight load requirements for agricultural products in an emergency.

Young Farmers and Ranchers: HB 645 by Representative Raburn creates the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Youn Farmer and Rancher Advisory Council within the department; requiring the department to establish a clearinghouse on its website for resources to assist young and beginning farmers and ranchers. It has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar. The Senate companion, SB 872 by Senator Grimsley, has passed all committees.

Medical Marijuana: SB 1134 by Senator Rouson eliminates the requirement that one of the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses be issued to a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. The bill retains the existing requirement that one of the licenses be issued to a recognized class member of Pigford v. Glickman or In Re Black Farmers Litigation. It also creates an easier mechanism than what is available under current law for a medical marijuana patient to change doctors. It has passed all committees. The House companion, HB 6049 by Representatives Jones and Newton has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar.

Agricultural Recovery: SB 1608 by Senator Grimsley creates the “Farmers and Ranchers Matter Act,” which requires the Florida Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to allow the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to create the State Agricultural Response Team. The bill also authorizes the Department of Transportation (DOT) to waive weight load restrictions and permit verifications for the transport of agricultural products from fields or packinghouses to public transportation facilities after natural disasters and requires the DOT to create and administer a program to install directional signs to assist visitors in locating agritourism facilities. The bill has passed two of three committees and is scheduled to be heard again on February 27. The House companion is the tax package, HB 7087, which has passed its only committee.

Medical Marijuana: Christian Bax, Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use at the Department of Health, has appeared in several legislative committees to speak about the current status of implementing last year’s medical marijuana legislation. He has been questioned about the Department’s failure to issue additional licenses by the statutorily-mandated October 3 deadline, and has cited pending litigation as the problem. Several members have expressed frustration with the delay, but there is still no confirmed date for when applications will be accepted or when new licenses will be awarded. Although submissions are not yet being accepted, the Department has adopted rules and noticed proposed regulations that establish the procedure by which applicants can apply for the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses. Representative Brodeur has offered an amendment to the House’s budget that would freeze more than $1.9 million in salaries and benefits for Department of Health officials because of the Department’s failure to deal with the backlog in applications and patient ID cards. It is not currently in the Senate budget and will be worked out in conference.

Property Rights, Budget, and Taxes

Tax Package: The House Ways & Means Committee has released its tax package, HB 7087, which includes several measures intended to provide relief to the agriculture industry. Representative Albritton, who owns a citrus grove, originated a provision that could offer one-time tax refunds on fencing and building materials for non-residential farm buildings (with an estimated fiscal impact of $2.4 million). Another proposal would offer refunds on state and local taxes applied to fuel used to transport agriculture products from farms to processing and packaging facilities (with an estimated insignificant fiscal impact). Also under consideration is language that would value machinery that has gone idle at citrus packing and processing facilities due to Hurricane Irma or greening at salvage level (with an estimated fiscal impact of $7.6 million). The agriculture relief proposals were among 78 recommendations that came out of the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness. HB 7087 has passed its only committee.

Budget: The House and Senate passed their budgets, setting up conference negotiations between the chambers to resolve the vast differences over K-12 schools, higher education, environmental, and health care spending. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources proposed a $4 billion budget for environmental agencies. The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee’s recommended budget total was $3.8 billion. The House proposal includes a total of over $17 million in funding for the Citrus Health Response Program and citrus research to address greening and canker, while the Senate has proposed a little over $9 million for the same programs. The budget conference schedule has not yet been released.

Tax on Sales, Use, and Other Transactions: SB 60 by Senator Hukill reduces taxes on rental or license fees charged for the use of real property. It has been referred to three committees. The House companion, HB 939 by Representative Toledo has two committees. These bills are also related to the tax package.

Public Records Exemption for Trade Secrets: HB 461 and HB 459 are related bills by Representative Massullo that repeal all of the various trade secret exemptions that apply to specific agencies and replace them with one uniform exemption. The bills provide that agency contracts and agreements and related information cannot be trade secrets. The bills also detail a process for the owner of trade secret information to claim an exemption from disclosure as a public record and remove liability provisions for agency employees who release such records in good faith. The bills have the effect of significantly limiting protections for trade secrets related to agency contracts from disclosure as public records. The bills have passed the full House. The Senate companions, SB 956 and 958 by Representative Mayfield have three committee references.

Tree and Timber Trimming, Removal, and Harvesting: HB 521 by Representative Edwards preempts to state the regulation of trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and timber on private property. The bill also prohibits certain local governmental actions relating to trimming or removal of trees or timber and burial of vegetative debris on private property. It has passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 574 by Senator Steube has passed its first of three committees.

