GMCA HOME MAIN PAGE Associations Directors Governance Laws & Statutes Issues
Newsletters Calendar Market Page Vendors Forum Report Card Archives Site Map Contact
LINKS PAGE Finance News Weather Government Directions Travel Dining Entertainment Search

Official Web Site of the State of Florida
STATE OF FLORIDA WEB SITE
Every year, we send an assortment of well-educated men and women to Florida’s State Capitol to represent us. They speak for us, act on our behalf, educate themselves about importatnt issues, learn how to work together and try to execute productive resolutions. If they like the job, they run for re-election. Sometimes, their reasons for being there differ from those given to their constituents prior to Election Day; their actions become inconsistent with their promises while questions about their legislative intentions are buried in a blizzard of platitudes. When this occurs, its usually a good time to consider “changing the guard”.

Official Seal of the State of Florida
STATE OF FLORIDA
To be effective, politicians must master a spectrum of communication skills. The art of defining an issue and exhorting the need for a piece of palliative legislation in the same breath is known as “spin”. Depending on how its utilized, “spin” can be either a tool or a weapon; it can rally support for a good cause or create just enough confusion to allow a fox into the henhouse.

Statehouse Representative George Moraitis
REP. GEORGE MORAITIS
In order to determine whether or not your representatives still speak for you, you must examine their work product. To properly diagnose or “unspin” an issue, simply read the actual legislation. If you don’t have the time or patience to peruse the dry legislative text, review an authoritative summary. Corresponding with your representatives is another alternative to directly examining legislative content. Every year, legislation affecting Galt Mile residents oozes out of Tallahassee, often unnoticed. The issues surrounding that legislation will be explained in this section. Before next year’s legislative session, the articles will be relegated to the site’s Tallahassee Archives, setting the stage for the new session. Email, write, FAX or telephone your Statehouse Representative and your Senator with the specific obstacles that any issue or legislative effort hold for you. To find all the contact information for the Galt Mile’s political representatives in Tallahassee or elsewhere, go to the Report Card.

Florida Senator Gary Farmer
SENATOR GARY FARMER
Georgetown Historian Carroll Quigley
GEORGETOWN HISTORIAN
CARROLL QUIGLEY
Galt Mile Residents are currently represented by George Moraitis in the Florida Statehouse and Gary Farmer in the Florida Senate. Notwithstanding their official “party” affiliations, their primary responsibility is to YOU. They are obligated to exercise their voting power and influence the outcomes of certain issues based upon the feedback they recieve from their constituents - US. If they don't - as exclaimed by Georgetown University Professor Carroll Quigley while considering the virtues of Democracy - we can “Throw the rascals out.”

Florida Senate Florida House After familiarizing ourselves with the legislative land mines planted during the annual session and unifying behind issues that benefit the entire neighborhood, we can send our political representatives in Tallahassee a clear and unconflicted wish list. Furthering their constituents' agenda will have a far greater impact on their future political ascendency than their party affiliations - or ours. This pro-active formula also shields our community from the paralysis of partisan gridlock that might otherwise belabor efforts to enact favorable legislation. By sending a few strategically timed emails, we can thwart bills conceived to abridge our rights, erode home rule and drain association budgets. Not a bad day's work!

Galt Mile Residents meet with Former Senator (now CFO) Jeffrey Atwater
GALT MILERS AND FLORIDA CFO JEFFREY ATWATER IN TALLAHASSEE

Dolphin Sculpture at Entrance to the State Capitol Complex
DOLPHIN SCULPTURE AT ENTRANCE TO THE STATE CAPITOL COMPLEX

Click To Top of Page


iSSUES MENU
Click on buttons below to review an issue.





Issues Home Page



Politics & Parlor Tricks in Tallahassee

Tallahassee Archives

Tallahassee Archives - 2017

Tallahassee Archives - 2016

Tallahassee Archives - 2015

Tallahassee Archives - 2014

Tallahassee Archives - 2013

Tallahassee Archives - 2012

Tallahassee Archives - 2011

Tallahassee Archives - 2010

Tallahassee Archives - 2009

Tallahassee Archives - 2008

Tallahassee Archives - 2007

Tallahassee Archives - 2006

Tallahassee Archives - 2005

Tallahassee Archives - 2004

Tallahassee Archives - 2003

2018 Articles

2018 ELSS Opt-Out Update - Week 2

2018 ELSS Opt-Out Update - Weeks 3 - 6

2018 Omnibus Association Bill

2017 Articles

ELSS Retrofit Bills

ELSS Progress Update

April ELSS Update

ELSS Endgame

Gov Vetoes ELSS

Stop ELSS Round 2

2016 Articles

Bogus Estoppel Bills are Back

Tallahassee Update

Sine Die 2016 - Surviving Association Bills

Gerrymander - Tallahassee Team Sport

Moraitis on the Homeless

Servicemember Association Rentals

Moraitis 2016 Post-Session Update

Sprinkler Retrofit Roulette

Constitutional Flotsom

Other Issues

New Fire Safety Mandate



Beach Renourishment Project



Cleveland Clinic Emergency Room



City of Fort Lauderdale Page



Budget Crisis Page



Broward County Business



Broward County Property Appraiser



AEDs - Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)



Calypso Deepwater Port and Pipeline



32nd Street Alley



Fort Lauderdale/Galt Mile Crime Statistics




Search GMCA or the web
powered by FreeFind



Search GMCA Site
Search the Internet


Online Sunshine



Florida Politics


2018 Legislative Session



Statutory Surgery

2018 Omnibus Association Bill

Click Here to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation April 14, 2018 - A few years ago, rampant abuses by rogue Condo Boards in Miami-Dade sparked a series of events that prompted revisions to the laws governing Florida associations. According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), during 2015 condos in Miami-Dade recorded the highest number of complaints of any Florida county for forged ballots, financial fraud, election irregularities, missing records, and disappearing funds. Of the 1,908 complaints received statewide, 566 were filed in Miami-Dade.

