Zinzow Law

Your Resource for Changing Laws: Construction & Development

Your Resource for Changing Laws: Construction & Development

Our state capitol in Tallahassee may seem like a world away, but as they say, all politics is local. Change in Tallahassee brings change to your doorstep. Just finishing its second week of legislative session, things are moving swiftly and more flexibly as Governor DeSantis campaigns to be our country’s next President. While there are still almost two months of session left to go, Zinzow Law’s work for you began months ago, influencing priorities to support, priorities to oppose, and bill drafting. As I close out this week’s advocacy from the halls of Tallahassee, I write to provide you with this progress update, which will be one of many to follow during session, ultimately culminating in our official guide: New Laws to Live By. New Laws to Live By will explain, as it has in prior years, laws and regulations passed and how they impact you. Do not hesitate to contact us if we can be a resource for you locally, in Tallahassee, or beyond.
Immigration: Despite the challenges caused by last year’s sweeping immigration bill, which became effective January 1, few elected representatives, including the Governor, seem willing to talk about fixing unintended and problematic consequences. This is little surprise, given the ongoing Presidential campaigns. Even still, the immigration law is not the death knell it seems, and a studied understanding leaves businesses free to grow their organizations without fear of substantial repercussion.

Construction Defect: Last year our industry landed two big wins in the fight against frivolous construction defect claims. We are guarding against anything that will water down those wins—and such efforts are afoot–so that we can be well poised to build upon them in future sessions.

Sadowski Funding: For many years money from the Sadowski housing trust fund was wrongly used to fund a multitude of other state programs. Full funding of the fund creates billions in economic benefit and creates nearly 30,000 jobs while providing safe and affordable housing. We are advocating for full funding and for legislation prohibiting the misapplication of those funds to non-housing uses. Mobility Fees and Impact Fees (Dual Payments and Transfer of Credits): The industry has always understood mobility fees as a replacement for, and successor to, impact fees. Yet the government, all too happy to pull deeper from your pockets, has been treating these fees as two different and available hammers, and have been double dipping by charging both. Additionally, in areas where builder/developers have acquired impact fee credits, municipalities will not apply these credits against mobility fees, all of which increases the cost of your development and housing. We are advocating for the passage of legislation that will put an end to this form of fee gouging.

Workforce: Worker’s compensation insurance and other forces at play have made it difficult for companies to recruit working teens, ages 16 and 17, into an exciting and rewarding career in construction and development. We are advocating for changes which will allow young adults, after sufficient OSHA safety training, to work on project sites, and for enhancing available construction trade education offerings to students.

Heat Exposure: Counties across the state have been trying to impose their-own jobsite heat exposure regulations upon construction and development companies. Workers are already well protected and trained on heat exposure under OSHA regulations and programs. We do not need 67 different counties adopting a multitude of conflicting additional and unnecessary burdens, so we are advocating for the passage of a law which prohibits counties and cities from taking this action.

Residential Building Permits: Review continues to take too long notwithstanding ever-increasing taxes and fees charged by government, and builder developers often receive comments from reviewers on a piecemeal basis which complicates, delays, and increases expenses in the permitting process. We have been advocating for a bill which imposes review deadlines and prohibits piecemeal comments, as well as which requires reviewers to cite specific code provisions supporting their comments and rejections, so you are not left guessing and have the ability to defeat requirements invented out of thin air.

Construction Fraud: Because of a few bad actors who stole deposits from unsuspecting homeowners in hurricane impacted areas, some are pushing for a massive change to the way residential builders handle finance. Presently making its way through the legislature is a bill which attempts to impose escrow account and accounting requirements on builders, making failure to do so a felony, even if the construction project is successfully completed. We have been working closely with industry partners on defeating this bill, or substantially narrowing its scope. There are already sufficient laws and regulations on the books which prohibit this form of theft.

Warranty Transferability: Contractors and warranty companies have honored the transferability of a one year or 2-10 warranty, but some builders have recently started denying warranty claims by successive owners, even if the warranty is unexpired. As a result, legislation is now pending which will require that builders and warranty companies honor transferred warranties. Early versions of this legislation make it a deceptive and unfair trade practice to deny a transferred warranty, which will open the floodgates of litigation. This week we met with both the House and Senate sponsor to discuss our concerns about certain aspects of the bills and secured an agreement to remove any offending language.

Continuing Contract: Continuing contracts with cities and counties work much like private sector Master Service Agreements in the way that they allow construction companies and design professionals to bid for the opportunity to receive an ongoing contract for multiple projects, rather than for just a single project. We are supporting legislation which expands these opportunities from their current $4 million in value to $10 million, and which opens the door to other project types.

Private Provider: In those areas where permit review and building inspection are slow or otherwise problematic, private providers can be an extraordinarily valuable tool. Current law allows a developer or contractor to engage a private provider to perform the functions of the government building department. Current law also requires counties and cities to reduce their fees when this occurs. We support two bills which aim to clarify existing law, and which penalize local government for refusing to appropriately reduce their fees when a private provider is used.

Buy American: You will find no fiercer and ally in the defense of God and County than the building industry, but continued insistence that contractors use only American made products on government projects hurts America. The products are often not commercially available, or their lead time is so extensive that the project cannot be delivered on time. For the last three years bills have been worked through the legislature to create such requirements, but these bills purporting to support American industry are a ruse. The manufacturing industry has not yet returned strongly enough, and these bills therefore impose unnecessary government red tape whereby contractors must submit mountains of paperwork to convince government of what the people already know. We oppose, as we have for the last two years, this badly timed legislation.

Sunshine 811: Call before you dig! Florida’s utility locate service has been an important tool in the prevention of property damage and jobsite injury, but bills currently underway would weaken and slow the industry. These bills propose to lengthen location and response times. We are opposing these efforts.
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