Public Policy Weekly Update
• Senate Bill 10 and House Bill 761 sponsored by Sen. Bradley and Rep. Altman, are bills pertaining to the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee. This week, the Senate sponsor filed a strike-all and the bill was essentially rewritten. The new version of the bill will allow for water storage of land which is already owned by the South Florida Water Management District. Although the new version of the bill does not call for 60,000 acres, there will be the opportunity for 280,000+ acre feet of water storage. It would seem that all the stakeholders on this issue are optimistic it will come in for a landing.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 10 was voted out of Senate Appropriations and is potentially scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor on April 12, 2017.
Bill Status: House Bill 761 is currently waiting to be heard in the Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee; however, there is no guarantee that this committee will be meeting again during the 2017 legislative session.
*Note: Florida Realtors does not have a position on this legislation.
• House Bill 551 sponsored by Representative Charlie Stone and Senate Bill 874 by Senator Dana Young relate to onsite sewage treatment (septic). These bills would put into place Governor Scott’s proposal to help local governments fund septic-to-sewer conversions, muck dredging, and large storm water improvement projects by appropriating $20 million annually through 2026. In the current version of the bills, counties within the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries would be eligible to receive these funds.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 874 passed the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee unanimously, and is now waiting to be heard in the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources.
Bill Status: House Bill 551 is currently waiting to be heard in the Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee; however, it is not likely this subcommittee will meet again during the 2017 legislative session.
• House Bill 285 and Senate Bill 1748 sponsored by Rep. Randy Fine and Sen. Linda Stewart also relates to onsite sewage. This week there was an amendment to this bill, it now requires that disclosure language be placed into a closing contract regarding the property having an onsite sewage treatment system. The disclosure will encourage the buyer to get the system inspected. The Florida Realtors were successful in shortening the disclosure language.
Bill Status: House Bill 285 successfully passed the House Commerce Committee this week.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 1748 is currently waiting to be heard in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee. This bill is not likely to be heard during the 2017 legislative session, as it was not noticed to be heard in their committee next week and it could be their last meeting.
Business Rent Tax
• Governor Scott’s proposed budget includes a 25 percent reduction in the business rent tax which would amount to a 1.5 percent cut. If included in the final budget this cut would result in $454 million in savings for Florida business owners.
• House Bill 463 by Representative Holly Raschein was filed on January 24, 2017. This bill will provide tenants with relief from the "double taxation" or "tax on tax" that occurs when tenants pay their landlord's property taxes. This is an alternate business rent tax cut proposal that is directed at those commercial tenants who have leases that separately state they pay their landlord's property taxes as part of their lease payments. Senate Bill 704 by Senator Rene Garcia was filed on February 6, 2017. This bill is similar to House Bill 463.
These bills were scored on March 3, 2017 by the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC). The REC placed an estimate of $172.8 million recurring fiscal impact to the state on these bills.
• Senate Bill 484, by Senator Hukill and Co-Sponsored by Senator Bean, would reduce the state sales tax rate that is charged on commercial leases from 6% to 5%.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 704 passed the Community Affairs committee by a vote of 5 to 1. The bill now moves to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance & Tax.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 484 was passed by the Community Affairs Committee on Monday April 3, 2017 by a vote of 5 to 2. The bill now moves to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance & Tax.
Bill Status: The House Ways & Means Committee voted to approve the draft tax package on April 5, 2017, by a vote of 16 to 0. This tax package includes a wide range of tax reductions and modifications designed to directly impact both households and businesses. The main piece of the tax package includes a reduction of the business rent tax from 6% to 4.5% for two years, beginning January 1, 2018, then maintains a permanent tax rate reduction from 6% to 5.5% beginning January 1, 2020. The bill has been filed as HB 7109.
This is the beginning of the process where the House and Senate will advance their respective tax cut proposals.
• The House version of the joint resolution that would place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 general election ballot to permanently extend the annual 10 percent non-homestead property tax cap was filed by Representative Colleen Burton on January 23, 2017. This bill, House Joint Resolution 21, is the companion to Senate Bill 76, sponsored by Senator Tom Lee. The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) has not placed a fiscal impact on this joint resolution. The REC will continue to meet to discuss this, and many other bills, each week throughout the legislative session.
Bill Status: Senate Joint Resolution 76 passed the Appropriations Committee by a unanimous vote of 15 to 0. The bill will move to the last committee of reference, which is Senate Rules.
Bill Status: House Joint Resolution 21 was passed by the full House on March 23, 2017, by a vote of 110-3 and is now in Senate messages.