2017: Reining in Criminal Abuses

Click Here to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Click Here to Univisión 23 Following a 2016 probe by South Florida media outlets el Nuevo Herald and Univisión 23 that confirmed the Miami abuses, a Miami-Dade Grand Jury issued a scathing report about the fraudulent rip-offs collusively perpetrated by rogue Condo Boards and shady management companies in Miami-Dade. Given its integral role in uncovering the abuses, the Miami Herald fueled a media frenzy that provided three Miami lawmakers with a golden fast-track to the Front Page.

Rep. J José Félix Díaz
REPRESENTATIVE J JOSÉ FÉLIX DÍAZ
Click Here to Miami-Dade Grand Jury Report on Condominiums During the 2017 legislative session, Florida Senator René Garcia (R - Hialeah), Florida Senator José Javier Rodríguez (D - Miami) and Statehouse Representative José Félix Díaz (R - Miami-Dade) filed legislation to ostensibly rein in the criminal abuses that chronically proliferate in their districts. Given the underlying notoriety, the bills (HB 1237 in the Statehouse and SB 1682 in the Senate) flew through vetting committees and were signed into law on June 26, 2017.

Florida Senator José Javier Rodríguez
FLORIDA SENATOR JOSÉ JAVIER RODRÍGUEZ
Florida Senator René Garcia
FLORIDA SENATOR RENÉ GARCIA
The 2017 legislation provides that Board members who are convicted of committing crimes will be subject to Felony charges. These include forging election ballot envelopes or voting certificates, the theft or embezzlement of association funds and destroying or concealing official records in furtherance of a crime. The bill term limits board members after 4 consecutive two-year terms, unless there are an insufficient number of candidates or if they are elected by a two-thirds supermajority of the full membership.

It bars a Condo association from hiring an attorney retained by the association's management company. Conflicts of interest for association officials must be declared, recalls are fast-tracked and Condo associations with 150 or more units are required to publish a grab bag of association documents on a password protected website by a July 1, 2018 deadline.

2018: Fixing Knee-Jerk Legislation

As is often the case with knee-jerk legislation slapped together by lawmakers hunting political capital, the bills were regulatory tarpits. Association advocates admonished that the sponsors’ well-intended legislation was rife with glitches, confusing language, provisions that cause more damage than the drawbacks they were meant to cure - and a boatload of unintended consequences. Evidently more concerned with exacting vengeance for disgruntled constituents than crafting workable solutions to statutory deficiencies, the Miami lawmakers would leave others to address the bill’s pitfalls.

Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
MORAITIS EXPLAINS BILL TO COMMITTEE
Senator Kathleen Passidomo
SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
As expected, several bills were filed in the 2018 session to fix skewed or otherwise problematic provisions, including House Bill 841 (HB 841) by District 93 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis (R - Fort Lauderdale) and Senate Bill 1274 (SB 1274), a companion bill in the other chamber by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R - Naples). The bills also enhance regulatory consistency in common interest communities. In most cases, that means applying regulations that already benefit condominiums to cooperatives and/or homeowner associations (HOAs).

Senator Annette Taddeo
SENATOR ANNETTE TADDEO
Former Florida Senator Frank Artiles
FORMER FLORIDA SENATOR FRANK ARTILES
HB 841 was overwhelmingly approved in both chambers (by a vote of 100 Yeas vs. 1 Nay in the House while passed in the Senate by a vote of 35 Yeas vs, 1 Nay) – and signed into law on March 23, 2018. Having acknowledged that the statutory glitches needed correcting, Florida Senator René Garcia – one of the 3 Miami lawmakers who filed the 2017 legislation – voted to approve Moraitis’ bill. When Miami Congresswoman U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement, and Senator José Javier Rodríguez - another co-sponsor of the Miami legislation - declared his intention to fill the District 27 congressional seat, Rodríguez feared that supporting Moraitis' bill might alienate local constituents victimized by the rogue boards. The sole Florida Senator to oppose HB 841, Rodríguez later dropped out of the Congressional race when the candidate field become overcrowded, announcing that he would remain in the State Senate.

Click Here to Ballard Partners
Brian Ballard with Donald Trump
BRIAN BALLARD WITH DONALD TRUMP
When Florida Senator Frank Artiles (R – Miami) was forced to resign after hurling racist invective at two black lawmakers, Representative José Félix Diaz – Statehouse sponsor of the Miami Bill – hoped to grab the vacated District 40 Senate seat in a special election. He lost the race to now Senator Annette Taddeo (D – Miami), who pounded Diaz about his relationship with Donald Trump. In January, Diaz was snatched up by lobbying firm Ballard Partners, as lobbying Guru Brian Ballard’s expansion into Latin America is also based on close ties to the Trump Administration.

HB 841 on the Galt Mile

Rep. George Moraitis and Galt Mile Officials
REP. GEORGE MORAITIS AND GALT MILE OFFICIALS
During an April 2, 2018 Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) Presidents Council meeting at Regency Tower, more than 50 officials representing 21 of the 29 member associations reviewed an agenda item dedicated to Moraitis’ new law. In exploring how its provisions might affect Galt Mile condominiums and cooperatives, attendees asked if it clarified the confusion surrounding board member term limits, recalls, document uploads to mandatory association websites, and other operational impacts.

Since the existing law term limits board members after 4 consecutive two-year terms but doesn’t address those who serve a series of one-year terms, Moraitis’ bill provides that no board member may serve more than eight consecutive years (barring an insufficient number of available candidates). The current exemption for those elected by a two-thirds supermajority of the full membership was also revised – applying instead to candidates elected by two-thirds of the votes cast in the election.

