Monday, June 20, 2011

What can we reasonably expect in terms of community association legislation?

We have only a 60-day Regular Legislative Session in the State of Florida which means much of the work that goes into passing bills each year takes place well before the actual start of Session. Each legislator has six (6) bill slots and I have never met a legislator yet who did not want to finish each Session with at least one or two of their sponsored bills successfully passed to bring back to his or her constituents. Have you ever wondered why we get what we get each year?

Why does it seem that only one community association bill passes each year?

There has been a trend for some time now in Tallahassee to “move” only one community association bill each Session. Some say that it is because most legislators see community association bills as controversial and a “headache” so they can only handle one at a time. Each year there are many proposals that come out of the starting gate that impact community association members but the proposals that survive do so because they are amended on to the one bill that has the best chance of passing.

Who comes up with ideas for new legislation?

Proposals come through a variety of channels including calls and emails to a legislator from a constituent with a problem (the grandfathering of rental rights in condominiums came about this way), legislators who have experienced their own issues living in a community association and want to address those issues legislatively (Representative Kottkamp’s architectural control changes in HOA’s was created this way) and lobbyists who are paid to seek legislative changes.

Who actually drafts the proposals?

Again, the sources vary: constituents, Legislative Aides, some legislators, many lobbyists, attorneys and other industry professionals , of course, Senate and House Bill Drafting have the final say on what emerges.

Why is the language so hard to understand in most of these association bills?

What you tend to wind up with are 100+ page bills that are a patchwork of obviously different goals and styles. Unlike a novel which tends to have only one author, many of these omnibus bills are pieced together as a result of compromises made throughout the moving bill’s stops in the committee process. Every year we hear about a “glitch bill” being proposed to fix the glitches in the previous year’s bill. It would be nice to pass a “glitch free bill” some time but until bill drafting is approached more carefully, that day isn’t likely to come any time soon.

What should we expect in the 2012 Session?

Not much. Since this is a redistricting year, it is unlikely that many substantive changes will pass during the 2012 Session in terms of community association legislation. There might be a few technical tweaks here and there but most folks in the know say 2012 is not the year to swing for the fences in terms of big association changes.

This work by Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Generic License.

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