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Florida Realtors Public Policy Weekly Status Report - 3/29/24

By Kymberly Franklin posted 19 days ago

  

March 29, 2024

Public Policy Update

Governor Ron DeSantis signs HB 621 - Property Rights, into law on Wednesday.

Hello everyone. The big news this week was the signing of HB 621, the anti-squatter bill that we supported this past session. I mentioned in last week’s update that the bill had been sent to the governor, and as you can see, he wasted little time in signing it. In fact, he held a bill-signing event in Orlando that included speakers such as the district attorney, a sheriff, and a property owner who dealt with a squatter situation. You can view the event here if you are interested.

As you all know, Florida Realtors is a staunch supporter of private property rights, something this bill seeks to restore in situations where squatters have taken over another person’s property. Under HB 621, a property owner can request law enforcement to immediately remove a squatter from their property if the following conditions are met:

  • The individual has unlawfully entered and remains on the property;
  • The individual has been directed to leave the property by the owner but has not done so; and
  • The individual is not a current or former tenant in a legal dispute.

HB 621 also creates harsh penalties for those engaged in squatting and for those who encourage squatting and teach others the scam. The bill makes it:

  • A first-degree misdemeanor for making a false statement in writing to obtain real property or for knowingly and willfully presenting a falsified document conveying property rights;
  • A second-degree felony for any person who unlawfully occupies or trespasses in a residential dwelling and who intentionally causes $1,000 or more in damages; and
  • A first-degree felony for knowingly advertising the sale or rent of a residential property without legal authority or ownership.

For additional information and commentary, you can view this Florida Realtors news story or go here for the governor’s announcement of the signing.


Don’t forget to Take Action and Tell the Governor to Veto SB 280

If you haven’t asked the governor to veto SB 280 yet, you still have plenty of time to take action! Remember, this vacation rental-related bill is bad for the economy, it’s bad for consumers and it significantly infringes on private property rights. If the governor vetoes the bill, it will allow lawmakers and stakeholders time to come back to the table and come up with better legislation that properly balances private property rights with the need to regulate vacation rentals. 

You can learn all about the bill, including our specific concerns with it, on the Call for Action webpage. Taking action is quick and easy and will make a world of difference once the governor receives the bill from the legislature.


It’s Not Too Late to Register for the Homegrown Advocacy Tour 

Florida Realtors® President Gia Arvin is traveling the state with your public policy team to connect with you about the real estate industry. This tour is a great opportunity to engage with President Arvin, your public policy team and invited state elected officials.

During each district event, you'll learn about the latest political developments affecting the real estate industry across the state and in your area. You'll also get to ask the questions that matter most to you and make your voice heard. 

The first event is set for April 2nd at the Pinellas Realtor Organization, with other events occurring on April 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th and 12th. More tour stops will be scheduled in the coming weeks. For the full schedule and to register for the free event, go here.


Florida Cabinet Approves Largest Conservation Land Investment in Decades

This week the Florida Cabinet approved an investment to protect nearly 28,000 acres of Florida’s natural lands and link existing conservation areas. This action also marks the first acquisition within the Caloosahatchee-Big Cypress Corridor, an important Everglades and panther habitat.

About today’s land acquisition approvals:

  • The acquisition of 25,039 acres within the Caloosahatchee-Big Cypress Corridor in Collier and Hendry counties will further connect the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and Big Cypress National Preserve to the Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area, Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest, and the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Wildlife and Environmental Area. Protection of these ecologically critical habitats and agricultural lands will prevent habitat fragmentation for a wide range of imperiled species, including the Florida panther. This property is within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
  • The acquisition of 1,361 acres within the Yarborough Ranch Florida Forever Project in Seminole County will protect the Econlockhatchee River and Geneva Freshwater Lens, which provides drinking water for county residents. This property is surrounded by existing conservation land, thereby providing a critical linkage for a variety of imperiled species, including the Florida black bear. It will be managed by the Florida Forest Service as part of the Little Big Econ State Forest. This property is within the Florida Wildlife Corridor and, when it is acquired, this Florida Forever project will be complete.
  • The acquisition of 1,342 acres within the Lake Hatchineha Watershed Florida Forever Project in Polk County will expand public recreational opportunities and fill an important gap in the landscape between other state-owned conservation lands near Lake Hatchineha. This property is under direct threat of development and recently received local approvals to construct over 1,800 single-family homes as well as commercial development, but instead it will be managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a Wildlife Management Area. This property is within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
  • The Florida Cabinet also approved the acquisition of permanent agricultural land conservation easements over more than 8,000 acres of working agricultural lands through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, including more than 3,000 acres within the Heart Bar Ranch, a working cattle ranch since 1847, two years after Florida achieved statehood, which is now operated by 5th and 6th generation family farmers.
  • In addition to these land acquisition approvals, the Florida Cabinet also approved the Florida Forever Priority List and the Annual Florida Forever Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2024–25, which guide the annual expenditure of the Florida Forever funding. The Florida Forever Priority List includes 128 projects containing more than 2.1 million acres. Ninety-nine of these projects are within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

More information on the conservations can be found here.


Please reach out to us at publicpolicy@floridarealtors.org with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

 

 


Andy Gonzalez
Vice President of Public Policy
Florida Realtors®

 

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