Downloading Official Documents and Data To help associations that are “IT” illiterate, Moraitis adds 6 months to the July 1, 2018 deadline for associations to provide members with a password protected website for downloading official documents and data - the new deadline is January 1, 2019.

Downloading Official Documents and Data Moraitis observed that recall procedures revised in the 2017 legislation could result in recalls that weren’t approved by a majority of an association’s members. Having removed a requirement for the board to “certify” a recall, the 2017 law automatically made recalls effective at a board meeting noticed and convened within 5 days of the board receiving a recall petition. To be valid, a recall requires the approval of a majority of the association’s voting interests, either by a vote during a meeting or a written agreement.

However, the language was unclear as to whether a board must accept a recall petition that is invalid on its face or not signed by a majority of the owners – although the Board could challenge a defective recall by petitioning for arbitration – after the damage was done. The law also provided the recalled board members with a right to fund a petition for arbitration if they believed the recall was invalid. In deleting the sole process that “certified” a recall petition’s validity, the legislation could enable a handful of malicious owners to destabilize the association by engineering bogus recalls that could only be reversed in arbitration.

Defective Recall
DEFECTIVE RECALLS?
To mitigate the adverse impact of defective recalls, Moraitis’ bill directs a Board to determine if a recall vote is facially valid at a meeting convened within 5 days of receiving a recall petition. Based on that decision, the recall will either be abandoned or become effective when the meeting is adjourned. It also provides that a recalled board member may petition for arbitration to challenge its facial validity or compliance with procedural requirements.

If an arbitrator cites the recall as invalid, the board member is immediately reinstated, and entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs from the respondents (the association and possibly – the unit owner representative). Conversely, an arbitrator who finds that a petitioner’s claim is frivolous may award reasonable attorney fees and costs to the respondents. In short, whoever games the system pays the freight.

After initially excising the prohibition against an association hiring a Management Company's attorney – pursuant to section 718.111(3)(b), Florida Statutes – Moraitis reversed course, as habitually spotty enforcement of the Florida Bar ethics rules wouldn’t offset the potential for conflict. If some ill-conceived action promulgated by a management company employee places the association at risk, a shared attorney might seek to balance the liability instead of protecting the association. Moraitis' bill sidesteps a prospective conflict of interest by leaving the provision intact.

Statutory Revisions to Florida Condos, Co-ops and HOAs

Click Here to Final House Analysis HB 841 either creates or revises regulations applicable to the governance and operation of Florida’s common interest communities (although it doesn’t address mobile home parks, vacation units or timeshares). Since the bill features 72 pages of text, the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries – which became a co-sponsor after officially vetting the legislation – summarized the bill in mid-session by aligning its provisions with their specific impacts on condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners’ associations. See below to review the final version in a similar format.

 

For condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ associations:

  • The bill revises notice requirements for board and owner meetings at which an assessment will be considered. For condominium or cooperative associations, a notice must provide estimated costs and a description of the assessment. The bill further enables an HOA to give notice by electronic transmission to any parcel owner who provided the HOA with written consent and a fax number or email address.

  • The legislation enacts procedures for a board-imposed fine or a suspension of voting rights. A hearing is followed by a majority vote of a committee comprised of at least three members who are appointed by the board (not officers, board members, employees of the association, or their family members) before imposing a fine or suspension. Payment of the fine is required within five days of the meeting at which the fine was approved. The association must provide written notice of any fine or suspension by mail or hand delivery to the unit owner and, if applicable, to any tenant, licensee, or guest of the unit owner.

 

For condominium and cooperative associations:

 

For cooperative and homeowners’ associations:

 

For condominium associations:

 

For cooperative associations:

 

For homeowners’ associations:

  • An association is permitted to provide electronic notices of a meeting to any member who has provided written consent as well as a facsimile number or e-mail address for such purpose.

  • An amendment to the governing documents must contain the full text of the provision to be amended, with the new language underlined and proposed deleted language stricken with hyphens. However, an association may reference the governing documents in the event an amendment is too extensive and the inclusion of the full text with stricken and underlined text would hinder understanding of the proposed amendment.

  • If an election is not required because there are either an equal number or fewer qualified candidates than board vacancies, and if nominations from the floor are not required pursuant to s. 720.306, F.S., or the association’s bylaws, then write-in nominations are not permitted and such candidates shall commence service on the board of directors, regardless of whether a quorum is attained at the annual meeting.

  • Click Here to National Fire Protection Association The bill provides a clarification of existing law for the accrual of interest on unpaid assessments, and the application of payments to accrued interest, administrative late fees, collection costs and associated reasonable attorney fees, and finally the delinquent assessment, in such order of priority. While the Florida Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) allows a debtor to make a restrictive notation on a payment instrument, which may direct how the payment is applied, State law supersedes any restrictive endorsement, designation, or instruction placed on or accompanying a payment, including any purported accord and satisfaction (the parcel owner paid a lesser amount claiming full satisfaction of the amount due) pursuant to s. 673.3111, F.S. Notwithstanding the UCC, debtor funds will be applied according to the priorities clarified in HB 841.

Slime Balls and Your Email Address

According to State law, the contact information provided by condominium and cooperative homeowners to their respective associations for notice purposes are considered official records of the association. Ordinarily, this includes a name, address and occasionally - a telephone number. To notify the membership about upcoming board meetings or other events for which notice is required, the association can either hand deliver the information or mail it to the address provided by the member. As official records of the association, this contact information must be furnished to any association member who specifies anyone's - or everyone's - contact data in an official records request.