Truck License Taxes: SB 672 by Senator Stargel revises which truck tractors and heavy trucks transporting certain agricultural or horticultural products are eligible for reduced license taxes. It has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 819 by Representative Williamson has passed all committees and is on the Special Order Calendar for February 28.

Water Management District Surplus Lands: SB 806 by Senator Baxley revises the circumstances when a water management district must publish its intention to sell surplus lands and revises the process for selling certain lower valued surplus lands. The bill has passed two of three committees and is scheduled to be heard again on February 26. The House companion, HB 703 by Representative Burgess has passed the full House.

Ad Valorem Taxation: SB 916 by Senator Grimsley defines the terms “heavy equipment rental property,” “dealer of heavy equipment rental property,” and “short-term rental,” and redefines the term “inventory,” for purposes of provisions relating to the imposition of ad valorem taxes. The bill has been referred to three committees. The House companion, HB 1271 by Representative Ahern has two committee references.

Citrus Emergency Loan Program: After Hurricane Irma, Governor Scott activated a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program to support citrus growers impacted by the storm. The program provided interest-free loans to citrus growers that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm. The loans were intended to bridge the gap pending longer term recovery resources, which Florida officials are currently working to secure at the federal level. The application period closed on November 30, 2017. Citrus growers who maintain a citrus grove in production in any of Florida’s 67 counties affected by Hurricane Irma could apply for loans up to $150,000. These interest-free loans were granted in terms of up to one year. To be eligible, a grower must have been established prior to September 4, 2017, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Citrus Funding: The Governor’s proposed 2018-19 state budget includes $22 million for the citrus industry, including $10 million for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation based in Lake Alfred, which is leading the search for a greening solution. Scott’s budget proposal also includes $5 million to support marketing programs at the Florida Department of Citrus aimed at increasing consumer awareness of the health benefits of fresh Florida citrus fruit and orange juice.

Citrus Tax Deduction: At the federal level, Congressman Buchanan amended the provisions of his Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act onto the Tax Cut and Jobs Act that passed in December. It offers farmers who are replacing diseased or damaged trees a full deduction in the first year, giving incentives for growers to plant more trees. If the farmer owns at least 50 percent of the grove, they are allowed to use the deduction even if investors are involved.

Other Legislation of Interest

Federal Immigration Enforcement: HB 9 by Representative Metz creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The bill passed the full House and was sent to the Senate where it received two committee references. The Senate companion, SB 308 by Senator Bean was scheduled for its first of two committees but was temporarily postponed.

Agency Rulemaking: CS/CS/HB 83 makes a number of changes to the agency rulemaking process. It has been amended to remove a problematic provision establishing that in a challenge to repeal an agency rule, the repeal would be considered presumptively correct by the adjudicating body. The bill has passed the full House and is in Senate messages. The Senate companion, SB 912 Senator Broxson has passed one of three committees.

Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC): HB 203 by Representative Willhite changes how the Governor may fill vacancies on the ERC and changes the voting requirements for certain standards approved, modified, or disapproved by the ERC. The bill has passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 316 by Senator Stewart has passed two of three committees.

Daylight Saving Time: SB 858 by Senator Steube provides that it is the intent of the Legislature to adopt daylight saving time as the year-round standard time in Florida contingent on an act of Congress to allow the change. The bill has passed two of three committees and is scheduled for its final hearing on February 26. The House companion, HB 1013 by Representatives Nunez and Fitzenhagen has passed the full House.

**************

The sixth week of the 2018 Regular Legislative Session is complete.

The full text of each bill and any amendments can be found on the legislative web sites. (http://www.flsenate.gov; http://www.myfloridahouse.com; and http://www.leg.state.fl.us.) Updates from the previous report appear in bold text.

Water and Natural Resources

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: CS/SB 204 by Senator Bradley increases the annual appropriation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) for spring restoration, protection, and management projects from $50 million to $75 million. Additionally, the bill requires $50 million to be appropriated from the LATF to the St. Johns River Water Management District for projects dedicated to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region. It has passed the full Senate and is in House messages. There is currently no House companion.

“Fracking” Regulation: HB 237 by Representative Peters creates an outright ban to any well stimulation treatment for the exploration or production of oil or natural gas, basically banning “fracking” in any form. It has three committee references. The Senate companion, SB 462 by Senator Young has passed two of three committees.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: HB 339 by Representative Harrell requires that minimum of the lesser of either 7.6 percent or $50 million must be appropriated annually each fiscal year for projects dedicated to the conservation and management of the Indian River Lagoon. The Department of Environmental Protection is required to use the funds to make grants for projects that implement the updated Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, including multiyear grants for the planning and construction of such projects. The bill has been referred to three committees. The Senate companion, SB 786 by Senator Mayfield also has three committees.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: SB 370 by Senator Bradley requires an annual appropriation to the Florida Forever Trust Fund of $100,000,000. It has passed the full Senate and is in House messages. The House companion, HB 1353 by Representatives Beshears and Ausley has three committee references. It is also related to HB 7063 by the Government Accountability Committee and has passed one of two committees.

