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SUBMERGED LANDS LEGISLATION

March 27, 2014

Eleminating Lease Renewal Processing Fees

Dear Fellow Supporters,

With virtually any new legislation, issues surface that require a generous dose of common sense to get right.  Such is the case with the legislation passed last year that intended to give waterfront multi-family homeowners with docks essentially the same rights as single family homeowners with respect to submerged land leases.
 
As pointed out by Florida Homeowners for Fair Treatment supporter, Representative Kathleen M. Peters, it was the Legislature's intent in passing last year's HB999 that:
 
1.    Multi-family residents enjoy the same Sovereign Submerged Land Lease exemption provided to single family residents.
2.    And if granted that exemption, multi-family residents no longer
would have to pay to the State -
a)    a Renewal Processing Fee every ten years,
b)    a 6% Transfer Fee, even if the property is not Homesteaded,
c)    a 6% Rental Income Fee
 
In the 2014 Legislative Session going on now, a proposed HB703 seeks to clarify #2(a), above, by saying, in effect, that if there is no lease, there won't be a Renewal Processing Fee - or as Rep. Peters said, "Why should one have to pay renewal fees every 10 years on a lease they are now exempt from even having in the first place."
 
As to #2(b) and (c), above, if you are aware of anyone who has had to pay either a 6% Transfer Fee or a 6% Rental Income Fee in the past year, please get that detailed information to FHFT and to Rep. Peters ASAP. Her email address is Kathleen.Peters@myfloridahouse.gov
 
FHFT continues to keep a diligent watch on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (FDEP) implementation efforts. As we have reminded you before, they were not a willing partner in the changes we convinced the Legislature were necessary to provide parity for residential dwellings with state submerged land leases. We cannot afford to have all we have accomplished set aside.
 
During this critical phase of implementation by the FDEP and the State, we all must be extremely vigilant and prepared. Our fight is far from over.

That is why FHFT has been in Tallahassee since the legislature's committee meeting weeks started last September, and continuing through the 2014 legislative session that is now in progress.

It is imperative that FDEP, as well as our legislative supporters, have no doubt that FHFT members are watching, engaged and ready to act should any of the advances we have made be subject to negative revision. As stated in our last message, "We have worked too hard, given up too much, and our cause is too just to have the bureaucracy impede proper implementation of the law."

We do expect FDEP's continuing attempt to weaken or eliminate the gains we have made during the last few years, so it is critical that we keep the pressure on not only during this 2014 legislative session, but also as we move into the future.
 
By virtue of last year's successful passage of legislation that eliminated submerged land lease fees for most multi-family residential communities, FHFT's efforts have provided significant dollar benefits across the entire State, but it also costs significant dollars to support our contact work with legislators and our continued presence in Tallahassee.
 
Thank you so much to those condominium associations and individuals who have contributed to our success.

To ensure continued fair treatment and fight undue attacks on property rights, please send your contribution, made payable to FLORIDA HOMEOWNERS FOR FAIR TREATMENT, to the group's new address:

FHFT
1110 Pinellas Bayway, Suite 100
Tierra Verde, FL 33715

Sincerely,
Kevin

Kevin M. Hussey
Coalition Leader / President Florida Homeowners for Fair Treatment, Inc.


March 13, 2014

We have been watching and monitoring activities since successfully putting into law HB999 which, basically grants owners of multi-family residential units such as condominiums the same rights as owners of single family residential units as it relates to submerged land leases.

We are continuing to receive reports that the DEP is continuing to require submerged land leases, collect fees, and apply transfer fees when the condominium unit attached to the leased property is sold.

If you have received any reports of this type of activity please forward a copy to Kathleen Peters!

The 2014 Florida Legislature is now in session and we still a have a huge job to ensure proper interpretation and implementation of the intent of the law HB999.

