April 03, 2020
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HB 7157

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to real property used for conservation
3purposes; creating s. 196.26, F.S.; providing definitions;
4providing for a full or partial exemption for land
5dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes;
6exempting certain real property encumbered by a
7conservation easement purchased by the federal or state
8government or by a local government; providing
9circumstances under which land consisting of less than 40
10acres qualifies for such exemption; providing for the
11assessment of buildings and structures on exempted lands;
12requiring best management practices to be used for certain
13agricultural lands; providing for third-party conservation
14easement enforcement rights to water management districts;
15creating the Board of Conservation for certain purposes;
16providing for appointment of members; amending s. 193.501,
17F.S.; revising a cross-reference; amending s. 704.06,
18F.S.; requiring owners of property encumbered by a
19conservation easement to comply with marketable record
20title requirements to preserve the easement in perpetuity;
21amending s. 195.073, F.S.; specifying an additional real
22property assessment classification; amending s. 196.011,
23F.S.; providing requirements and procedures for renewal
24applications for exemptions for real property dedicated in
25perpetuity for conservation purposes; requiring owners of
26such property to notify the property appraiser when use of
27the property no longer qualifies for the exemption;
28providing penalties for failure to notify; providing for
29application of certain lien provisions; amending s.
30192.0105, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference; creating s.
31218.125, F.S.; requiring the Legislature to appropriate
32moneys to replace the reductions in ad valorem tax revenue
33experienced by fiscally constrained counties with a
34population not exceeding 25,000; requiring each fiscally
35constrained county to apply to the Department of Revenue
36to participate in the distribution of the appropriation;
37specifying the documentation that must be provided to the
38department; providing a formula for calculating the
39reduction in ad valorem tax revenue; authorizing the
40department to adopt emergency rules effective for a
41specified period; providing for renewal of such rules;
42providing applicability; providing an effective date.
44Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
46     Section 1.  Section 196.26, Florida Statutes, is created to
48     196.26  Exemption for real property dedicated in perpetuity
49for conservation purposes.--
50     (1)  As used in this section:
51     (a)  "Allowed commercial uses" means commercial uses that
52are allowed by the conservation easement encumbering the land
53exempt from taxation under this section.
54     (b)  "Conservation easement" means the property right
55described in s. 704.06.
56     (c)  "Conservation purposes" means:
57     1.  Retention of the substantial natural value of land,
58including woodlands, wetlands, water courses, ponds, streams,
59and natural open spaces;
60     2.  Retention of such lands as suitable habitat for fish,
61plants, or wildlife; or
62     3.  Retention of such lands' natural value for water
63quality enhancement or water recharge.
64     (d)  "Dedicated in perpetuity" means that the land is
65encumbered by an irrevocable, perpetual conservation easement.
66     (2)  Land that is dedicated in perpetuity for conservation
67purposes and that is used exclusively for conservation purposes
68is exempt from ad valorem taxation.
69     (3)(a)  Land that is dedicated in perpetuity for
70conservation purposes and that is used for allowed commercial
71uses is exempt from ad valorem taxation to the extent of 50  
72percent of the assessed value of the land.
73     (b)  Real property that is encumbered by a conservation
74easement purchased by the federal or state government or by a
75local government before May 1, 2009, is exempt from ad valorem
77     (4)  Land that comprises less than 40 contiguous acres does
78not qualify for the exemption provided in this section unless,
79in addition to meeting the other requirements of this section,
80the use of the land for conservation purposes is determined by
81the Board of Conservation to fulfill a clearly delineated state
82conservation policy and yield a significant public benefit. The
83determination of whether a significant public benefit exists
84must include consideration of the fiscal impact the exemption
85provided in this section will have on affected governments and
86other taxpayers.
87     (5)  Buildings, structures, and other improvements situated
88on land receiving the exemption provided in this section and the
89land area immediately surrounding the buildings, structures, and
90improvements must be assessed separately pursuant to chapter
92     (6)  Land that qualifies for the exemption provided in this
93section the allowed commercial uses of which include agriculture
94must comply with the most recent best management practices if
95adopted by rule of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
97     (7)  As provided in s. 704.06(8) and (9), water management
98districts with jurisdiction over lands receiving the exemption
99provided in this section have a third-party right of enforcement
100to enforce the terms of the applicable conservation easement for
101any easement that is not enforceable by a federal or state
102agency, county, municipality, or water management district.