C-51 Reservoir Project: SB 992 by Senator Book revises requirements related to the operation of water storage and use for Phase I and Phase II of the C-51 reservoir project if state funds are appropriated. The bill also authorizes the South Florida Water Management District to enter into capacity allocation agreements and to request a waiver for repayment of certain loans and authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to waive such loan repayment under certain conditions. It has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 7063 by the Government Accountability Committee has passed one of two committees.

Reclaimed Water Use: HB 1149 by Representative Payne expands the mandates for the rule to be developed by DEP for the use of reclaimed water; and the legislation will require DEP to enter memorandums of understanding with Water Management Districts by December 1, 2018 to provide for the coordinated review of reclaimed water permits. HB 1149 has passed two of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 1308 by Senator Perry has passed two of three committees.

Section 404 Delegation: SB 1402 by Senator Simmons seeks legislative approval for the Department of Environmental Protection to assume administration of section 404 of the Clean Water Act. There will continue to be a separate permit issued, and the assumed permitting will follow all current federal rules, including wetlands jurisdiction, exemptions, etc. It will not follow state time lines, there will be no default permits and applicants will continue to receive consultation from the USFWS for endangered species. The bill has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 7043 is a committee bill by the Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee. It has passed its only committee and is on the Special Order Calendar for February 20.

Water Supply Planning: SB 1506 by Senator Farmer will require each water management district to develop estimated maximum sustainable groundwater withdrawal calculations; it will require other water management districts to implement the consumptive use permitting procedures used by SWFWMD; it will increase procedures to eliminate pollutants; and will require full implementation of BMPs in agricultural areas. The bill has three committee references, but there is currently no House companion bill.

Constitution Review Commission

The CRC has continues to meet. Any proposal must receive a vote of support by at least 22 of the 37 Commissioners to make it onto the ballot. Final decisions of the Commission will be made by May 10, 2018. Proposals and schedules of the CRC can be viewed here: https://www.flcrc.gov/

Proposal 23 establishes a broad constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment for every person. It also creates a private right of action to allow a citizen to enforce the constitutional rights created. It has been introduced by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, an appointee of Senate President Negron, and has been referred to two committees. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Proposal 29 mandates the use of the federal E-Verify system by employers. The proposition is in response to the agriculture industry’s prior successful efforts to prevent legislative adoption of the same requirement. It has passed all committees and is pending a vote by the full Commission.

Proposal 48 would expand the authority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to regulate wildlife habitats and wildlife corridors. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Agricultural Operations

Nonnative Animals: HB 145 by Representative Beshears requires the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to establish a pilot program to mitigate the impacts of priority invasive species by authorizing FWC to enter into competitively bid contracts with individuals and entities to capture and destroy the priority invasive species found on public lands and public waters. The bill has passed two of three committees and was temporarily postponed in its final committee. The Senate companion, SB 168 by Senator Steube has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS): CS/HB 553 by Representative Raburn is the annual DACS package, which contains various changes within the Department’s jurisdiction. The bill’s highlights include the removal of a requirement that payment for pesticide registration fees be submitted electronically and a specified methodology for the value assessment of screen enclosed structures used in citrus production for pest exclusion. The bill has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar. The Senate companion, CS/SB 740 by Senator Stargel has one committee remaining. It was scheduled but not considered in its final committee.

Young Farmers and Ranchers: HB 645 by Representative Raburn creates the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Youn Farmer and Rancher Advisory Council within the department; requiring the department to establish a clearinghouse on its website for resources to assist young and beginning farmers and ranchers. It has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar. The Senate companion, SB 872 by Senator Grimsley, has passed two of three committees.

Medical Marijuana: SB 1134 by Senator Rouson eliminates the requirement that one of the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses be issued to a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. The bill retains the existing requirement that one of the licenses be issued to a recognized class member of Pigford v. Glickman or In Re Black Farmers Litigation. It also creates an easier mechanism than what is available under current law for a medical marijuana patient to change doctors. It has passed all committees. The House companion, HB 6049 by Representatives Jones and Newton has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar.

Agricultural Recovery: SB 1608 by Senator Grimsley creates the “Farmers and Ranchers Matter Act,” which requires the Florida Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to allow the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to create the State Agricultural Response Team. The bill also authorizes the Department of Transportation (DOT) to waive weight load restrictions and permit verifications for the transport of agricultural products from fields or packinghouses to public transportation facilities after natural disasters and requires the DOT to create and administer a program to install directional signs to assist visitors in locating agritourism facilities. The bill has passed its first of three committees and is scheduled to be heard again on February 20. There is currently has no House companion.

