The 2019 Florida legislative session reached the halfway mark last week with the Senate and House both passing their respective budgets.
Monroe County’s appropriation requests in both budgets include funding for the Florida Keys Stewardship Act, a new Monroe County Emergency Operations Center, the vessel pump out program in the Keys and construction of a Sugarloaf Key section of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. The process to align the Senate and House budgets will tentatively start around April 22.
"Once everything is ironed out in the conference, there's a final proposed State budget that goes to the Governor for signature,” said Monroe County Legislative Affairs Director Lisa Tennyson, who monitors the process.
Here is an update on other Monroe County priorities for the legislative session:
Monroe’s 50/50 Liability Bill (SB 1694/HB 1019) passed favorably out of its first two committee stops in the Senate but has not moved in the House. The bill mandates shared liability among the County and municipalities, and the State, in “takings” cases that likely will happen when the Rate of Growth Ordinance (ROGO) expires in 2023 and property owners with buildable lots will not be able to obtain building permits. “There's still a small chance of something happening with this bill,” Tennyson said.
Monroe’s Wind Insurance Bill (SB 1476/HB 1145) has also moved in the Senate but has not in the House. The bill would save Monroe County property owners about $1.2 million a year on wind insurance, with no fiscal impact to the State.
Monroe’s Derelict Vessels Bill (HB 1221/SB 1666) is moving in both Chambers with broad support. The bill defines vessel storage throughout the County to reduce excessive storage time that leads to dereliction. It also authorizes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to conduct a study on the most effective ways to enforce storage limitations. The bill removes the local match requirement for the State’s derelict vessel removal grant program.
Vacation Rental Preemption Bill (SB 824) preempts all regulation to the State and eliminates grandfathered local government ordinances that have vacation rental regulations. “It has stalled for the moment in the Senate,” Tennyson said. “Its second committee stop is State Affairs, chaired by Sen. Anitere Flores (who represents the Keys), so we are counting on it being stopped there if it moves out of the first committee.”