The Latest on Our Legislative Priorities
The 2019 Legislative Session has officially ended – albeit a little bit later than originally intended. This session was the first under the new DeSantis Administration, under a new Senate President and Speaker of the House, and with one of the largest Freshmen Classes of Legislators in recent history. With just under 200 bills passing both Chambers, ABC of Florida had a very successful session with two of their legislative priorities on their way to Governor DeSantis for his final approval and signature.
As “The Voice of Commercial Construction”, and the largest association for this aspect of the industry, ABC’s legislative priorities are raised and vetted by our General and Specialty Contractor, Associate and Supplier members. When we bring an issue to the Legislature, it has been signed off on by all aspects of the Commercial Construction Industry.
Permit Fee Transparency
(HB 127/SB 142)
This legislation, sponsored by Representative Jayer Williamson and Senator Keith Perry, passed the Legislature back in March and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. The bill requires Building Departments to post their permit and inspection fee schedules. By December 31, 2020, every local government with a Building Department and a permit and inspection fee schedule, must develop and post a building permit and inspection utilization report on their website. The report must highlight the level of service of the Building Departments, the number of permits requested/issued, the number of inspections requested/issued, the number of times a private provider is utilized in lieu of the services of the local government, department salaries, related overhead, and any budget surplus. Permit and Inspection Fee Schedules must be directly tied to the services of the Building Department, must be reasonable, with fee schedules required to stay within the Building Department’s budget. Requiring local governments to post their permit and inspection fee schedules and their relevant department budget information will ensure a new level of transparency and predictability for the industry.
As the largest single provider of Apprenticeship Training in the State, ABC understands the importance of creating and maintaining a skilled workforce in Florida. To that end, we brought two legislative efforts to session this year dealing with the subject. One effort, was to increase transparency in how Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship programs are managed. While funding programs is important, so to is making sure that the generous funding from the State makes it to the intended recipient, the Pre-Apprentice or Apprentice. Our second effort, was to create a direct line to funding, via a Grant Application process, whereby Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Training providers can try to access funding to support their efforts.
Both of these initiatives were rolled into House Bill 7071 – Workforce Education. This legislation was a Committee Bill under the Senate and House Education Committees, and the vehicle for supporting the directive from Governor DeSantis that Florida would provide education opportunities for College and Workforce bound individuals. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Legislators and Staff to help see this effort pass. If Florida is going to continue to lead the Country in Education Innovation, this must also include Workforce Education and Industry Training.
What does the Bill do?
- By September 1 of each year, the Department of Education must publish an annual report on pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in the state. This report will include information like the amount of funding from the state per program, per trade, per area, the number of participants in training programs, the number of program providers, the amount of money received by program providers, the number of LEAs (or Local Education Agencies) who partner with program sponsors, the amount of money they receive per program as well as the amount of money they set aside for things like overhead and related program expenses.
- Encourages high schools to establish a “College and Career Decision Day” to highlight the multitude of post-high school opportunities.
- It renames Higher Education Coordinating Council as the Florida Talent Development Council. This group will work with the Commissioner of Education that Florida’s educational offerings are those that meet the needs of the industries most in demand in the state, or industries Florida is looking to attract to the state.
- It creates the Career and Technical Education Graduation Pathway. This pathway allows for students to take career and technical education course in high school if they wish to pursue a career directly after graduation. Each School Board must incorporate this graduation via CTE option into their student progression plan offerings.
- It allows Adjunct professors, often industry professionals, to come into schools to teach these CTE offerings.
- It creates the “Sail to 60 Initiative”. SAIL is Strengthening Alliance between Industry and Learning and the purpose is to increase to 60 the percentage of working-age adults with a high-value postsecondary certificate, degree or training experience by 2030.
- It requires Career Pathway Agreements. Each Career Center and Florida College System Institution, must submit annually to the DOE, a regional career pathway agreement for each certificate program offered by the Career Center that is aligned with an Associates Degree at a Florida College Institution. This agreement must highlight in demand trades, the relevant courses available to credit towards an Associates Degree relative to the trade at the local College institution, and how many credits can be earned by course towards an AD.
- It renames the FLAG Grant to the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant. This grant is available to high schools, career centers, charter technical career centers, Florida College System institutions, and other entities authorized to sponsor an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program, on a competitive basis to establish new apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs and expand existing apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs. The Department of Education shall administer the grant program and this is a direct funding opportunity for grant recipients
Reduction in Retainage
(HB 101/SB 246)
This legislative effort would have reduced Florida’s Retainage rate on public construction from 10% to a flat 5% rate, and for the duration of the project. While this legislation passed the House with a 104-10 vote, and passed two of its three committees in the Senate with unanimous support, the bill ultimately stalled in the Senate. We want to thank our fantastic sponsors – Representative Alex Andrade and Senator Edward Hooper for their great work on this effort. We look forward to continued efforts on this topic with them both in the future.
ABC of Florida works with Robert Stuart, Chris Carmody, and Chris Dawson from Gray Robinson in support of our Legislative efforts in Tallahassee. We would like to say a special Thank You to them for their efforts on our behalf. We also want to thank our members, from every corner of the state, who participate in our processes. Whether it is our State Convention with Legislative Planning or our Tallahassee Legislative Conference, your commitment to our Legislative Efforts is what helps ABC lead the way in industry-related reform. We appreciate your support and are looking forward to continued efforts with you and on your behalf.