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The 2020 Session of the Florida Legislature Has Begun

On Jan. 14, the Florida Legislature’s 60-day session begins. Realtors’ top priorities include the environment, affordable housing, private property rights and taxes.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 60-day session of the 2020 Florida Legislature begins on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and ends on Friday, March 13, barring unexpected extensions.

For Florida Realtors® and Florida Realtors PAC, the session creates an opportunity to promote the Realtor profession and defend the rights of the state’s property owners. During the sessions’ 60 days, many different bills will be discussed, debated and voted on that could impact the Realtor profession.

In preparation for the session, Florida Realtors identified legislative priorities that it will actively support. This year, it will be focusing on four legislative priorities designed to protect the rights of homeowners, promote business and community growth, safeguard Florida’s natural resources, and provide Floridians with more affordable housing options.

“2019 was an incredibly successfully session for Florida Realtors, giving us great momentum as we head into 2020,” says Danielle Scoggins, vice president of public policy for Florida Realtors. “We are particularly excited to see that Gov. DeSantis is once again fully in support of two of our priorities – protecting the environment and fully funding the housing trust funds. We are very hopeful that his support, combined with last year’s momentum, will make 2020 a fantastic legislative year for our members.”

Overview of Florida Realtors 2020 legislative priorities

Water quality and environmental funding

Water is the lifeblood of all Florida residents and visitors to our state. It forms the foundation of our communities and must be protected. Florida Realtors will continue to advocate for Florida’s natural resources and a pristine environment. We will also encourage all stakeholders, including the state of Florida, to do their part to help solve environmental problems such as red tide.

Affordable housing: State and local government housing trust funds

The State and Local Government Housing Trust Funds were created in the early 1990s to help Floridians in good times and bad. They are supported entirely by a portion of the doc stamp taxes charged on every real estate transaction. For thousands of families, these funds are the only way to realize the American dream of homeownership. They also provide housing rehabilitation and rental assistance to Florida’s homeless, veterans, seniors and persons with disabilities.

Down payment and closing cost assistance are vital to helping low-income families achieve the dream of homeownership. These programs are funded through the Local Government Housing Trust Fund. Florida Realtors will continue to advocate for these trust funds to be used for housing purposes.

Business rent tax

Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Florida’s sales tax rate charged on business rent will be 5.5%. This rate has been reduced three years in a row. Continuing to lower the business rent tax will provide Florida businesses with the capital to expand, hire more employees, improve benefits and raise salaries.

Florida Realtors is grateful for the support of the Florida Legislature for reducing the state sales tax rate on commercial space to 5.5%. Three consecutive years of rate cuts have saved Florida businesses $156 million.

Florida Realtors will continue to advocate for further reductions to this tax, focusing on commercial real estate and the businesses that rent these spaces.

Private property rights

The internet has made it easier for homeowners to rent their property and expanded housing options for individuals who live in, or travel to, Florida. In response, many local governments have enacted new ordinances designed to discourage property owners from exercising their right to rent their property.

State and local Realtor associations are monitoring local regulatory activity and taking action to protect private property rights. Being able to rent your home is a fundamental right of property owners. Local government regulations, such as local licensing requirements and guest restrictions, can infringe upon this fundamental right in significant ways.

Florida Realtors will continue to advocate for solutions that protect the rights of private property owners.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®