Associations are increasingly using emails (electronic notices) to facilitate communications with the membership. Unlike other forms of contact information, well-meaning Florida associations are asking owners for permission to use their email addresses for notice purposes – or in an association directory. They are not simply being courteous; the consent is required by State law.

Click Here for email hacking info While many association homeowners mistakenly believe that their email address will be kept confidential, if they agree to allow the association to use it for notice purposes, it can be handed out to any member on request. When this is explained, most owners who decline this quid pro quo do so to avoid being harangued by electioneering wannabes or buried in an endless blizzard of online neighbor-spam. Many of our neighbors downplay simmering suspicions about a far more egregious dilemma.

As identity theft has evolved into a $multi-billion criminal enterprise, a list of email addresses has acquired a significant black-market value. While most of our neighbors enjoy a functional moral compass, every association has a few slime balls with friends in low places. Any reprobates that need fast cash can sell these emails online, where they are typically scooped up by marketing wonks. Less scrupulous ethical lepers can also monetize these email lists on illegal, untraceable auction sites that pepper the Dark Web, where they are used for more nefarious purposes. With your email address, a motivated Ukrainian 12-year old middle school hacker with a remote key logger can finance a car, mortgage your home, and empty your bank accounts – in a heartbeat.

You can safely provide your association with your email address – as long as you don’t consent to its use for notice purposes. In that case, your association must notify you the old-fashioned way – by mailing or hand delivering your notice while plastering it across the premises. You can still request inclusion in email blasts to the membership – but the association will be barred from passing out your email address – and forced to keep it confidential. That said – your association can also be hacked...

Click To Top of Page


January 28 - February 16, 2018 Update

Click Here to Florida Fire Prevention Code February 24, 2018 - Across the state, high-rise association homeowners are facing a $multi-million assessment to fund retrofitting a fire sprinkler system that they legally opted-out of seven years earlier. By manipulating a skewed interpretation of the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC), lobbyists for Fire Sprinkler Associations sought to circumvent State Law by requiring the installation of an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) - an undefined set of fire safety features. Although the FFPC states that an ELSS must be designed by an engineer working for the property owner, local fire marshals with Statutory approval authority have been ordered to reject any ELSS that doesn't include fire sprinklers - functionally usurping the engineers' design authority.

Upon learning how local fire marshals were suddenly requiring fire sprinklers in buildings that had convincingly passed annual fire safety inspections performed by these same fire marshals - often for decades, lawmakers realized that this wasn't a fire safety issue, but a mercenary scheme to score a $multi-billion payday by stripping association homeowners of their right to self-determination. The 2017 ELSS opt-out legislation was unanimously passed in the House, and only 1 vote shy of unanimous Senate approval.

 


Back to Square One

 

George Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
MORAITIS EXPLAINS BILL TO COMMITTEE
Senator Gary Farmer
SENATOR GARY FARMER FILES SENATE BILL
When Governor Scott broke his promise and vetoed last year's ELSS opt-out legislation, Statehouse Representative George Moraitis (R – Fort Lauderdale) and Association Advocate Ellyn Bogdanoff agreed to refile the bills in 2018, despite the enormous political obstacles to enacting legislation during an election year session. Since every Statehouse seat is up for grabs, along with 20 of the 40 Senate seats, deep-pocketed special interests are bartering with cash-strapped campaigning lawmakers for favorable votes. As a result, the 2018 committee process navigated by Moraitis' House Bill 1061 (HB 1061) and Senator Gary Farmer's companion Senate Bill 1432 (SB 1432) has degenerated into a minefield.

Following her initial reports of the bill's progress, Bogdanoff sent supporters three consecutive mid-session updates - covering events in week 3 (on January 28), week 4 (on February 4), and weeks 5 & 6 (on February 16). Since the legislation will significantly impact thousands of Florida family budgets, Read on... - [editor]

 

 

“Week 3”
January 28, 2018

Hi members:

Bogdanoff Updates Bill
BOGDANOFF UPDATES BILL
Well, I finally have substance to report. I deemed last week “Octopus Week” and not because I felt like I was swimming in a sea of sharks but because of how many hands I needed to juggle this issue. I am working several angles hoping to get momentum. I was told that the bill was basically dead on Monday because it was not moving in the House, but as we learned last year, it is not dead until it is dead. I was notified late last week that it is on the agenda for its first committee of reference this Tuesday. So we are on the move. Once the House moves a bill, the Senate is more likely to follow. I will be meeting with the Senate sponsor next week and testifying in the House committee.

I received a list of those associations throughout the state that opted out of sprinklers since 2004. The list shows that over 770 associations opted out. Although it is unclear how many were required to opt out, arguably it is substantially more than most thought. What I realized is that there is no statewide association where all associations can go to understand what is happening in Tallahassee. There are fragmented groups and although we are taking the lead this year, there are hundreds of associations in the dark on this issue. So we will plug away for the greater good...

Senator Kevin Rader
SENATOR KEVIN RADER
On another front, I met with the Chair of the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee (JAPC) which is in charge of keeping Executive Branch agencies in check when their rules exceed or violate statutory authority. I am of the opinion that the Fire Marshall’s requirement and their “scoring sheet” is an un-promulgated rule that exceeds statutory authority. Additionally, if a rule has an economic impact of 1 million or more over 5 years to the private sector, then it must go back to the legislature for ratification. Senator Rader met with me and the Staff Director of JAPC and agreed to write a letter to the Fire Marshall requesting a copy of the “scoring sheet.” It is the first step in challenging their authority to require something that state law states you do not have to have since many associations have advised us that they were told they will not meet the score for an ELSS if they do not install a sprinkler system. Even if they don’t have to install a sprinkler system, hiring an engineer and installing the components of an ELSS would likely surpass the 1 million threshold requiring legislative ratification. I can find no exception to this law even considering the broad authority of the Fire Marshalls. They still must write rules for implementation of any new national rules they adopt. Someone will have to prove we are wrong on this analysis before I stop pursuing it.