Medical Marijuana: Christian Bax, Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use at the Department of Health, has appeared in several legislative committees to speak about the current status of implementing last year’s medical marijuana legislation. He has been questioned about the Department’s failure to issue additional licenses by the statutorily-mandated October 3 deadline, and has cited pending litigation as the problem. Several members have expressed frustration with the delay, but there is still no confirmed date for when applications will be accepted or when new licenses will be awarded. Although submissions are not yet being accepted, the Department has adopted rules and noticed proposed regulations that establish the procedure by which applicants can apply for the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses. Representative Brodeur has offered an amendment to the House’s budget that would freeze more than $1.9 million in salaries and benefits for Department of Health officials because of the Department’s failure to deal with the backlog in applications and patient ID cards. It is not currently in the Senate budget and will be worked out in conference.

Property Rights, Budget, and Taxes

Tax Package: The House Ways & Means Committee has released its tax package, which includes several measures intended to provide relief to the agriculture industry. Representative Albritton, who owns a citrus grove, originated a provision that could offer one-time tax refunds on fencing and building materials for non-residential farm buildings (with an estimated fiscal impact of $2.4 million). Another proposal would offer refunds on state and local taxes applied to fuel used to transport agriculture products from farms to processing and packaging facilities (with an estimated insignificant fiscal impact). Also under consideration is language that would value machinery that has gone idle at citrus packing and processing facilities due to Hurricane Irma or greening at salvage level (with an estimated fiscal impact of $7.6 million). The agriculture relief proposals were among 78 recommendations that came out of the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness.

Budget: The House and Senate passed their budgets this week, setting up conference negotiations between the chambers to resolve the vast differences over K-12 schools, higher education, environmental, and health care spending. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources proposed a $4 billion budget for environmental agencies. The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee’s recommended budget total was $3.8 billion. The House proposal includes a total of over $17 million in funding for the Citrus Health Response Program and citrus research to address greening and canker, while the Senate has proposed a little over $9 million for the same programs.

Tax on Sales, Use, and Other Transactions: SB 60 by Senator Hukill reduces taxes on rental or license fees charged for the use of real property. It has been referred to three committees. The House companion, HB 939 by Representative Toledo has two committees.

Public Records Exemption for Trade Secrets: HB 461 and HB 459 are related bills by Representative Massullo that repeal all of the various trade secret exemptions that apply to specific agencies and replace them with one uniform exemption. The bills provide that agency contracts and agreements and related information cannot be trade secrets. The bills also detail a process for the owner of trade secret information to claim an exemption from disclosure as a public record and remove liability provisions for agency employees who release such records in good faith. The bills have the effect of significantly limiting protections for trade secrets related to agency contracts from disclosure as public records. The bills have passed all committees and are on the Special Order Calendar for February 20. The Senate companions, SB 956 and 958 by Representative Mayfield have three committee references.

Tree and Timber Trimming, Removal, and Harvesting: HB 521 by Representative Edwards preempts to state the regulation of trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and timber on private property. The bill also prohibits certain local governmental actions relating to trimming or removal of trees or timber and burial of vegetative debris on private property. It has passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 574 by Senator Steube has passed its first of three committees.

Truck License Taxes: SB 672 by Senator Stargel revises which truck tractors and heavy trucks transporting certain agricultural or horticultural products are eligible for reduced license taxes. It has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 819 by Representative Williamson has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar.

Water Management District Surplus Lands: SB 806 by Senator Baxley revises the circumstances when a water management district must publish its intention to sell surplus lands and revises the process for selling certain lower valued surplus lands. The bill has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 703 by Representative Burgess has passed all committees and is on the Special Order Calendar for February 20.

Ad Valorem Taxation: SB 916 by Senator Grimsley defines the terms “heavy equipment rental property,” “dealer of heavy equipment rental property,” and “short-term rental,” and redefines the term “inventory,” for purposes of provisions relating to the imposition of ad valorem taxes. The bill has been referred to three committees. The House companion, HB 1271 by Representative Ahern has two committee references.

Citrus Emergency Loan Program: After Hurricane Irma, Governor Scott activated a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program to support citrus growers impacted by the storm. The program provided interest-free loans to citrus growers that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm. The loans were intended to bridge the gap pending longer term recovery resources, which Florida officials are currently working to secure at the federal level. The application period closed on November 30, 2017. Citrus growers who maintain a citrus grove in production in any of Florida’s 67 counties affected by Hurricane Irma could apply for loans up to $150,000. These interest-free loans were granted in terms of up to one year. To be eligible, a grower must have been established prior to September 4, 2017, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Citrus Funding: The Governor’s proposed 2018-19 state budget includes $22 million for the citrus industry, including $10 million for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation based in Lake Alfred, which is leading the search for a greening solution. Scott’s budget proposal also includes $5 million to support marketing programs at the Florida Department of Citrus aimed at increasing consumer awareness of the health benefits of fresh Florida citrus fruit and orange juice.

