2019 State Legislative Session

Monroe County’s State legislative efforts are incremental and focused on issues that are built upon throughout several sessions. These efforts include funding for water quality infrastructure and land acquisition, and protecting Citizen’s wind insurance affordability. These issues will continue to be legislative priorities in the 2019 session.

The County’s number one priority for the 2019 State Legislative Session is to secure a $25 million appropriation through the Florida Keys Stewardship Act (FKSA) -- with $20 million to fund water quality projects and $5 million to fund land acquisition.

The FKSA authorizes an annual $5 million set-aside of Florida Forever funding for the next 10 years. It is dedicated specifically to enable the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to renew an aggressive land acquisition program in the Florida Keys. 

As the number of development permits shrinks due to state limits for growth in the Florida Keys, and the County reaches “build out,” there is a need to keep our State legislators mindful about the impacts and consequences of Monroe County’s challenge of protecting both environmentally sensitive lands while balancing private property rights. 

The State of Florida, having designated the Florida Keys as an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC), is a partner with Monroe County in this challenge. The County continues to work closely on these issues with the Department of Economic Opportunity (the State’s ACSC oversight agency) and the Department of Environmental Preservation (the State’s main environmental regulatory agency). 

Monroe County and the State are facing the first joint takings judgement in the Galleon Bay case. With this judgement, the cost of takings is no longer theoretical. County and State officials have been jointly defending the litigation and operating under the long standing assumption that the State would partner equally with the in the payment of the judgement, however, that assumption has not been formalized. The judgment was entered against the State and the County, jointly and severally, which means that each is fully responsible for payment. To that end, the County will seek an avenue for codifying this joint responsibility, clarifying that the County and the State are separately obligated to pay half of such judgments (including interest, attorney’s fees and costs).

Elections in November brought significant changes in personnel in leadership positions in the state, including a new Governor and a majority of new Cabinet members. These new officials and their staffs will have to be brought up to speed on the unique development issues that exist in Monroe County, and the State’s role and responsibility.

Wind insurance affordability is yet another critical need for our constituents and a key component in preserving the Keys’ strong local economy that is a valuable economic engine for the State. At the State level, this requires working with and monitoring Citizens Property Insurance Company’s windstorm insurance to find ways to enhance affordability, with the Office of Insurance Regulation to address annual rate increases, and to oppose efforts to increase premiums, reduce coverage, and reduce eligibility. Affordable flood insurance is another important issue, but mainly a federal one. However, Monroe supports any efforts that may be made by State Legislature on behalf of the 1.8 million Floridians who are policyholders in the National Flood Insurance Program, to preserve the NFIP and affordable flood insurance.

State and local investment in affordable housing construction and land acquisition remains a priority especially as we continue our post-Irma housing recovery.

The spate of pre-emption bills introduced in recent legislative sessions such as those related to vacation rentals, single use plastic bags, fracking, business regulation, use of county rights of way, represent a significant challenge to home rule. We expect these State legislative efforts to continue with respect to preemptions, revenue reductions, cost shifts and unfunded mandates.

It is beneficial for the Board to be active participants in the legislative process by testifying on behalf of the County and working with the legislative delegation. Staff will continue to keep the Board involved in legislative issues through agenda items, resolutions, memoranda, the Florida Association of Counties' “Call to Action” emails and regular updates.

2019 STATE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

FLORIDA KEYS STEWARDSHIP ACT

Water Quality: Support $20M appropriation pursuant to the Florida Keys Stewardship Act to construct water quality projects in the Florida Keys. (Local Commitment: $7M in local funding expended, and commitment of $20M in County RESTORE funding.)

Florida Forever: Support $5M appropriation within Florida Forever for land acquisition within the Florida Keys as authorized in the Florida Keys Stewardship Act that will both retire development rights AND conserve environmentally sensitive land. (Local Commitment: $12M in local funding committed.)

STATE-COUNTY PARTNERSHIP ON TAKINGS JUDGMENTS

  • Support efforts to codify a shared 50%-50% apportionment of State-County responsibility on takings judgments, a consequence of state-designated Area of Critical State Concern, limited growth requirements and hurricane evacuation requirements.

LOCAL FUNDING SOURCE FOR LAND MANAGEMENT COSTS

  • Support a statutory change to the Green Utility Fee to lower the population eligibility criterion to enable Monroe to avail itself of this funding opportunity to help cover land management costs associated with land acquisition.

VACATION RENTAL REGULATIONS

  • Support legislation that provides a “carve out” for Monroe County from preemptive vacation rental regulations to enable the County to amend/update its vacation rental regulations in order to preserve its supply of workforce housing; or legislation that would allow local governments with grandfathered ordinances to amend and update their regulations without losing their grandfathered status. VESSELS
  • Support a statutory change to limit the storage time of a vessel at anchor in one location on public waters of the State to not more than 60 days, to reduce the number derelict vessels and removal costs.
  • Support a $500,000 appropriation to support the County’s vessel pump out program to protect Keys’ waters.

CITIZENS WIND INSURANCE

  • Support legislation to limit Monroe’s annual wind insurance rate increase maximum from 10% to a COLA-based increase, recognizing Monroe’s unique affordability issues, strong building codes and overall importance to the State of Florida.
  • Support legislation to lower wind insurance premiums on multifamily affordable units by re-categorizing them to “residential” from “commercial residential.”

ADDITIONAL ISSUES

  • Support request for SAIL funding and housing tax credits from FHFC to aid in Monroe’s post-Hurricane Irma affordable/workforce housing recovery.
  • Support DEP, DOT and/or legislative efforts to fund the construction of Sugarloaf section of the Overseas Heritage Trail.
  • Support State funding and legislation to protect Florida’s coral reef tract.