Click Here to Florida CFO With that said, I ran into the CFO in the Senate office building and handed him the list of associations that opted out. I gave him my elevator speech and he asked me to set up an appointment to sit down and talk through the issue. I am scheduled to meet with him this Monday. As the State’s Fire Marshall he may be willing to intervene and give directions to the local Fire Marshalls on this issue. I will have that report next week.

Click Here to Bogdanoff's JAPC Primer Did I mentioned that Rep. Moraitis, our House sponsor of the bill, is the rotating Chair of JAPC too? He is on board with our pursuit of challenging this un-promulgated rule in addition to pursuing legislation. The purpose of promulgating a rule is to give the public notice and allow them to provide for input. There was nothing noticed and there clearly were no workshops. Additionally, in promulgating a rule, the agency is required to do a SERC (Statement of Estimated Regulatory Costs) which highlights when it needs to go back to the legislature for ratification. This was obviously not done. JAPC is the most under-utilized committee in the legislature, except of course by me. I chaired it when I was in the House and Senate and was fascinated by what it could do to assist my constituents and now my clients. It has no specific authority but it calls out the over-reaching of agencies that seem to respond to a JAPC inquiry. I created the Primer to educate members and the public and they are still using it. Very cool. Anyway, I have included a link below if you are a nerd like me and want to learn more. The Primer is under the Publications tab.

http://www.japc.state.fl.us/Pages/index.aspx

To make sure I had everything I needed, I rolled my backpack through the halls of the Capitol, weaving in and out of the many visitors. A few people did bump into my bag but hey, I have stuff to carry and it’s just too much weight on my shoulder. It was a long, productive, exhausting week. With the hands I had left, I rolled my backpack to a local restaurant to meet some of my colleagues. I ran into a House member who wanted to know what I was wheeling. When I explained to her why I brought it, she smiled and said, “Ellyn, you just can’t do that. If you are trying to make a fashion statement, let me help you.” Considering she is one of the most put together members, I took that as a big hint, not to mention the wise crack statements I heard from more than one person, okay, 10, but who is counting. Needless to say, I won’t be bringing it up this week.

I will be back at the Capitol tomorrow continuing to shake things up on this issue. I hope to have good news after my meeting with the CFO. Engaging him to negotiate with the state’s Fire Marshalls would be my first goal. Second, would be for them to back off because we are challenging their lack of rulemaking, and third is to pass legislation. We are still at risk for a veto but hopefully we will have greater support and the bill makes it all of the way to the finish line. So that is where we are at the end of the third week of session.

“Week 4”
February 4, 2018

Hi members:

Well, this week was a challenge. The Opt Out bill was up in its first Committee. Both Rep. Moraitis and I were informed about 2 hours before the meeting that the state firefighters, who stood down last year and stayed out of the issue, were now actively opposing the bill. This is not good. Fire Marshalls and the Fire Sprinkler Association are one thing, Firefighters are another. We had no idea they had changed their position until Tuesday. Even though there are over 770 associations that have opted out, there has not been much noise coming from them. Rep. Moraitis and I speak on behalf of everyone, but it is time that the members hear from those that will be directly impacted.

House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
HOUSE CAREERS & COMPETITION SUBCOMMITTEE
The bill passed, but barely. 8 votes yes and 7 votes no. We almost lost the battle. Those that supported us last year, bolted, in large part because of the Governor’s veto. Rep. Moraitis did an excellent job testifying but we were out gunned. We need your help. I am asking each of you and every member of your association you can motivate to contact not only the members below, but those they may have the opportunity to vote in the future. Please thank those that supported us and tell those that did not why this bill is so important. Feel free to reiterate the importance of this bill to those that voted yes. Some did so reluctantly to support their colleague. Keep your comments short and sweet but a personal note goes a long way. I am reluctant to write a canned letter because they are not effective. If you know anyone in the legislature personally, please pick up the phone. We are entering the 5th week of session and time is of the essence. There are a 120 members in the House and the more we hit with our message, the better. Each of you have a personal story. Our opposition keeps quoting this goofy study that says it will only cost owners $800. We need to push back on their message.

Click to House Careers & Competition Subcommittee Vote on CS/HB 1061

Ahern - Nay Fine - Yea Jacquet - Nay
 
Albritton - Yea Gonzalez - Nay La Rosa - Yea
 
Alexander -Nay Gruters - Yea Olszewski - Yea
 
Ausley - Nay Hardemon - Nay Perez - Yea
 
Beshears - Yea Harrison - Yea Silvers - Nay
 

Total Yeas: 8 Total Nays: 7 Total Missed: 0 Total Votes: 15
 

http://myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx

The above link will take you to the Representative’s page. There is a link to their email. We can turn this thing around if we get hundreds if not thousands to join us in making noise. This is about self-determination. This is the largest unfunded mandate you will ever see. We continue to challenge the Fire Marshalls through JAPC but the Building Code and the Fire Code are exempt from the 1 million threshold (lucky us) for Legislative ratification. We have asked for the “scoring” sheet but it has not yet been produced. Our power to push back is during session. If they stall long enough, Session is over and the members have little ability to do anything.

I wish I had better news. Rep. Moraitis and I brainstormed on a plan B, but we are not prepared to give up on our plan A. He has asked us to help him show his colleagues just how challenging this will be for the citizens of Florida that live in condominiums.

One last ask, please email Senator Farmer, our Senate sponsor and encourage him to move the bill. It has not been heard in the Senate. A few hundred emails ought to do the trick.

Let me know if you have any questions, but this is where we are today. The legislature needs to hear us loud and clear. I hope I know what you will be doing this weekend.

