Good News & Bad News
Donna DiMaggio Berger
Florida’s 2019 Legislative Session ended last Friday, May 3rd with not a lot of change to report for community association residents.
There is good news in the form of some relief for older high rises who had been facing the prospect of installing an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) by the end of 2019. Thanks in large part to CALL’s efforts, these buildings will now have some breathing room in the form of additional installation time found in HB 7103. This bill passed the House last Friday and has already been sent to the Governor. Governor DeSantis will now have fifteen days to act on the bill by either signing it, vetoing it or allowing it to become law without his signature. We have every belief that the Governor will sign HB 7103 into law.
While full opt-out rights were NOT achieved, assuming the Governor allows HB 7103 to become law, older high rises (75 ft. or higher) will now have until the end of 2023 to install an ELSS. This will give some of those communities time to marshal the resources to begin installing an ELSS and, for those communities who wish to continue the fight, awareness that if the data pull required under this new law (a report on the number of impacted communities must be delivered to the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House by September 1, 2020) does not support the narrative that ELSS installations will cost billions of dollars statewide, the willingness of Florida legislators to continue staving off the retrofitting will come into question.
CALL’s lobbyist on this issue, Becker Shareholder and former State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, has vowed to continue to pursue legislative relief from ELSS installations as long as impacted associations are willing to join the fight. CALL will be providing more information on this targeted advocacy initiative in the coming months.
The bad news to report is that Senate Bill 1128 which would have criminalized fraudulent emotional support animal (ESA) requests was withdrawn from consideration and did not pass. The purpose of this important piece of legislation by Senator Manny Diaz was to reduce the number of people misrepresenting their pets as assistance animals. The average high-rise building with pet restrictions spends at least $2,500 per year in legal fees evaluating ESA requests that are questionable at best and blatantly fraudulent at worst. Not surprisingly, many boards, managers, and residents have grown weary of one-sided FHA policies and we had been hopeful that 1128 might pass.
CALL will be reaching out to your policymakers over the coming months to determine why the bill was withdrawn from consideration and to urge a reboot next year. For each of you who has taken the time to contact me with requests for information or to share messages you’ve sent to your legislators in response to a CALL Alert you read, thank you for your involvement. For ALL of our CALL Members, you have some homework to do over the coming months! Please reach out to your State Senator and State Representative and make an appointment to meet these folks in their district offices to introduce your community to them in person.
By having these in-person conversations well in advance of the 2020 Legislative Session, your legislators will be able to put a name and face to your call or email thereby injecting even more meaning into your communications next year.