Representative Kathleen Peters, District 69 Florida House of Representatives, has responded to the problem and has issued a “letter of intent” to members of the Legislature and the Governor. READ Kathleen Peters letter here (.pdf)

Please forward any copies of any issues you may be having to Representative Peters so that we can ensure proper implementation of HB999. We must continue to work the legislative process to ensure the success of this vital property owner right.

We are also monitoring and working through our lobbyist both in Washington and Tallahassee to solve the flood insurance crisis. Some of the bills currently being circulated only solve a part of the problem, or only delay any action.

I feel that our best solution is to support the ability of private insurers to compete in Florida for flood insurance business. At this time there are several who are offering policies that are much more affordable than the FEMA policies. A cursory look at available statistics of Florida do not warrant the excessive premiums FEMA has been requiring. We are working with State Senator Jeff Brandes and State Representatives Hooper and Ahern to make it easier for private carriers to offer affordable flood insurance to unit owners and commercial residential associations.


October 24, 2013

Since changes to Florida’s submerged land lease program (benefiting multifamily residences) were successfully passed into law this summer, Florida Homeowners for Fair Treatment has been keeping a diligent watch on the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) implementation efforts. As we are well aware, they were not a willing partner in the changes we convinced the Legislature were necessary to provide parity for residential dwellings with state submerged land leases. There is a genuine threat all we have accomplished could be set aside.

FHFT has been in Tallahassee for each of the legislature's committee meeting weeks beginning in September.

This interim committee work shall continue to take place right up to the start of the 2014 legislative Session the beginning of March.

As in the past, FHFT will be there; every step of the way. It is imperative that the DEP, and our legislative supporters, have no doubt that FHFT members are watching, engaged and ready to act should any of the advances we have made be subject to negative revision. We have worked too hard, given up too much, and our cause is too just to have the bureaucracy impede proper implementation of the law. Already we have been engaged in discussions regarding non-homesteaded property, transfer fees, sales tax, etc.

Following a tragic loss within the FHFT family, your leadership group has met and duly selected, among seasoned committee members, the following team to lead the ongoing effort:

Kevin Hussey: President and Legislative Policy Coordinator
Travis Moore: Governmental Affairs Consultant

Have no doubt that FHFT is committed to continue leading the fight for fairness and equity for Florida's homeowners particularly as it relates to submerged land leases.

During this CRITICAL phase of implementation by the DEP and the state, we all must be extremely vigilant and prepared.

OUR FIGHT IS NOT OVER.

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to our success and are now enjoying the significant financial benefits FHFT’s successful efforts have provided! We will be working to maintain this important gain during this first crucial year.

We do expect FDEP to attempt to weaken or eliminate the gains we have made during the last few years, so it’s critical that we keep the pressure on during this first session.


October 12, 2013

In loving memory of Teresa “Terri” Bartiromo Pentek 1951 – 2013:

It is with profound sadness that we share with you news of Terri Pentek’s passing. We have lost a dedicated and loyal public servant and a fearless leader.

As the Coalition Leader and President of Florida Homeowners for Fair Treatment, Terri fought relentlessly for the rights of coastal residents not only here in the Tampa Bay area, but all across the State of Florida as well. Due to her monumental efforts over the last five years, multi-family residents, statewide, now enjoy equitable rates from the State on their submerged land leases. Most of you have received countless emails from Terri documenting her journey and tireless fund raising efforts to support this cause. Her indomitable spirit will be missed by all, and her efforts on our behalf will never be forgotten.

We intend to continue the work of FHFT so valiantly and so ably nurtured by Terri Pentek, but we will never be able to replace the spark, the zeal, and the focused enthusiasm that she brought to the table particularly during the last few years of a courageous life taken way too soon.


September 5, 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters,

As most of you know by now, our latest submerged land lease legislation became law effective July 1, 2013. You can click here to view the final version of FS 253.0347 that refers to the lease of sovereignty submerged lands for private residential docks & piers.

At this very early stage of the next legislative session, however, it is IMPERATIVE that we stay on top of this new legislation. We need to be vigilant and focus on how the DEP evaluates, interprets and implements these changes we fought so hard for last year.