Citrus Tax Deduction: At the federal level, Congressman Buchanan amended the provisions of his Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act onto the Tax Cut and Jobs Act that passed in December. It offers farmers who are replacing diseased or damaged trees a full deduction in the first year, giving incentives for growers to plant more trees. If the farmer owns at least 50 percent of the grove, they are allowed to use the deduction even if investors are involved.

Other Legislation of Interest

Federal Immigration Enforcement: HB 9 by Representative Metz creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The bill passed the full House and was sent to the Senate where it received two committee references. The Senate companion, SB 308 by Senator Bean was scheduled for its first of two committees but was temporarily postponed.

Agency Rulemaking: CS/CS/HB 83 makes a number of changes to the agency rulemaking process. It has been amended to remove a problematic provision establishing that in a challenge to repeal an agency rule, the repeal would be considered presumptively correct by the adjudicating body. The bill has passed the full House and is in Senate messages. The Senate companion, SB 912 Senator Broxson has passed one of three committees.

Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC): HB 203 by Representative Willhite changes how the Governor may fill vacancies on the ERC and changes the voting requirements for certain standards approved, modified, or disapproved by the ERC. The bill has passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 316 by Senator Stewart has passed two of three committees.

Daylight Saving Time: SB 858 by Senator Steube provides that it is the intent of the Legislature to adopt daylight saving time as the year-round standard time in Florida contingent on an act of Congress to allow the change. The bill has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 1013 by Representatives Nunez and Fitzenhagen has passed the full House.

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The second week of the 2018 Regular Legislative Session wrapped up last Friday.

The full text of each bill and any amendments can be found on the legislative web sites. (http://www.flsenate.gov; http://www.myfloridahouse.com; and http://www.leg.state.fl.us.) Updates from the previous report appear in bold text.

Water and Natural Resources

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: CS/SB 204 by Senator Bradley increases the annual appropriation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) for spring restoration, protection, and management projects from $50 million to $75 million. Additionally, the bill requires $50 million to be appropriated from the LATF to the St. Johns River Water Management District for projects dedicated to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region. It has passed all of its committees. There is currently no House companion.

“Fracking” Regulation: HB 237 by Representative Peters creates an outright ban to any well stimulation treatment for the exploration or production of oil or natural gas, basically banning “fracking” in any form. It has three committee references. The Senate companion, SB 462 by Senator Young received three committee references and has passed the first committee. 

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: HB 339 by Representative Harrell requires that minimum of the lesser of either 7.6 percent or $50 million must be appropriated annually each fiscal year for projects dedicated to the conservation and management of the Indian River Lagoon. The Department of Environmental Protection is required to use the funds to make grants for projects that implement the updated Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, including multiyear grants for the planning and construction of such projects. The bill has been referred to three committees. The Senate companion, SB 786 by Senator Mayfield also has three committees.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: SB 370 by Senator Bradley requires an annual appropriation to the Florida Forever Trust Fund of $100,000,000. It has passed all committees. The House companion, HB 1353 by Representatives Beshears and Ausley has three committee references.

Reclaimed Water Use: HB 1149 by Representative Payne expands the mandates for the rule to be developed by DEP for the use of reclaimed water; and the legislation will require DEP to enter memorandums of understanding with Water Management Districts by December 1, 2018 to provide for the coordinated review of reclaimed water permits. HB 1149 received three committee references. The Senate companion, SB 1308 by Senator Perry received three references and will be heard in its first committee on January 23.

Section 404 Delegation: SB 1402 by Senator Simmons seeks legislative approval for the Department of Environmental Protection to assume administration of section 404 of the Clean Water Act. There will continue to be a separate permit issued, and the assumed permitting will follow all current federal rules, including wetlands jurisdiction, exemptions, etc. It will not follow state time lines, there will be no default permits and applicants will continue to receive consultation from the USFWS for endangered species. The bill is scheduled for its first of three committee hearings on January 22. The House companion, HB 7043 is a committee bill by the Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee. It is recently introduced and has not yet received committee references. 

Water Supply Planning: SB 1506 by Senator Farmer will require each water management district to develop estimated maximum sustainable groundwater withdrawal calculations; it will require other water management districts to implement the consumptive use permitting procedures used by SWFWMD; it will increase procedures to eliminate pollutants; and will require full implementation of BMPs in agricultural areas. The bill has three committee references, but there is currently no House companion bill.

