GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
The GAC has been extremely busy this year working together to address many issues challenging our profession and licensure. While it is an ongoing lobbying and advocacy effort the three (3) bills below are currently a priority of the committee.
DOT Highway Beautification Program
Current law requires 1.5% of the amount contracted for Department of Transportation (DOT) construction projects to be dedicated to highway beautification. HB 729 by Representative Gregory and SB 1364 by Senator Brodeur would eliminate this requirement and would simply require “a portion” to be reserved for this purpose. ASLA Florida opposes this proposed policy change as it would severely weaken the highway beautification program, which serves to conserve, protect, restore and enhance Florida’s natural resources and scenic beauty. These bills have received committee references but have not been heard to date. ASLA Florida is working closely with FNGLA and Scenic Florida to oppose these bills. No call to action is necessary at this time but keep an eye out for alerts or requests for assistance as the session progresses.
SB 344 by Senator Diaz and HB 471 by Representative Rizo would provide for a “sunset” of all occupations regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. This year’s bill does not sunset health related professions, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this bill is of significant concern to landscape architects and many other regulated professions. It requires every profession to pass a bill on a certain schedule in order to remain regulation. The legislative process is an uncertain one at best and it can be difficult to pass a bill for all kinds of reasons that do not relate to the bill’s substance. We are working to oppose these bills. Both bills have received committee references but have not been heard to date.
We are working with a coalition of allied stakeholders to improve the tree statute that was enacted during the 2019 Legislative Session. This statute currently guts local tree protection ordinance but also provides no real guidance to the landscape architects and arborists that are trying to do work under this statute. We have worked out language that would provide guidance to the professionals and result in a better statutory approach that should lessen or eliminate the litigation that has ensued since the passage of this law. SB 916 by Senator Brodeur reflects a draft of those changes. There is no House companion. Additionally, HB 1167 by Representative Snyder and SB 1396 by Senator Gruters would add mobile home parks to the current statute without making any of the other positive changes. We are working with everyone involved to try and work out a solution. Representative Jackie Toledo is also very interested in this issue as there is controversial litigation originating from her House district in Tampa. This may need to be bumped to next session but we will continue to work with all of these interested legislators.
If you want to join the Government Affairs Committee and get involved in these efforts, please reach out to Kevin White, email@example.com.
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