We have had feedback from several associations where the initial "interpretation" needed to be addressed. Many associations have not received their current submerged land lease bill and have informed us that their renewal is already months behind. WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU as to any issues and/or problems that your association encounters regarding the new law. FHFT is committed to make sure our hard won legislation is implemented correctly!

For those of you who have supported us through the years, THANK YOU! FHFT has worked hard to save you money over the years, but we are not about to “go away.” Now that your lease fees are very likely to go to ZERO, we need your continuing support more than ever.

This first Session Season after passage of such a significant reform is critical. While we have the same Legislators in place, our continued presence and advocacy is imperative. We will continue our efforts during the 2014 legislative session to ensure our hard won gains are implemented properly, and that no agency takes up any initiative to water down our current positions.

This follow-up is most important as hundreds of associations throughout Florida will be benefiting from this huge savings.


June 7, 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters,

VICTORY at last! For news coverage of our big win click here! With your steadfast support over the past five years, we have finally won our ultimate victory with Governor Scott’s signing of HB 999 on May 30th. Effective July 1, 2013, fairness and equality will finally reign with regard to the administration of submerged land leases in Florida. Over the past 5 years FHFT has achieved the following:

  • Extension of standard lease terms to ten (10) years (HB13 - 7/1/12)
  • Repeal of the 6% slip transfer fee for homesteaded properties when sold (HB13 – 7/1/12)
  • Update to lease multiplier eliminating lease fees for multi-family properties (HB999 – 7/1/13)
The language in HB999 creates a new multiplier to allow private multi-family residences to be on an equal footing with private single family residences. Every association that we have tested with the new formula more than qualified for full exemption from submerged land lease fees!

For those of you who have supported us through the years, THANK YOU! FHFT has worked hard to save you money over the years, but we are not about to “go away.” Now that your lease fees are likely to go to ZERO, we need your continuing support more than ever. We will continue our presence during the 2014 legislative session to ensure our hard won gains are implemented properly, and that no agency takes up any initiative to water down our current positions. This follow-up is most important as hundreds of associations throughout Florida will be benefiting from this huge savings. Please address your thoughtful donation to:

May 06 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters,

Thanks to all of your efforts and support we are finally successful!! On the final day, in the final hour, OUR LEGISLATION WAS PASSED, following several tumultuous days at the end of the 2013 Legislative Session! Check out the final language HERE.

It’s been a five year struggle, and we are one step away. Right now we need you to email Governor Scott encouraging him to sign HB999, it’s only a mouse click away. Please encourage as many people as possible to "send the message." After Governor Scott signs the bill, it will become law, effective July 1, 2013.

After you have emailed Governor Scott to sign HB999 into law, we would like you to take a few moments to send a short personal note to the following key people (each name has a link to help you send a note) thanking them for their hard work and support of our legislation. It is important for these people to know that we are very grateful and appreciative of their efforts on our behalf. They need to hear from you!

· Representative Peters (kathleen.peters@myfloridahouse.gov): filed our original legislation HB199 and was instrumental in getting the support of the Governor and the Cabinet for our legislation. She was then able to get our language into HB999.
· Senator Brandes (brandes.jeff.web@flsenate.gov): filed original SB588, which was the companion legislation to HB199.
· Representative Patronis (jimmy.patronis@myfloridahouse.gov): filed HB999 and agreed to incorporate our language.
· Senator Altman (altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov): filed SB1684 and agreed to incorporate our language.
· Senator Latvala (latvala.jack.web@flsenate.gov): instrumental during 2012 Session in getting HB13 passed. During the 2013 Session was again instrumental in convincing Governor Scott to fix the submerged land lease issue as it affects multi-family residences.
· Frank Mathews (frankm@hgslaw.com): lobbyist who agreed to be part of our coalition and include the language from HB199/SB588 into HB999 which he was working on. He strongly advocated and supported our efforts right through to the end.
· Missy Timmins (missytimmins@earthlink.net): lobbyist who also agreed to be part of our coalition like Frank Mathews. She strongly advocated and supported our efforts right through to the end.