Until next time, which will be sooner than you think...

“Weeks 5 & 6”
February 16, 2018

No sugar coating here:

I think we hit the perfect storm. As I previously reported, Rep. Moraitis’ bill barely made it out of committee. Our goal was to get the CFO on Board and see if there was something the Governor’s office would accept. I met with the CFO, as did Rep. Moraitis. Sympathetic but a “no go” citing years of notice to get this done. I then met with the Governor’s office and they basically said that they would support anything the CFO would support. I felt like I was running backwards.

Now let’s look to the Senate where the bill is not moving... the Chair of the first committee of reference is running for office. Guess which one? Yep, you guessed it, CFO. He can never justify placing the bill on the agenda. So we have gone from 2017, where the bill passed virtually unanimously out of the legislature, to 2018 with the following:

  1. 2017 bill vetoed by the Governor

  2. Firefighters now actively working against the bill

  3. Barely making it out of the first House committee

  4. Stalled in the Senate

Where does that leave us? I have received many new calls from folks who somehow have learned about this issue. Our email campaign needs to grow and it may not help pass a bill but it can send a message to the Fire Marshall that they need to work with the hundreds of thousands of residents impacted by this rule. They want to see progress but there are not enough contractors to complete all that needs to be done by the deadline. Every one of you needs to reach out across the state and engage new associations. We need to build a database far greater than the numbers we have today. I spoke to an association president from the west coast this week and he has identified about 70 condos in his community alone. We need to keep up the pressure and continue the fight past session. Your collective voices can be powerful and you can use your numbers to your political advantage. Help us build this database of voices. 40 is better than 20 and 80 is better than 40. If you want to keep the pressure on, I am game, but we need help. We have 3 weeks left in session and anything can happen. One event can change the political dynamics and course of action of an issue.

I am not ready to give up. I hope you will do whatever you can over the next 3 weeks and beyond to help build our voice. If you send me the association name and email contact, I will add them to our list. Every good campaign starts with a list of passionate people who want to get something done. The bigger the better. Let me know your thoughts.

Until next time.


Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

 



 

Florida CFO (and State Fire Marshal) Jimmy Patronis
FLORIDA CFO JIMMY PATRONIS
Senator Tom Lee
SENATOR TOM LEE
At the session's outset, when Bogdanoff met with Florida CFO (and State Fire Marshal) Jimmy Patronis, Patronis said that since he is running for re-election, he can't afford to alienate the fire marshals. The other shoe dropped when she learned that Patronis' opposition for CFO was Senator Tom Lee (R - Thonotosassa), a former Senate President who currently chairs the Senate Committee on Community Affairs, the Senate Bill's first committee stop. By stonewalling the bill, Lee plans to split the Fire Marshals' support for Patronis. As Bogdanoff observed - the perfect storm. With a $multi-billion windfall at stake, its no surprise that the Fire Sprinkler Associations are squeezing vulnerable lawmakers.

Click Here to Bronto Skylift
Bronto Skylift
BRONTO SKYLIFT
When the mandate to retrofit fire sprinklers was first enacted in 2002, Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists insisted that the fire sprinklers were necessary to protect firefighters battling a blaze in a high rise building. Since the tallest ladder trucks could only extend 100 feet, firefighters would have to enter any building greater than 8 stories to reach those on higher floors. This is no longer true.

Bronto Skylift near High-Rise
BRONTO SKYLIFT
In 2015, at the world's largest fire trade show - Interschutz 2015 in Hannover, Germany - many ladder trucks (also called aerial platforms or turntables) exceeded 200 feet. In fact, a 220-foot ladder truck featured an "elevator" running up the back of the ladder to the basket at the top. The tallest ladder truck in the expo is manufactured by the Finnish company Bronto Skylift. It could extend to a height of 341 feet - and rated to manage structures 30 stories above grade. Although, there were only twenty such trucks worldwide in 2015, two years later, the F-112 HLA (High Level Articulated) is being delivered across the planet.

Bronto Skylift
BRONTO SKYLIFT IN ACTION
Click Here to FDIC International At the FDIC International (Fire Department Instructors Conference), an annual conference and exhibition last held from April 24-29, 2017 at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Bronto Skylift on display in the stadium featured a rescue height of 112 meters (90 meters with a 22 meter arm) - or 367 feet - which has often rescued victims up to 33 stories above grade. More than 300 have already been delivered to customers in North America. The cost for each truck is less than the cost of retrofitting an ELSS in one building.

 


Are You Game?

 

Bogdanoff Keeps Rolling
BOGDANOFF STILL "GAME" - ARE YOU?
As Bogdanoff explained, unless those of us with a dog in this fight reach out to the legislature, and detail how the hardship resulting from this mandate will affect our lives, the bills will die on the calendar. Although a crap shoot, Bogdanoff knows that this can work, as a flood of association emails and telephone calls to lawmakers helped enact her 2010 sprinkler retrofit opt-out legislation and a host of other pro-association bills. Bogdanoff says that she's "game". Are you?

Below are email links to all members of the Statehouse and Senate Committees scheduled to review George Moraitis' House Bill 1061 (HB 1061) and the companion bil filed by Senator Gary Farmer in the other chamber - Senate Bill 1432 (SB 1432). Use the links to email Florida Senator Tom Lee and Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, Also, message members of the 2 remaining Statehouse committees and 3 Senate committees that must approve the bills before they can be sent to the Statehouse and Senate floors. Just fill in the subject line, add your message and send each of them out.

  • Click Here to Email Florida Senator Tom Lee

  • Click Here to Email Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis
  •  

    Yogi Berra
    YOGI BERRA
    Unfortunately, every ISP (Internet Service Provider - the company we use to send out our online messages) limits the number of emails sent each day by a client - unless they use a special program for mass messaging - which we did not. However, once we are "cut off" after hitting the daily limit, you can still send the emails when the limit is reset - probably tomorrow.