103     (8)  The Board of Conservation is created to make the
104determinations required by subsection (4). The board shall
105consist of eleven members appointed as follows:
106     (a)  The Governor shall appoint one member representing a
107rural-county government, one member representing a medium-county
108government, one member representing a large-county government,
109and two members each representing a nationally recognized
110organization the purposes of which include the preservation of
111conservation lands to serve on the board.
112     (b)  The agency heads of the Department of Agriculture, the
113Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of
114Community Affairs, and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation
115Commission shall each appoint one employee to serve on the
117     (c)  After the members have been selected under paragraphs
118(a) and (b), those members shall select two additional members,
119one member who owns not less than 40 nor more than 500 acres of
120land and one member who owns not less than 2,500 acres of land.
121     Section 2.  Subsection (1) of section 193.501, Florida
122Statutes, is amended to read:
123     193.501  Assessment of lands subject to a conservation
124easement, environmentally endangered lands, or lands used for
125outdoor recreational or park purposes when land development
126rights have been conveyed or conservation restrictions have been
128     (1)  The owner or owners in fee of any land subject to a
129conservation easement as described in s. 704.06(1); land
130qualified as environmentally endangered pursuant to paragraph
131(6)(i) and so designated by formal resolution of the governing
132board of the municipality or county within which such land is
133located; land designated as conservation land in a comprehensive
134plan adopted by the appropriate municipal or county governing
135body; or any land which is utilized for outdoor recreational or
136park purposes may, by appropriate instrument, for a term of not
137less than 10 years:
138     (a)  Convey the development right of such land to the
139governing board of any public agency in this state within which
140the land is located, or to the Board of Trustees of the Internal
141Improvement Trust Fund, or to a charitable corporation or trust
142as described in s. 704.06(3); or
143     (b)  Covenant with the governing board of any public agency
144in this state within which the land is located, or with the
145Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or
146with a charitable corporation or trust as described in s.
147704.06(3), that such land be subject to one or more of the
148conservation restrictions provided in s. 704.06(1) or not be
149used by the owner for any purpose other than outdoor
150recreational or park purposes. If land is covenanted and used
151for an outdoor recreational purpose, the normal use and
152maintenance of the land for that purpose, consistent with the
153covenant, shall not be restricted.
154     Section 3.  Subsection (12) is added to section 704.06,
155Florida Statutes, to read:
156     704.06  Conservation easements; creation; acquisition;
158     (12)  An owner of property encumbered by a conservation
159easement must abide by the requirements of chapter 712 or any
160other similar law or rule to preserve the conservation easement
161in perpetuity.
162     Section 4.  Subsection (1) of section 195.073, Florida
163Statutes, is amended to read:
164     195.073  Classification of property.--All items required by
165law to be on the assessment rolls must receive a classification
166based upon the use of the property. The department shall
167promulgate uniform definitions for all classifications. The
168department may designate other subclassifications of property.
169No assessment roll may be approved by the department which does
170not show proper classifications.
171     (1)  Real property must be classified according to the
172assessment basis of the land into the following classes:
173     (a)  Residential, subclassified into categories, one
174category for homestead property and one for nonhomestead
176     1.  Single family.
177     2.  Mobile homes.
178     3.  Multifamily.
179     4.  Condominiums.
180     5.  Cooperatives.
181     6.  Retirement homes.
182     (b)  Commercial and industrial.
183     (c)  Agricultural.
184     (d)  Nonagricultural acreage.
185     (e)  High-water recharge.
186     (f)  Historic property used for commercial or certain
187nonprofit purposes.
188     (g)  Exempt, wholly or partially.
189     (h)  Centrally assessed.
190     (i)  Leasehold interests.
191     (j)  Time-share property.
192     (k)  Land assessed under s. 193.501.
193     (l)(k)  Other.
