October 25, 2020
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_h7179__
HB 7179

1
A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to qualifying improvements to real
3property; creating s. 163.08, F.S.; providing legislative
4purposes and findings and intent; providing definitions;
5authorizing a local government to levy non-ad valorem
6assessments to fund certain improvements; authorizing a
7property owner to apply for funding and enter into a
8financing agreement with a local government to finance
9certain improvements; authorizing a local government to
10collect moneys for such purposes through non-ad valorem
11assessments, municipal or county liens, or other lawful
12methods; providing collection requirements; providing for
13discontinuance of utility service under certain
14circumstances; authorizing local governments to partner
15with other local governments to provide and finance
16certain improvements; authorizing a qualifying improvement
17program to be administered by a for-profit entity or not-
18for-profit organization under certain circumstances;
19authorizing a local government to incur debt payable from
20revenues received from the improved property; providing a
21financing restriction for local governments; specifying
22responsibilities for local governments before entering
23into financing agreements; requiring qualifying
24improvements to be affixed to an existing building or
25facility on the property and be performed by a properly
26certified or registered contractor; excluding certain
27projects from financing agreement coverage; limiting the
28amount the just value of the property subject to non-ad
29valorem assessments or municipal or county liens;
30providing exceptions; specifying information provision
31requirements for property owners before entering into
32financing agreements; prohibiting acceleration of a
33mortgage under certain circumstances; specifying
34unenforceability of certain agreement provisions;
35providing construction preserving a local government's
36home rule authority; providing an effective date.
37
38Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
39
40     Section 1.  Section 163.08, Florida Statutes, is created to
41read:
42     163.08  Supplemental authority for improvements to real
43property.-
44     (1)(a)  In chapter 2008-227, Laws of Florida, the
45Legislature amended the energy goal of the state comprehensive
46plan to provide, in part, that the state shall reduce its energy
47requirements through enhanced conservation and efficiency
48measures in all end-use sectors and shall reduce atmospheric
49carbon dioxide by promoting an increased use of renewable energy
50resources. That act also declared it the public policy of the
51state to play a leading role in developing and instituting
52energy management programs that promote energy conservation,
53energy security, and reduction of greenhouse gases. In addition
54to establishing policies to promote the use of renewable energy,
55the Legislature provided for a schedule of increases in energy
56performance of buildings subject to the Florida Energy
57Efficiency Code for Building Construction. In chapter 2008-191,
58Laws of Florida, the Legislature adopted new energy conservation
59and greenhouse gas reduction comprehensive planning requirements
60for local governments. In the 2008 general election, the voters
61of this state approved a constitutional amendment authorizing
62the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of
63any change or improvement made for the purpose of improving a
64property's resistance to wind damage or the installation of a
65renewable energy source device in the determination of the
66assessed value of residential real property.
67     (b)  The Legislature finds that all energy-consuming-
68improved properties not using energy conservation strategies
69contribute to the burden affecting all improved property
70resulting from fossil fuel energy production. Improved property
71that has been retrofitted with energy-related qualifying
72improvements receives the special benefit of alleviating the
73property's burden from energy consumption. All improved
74properties not protected from wind damage by wind resistance
75qualifying improvements contribute to the burden affecting all
76improved property resulting from potential wind damage. Improved
77property that has been retrofitted with wind resistance
78qualifying improvements receives the special benefit of reducing
79the property's burden from potential wind damage. Further, the
80installation and operation of qualifying improvements not only
81benefit the affected properties for which the improvements are
82made, but also assist in fulfilling the goals of the state's
83energy and hurricane mitigation policies. To make qualifying
84improvements more affordable and assist property owners who wish
85to undertake such improvements, there is a compelling state
86interest in enabling property owners, on a voluntary basis, to
87finance such improvements with local government assistance.
88     (c)  The Legislature determines that the actions authorized
89under this section, including, but not limited to, the financing
90of qualifying improvements through the execution of financing
91agreements and the related imposition of voluntary assessments
92or charges, are reasonable and necessary to serve and achieve a
93compelling state interest and are necessary for the prosperity
94and welfare of the state and its property owners and
95inhabitants.
96     (2)  As used in this section, the term:
97     (a)  "Local government" means a county, municipality, or
98special district.
99     (b)  "Qualifying improvement" includes any:
100     1.  "Energy conservation and efficiency improvement," which
101means a measure to reduce consumption, through conservation or
102more efficient use, of electricity, natural gas, propane, or
103other forms of energy on the property, including, but not
104limited to, air sealing; installation of insulation;
105installation of energy-efficient heating, cooling, or
106ventilation systems; building modifications to increase the use
107of daylight; replacement of windows; installation of energy
108controls or energy recovery systems; and installation of
109efficient lighting equipment.
110     2.  "Renewable energy improvement," which means the
111installation of any system whose electrical, mechanical, or
112thermal energy is produced from a method that uses one or more
113of the following fuels or energy sources: hydrogen, solar
114energy, geothermal energy, bioenergy, and wind energy.
115     3.  "Wind resistance improvement," which includes, but is
116not limited to:
117     a.  Improving the strength of the roof deck attachment;
118     b.  Creating a secondary water barrier to prevent water
119intrusion;
120     c.  Installing wind-resistant shingles;
121     d.  Installing gable-end bracing;
122     e.  Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections;
123     f.  Installing storm shutters; or
124     g.  Installing opening protections.
