Legislatively Speaking

Legislatively Speaking

 

Photo of Claudette Bruck

State issues:

Foremost on our minds for many years now, has been phasing out the sales tax on commercial leases, recognizing that this tax puts Florida at a disadvantage in bringing new businesses to Florida; since Florida is the only state that imposes this tax.

It is believed that cost of this tax to small businesses is approximately $1.7 billion each year.  Imagine the number of employees that could be hired and the improvements made in the workplace if this tax was finally abolished.  Florida Realtors and the Florida CCIM Chapter has worked closely with the legislature for several years, initially seeking to abolish the tax and gradually seeking to phase it out, identifying it as a business rent tax.  Once again, our efforts failed this year as the legislature elected instead to provide $428 million to offset higher property taxes.  Our lobbyists worked diligently on this issue, and, promise to lead the charge again in the next session.

On July 1st some rule changes in Florida’s Building Code take effect, some of which are as follows:

  • Low-voltage landscape lighting may be installed by non-licensed electrical contractors;
  • Contractors and alarm monitoring companies will be required to advise a property owner about the requirement to register their alarm system; if applicable;
  • Buildings above a certain height will be required to have two fire service access elevators;
  • Employees of apartment communities with 100 or more units are exempt from contractor license requirements if making minor repairs to existing electric water heaters, ventilation, air-conditioning or existing electric heating elements, as long as they meet certain criteria and the cost of the repair parts do not exceed $1000.

As a result of complaints that insurers mishandled claims for damage from Superstorm Sandy by paying less than the value of some claims, FEMA wants to make changes to the National Flood Insurance program to provide greater transparency and oversight.  FEMA will provide assistance to help policyholders through the appeals process is they feel their claims were underpaid.

National issues:

The EPA is unable to meet the court-imposed deadline of July 1st on a proposed rule on lead paint in commercial buildings and now renovation and remodeling activities in commercial and public buildings could potentially increase the harm to building occupants.  NAR has been actively working with contractors and others to provide assistance in the rulemaking process.

The FAA currently regulates building heights near airports, and, is has proposed new regulations that may severely limit the height of new buildings near airports.

Claudette Bruck, Legislative Chair
FL CCIM Chapter

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