April 12, 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters, 

With the 2013 Legislative Session more than half over, it’s time for a very important mid-session update. Our representative, Kathleen Peters, continues to distinguish herself by her actions on behalf of FHFT. Our original two bills, HB199 and SB 588, have now been combined with other major bills moving through the legislature. Those bills are HB999 and SB1684. You may view SB1684 on our website (click here). As they progress, each of those bills has already been amended by a “committee substitute”, or a “CS” as it is known in Tallahassee.

Our lobbyist in Tallahassee, Travis Moore, is now focusing his attention on each of these bills to ensure our submerged land lease language is preserved. None of the activities of the past several weeks would have been possible without the continued dedicated support of each of you sending emails and making phone calls. I just returned from Tallahassee yesterday, and believe me, you were heard loud and clear.

It is never over until the Governor signs a bill, but I can assure you things are looking very good for our complete success in the 2013 session. Fair and equal treatment is very close to reality.

For those who have donated: THANK YOU! FHFT has worked hard to save you even more money and bring fairness to the issue. We are still in need of your support to reach our goals.


 

March 23, 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters,

It’s crunch time! Thanks to your overwhelming support we are making significant progress in keeping our two bills moving and on respective committee agendas. However, as in the past, the DEP is making things difficult and continues to play “Tallahassee Games” in an effort to stymie our progress and deny you, the citizens, equal treatment with respect to submerged land leases.

Sharing our frustration is our dedicated representative in the House, Kathleen Peters. On our behalf, she has interceded with Governor Scott and asked that he consider a Special Act for tax relief for multi-family residences with submerged land leases. The time is now for your voices to be heard by the Governor!

Please go to our take action page to "send the message". This message will be for Governor Scott only, urging him to act in support of fairness for submerged land lease fees. In addition to sending the message we strongly encourage calling Governor Scott's Office at 850-488-7146. Politely request that the Governor "instruct DEP to change their submerged land lease rules to equally treat multi-family residential dock owners the same as single family residential dock owners and not as commercial properties".

 



March 12, 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters,

As promised last week, we are now proceeding to the next round of emails targeted for Senator Charles Dean, Chair of the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee. We need to act quickly and aggressively to urge him to agenda SB588.

Please go to our take action page now to "send the message". This message will be for Senator Dean ONLY, urging him to agenda SB588.

 


March 7, 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters,

The 2013 Legislative Session has officially started! Now is the time to really gear up our efforts to move our legislation, HB 199 & SB 588, successfully through the gantlet of committees it must endure.

We will be sending you several email updates, in quick succession, that will require your immediate action to "send the message." These updates may only be a few days apart as we need to act quickly and aggressively to encourage committee chairs to agenda and move our legislation.

Our first request will be going to Representative Mathew Caldwell, Chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee. We need to urge him to agenda HB199.

Our second request will be going to Senator Charles Dean, Chair of the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee. We will be urging him to agenda SB588.

These updates will be only a few days apart!


February 10, 2013

Dear Fellow Supporters,

We now have both a Senate and a House bill! Our Senate Bill (SB588) was filed on February 6th by Senator Brandes, as promised. Like the House Bill, this legislation addresses the continued inequality of the submerged land lease program and puts private multi-family residences on the same equal footing as private single family residences.

Now that we have a Senate Bill, it is imperative that we encourage co-sponsorship from other legislators throughout Florida, as we did with our House Bill 199. We have set up our email page on this website with this important message that encourages other Senators to co-sponsor SB588. Senator Brandes needs to hear from you with this support.

Please go to our page to"Email Your Legislator". It is only a mouse click away. We strongly encourage you to call/meet with your legislators to discuss this important issue and advocate for an equitable submerged land lease program. Your legislators need to hear from you.