Constitution Review Commission

The CRC has continues to meet. Any proposal must receive a vote of support by at least 22 of the 37 Commissioners to make it onto the ballot. Final decisions of the Commission will be made by May 10, 2018. Proposals and schedules of the CRC can be viewed here: https://www.flcrc.gov/

Proposal 23 establishes a broad constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment for every person. It also creates a private right of action to allow a citizen to enforce the constitutional rights created. It has been introduced by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, an appointee of Senate President Negron, and has been referred to two committees. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Proposal 29 mandates the use of the federal E-Verify system by employers. The proposition is in response to the agriculture industry’s prior successful efforts to prevent legislative adoption of the same requirement. It has passed all committees and is pending a vote by the full Commission.

Proposal 48 would expand the authority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to regulate wildlife habitats and wildlife corridors. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Agricultural Operations

Nonnative Animals: HB 145 by Representative Beshears requires the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to establish a pilot program to mitigate the impacts of priority invasive species by authorizing FWC to enter into competitively bid contracts with individuals and entities to capture and destroy the priority invasive species found on public lands and public waters. The bill has passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 168 by Senator Steube has passed its first of three committees.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS): CS/HB 553 by Representative Raburn is the annual DACS package, which contains various changes within the Department’s jurisdiction. The bill’s highlights include the removal of a requirement that payment for pesticide registration fees be submitted electronically and a specified methodology for the value assessment of screen enclosed structures used in citrus production for pest exclusion. The bill has passed one of three committees. The Senate companion, CS/SB 740 by Senator Stargel is in the same posture. 

Young Farmers and Ranchers: HB 645 by Representative Raburn creates the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Advisory Council within the department; requiring the department to establish a clearinghouse on its website for resources to assist young and beginning farmers and ranchers. It has three committee references. The Senate companion, SB 872 by Senator Grimsley, has passed its first of three committees.

Medical Marijuana: SB 1134 by Senator Rouson eliminates the requirement that one of the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses be issued to a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. The bill retains the existing requirement that one of the licenses be issued to a recognized class member of Pigford v. Glickman or In Re Black Farmers Litigation. It also creates an easier mechanism than what is available under current law for a medical marijuana patient to change doctors. It has passed its first of three committees. The House companion, HB 6049 by Representatives Jones and Newton has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar. 

Medical Marijuana: Christian Bax, Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use at the Department of Health, has appeared in several legislative committees to speak about the current status of implementing last year’s medical marijuana legislation. He has been questioned about the Department’s failure to issue additional licenses by the statutorily-mandated October 3 deadline, and has cited pending litigation as the problem. Several members have expressed frustration with the delay, but there is still no confirmed date for when applications will be accepted or when new licenses will be awarded. Although submissions are not yet being accepted, the Department has adopted rules and noticed proposed regulations that establish the procedure by which applicants can apply for the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses.

Property Rights, Budget, and Taxes

Tax on Sales, Use, and Other Transactions: SB 60 by Senator Hukill reduces taxes on rental or license fees charged for the use of real property. It has been referred to three committees. The House companion, HB 939 by Representative Toledo has two committees. 

Public Records Exemption for Trade Secrets: HB 461 and HB 459 are related bills by Representative Massullo that repeal all of the various trade secret exemptions that apply to specific agencies and replace them with one uniform exemption. The bills provide that agency contracts and agreements and related information cannot be trade secrets. The bills also detail a process for the owner of trade secret information to claim an exemption from disclosure as a public record and remove liability provisions for agency employees who release such records in good faith. The bills have the effect of significantly limiting protections for trade secrets related to agency contracts from disclosure as public records. The bills have passed the first of two committees. The Senate companion, SB 956 by Representative Mayfield has three committee references.

Tree and Timber Trimming, Removal, and Harvesting: HB 521 by Representative Edwards preempts to state the regulation of trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and timber on private property. The bill also prohibits certain local governmental actions relating to trimming or removal of trees or timber and burial of vegetative debris on private property. It has three committee references. The Senate companion, SB 574 by Senator Steube also has three committee references.

Tree and Timber Trimming, Removal, and Harvesting: HB 521 by Representative Edwards-Walpole preempts to the state the regulation of trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and timber on private property. It has been referred to three committees. The Senate companion, SB 574 by Senator Steube also has three committees.

Truck License Taxes: SB 672 by Senator Stargel revises which truck tractors and heavy trucks transporting certain agricultural or horticultural products are eligible for reduced license taxes. It has passed two of three committees. The House companion, HB 819 by Representative Williamson has also passed its first of three committees.

