Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MID-SESSION CHECK-UP

The budget has dominated conversations in Tallahassee this session, as the legislature struggles to meet its only constitutionally mandated obligation: pass a balanced budget. Frustratingly, although not surprisingly, the House released its plan late last week, which included draining the Division of Condominium, Timeshares and Mobile Homes’ trust fund. If approved, this would make the fourth year in a row the funds have been swept, totaling more than $26 million.

Despite the budget focus, there is a lot of action on the substantive front. After next week there will be only three more opportunities for bills to be voted on in committee. Although it may appear that this would mean that most of the 20+ bills affecting community associations are in trouble (because they are assigned to be voted on in at least 3 or more committees) they are far from being put in the “life support” category.

As long as a Senate bill has had one committee vote, it can bypass its other committees and be amended onto other bills. The House’s procedures are even more flexible; they have and can pass legislation that has never been voted on in a single house committee.

Thirteen Senate bills that would impact or be of interest to community associations have been heard in their first committee, with several more likely to be heard next week. Now is the time to be vigilant in monitoring the movements of all these pieces. Below is a brief summary of key legislation. Full summaries and updates on all community association bills are available on CAN’s website: www.canfl.com

The deregulation bill (HB 5005), which at this point has no community association language in it, is up for a vote in its final House committee today. There is still no companion bill in the Senate.

CAN’s substantive legislative package (SB 1516/HB 1195) has been merged with an association “glitch” bill. Thanks to Sen. Jeremy Ring and Rep. George Moraitis, this bill appears to have legs and has a good chance of making its way to the Governor’s desk. The legislation would, among other items, prevent convicted felons and delinquent homeowners from serving as HOA board members, clarify whether suspended owners count towards a quorum, as well as clarify that tenants of delinquent owners will pay full rent to the association until the delinquent owner’s account is current. For a full analysis of this bill, go to CAN’s website: www.canfl.com

Property and Casualty Insurance legislation (SB408/HB 803) is ready for a vote before the full Senate. This bill would, among other things, limit the amount an insurer must pay initially to repair a home or replace personal items that have been damaged; would allows insurers to cancel or renew policies with 45 days notice if regulators determine the cancellation is necessary to protect the best interests of the public or policy holders; contains sinkhole provisions and would revise rate increases for reinsurance.

If you live in a community association, the best thing you can do is to be informed and stay involved in the legislative processes that will impact your home and your community.

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