Politics & Policy

2021 Legislative Priorities

Construction Defects (HB 21 – Representative Alex Andrade/SB 270 – Senator Keith Perry)

The original purpose of Chapter 558 was to serve as an alternative dispute resolution process to allow owner and contractor to work out claims of defects without immediately involving their respective attorneys and insurance. Unfortunately, Chapter 558 is now mainly utilized as a pre-suit process which runs counter to the original intent. This collaborative effort between ABC of Florida and other industry partners seeks to secure smaller reforms within 558 that we feel will help reduce the overall abuse of the Chapter 558 process. The current proposed language would: require owners to sign off on the claim of defect under oath, to attest to their personal knowledge of the existence of the defect, to exhaust any applicable warranty options, would amend the definition of material violation, and would require subsequent proof that any financial awards secured were utilized to repair the alleged defect.

Public Works Projects (HB 53 – Representative Nick DiCeglie/SB pending – Senator Jason Brodeur)

Billions of dollars go to fund public procurement projects. While the funding may come from a variety of sources (Federal, State, Local, etc.), ultimately, the funding ultimately comes from taxpayer revenue. ABC believes therefore, that that the bidding process should be as competitive as possible. Projects should be awarded to the lowest, most qualified, most responsible, and responsive bidder. Unfortunately, however, the current trend is for public entities to establish various mandates that serve as mandatory conditions of the bidding process. Things like hiring mandates, wage and benefit requirements, training, and training location requirements, or establishing preferences based on geography of a company’s headquarters or where their employees live – are all too prevalent in the process. None of these preferences speak to the ability of a company to perform on a job and therefore, this legislative effort would seek to preempt them.

Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship Programs (HB 175 – Representative Jason Shoaf/SB 508 – Senator Jeff Brandes)

The DeSantis Administration has done a great job highlighting the importance and benefits of Apprenticeship Education. This pivot in thinking is a tremendous breath of fresh air. We know however, that with a few changes to existing regulations, policies, and mindsets, that Florida could dramatically increase the number of Apprentices educated annually. This legislation would: clarify that the state does not intend for any government to mandate Apprenticeship Education as a part of public procurement, would establish a seat on the State Apprenticeship Advisory Council for someone from the Department of Economic Opportunity, would require the Department of Education to clarify the exact process an educational institution must take in order to serve as an LEA for a private Apprenticeship Education provider and publish that information on their website, publish the FTE reimbursement rate by trade by industry on their website, publish the amount of workforce education funding drawn down by each educational institution and what the money is being utilized for. This legislation will also require, under the Florida Student’s Bill of Rights, that parents receive information about workforce education opportunities throughout the state for their children including information on pathways to careers, anticipated industry salaries, etc. The state currently requires that parents receive information about choice programs and charter schools, and we feel that they should also receive information about available career and technical education, pre-apprenticeship, and apprenticeship education opportunities.

Legislative Issues and Victories

Workforce Related Programs and Services

HB 1507 (Rep. Yarborough/Senator Albritton) with ABC REQUEST
This massive reform effort was a top initiative for Speaker Chris Sprowls and seeks to overhaul how the current workforce education processes work in Florida.  The main goal is to create a one-stop shop information resource of available services to Floridians seeking workforce education opportunities, supportive services, and Pre-Apprenticeship/Apprenticeship programs.  ABC had a bill on Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship programs (HB 175/SB 508) that would have increased transparency and accountability in current DOE practices relating to Apprenticeship.  HB 1507 includes our goals, but on a much broader scale. 
Click here for more information on how other industry bills of interest did this session.

Construction Permits

HB 1059 (Rep. Will Robinson/Senator Boyd) with ABC REQUEST
This legislation was a priority out of the House Business and Professions Subcommittee.  ABC of Florida had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on the topic of Permit Reform during the pre-session committee weeks.  ABC Member Holly Loeffler of Moss Construction testified to one of our most recent concerns – Building Departments requiring copies of private contracts between the General Contractor and the Owner and their subcontractors as a requirement of securing a permit.  Private contracts contain competitive and proprietary information that should not be subject to public records requests.  House Bill 1059 includes in it a prohibition on this behavior. What else does it do?  It establishes a series of required best practices from posting all required types of permits and to allowing online submissions with attachments and online payments.  Additionally, this legislation would require fee reductions or reimbursement.  This is a great piece of legislation and ABC appreciates the opportunity to participate on the panel and to have our request included in the legislation.
Click here for more information on how other industry bills of interest did this session.

Public Works Projects

HB 53 (Rep. DiCeglie/Senator Brodeur) ABC BILL
This legislation was our top priority in that it seeks to ensure a more open and competitive process on public works project.  The legislation applies to any public project, state or local, with a price tag of $1 million or more, that is funded with at least $1 of state funding.  The legislation ensures that contractors licensed to do work in the state can compete on work statewide and that they cannot be subject to overly specific or restrictive pre-bid mandates relating to hiring, wage and benefit, training, and geographic location.  As Florida continues to work to rebuild our economy, it is important that our marketplace be as competitive as possible for the companies in Florida seeking work.
Click here for more information on how other industry bills of interest did this session.

ABC Priorities that Didn’t Make It

Relating to Construction Defects

This legislation was a collaborative effort amongst many industry groups on both the residential and commercial side.  Chapter 558 was originally meant to serve as an alternative dispute resolution process whereby owners and contractors to address alleged claims of defects on a project without immediately involving their respective attorneys and insurance carriers.  While there is agreement that the existing statute is broken, there is no consensus amongst industry members, including within ABC of Florida, as to how to best address current issues relating to the statute.  The bill proposed to do the following: Amend the definition of material violation; Require use of existing warranties; Require owner to allow the defect to be fixed if the offer is made; Require attestation by the owner that they have personal knowledge of the defect; Require parties to opt-in to the 558 process; and Require notice to mortgagee or assignee that a 558 claim has been filed and whether repairs have been offered or made to the property.
Click here for more information on how other industry bills of interest did this session.