194     Section 5.  Subsections (6) and (9) of section 196.011,
195Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
196     196.011  Annual application required for exemption.--
197     (6)(a)  Once an original application for tax exemption has
198been granted, in each succeeding year on or before February 1,
199the property appraiser shall mail a renewal application to the
200applicant, and the property appraiser shall accept from each
201such applicant a renewal application on a form to be prescribed
202by the Department of Revenue. Such renewal application shall be
203accepted as evidence of exemption by the property appraiser
204unless he or she denies the application. Upon denial, the
205property appraiser shall serve, on or before July 1 of each
206year, a notice setting forth the grounds for denial on the
207applicant by first-class mail. Any applicant objecting to such
208denial may file a petition as provided for in s. 194.011(3).
209     (b)  Once an original application for tax exemption has
210been granted under s. 196.26, in each succeeding year on or
211before February 1, the property appraiser shall mail a renewal
212application to the applicant on a form prescribed by the
213Department of Revenue. The applicant must certify on the form
214that the use of the property complies with the restrictions and
215requirements of the conservation easement. The form shall
216include a statement that the exemption granted under s. 196.26
217will not be renewed unless the application is returned to the
218property appraiser.
219     (9)(a)  A county may, at the request of the property
220appraiser and by a majority vote of its governing body, waive
221the requirement that an annual application or statement be made
222for exemption of property within the county after an initial
223application is made and the exemption granted. The waiver under
224this subsection of the annual application or statement
225requirement applies to all exemptions under this chapter except
226the exemption under s. 196.1995. Notwithstanding such waiver,
227refiling of an application or statement shall be required when
228any property granted an exemption is sold or otherwise disposed
229of, when the ownership changes in any manner, when the applicant
230for homestead exemption ceases to use the property as his or her
231homestead, or when the status of the owner changes so as to
232change the exempt status of the property. In its deliberations
233on whether to waive the annual application or statement
234requirement, the governing body shall consider the possibility
235of fraudulent exemption claims which may occur due to the waiver
236of the annual application requirement. It is the duty of The
237owner of any property granted an exemption who is not required
238to file an annual application or statement shall to notify the
239property appraiser promptly whenever the use of the property or
240the status or condition of the owner changes so as to change the
241exempt status of the property. If any property owner fails to so
242notify the property appraiser and the property appraiser
243determines that for any year within the prior 10 years the owner
244was not entitled to receive such exemption, the owner of the
245property is subject to the taxes exempted as a result of such
246failure plus 15 percent interest per annum and a penalty of 50
247percent of the taxes exempted. Except for homestead exemptions
248controlled by s. 196.161, it is the duty of the property
249appraiser making such determination shall to record in the
250public records of the county a notice of tax lien against any
251property owned by that person or entity in the county, and such
252property must be identified in the notice of tax lien. Such
253property is subject to the payment of all taxes and penalties.
254Such lien when filed shall attach to any property, identified in
255the notice of tax lien, owned by the person who illegally or
256improperly received the exemption. If Should such person no
257longer owns own property in that county, but owns own property
258in some other county or counties in the state, it shall be the
259duty of the property appraiser shall to record a notice of tax
260lien in such other county or counties, identifying the property
261owned by such person or entity in such county or counties, and
262it shall become a lien against such property in such county or
264     (b)  The owner of any property granted an exemption under
265s. 196.26 shall notify the property appraiser promptly whenever
266the use of the property no longer complies with the restrictions
267and requirements of the conservation easement. If the property
268owner fails to so notify the property appraiser and the property
269appraiser determines that for any year within the preceding 10
270years the owner was not entitled to receive the exemption, the
271owner of the property is subject to taxes exempted as a result
272of the failure plus 18 percent interest per annum and a penalty
273of 100 percent of the taxes exempted. The provisions for tax
274liens in paragraph (a) apply to property granted an exemption
275under s. 196.26.
276     (c)(b)  A county may, at the request of the property
277appraiser and by a majority vote of its governing body, waive
278the requirement that an annual application be made for the
279veteran's disability discount granted pursuant to s. 6(g), Art.
280VII of the State Constitution after an initial application is
281made and the discount granted. It is the duty of The disabled
282veteran receiving a discount for which annual application has
283been waived shall to notify the property appraiser promptly
284whenever the use of the property or the percentage of disability
285to which the veteran is entitled changes. If a disabled veteran
286fails to notify the property appraiser and the property
287appraiser determines that for any year within the prior 10 years
288the veteran was not entitled to receive all or a portion of such
289discount, the penalties and processes in paragraph (a) relating
290to the failure to notify the property appraiser of ineligibility
291for an exemption shall apply.