January 29, 2013

Thank you for a great job "sending the message" to our legislators per our last update on January 27, 2013. At this point we do not need to send any more messages.

We should have our Senate Bill number soon. At that point we will send out another update as to what we need you to do as our support group.

Again, job well done!


January 27, 2013

Our House Bill (HB199) was filed on January 16, 2013 by Representative Peters. This legislation addresses the continued inequality of the submerged land lease program and puts private multi-family residences on the same equal footing as private single family residences. The companion Senate Bill should be ready soon.

Now that we have a House Bill, it is imperative that we encourage co-sponsorship from other legislators throughout Florida. We have set up our website with this important message that encourages other Representatives to co-sponsor HB199. Representative Peters needs this support to promote our legislation. THIS IS VITAL!

Please go "send the message". It is only a mouse click away. We strongly encourage you to call/meet with your legislators to discuss this important issue and advocate for an equitable submerged land lease program. Your legislators need to hear from you.

For those who have donated: Thank You! FHFT has worked hard to save you even more money and bring fairness to this issue. We are still in need of your support to reach our goals. Please send your contribution.

 


January 14, 2013

With committee meetings in Tallahassee already underway, Representative Kathleen Peters is hard at work on our 2013 legislation, which is currently in bill drafting.

What do we need you to do?

· Talk to your legislators and have them let Representative Peters know that they will co-sponsor her submerged land lease bill. This is VITAL at this point. Schedule a meeting or call your legislators urging them to tell Representative Peters (if House members) or Senator Brandes (if Senators) that they want to co-sponsor this legislation. We must continue to foster a strong chorus of "legislative voices" advocating for equitable submerged land lease support. Once you have a commitment from your legislators please email me so that I can coordinate follow ups with our lobbyist.

· Click HERE, to view a draft of our 2013 bill language that will exempt multi-family residences from submerged land lease fees, taxes, surcharges, etc. and create more equity in the administration of the submerged land lease program for all private residences. The language we have developed builds on the success of our 2012 legislation.

· Click HERE, to access the "2013 Session Information Presentation." in .pdf format.

· Click HERE, to access the same presentation, "2013 Session Information Presentation." in a .ppt (Power Point) format.

This is the information we are sharing with legislators and we encourage you to use this when discussing the issue with your legislators.

For those who have donated: Thank You! FHFT has worked hard to save you even more money and bring fairness to this issue. We are still in need of your support to reach our goals.

 

Interested in the history of this issue? Also, these are our talking points.


Media Coverage:
"FL House, Senate to Consider Legislation", Paradise News 08/01/2009
"Submerged Land Lease Fees", Paradise News 08/01/2009
The Battle Continues for Waterfront Condo Owners", South Beach Sun, 07/23/2009
"Submerged Land Lease Fees: Where’s the Sunshine?", The Island Reporter, 06/01/2009
"Opinion: Dock fee hike a last-minute outrage barely defeated", PalmBeachPost.com, 05/28/2009
"Dock owners could pay more under proposed state legislation", TCPalm, 04/30/2009
"Opinion: John Sprague: Florida Senate bill could quadruple private dock fees", TCPalm, 04/30/2009
"Opinion: Private dock owners could see fees increase by 301 percent", TCPalm, 04/27/2009
"Opinion: Florida Senate bill could quadruple private dock fees", Naples Daily News, 04/29/2009
"Phil Lewis: Boat industry reels; TaxWatch has answer", Naples Daily News, 04/25/2009
"Waterfront condo owners tell legislators to ditch proposed dock fees"
, St. Petersburg Times, 04/25/2009
"Tierra Verde condo owners fear dock sticker shock", St. Petersburg Times, 04/12/2009
"Condo owners battle the state's dock-rental fee hike proposal", St. Petersburg Times, 8/9/2008
"Condo owners with docks to fight pending fee spike", St. Petersburg Times, 8/6/2008


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