125     (3)  A local government may levy non-ad valorem assessments
126to fund qualifying improvements.
127     (4)  Subject to local government ordinance or resolution, a
128property owner may apply to the local government for funding to
129finance a qualifying improvement and enter into a financing
130agreement with the local government. Costs incurred by the local
131government for such purpose may be collected as a non-ad valorem
132assessment, by means of a municipal or county lien, or by any
133other lawful method.
134     (a)  A non-ad valorem assessment shall be collected
135pursuant s. 197.3632. However, the notice and adoption
136requirements of s. 197.3632(4) do not apply if this section is
137used and complied with, and the initial resolution, publication
138of notice, and mailed notices to the property appraiser, tax
139collector, and Department of Revenue required by s.
140197.3632(3)(a) may be provided on or before August 15 in
141conjunction with any non-ad valorem assessment authorized by
142this section, if the property appraiser, tax collector, and
143local government agree.
144     (b)  If the financing agreement provides for repayment
145through a surcharge on a utility or other municipal service bill
146in the form of a municipal lien, the utility provider may
147discontinue the delivery of all utility service for nonpayment
148of the surcharge. However, the financing agreement must set
149forth the terms and costs of such discontinuance of service,
150including the period of time of nonpayment of the surcharge
151after which the discontinuance of service will be imposed.
152     (5)  Pursuant to this chapter or as otherwise provided by
153law or pursuant to a local government's home rule power, a local
154government may partner with one or more local governments for
155the purpose of providing and financing qualifying improvements.
156     (6)  A qualifying improvement program may be administered
157by a for-profit entity or a not-for-profit organization on
158behalf of and at the discretion of the local government.
159     (7)  A local government may incur debt for the purpose of
160providing such improvements, payable from revenues received from
161the improved property, or any other available revenue source
162authorized by law.
163     (8)  A local government may enter into a financing
164agreement only with the record owner of the affected property.
165     (9)  Before entering into a financing agreement, the local
166government shall reasonably determine that all property taxes
167and any other assessments levied on the same bill as property
168taxes are paid and have not been delinquent for the preceding 3
169years or the property owner's period of ownership, whichever is
170less; that there are no involuntary liens, including, but not
171limited to, construction liens on the property; that no notices
172of default or other evidence of property-based debt delinquency
173have been recorded during the preceding 3 years or the property
174owner's period of ownership, whichever is less; and that the
175property owner is current on all mortgage debt on the property.
176     (10)  A qualifying improvement shall be affixed to an
177existing building or facility that is part of the property and
178shall constitute an improvement to the building or facility or a
179fixture attached to the building or facility. An agreement
180between a local government and a qualifying property owner may
181not cover projects in buildings or facilities under new
182construction or construction for which a certificate of
183occupancy or similar evidence of substantial completion of new
184construction or improvement has not been issued.
185     (11)  Any work requiring a license under any applicable law
186to make a qualifying improvement shall be performed by a
187contractor properly certified or registered pursuant to part I
188or part II of chapter 489.
189     (12)(a)  Without the consent of the holders or loan
190servicers of any mortgage encumbering or otherwise secured by
191the property, the total amount of any non-ad valorem assessment
192or municipal or county lien for a property under this section
193may not exceed 20 percent of the just value of the property as
194determined by the county property appraiser.
195     (b)  Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a non-ad valorem
196assessment or municipal or county lien for a qualifying
197improvement defined in subparagraph (2)(b)1. or subparagraph
198(2)(b)2. that is supported by an energy audit is not subject to
199the limits in this subsection if the audit demonstrates that the
200annual energy savings from the qualified improvement equals or
201exceeds the annual repayment amount of the non-ad valorem
202assessment or municipal or county lien.
203     (c)  A local government may adopt alternate parameters to
204those specified in this subsection to conform to local needs and
205conditions after a public hearing and the finding of the need
206for such changes due to local needs and conditions.
207     (13)  At least 30 days before entering into a financing
208agreement, the property owner shall provide to the holders or
209loan servicers of any existing mortgages encumbering or
210otherwise secured by the property a notice of the owner's intent
211to enter into a financing agreement together with the maximum
212principal amount to be financed and the maximum annual
213assessment necessary to repay that amount. A provision in any
214agreement between a mortgagee or other lienholder and a property
215owner, or otherwise now or hereafter binding upon a property
216owner, which allows for acceleration of payment of the mortgage,
217note, or lien or other unilateral modification solely as a
218result of entering into a financing agreement as provided for in
219this section is not enforceable. This subsection does not limit
220the authority of the holder or loan servicer to increase the
221required monthly escrow by an amount necessary to annually pay
222the qualifying improvement assessment.
223     (14)  A provision in any agreement between a local
224government and a public or private power or energy provider or
225other utility provider is not enforceable to limit or prohibit
226any local government from exercising its authority under this
227section.
228     (15)  This section is additional and supplemental to county
229and municipal home rule authority and not in derogation of such
230authority or a limitation upon such authority.
231     Section 2.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.


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