Water Management District Surplus Lands: SB 806 by Senator Baxley revises the circumstances when a water management district must publish its intention to sell surplus lands and revises the process for selling certain lower valued surplus lands. The bill has passed its first of three committees and is scheduled to be heard again on January 23. The House companion, HB 703 by Representative Burgess has passed its first committee.

Citrus Tax Deduction: At the federal level, Congressman Buchanan amended the provisions of his Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act onto the Tax Cut and Jobs Act that passed in December. It offers farmers who are replacing diseased or damaged trees a full deduction in the first year, giving incentives for growers to plant more trees. If the farmer owns at least 50 percent of the grove, they are allowed to use the deduction even if investors are involved.

Ad Valorem Taxation: SB 916 by Senator Grimsley defines the terms “heavy equipment rental property,” “dealer of heavy equipment rental property,” and “short-term rental,” and redefines the term “inventory,” for purposes of provisions relating to the imposition of ad valorem taxes. The bill has been referred to three committees. The House companion, HB 1271 by Representative Ahern has two committee references.

Citrus Emergency Loan Program: After Hurricane Irma, Governor Scott activated a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program to support citrus growers impacted by the storm. The program provided interest-free loans to citrus growers that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm. The loans were intended to bridge the gap pending longer term recovery resources, which Florida officials are currently working to secure at the federal level. The application period closed on November 30, 2017. Citrus growers who maintain a citrus grove in production in any of Florida’s 67 counties affected by Hurricane Irma could apply for loans up to $150,000. These interest-free loans were granted in terms of up to one year. To be eligible, a grower must have been established prior to September 4, 2017, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Citrus Funding: The Governor’s proposed 2018-19 state budget includes $22 million for the citrus industry, including $10 million for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation based in Lake Alfred, which is leading the search for a greening solution. Scott’s budget proposal also includes $5 million to support marketing programs at the Florida Department of Citrus aimed at increasing consumer awareness of the health benefits of fresh Florida citrus fruit and orange juice.

Other Legislation of Interest

Federal Immigration Enforcement: HB 9 by Representative Metz creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The bill passed the full House. The Senate companion, SB 308 by Senator Bean, has two committee references but has not been heard.

Agency Rulemaking: CS/CS/HB 83 establishes that in a challenge to repeal an agency rule, the repeal must be considered presumptively correct by the adjudicating body. The bill has passed all committees and has been placed on the Calendar. The Senate companion, SB 912 Senator Broxson has passed one of three committees.

Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC): HB 203 by Representative Willhite changes how the Governor may fill vacancies on the ERC and changes the voting requirements for certain standards approved, modified, or disapproved by the ERC. The bill has passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 316 by Senator Stewart has also passed its first of three committees.

 

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The first week of the 2018 Regular Legislative Session is complete.

The full text of each bill and any amendments can be found on the legislative web sites.  (http://www.flsenate.gov; http://www.myfloridahouse.com; and http://www.leg.state.fl.us.) Updates from the previous report appear in bold text.

Water and Natural Resources

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: CS/SB 204 by Senator Bradley increases the annual appropriation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) for spring restoration, protection, and management projects from $50 million to $75 million. Additionally, the bill requires $50 million to be appropriated from the LATF to the St. Johns River Water Management District for projects dedicated to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region. It has passed two of three committees. There is currently no House companion.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: HB 339 by Representative Harrell requires that minimum of the lesser of either 7.6 percent or $50 million must be appropriated annually each fiscal year for projects dedicated to the conservation and management of the Indian River Lagoon. The Department of Environmental Protection is required to use the funds to make grants for projects that implement the updated Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, including multiyear grants for the planning and construction of such projects. The bill has been referred to three committees. The Senate companion, SB 786 by Senator Mayfield also has three committees.

Land Acquisition Trust Fund: SB 370 by Senator Bradley requires an annual appropriation to the Florida Forever Trust Fund of $100,000,000. It has passed two of all committees. The House companion, HB 1353 by Representatives Beshears and Ausley is recently filed and has not received committee references.

Section 404 Delegation:  DEP’s top priority this session is seeking legislative approval for the Department to assume administration of section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  There will continue to be a separate permit issued, and the assumed permitting will follow all current federal rules, including wetlands jurisdiction, exemptions, etc.  It will not follow state time lines, there will be no default permits and applicants will continue to receive consultation from the USFWS for endangered species.  Draft legislation is available if anyone wishes to review it, as are draft MOAs with EPA and the Corps. The legislation will likely surface as a committee bill later in Session.