    Alternatively. Click Here to download a list of the email addresses for every Statehouse Representative. Click Here to download a similar list of the email addresses - and other contact info - for every Florida Senator.

    As intimated by Bogdanoff, we have nothing to lose by flooding Tallahassee with our concerns. Emulating Yogi Berra's iconic assertion that “It ain't over till its over” Bogdanoff declares, “One event can change the political dynamics and course of action of an issue,” and concludes “anything can happen.” More to come... - [editor]

     

    Click To Top of Page


    January 15, 2018 Update

    January 25, 2018 - On December 26, 2017, Association Advocate Ellyn Bogdanoff delivered a Holiday gift to thousands of Florida homeowners in high-rise associations. A message from the former State Senator revived their hopes for a legislative opportunity to dodge a $multi-million assessment - the cost of complying with a scam mandate to install an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS).

     


    Opt-Out Plan Rescue

     

    Governor Rick Scott
    GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT
    When Governor Scott broke his word and vetoed last year's ELSS opt-out bill - despite its overwhelming approval in both chambers - Bogdanoff and Rep. George Moraitis (R – Fort Lauderdale) expressed trepidations about refiling the bills in 2018, citing the Gubernatorial "wild card" and political obstacles common to an election year legislative session - when cash-strapped campaigning lawmakers become highly vulnerable to the political predations of deep-pocketed lobbyists.

    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff
    ELLYN SETNOR BOGDANOFF
    Offering an alternative strategy, they proposed legislation that would extend the ELSS installation deadline, empanel a task force to study the fiscal impact and refile the opt-out legislation in 2019 - after term limits ended Rick Scott’s Gubernatorial tenure. Their tactical holding action suffered from sizable drawbacks.

    Moraitis Explains Bill
    MORAITIS EXPLAINS BILL
    For instance, since Rep. George Moraitis is also departing the Statehouse after 2018, unless Bogdanoff could then recruit an equally credible Statehouse sponsor, a far less experienced District 93 successor might be ill-equipped to face the mercenary sprinkler association lobbyists in the subsequent session. Moraitis conveyed this dilemma to Statehouse Speaker Richard Corcoran.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran
    HOUSE SPEAKER RICHARD CORCORAN
    Arguably the most politically imposing figure in the Florida Legislature, Corcoran's support can eviscerate a litany of legislative obstacles. When Corcoran advised Moraitis to refile his original bill in the upcoming session, Bogdanoff and Moraitis alerted grateful association supporters to prepare for Round 2 before successfully scrambling to beat the January 9 opening day filing deadline - in both chambers. On January 15, 2018 - almost a month later - Bogdanoff provided supporters with the following "Week 2" session update. Read on... - [editor]

     

     

    “Week 2”
    January 15, 2018

    Hi members:

    Bogdanoff Updates Bill
    BOGDANOFF UPDATES BILL
    I don’t have much to report as we head into the second week of Session. The bills have been filed, HB 1061 and SB 1432. Each were referred to 3 committees which is a good thing but none are on the agenda for this week. It is still early.

    I did have some conversations with the Chair of the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee, Senator Radar, to maybe attack this issue from a different angle. It is my belief that any Fire Marshall that requires the installation of a Fire Sprinkler system as part of an ELSS is exceeding their statutory authority.
    Senator Kevin Rader
    SENATOR KEVIN RADER
    If you opted out and had the statutory right to do so, then to require it through another door constitutes an un-promulgated rule by policy that exceeds statutory authority. The law says you don’t have to have one, yet they insist that you do. This may sound like a lot of gibberish, but the bottom line... they can’t do that. At least in my humble opinion.

    CALL Alert - Join ELSS 2018 Opt Out Group It gets more complicated from here so I won’t bore you with the details but we are working it from several angles. Our best hope is that we pass the bill again and it is not vetoed. It is a different day and we are entering an election year. Anything can happen.

    It is a short week due to the holiday. If anything exciting happens I will email you but if not, I will update you this Friday.

    I hope you had a great holiday weekend.


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    HOUSE CAREERS & COMPETITION SUBCOMMITTEE
    A few days before Bogdanoff’s December 26th “First Update”, George Moraitis filed House Bill 1061 (HB 1061) on Thursday, December 21, 2017. On January 3rd, it was referred to three vetting committees, including the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee, the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and finally, the House Commerce Committee. Its journey began in the Careers & Competition Subcommittee, where the 1st Reading took place on January 9, 2018.

    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO - OUT
    Senator Gary Farmer
    SENATOR GARY FARMER - IN
    When last year's Senate sponsor Kathleen Passidomo (R – Naples) balked about refiling in 2018, Moraitis and Bogdanoff enlisted Senator Gary Farmer (D – Broward) to sponsor a companion bill in the other chamber. A rookie Senator, Farmer filed Senate Bill 1432 (SB 1432) on January 2, 2018. On January 12th, 3 committee stops were scheduled for Farmer’s bill - the Senate Committee on Community Affairs; the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries; and the Senate Committee on Rules. To accelerate the bill through dilatory Senate committee stops, Farmer will need to rely on Bogdanoff’s intimate familiarity with the upper chamber.

