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2020-2021 Legislative Update: Still Tracking New Legislation

While the 2020 Florida Legislative session was positioned to be a very active one, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have affected the number of bills passed by the legislature. Below we have provided brief summaries of the bills passed by the Florida Legislature which impact Florida community associations.  It is important to note that at this time only a couple of the adopted bills have been signed by the Governor.

ADOPTED BILLS

SB 476: Law Enforcement Vehicles.  The approved bill includes provisions which preclude a condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ associations, respectively, from prohibiting a law enforcement officer from parking his or her assigned law enforcement vehicle in certain areas.  The effective date of this bill is 2/21/2020.

SB 140: Fireworks.  The approved bill relates to the use of fireworks and defines the term “designated holiday”.  The bill provides for an exemption for the use of fireworks solely and exclusively during a designated holiday and prohibits homeowners’ associations from promulgating certain rules or regulations restricting same.  The effective date of this bill is 4/8/2020.

PENDING BILLS

The following bills are still pending signature or veto from the governor. It still remains unknown whether or not these bills will become law.

SB 374: Housing Discrimination. This bill has passed both houses and is awaiting presentation to the Governor or Secretary of State.  It allows an individual claiming housing discrimination to bring a civil action without first having to file a complaint with the commission. If approved by the Governor, this bill would take effect upon becoming law.

SB 1084: Emotional Support Animals.  Similar to federal law, Florida law requires that reasonable accommodations be granted in housing settings, such as community associations, for those individuals with assistance animals.  However, existing law fails to provide guidance on some issues related to other types of assistance animals, such as emotional support animals (“ESA”). This bill would amend Florida’s Fair Housing Act by prohibiting discrimination in housing against individuals with a disability or a disability related need who require an ESA. The bill also prohibits housing providers from charging additional fees pertaining to an ESA. The bill specifies that the individual requiring the ESA is liable for any damages to the premises or to another person resulting from the ESA. This bill also allows a housing provider to request supporting information regarding the individual’s disability or disability-related need for the ESA and creates a new cause for disciplinary action against a health care practitioner’s license for providing supporting documentation for an ESA to individuals who they haven’t treated. Finally, the bill creates criminal liability for providing false or fraudulent documentation in support an accommodation request for an ESA.  The bill was presented to the Governor on June 15, 2020, and if approved, this bill will be effective July 1, 2020.

SB 1332/HB 133: Towing and Immobilizing Vehicles and Vessels.  This bill would authorize local governments to enact rates to tow or immobilize vessels on private property and to remove and store vessels under specified circumstances; it would prohibit counties from enacting certain ordinances or rules that impose fees or charges on authorized wrecker operators or towing businesses; it would authorize certain persons to place liens on vehicles or vessels to recover specified fees or charges; it would revise requirements regarding notices and signs concerning the towing or removal of vehicles or vessels, etc.   While the bill has passed both houses of the legislature, it has not yet been presented to the Governor.  If approved, this bill will be effective October 1, 2020.

CS/SB 838: Business Organizations.  The bill specifies that certain documents accepted by the Department of State for filing are effective on the date the documents are accepted by the department; it would revise the required contents of a meeting notice relating to the removal of a director by shareholders; it would authorize a domestic corporation to acquire one or more classes or series of shares under certain circumstances; it would authorize the department to direct certain interrogatories to certain corporations and to officers or directors of certain corporations. This bill was presented to the Governor on June 3, 2020, and if approved, it would take effect upon becoming law.

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