Legislative Session Update: 2/08/2019

Governor DeSantis released his initial budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2019/2020 on February 1st. The Governor’s staff then had the opportunity to present the budget to the full appropriations and appropriation subcommittees in the House and Senate this week. The Florida Legislature has begun discussing some of their priority issues for Regular Session 2019 – including education, health care issues, and school safety.

We provide the following update on issues and legislation currently being discussed for Regular Session 2019:

1. Governor’s Budget. We are pleased to inform you that the initial budget recommendations from Governor DeSantis includes a similar appropriation of funds for seaport projects and issues as in previous years. Similar to past budgets, the budget includes $160.8 million for seaports in the following specific line items:

  • Line Item 1943 — $15 million for debt reserve payments (FPFC 1996 Bond Refinance).
  • Line Item 1944 — $10 million for debt reserve payments (FPFC 1999 Bond Refinance).
  • Line Item 1945 — $122,727,017 for the FSTED Program, SIS, GM, SPII and other FDOT allocations in FDOT 5-Year Work Program.
  • Line Item 1946 — $12,904,547 for the Seaport Investment Program/Bond debt reserve payments.
  • Line Item 1948 — $78, 790,899 for the FDOT Intermodal Development/Grants Program. This may include some seaport projects.

We have attached a copy of the FDOT Work Program for Fiscal Year 2019/2020, which provides the items/projects included in the Work Program as of January 7, 2019.

House and Senate members continue to submit individual member appropriation requests. Currently, over $1.4 billion in member projects have been submitted in the House and over $116 million in the Senate. There have not been any individual member submissions for seaport infrastructure projects.

2. Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee Meeting on Wednesday, February 13th. Chairman Tom Lee (R-Tampa) has scheduled a discussion on one of Senate President Galvano’s transportation priorities – the creation of three new multi-use corridors in our rural areas of regional economic significance from Polk County to Collier County; extension of the Suncoast Parkway Extension to Georgia; and the Northern Turnpike Connector (Florida Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway). Chairman Lee has scheduled a workshop discussion on these “multi-use corridors” at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13th in Senate Office Building room 110. We will provide you with any documents or information provided concerning the development of these corridors.

3. Luxury Ground Transportation Companies (HB 303 by Representative Rommel). Representative Rommel (R-Naples) has filed legislation that would create a new statutory designation of Luxury Ground Transportation Companies (LGTC), similar to the statutory designation for Uber and Lyft companies (Transportation Network Companies TNC) created in 2017 by the Legislature. The legislation would preempt local governments (including port authorities) from enacting regulations on LGTCs, including the ability to limit the entry and operation of the companies on a seaport.

The House bill has been referred to three House committees: Transportation and Infrastructure; Insurance and Banking; and State Affairs. No committee hearing has been scheduled for the bill to date.

There are no similar bills filed in the Senate yet.

4. Transportation (HB 385 by Representative Avila). Representative Avila (R-Miami) has filed a relatively broad transportation bill that primarily modifies statutes related to expressway authorities. This bill is similar to previous legislation filed by Representative Avila concerning the Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority (MDX). The bill would repeal the Florida Expressway Authority Act, and thus repeal the MDX and transfer its assets and liabilities to the Florida Department of Transportation. The bill also contains a variety of provisions relating to financial disclosure by expressway authority members; approval of certain transportation design plans by FDOT; authorization of FDOT to undertake certain innovative projects and techniques; and makes other modifications to certain transportation entities.

Currently, the bill only has a potential limited impact bill on seaports with respect to approval of transportation design plans by FDOT for seaport projects “on, under, over, or abutting a DOT-owned right-of-way.” Any design plan for projects meeting that criteria, “regardless of funding source,” must be approved by FDOT.

The House bill has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Wednesday, February 13th at 1:30 p.m. The bill also has two more House committee references: Ways and Means; and State Affairs.

There are no identical bills filed in the Senate yet. As discussed below Senator Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) has filed a general bill on transportation that includes some of the same statutory sections contained in the House bill.

5. Transportation (SB 660 by Senator Brandes). Senator Brandes has filed a general omnibus transportation bill containing a variety of statutory provisions related to transportation. The bill contains a variety of provisions related to the administration of FDOT; autonomous vehicle provisions, including platooning of trucks and semitrailers; driver safety provisions; and additional administrative legislation requested by FDOT last year. Much of this language is similar to a bill filed by Senator Brandes last year that failed to pass out of the Legislature. Currently, the legislation does not have a direct impact on seaports operations.

The Senate bill was filed on February 1st, and has not been referred to any Senate committees yet.

6.FPC Lobby Group. We will hold our initial FPC Lobby Group meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, February 11th.  The meeting will be at the Ericks Consultants Building on 205 South Adams Street.