Regular Session 2019 began this week. The House and Senate have begun to discuss their priority issues
for the Regular Session – including medical marijuana, insurance reform, health care, and education.
The House and Senate have not begun formal budget discussions to date, but individual member project
requests exceed $3 billion in both the House and Senate.
We provide the following update on issues and legislation currently being discussed for Regular Session
1. Transportation (SB 7068 by the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee). Senate
President Galvano directed his transportation committee to draft legislation concerning the
creation and development of multi-use transportation corridors in west and north Florida. SB
7068 would create the “Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program” (MCORES)
within the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The bill identifies three
initial corridors to be created under the M-CORES Program:
- Southwest-Central Florida Connector (Collier County to Polk County);
- Suncoast Connector (Citrus County to Jefferson County); and
- Northern Turnpike Connector (Northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike northwest to
the Suncoast Parkway).
The bill authorizes FDOT to undertake the planning and review process for these multijurisdictional
projects. The bill also delineates an aggressive development process with
construction to begin no later than December 31, 2022, with the corridors open to traffic no later
than December 31, 2030.
The bill directs that these corridors shall be developed as toll facility roads, and authorizes the
use of turnpike revenue bonds and other FDOT bonding authority to help finance the cost of the
development of these corridors. The bill also authorizes the redirect of existing motor vehicle
license taxes, currently allocated to the state General Revenue Fund, into the State
Transportation Trust Fund beginning Fiscal Year 2019/20. This redirection of funds will provide
an increase of revenue into the State Transportation Trust Fund of $135 million by Fiscal Year
The Senate Bill was unanimously approved as a committee bill by the Senate Infrastructure and
Security Committee on March 5, 2019. The bill has been referred to two additional Senate
committees — Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic
Development; and full Appropriations. The House does not currently have any similar
Since this bill is a priority of the Senate President, the bill should pass unanimously out of the
Senate. Senate and House appropriators will have to resolve the redirection of funds from the
state General Revenue Fund to the State Transportation Trust Fund. We expect that this bill will
be the subject of negotiations between the House and Senate over priorities in the latter part of
Regular Session 2019.
2. Retainage (CS/HB 101 by Representative Andrade and CS/CS/SB 246 by Senator Hooper).
This legislation is moving quickly in both the House and Senate. As provided in previous
memoranda, this legislation was filed in response to concerns over slow payments to
subcontractors and general contractors on large publicly financed construction projects. The
legislation reduces the amount (referred to as retainage) a state or local governmental entity may
withhold from payment to a contractor for construction services on projects over $200,000. The
retainage amount is statutorily reduced from 10 percent to 5 percent for construction projects
until the project is at least 50 percent complete. The bill also reduces the retainage from 5 percent
to 2.5 percent for construction projects after the project has reached 50 percent completion.
CS/HB 101 was approved as a Committee Substitute by the House Subcommittee on Business
and Professions by a vote of 14 yeas to 1 nay. CS/HB 101 currently has two more scheduled
committee references – Oversight, Transparency and Public Management; and Commerce.
CS/CS/SB 246 has been unanimously passed out of the first two Senate committees. The bill
currently has one more scheduled committee reference – Full Appropriations.
We have passed along the concerns from several of our seaports on this issue, and note that some
of you have a variety of different contractual procedures and have limited concerns about the
impact of this legislation. We will continue to work with the sponsors of this legislation to
address any outstanding concerns.
3. Preemption of Local Regulations (CS/HB 3 by Representative M. Grant). Representative M.
Grant (R-Port Charlotte) has filed legislation to limit the ability of local governments to enact
new regulations on a business or business entity after July 1, 2019. Much of the current language
in the bill is broad, and it is difficult at this time to determine the actual impact of the legislation
on current and future regulations. The bill was amended by the House Business and Professions
Subcommittee to exempt local regulations expressly authorized by general law from the
requirements of the bill. The bill was passed as a Committee Substitute by the Subcommittee by
a vote of 9 yeas to 4 nays.
CS/The House bill also has two more scheduled committee references – Local, Federal and
Veterans Affairs; and Commerce. There are no identical bills filed in the Senate.
4. Public Financing of Construction Projects (SB 78 by Senator (J) Rodriguez and HB 169 by
Representative Fernandez). Senator J. Rodriguez (D-Miami) has refiled the same legislation he
filed during Regular Session 2018. The bill would prohibit state-financed contractors from
commencing construction of certain structures in coastal areas without first conducting a sea
level impact projection study and having such study published and approved by the Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP). The bill would require the DEP to develop rules for the
standards of conducting a sea level impact project study – to include 50-year sea level rise, storm
damage and flooding risks. There was no House bill filed last year, and the bill died in the Senate
last year without a hearing.
The Senate bill has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Environment and Natural
Resources Committee for Tuesday, March 12th at 4:00 p.m. The Senate bills would then have
references to three remaining four Senate committees: Environment and Natural Resources;
Infrastructure and Security; Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and
General Government; and full Appropriations.
No committee hearing has been scheduled for the house bill to date. The House bill has been
referred to three committees: Agriculture and Natural Resources; Appropriations; and State