292     (d)(c)  For any exemption under s. 196.101(2), the
293statement concerning gross income must be filed with the
294property appraiser not later than March 1 of every year.
295     (e)(d)  If an exemption for which the annual application is
296waived pursuant to this subsection will be denied by the
297property appraiser in the absence of the refiling of the
298application, notification of an intent to deny the exemption
299shall be mailed to the owner of the property prior to February
3001. If the property appraiser fails to timely mail such notice,
301the application deadline for such property owner pursuant to
302subsection (1) shall be extended to 28 days after the date on
303which the property appraiser mails such notice.
304     Section 6.  Paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of section
305192.0105, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
306     192.0105  Taxpayer rights.--There is created a Florida
307Taxpayer's Bill of Rights for property taxes and assessments to
308guarantee that the rights, privacy, and property of the
309taxpayers of this state are adequately safeguarded and protected
310during tax levy, assessment, collection, and enforcement
311processes administered under the revenue laws of this state. The
312Taxpayer's Bill of Rights compiles, in one document, brief but
313comprehensive statements that summarize the rights and
314obligations of the property appraisers, tax collectors, clerks
315of the court, local governing boards, the Department of Revenue,
316and taxpayers. Additional rights afforded to payors of taxes and
317assessments imposed under the revenue laws of this state are
318provided in s. 213.015. The rights afforded taxpayers to assure
319that their privacy and property are safeguarded and protected
320during tax levy, assessment, and collection are available only
321insofar as they are implemented in other parts of the Florida
322Statutes or rules of the Department of Revenue. The rights so
323guaranteed to state taxpayers in the Florida Statutes and the
324departmental rules include:
325     (2)  THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.--
326     (c)  The right to file a petition for exemption or
327agricultural classification with the value adjustment board when
328an application deadline is missed, upon demonstration of
329particular extenuating circumstances for filing late (see ss.
330193.461(3)(a) and 196.011(1), (7), (8), and (9)(e)(d)).
331     Section 7.  Section 218.125, Florida Statutes, is created
332to read:
333     218.125  Replacement for tax loss associated with certain
334constitutional amendments affecting fiscally constrained
336     (1)  Beginning in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the
337Legislature shall appropriate moneys to replace the reductions
338in ad valorem tax revenue experienced by fiscally constrained
339counties, as defined in s. 218.67(1), with a population not
340greater than 25,000, which occur as a direct result of the
341implementation of revisions of ss. 3(f) and 4(b), Art. VII of
342the State Constitution which were approved in the general
343election held in November 2008. The moneys appropriated for this
344purpose shall be distributed in January of each fiscal year
345among the fiscally constrained counties based on each county's
346proportion of the total reduction in ad valorem tax revenue
347resulting from the implementation of the revisions.
348     (2)  On or before November 15 of each year, beginning in
3492010, each fiscally constrained county shall apply to the
350Department of Revenue to participate in the distribution of the
351appropriation and provide documentation supporting the county's
352estimated reduction in ad valorem tax revenue in the form and
353manner prescribed by the Department of Revenue. The
354documentation must include an estimate of the reduction in
355taxable value directly attributable to revisions of Art. VII of
356the State Constitution for all county taxing jurisdictions
357within the county and shall be prepared by the property
358appraiser in each fiscally constrained county. The documentation
359must also include the county millage rates applicable in all
360such jurisdictions for the current year and the prior year,
361rolled-back rates determined as provided in s. 200.065 for each
362county taxing jurisdiction, and maximum millage rates that could
363have been levied by majority vote pursuant to s. 200.185. For
364purposes of this section, each fiscally constrained county's
365reduction in ad valorem tax revenue shall be calculated as 95
366percent of the estimated reduction in taxable value times the
367lesser of the 2010 applicable millage rate or the applicable
368millage rate for each county taxing jurisdiction in the prior
370     Section 8.  The Department of Revenue may adopt emergency
371rules to administer s. 196.26, Florida Statutes, as created by
372this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6
373months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of
374procedures to adopt rules addressing the subject of the
375emergency rules.
376     Section 9.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law
377and shall apply to property tax assessments made on or after
378January 1, 2010.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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