• The House and Senate versions of the estoppel certificate bills have been filed by Representative Byron Donalds and Senator Kathleen Passidomo. House Bill 483 and Senate Bill 398 cap the fees that community association management companies can charge for estoppel certificates, and they include a standard estoppel certificate form to ensure the same information is provided to owners across Florida.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 398 passed the full Senate last Thursday by a 35-1 vote. The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bill Status: House Bill 483 is awaiting consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. This is the bill’s last committee reference.
• Senate Bill 854 sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes and House Bill 1013 by Representative Wengay Newton would create an affordable housing taskforce assigned to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. The 13-member board would be charged with developing recommendations for addressing the state’s affordable housing needs.
The recommendations will include review of market rate developments; affordable housing developments; land use for affordable housing developments; building codes for affordable housing developments; states’ implementation of the low-income housing tax credit; private and public sector development and construction industries; and rental market for assisted rental housing.
An amendment was filed and passed on the senate version that would include a realtor on the task force. An identical amendment will be added to the house version at the next committee stop.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 854 passed out of the Community Affairs Committee by a 7-0 vote. The bill now moves to the Appropriations Committee.
Bill Status: House Bill 1013 passed out of the Local, Federal and Veteran Affairs Subcommittee by a 12-0 vote. The bill now moves to the Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.
• House Bill 425 sponsored by Rep. Mike La Rosa and Senate Bill 188 sponsored by Senator Greg Steube provides that local laws, ordinances, & regulations adopted after June 1, 2011, may not restrict use of, prohibit, or regulate vacation rentals based solely on classification, use, or occupancy.
Bill Status: House Bill 425 passed out of the Careers and Competition Subcommittee by a 9-6 vote. The bill now moves to the Commerce Committee.
Bill Status: Senate Bill 188 was temporarily postponed on Monday, April 3, 2017, in the Community Affairs Committee.
Latest Edition of REALTOR® Magazine Released
The March/April edition of REALTOR® Magazine was recently released and includes stories on the following topics:
- Advocates in Action on Tax Reform, Flood Insurance and a Host of Other Issues, NAR Leaders Standing Up for Your Interests
- Make Retirement a Reality
- Roaring Back From the Abyss
- What First-Time Sellers Don't Know
Florida FWC Commission's Gopher Tortoise Conservation Program
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Gopher Tortoise Conservation Program has developed an information packet for Florida Realtors and property owners with detailed information about laws, rules and guidelines relating to the gopher tortoise, which is listed as a threatened species by the State of Florida. This resource includes answers to frequently asked questions, fact sheets and brochures related to the protection of gopher tortoises.
Congress Adjourns Without Passing Tax-Extenders
After passing a Continuing Resolution that will fund Federal Government operations until April 28, 2017, the 114th Congress adjourned on Friday, December 9, 2016. An extension of the Mortgage Cancellation Debt Relief, part of the “Tax Extenders” package was not passed in the lame duck session. Homeowners completing a short-sale or a mortgage modification at any time during calendar year 2016 are eligible for the relief when they file their 2016 Income Taxes in April of 2017. NAR will be working on an extension in early 2017 that would be retroactive to January 1, 2017.
What About Tax Reform?
Here is what NAR has learned so far. The Trump Transition Team along with the Republican Congressional leadership intends to use a legislative vehicle called Budget Reconciliation to move Tax Reform. NAR is already engaged with key members of the tax writing committees in the House and Senate, on both sides of the aisle, to outline our positions on Tax Reform. Our Tax Team has drafted two documents for you to use with your members who may have questions about Tax Reform, for your FPCs who will be meeting with Members of Congress and for your general use. These documents will evolve as the Tax Reform debate evolves. We will periodically let you know when there has been a revision and we will keep the document at the same web link throughout the debate so if you can always have access to the latest information.
Document One Issue Brief: http://narfocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/19/2795.pdf
Document Two Talking Points: http://narfocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/19/2796.pdf
Individual Real Estate Tax Provisions
There is currently no Tax Reform Bill since Congress has adjourned. The House Ways and Means Committee is using the Blueprint a series of tax reform principles to help guide and shape the debate. The Blueprint contains an increase in the Standard Deduction and elimination of the deduction for State and Local Taxes. NAR is opposed to these two concepts. Additionally, many of you have been contacted by outside groups who are asking you to mobilize your members in opposition to changes to the 1031 Like-Kind Exchange provision. NAR opposes any changes to the 1031 Like-Kind Exchange provision and will launch a Call for Action on Tax Reform Legislation when appropriate, please disregard these outside requests.
NAR Priorities for the 115th Congress
Regulatory reform, tax reform, National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization, housing finance reform (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and other housing and real estate issues that arise.