Constitution Review Commission

The CRC has continues to meet.  Any proposal must receive a vote of support by at least 22 of the 37 Commissioners to make it onto the ballot.  Final decisions of the Commission will be made by May 10, 2018.  Proposals and schedules of the CRC can be viewed here: https://www.flcrc.gov/

Proposal 23 establishes a broad constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment for every person. It also creates a private right of action to allow a citizen to enforce the constitutional rights created.  It has been introduced by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, an appointee of Senate President Negron, and has been referred to two committees. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Proposal 29 mandates the use of the federal E-Verify system by employers. The proposition is in response to the agriculture industry’s prior successful efforts to prevent legislative adoption of the same requirement.  It has passed its first of two committees.

Proposal 48 would expand the authority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to regulate wildlife habitats and wildlife corridors. It was voted unfavorably in committee.

Agricultural Operations

Nonnative Animals: HB 145 by Representative Beshears requires the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to establish a pilot program to mitigate the impacts of priority invasive species by authorizing FWC to enter into competitively bid contracts with individuals and entities to capture and destroy the priority invasive species found on public lands and public waters. The bill has passed its first of three committees.  The Senate companion, SB 168 by Senator Steube has passed its first of three committees.

Young Farmers and Ranchers: HB 645 by Representative Raburn creates the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Advisory Council within the department; requiring the department to establish a clearinghouse on its website for resources to assist young and beginning farmers and ranchers. It has three committee references.  The Senate companion, SB 872 by Senator Grimsley, has passed its first of three committees.

Medical Marijuana: Christian Bax, Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use at the Department of Health, has appeared in several legislative committees to speak about the current status of implementing last year’s medical marijuana legislation.  He has been questioned about the Department’s failure to issue additional licenses by the statutorily-mandated October 3 deadline, and has cited pending litigation as the problem. Several members have expressed frustration with the delay, but there is still no confirmed date for when applications will be accepted or when new licenses will be awarded. Although submissions are not yet being accepted, the Department has adopted rules and noticed proposed regulations that establish the procedure by which applicants can apply for the next round of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses.

Property Rights, Budget, and Taxes

Public Records Exemption for Trade Secrets: HB 459 by Representative Massullo significantly limits protections for trade secrets related to agency contracts from disclosure as public records. The bill has two committee references. The Senate companion, SB 956 by Representative Mayfield has three committee references.

Tree and Timber Trimming, Removal, and Harvesting: HB 521 by Representative Edwards preempts to state the regulation of trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and timber on private property. The bill also prohibits certain local governmental actions relating to trimming or removal of trees or timber and burial of vegetative debris on private property. It has three committee references. The Senate companion, SB 574 by Senator Steube also has three committee references.

Truck License Taxes: SB 672 by Senator Stargel revises which truck tractors and heavy trucks transporting certain agricultural or horticultural products are eligible for reduced license taxes. It has passed its first of three committees. The House companion, HB 819 by Representative Williamson has also passed its first of three committees.

Water Management District Surplus Lands: SB 806 by Senator Baxley revises the circumstances when a water management district must publish its intention to sell surplus lands and revises the process for selling certain lower valued surplus lands. The bill is scheduled to be heard in its first of three committees on January 16.  The House companion, HB 703 by Representative Burgess has passed its first committee.

Citrus Tax Deduction: At the federal level, Congressman Buchanan amended the provisions of his Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act onto the Tax Cut and Jobs Act that passed in December. It offers farmers who are replacing diseased or damaged trees a full deduction in the first year, giving incentives for growers to plant more trees. If the farmer owns at least 50 percent of the grove, they are allowed to use the deduction even if investors are involved

Citrus Emergency Loan Program: After Hurricane Irma, Governor Scott activated a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program to support citrus growers impacted by the storm. The program provided interest-free loans to citrus growers that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm.  The loans were intended to bridge the gap pending longer term recovery resources, which Florida officials are currently working to secure at the federal level. The application period closed on November 30, 2017. Citrus growers who maintain a citrus grove in production in any of Florida’s 67 counties affected by Hurricane Irma could apply for loans up to $150,000. These interest-free loans were granted in terms of up to one year. To be eligible, a grower must have been established prior to September 4, 2017, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Citrus Funding: The Governor’s proposed 2018-19 state budget includes $22 million for the citrus industry, including $10 million for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation based in Lake Alfred, which is leading the search for a greening solution. Scott’s budget proposal also includes $5 million to support marketing programs at the Florida Department of Citrus aimed at increasing consumer awareness of the health benefits of fresh Florida citrus fruit and orange juice.

Other Legislation of Interest

Federal Immigration Enforcement: HB 9 by Representative Metz creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The bill passed its only committee and is on Third Reading. The Senate companion, SB 308 by Senator Bean, has two committee references but has not been heard.Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC): HB 203 by Representative Willhite changes how the Governor may fill vacancies on the ERC and changes the voting requirements for certain standards approved, modified, or disapproved by the ERC. The bill has passed its first of three committees. The Senate companion, SB 316 by Senator Stewart has also passed its first of three committees.