County advances 2013 legislative agenda

400-SJC-BOCC-SEAL-LOGOA new year means a new legislative agenda for St Johns County government and reporters for Historic City News in St Augustine reviewed the 56-page presentation made to our Legislative Delegation by County Administrator, Michael Wanchick, earlier this month.

Most of the identified areas that were given a “legislative priority” by the County involve issues, some of which have been controversial, that were brought before the St Johns County Board of Commissioners during the past year.

Unfunded mandates for failing septic tanks
Beach renourishment
Emergency interoperability system
Health and human services
Housing and SHIP funding
Juvenile justice
Library funding
Recreation, open space, land conservation
Water conservation and water quality

Additionally, St Johns County has formally expressed positions to our Florida Senator and State Representatives, in support or in opposition of various amendments to the Florida State Statutes.

• Public Record and Open Meeting Exemptions for Economic Development Agencies – Amend Sections 286.0113 and 288.075, Florida Statutes, to enhance the confidentiality of economic development activities by allowing the Board of County Commissioners to deliberate in private regarding an economic development proposal and allow confidential information in the possession of an economic development agency to be provided to a member of the Board of County Commissioners without such communication being considered a disclosure which would terminate the confidential nature of the information.

• Offer of Judgment and Demand for Judgment – Amend Section 768.79, Florida Statutes, to allow for offers of judgment or offers of settlement pertaining to individual claims for damages, and thereby preserve the purpose of the statute.

• Certain Rental Use of Homestead Property – Add a special rule to section 196.061, Florida Statutes, to allow rental of the same homestead parcel annually so as not to cause loss of homestead exemption.

• Uniform Minimum Standards of County Roads – Amend Section 336.045, Florida Statutes, to include an additional paragraph expressly authorizing Florida counties to plan to determine the reasonable level and frequency of road maintenance.

• Recognize Inherent Danger of Surf and Other Naturally Occurring Beach Conditions along Florida’s Coast – Amend paragraph 380.276(6), Florida Statutes, to include property and access to the present description of any injury or loss of life as matters that the Florida taxpayers, through governmental entities and their employees and agents, will not be held liable for damages or loss due to surf or other naturally occurring conditions.

• Purchasing CCNA Reform – Amend section 287.055, Florida Statutes, to establish an optional (alternative) process for state and local entities to consider cost in the award of professional services agreements pursuant to the Consultants Competitive Negotiation Act.

• Attorney’s Fees for Raising Unsupported Claims – Amend Section 57.105, Florida Statutes, so that the statute applies to any type of administrative proceeding.

• Florida False Claims Act – Amend portions of Sections 68.081-68.09, Florida Statutes, to make the Florida False Claims Act applicable to a county or municipality.

• Tax Exempt Bond Status – Oppose legislation, as cited by both the Florida Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties, that would limit the tax exempt status of municipal bonds, as doing so could increase borrowing costs for local governments and significantly diminish demand for bonds making it more difficult to finance local infrastructure projects.

• Communication Services Tax – Recommend Communication Services Tax legislation reform supported by both the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida Government Finance Officers Association that would ensure the Communication Services Tax remains a locally controlled revenue and remove competitive advantages within the industry by providing similar tax treatment to similar services.

• Tourist Development Tax – Support Federal legislation, in conjunction with the Florida Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties, that would provide for comprehensive review of the current tourist development tax model and oppose legislation that would exempt a portion of online transient rental transactions that would ultimately result in reduced local bed tax revenues.

Historic City News will publish excerpts and summaries from each of the noteworthy issues on which the county has taken a position over the coming weeks.