     


    Breaking the Law for a Windfall

     

    Senator Kevin Rader
    SENATOR KEVIN RADER
    In her week 2 update, Bogdanoff refers to a legal issue that may ultimately collapse this mercenary scheme like a house of cards. In her discussion with Senator Kevin Rader, Bogdanoff explores how the terms of her 2010 Fire Sprinkler Opt-Out Statute conflict with current Fire Marshal tactics. Given the statutory prohibition against requiring fire sprinklers in associations that legally voted to forego a sprinkler retrofit, when Fire Marshals demand the installation of an ELSS that contains fire sprinklers in associations that opted out, Bogdanoff concludes they are “exceeding their Statutory Authority.” Conversely, Fire Marshals claim that the Florida Fire Prevention Code mandates that every association ELSS must include Fire Sprinklers.

    Click Here to Florida Fire Prevention Code FFPC 101:31.3.5.11.4 is the only provision in the Florida Fire Prevention Code that defines an Engineered Life Safety System. It states “an engineered life safety system shall be developed by a registered professional engineer experienced in fire and life safety system design, shall be approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), and shall include some or all of the following: partial automatic sprinkler protection, smoke detection systems, smoke control systems, compartmentation, and other approved systems.”

    By definition, fire sprinklers are one of several options available to a registered engineer assembling an ELSS, not a requirement. Since neither the Florida Fire Prevention Code nor the Florida Statutes require an ELSS to include fire sprinklers, local Florida Fire Marshals who collectively reject any ELSS that doesn’t contain a fire sprinkler system are complying instead with what Bogdanoff calls an “un-promulgated rule by policy”. Since such a rule doesn’t override statutory authority, it begs the question, “If an ELSS plan submitted by an association that legally opted out of a sprinkler retrofit is rejected for not having fire sprinklers, is the association immune to punitive enforcement by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (i.e. the local Fire Marshal)?”

    Bogdanoff is smart, a talented negotiator, and keeps a running inventory of skeletons in State Capital closets. While confirming that her primary objective is to “pass the bill again” and hopefully dodge another veto, her tenure in Tallahassee taught the former lawmaker the wisdom of booking a “Plan B”.

    Demonstrating how Fire Marshals created a policy that violates State Law to line the pockets of their Fire Sprinkler Association benefactors will turn the playing field on its head – not a bad alternative final chapter for an election year session where “anything can happen.” More to come... - [editor]

     

    Click To Top of Page


    December 12, 2017 Update

    Click Here to Office of State Fire Marshal December 27, 2017 - Six years after Ellyn Bogdanoff's 2010 Opt-Out legislation enabled thousands of high-rise associations to forgo retrofitting a $multi-million fire sprinkler system, angry Fire Sprinkler association lobbyists hell bent on recovering the lost windfall dispatched an official from the Fire Marshal’s union to solicit the Office of State Fire Marshal for a “friendly” interpretation of the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC).

     


    Looking Back: 2017 Session

     

    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff
    ELLYN SETNOR BOGDANOFF
    Click Here to Declaratory Statement Case No. 189152-16-DS The resulting May 4, 2016, Declaratory Statement authorized local Fire Marshalls to demand that thousands of Florida high-rise associations retrofit a $multi-million Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) - an arbitrary stew of fire safety features that invariably includes a sprinkler system. Vested with broad Statutory discretion, many local Fire Marshals began rejecting any ELSS permit application that didn’t include a sprinkler system. Brazenly exceeding their authority, others simply ordered associations to install a sprinkler system, arrogantly specifying a hand-picked engineer and/or contractor for these installations.

    Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    MORAITIS EXPLAINS BILL TO COMMITTEE
    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    Angered by this mercenary scam to circumvent the intent of the legislature for the sole purpose of bloodletting $billions from association homeowners, Statehouse Representative George Moraitis (R – Fort Lauderdale) teamed with Association Advocate Ellyn Bogdanoff and State Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R – Naples) to file legislation providing associations with the right to opt-out of the costly ELSS. As Bogdanoff tenaciously battled with sprinkler lobbyists throughout the session, Moraitis told vetting committees that House Bill 653 would protect thousands of elderly retirees on fixed incomes who might otherwise be forced from their homes by the astronomical assessment. The legislators concurred. With one exception, every lawmaker in both chambers approved the bills.

    Governor Rick Scott
    GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT
    Fire in Marco Polo Complex in Grenfell, London
    FIRE IN GRENFELL, LONDON
    In exchange for Governor Rick Scott's promise to approve the legislation, the bills were amended to require approval by 2/3 of the association’s voting interests to forgo an ELSS. Without extending a standard courtesy of first informing the bill’s sponsors, on June 26, 2017, the Governor broke his promise and vetoed the legislation, citing the June 14 fire at Grenfell Tower in London for his decision. Ironically, since the London fire was attributed to combustible aluminum cladding affixed to the building’s exterior, an ELSS wouldn’t have altered the outcome.

     


    Round 2: Planning the 2018 Rematch

     

    The next day, Bogdanoff notified the legislation's supporters “Our opposition seized the moment and in an abundance of political caution, Governor Scott vetoed the bill.” Concluding that the tragedy should not have impacted the ELSS opt-out, she remarked “We lost the battle but we have not lost the war. We will regroup and press on.” On July 18, 2017 Galt Mile officials met with Moraitis and Bogdanoff to discuss refiling the bill during the 2018 legislative session.

    George Moraitis, Pio Ieraci and Ellyn Bogdanoff
    REP. GEORGE MORAITIS, PIO IERACI AND ELLYN BOGDANOFF
    Bogdanoff opened with a rundown about how the veto changed the playing field. The legislative strategy would have to be reconfigured to preclude a replay of the 2017 aborted endgame. Bogdanoff said she would explore alternative new fire suppression technologies and harvest authoritative substantiation for the legislation, specifying recent contractor bids to additionally document the mind-boggling financial burden. She was also considering certain legal actions - possibly targeting local fire marshals who overstepped their authority or demonstrating that the ELSS is a blind for retrofitting fire sprinklers – thereby violating the 2010 opt-out statute.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron
    HOUSE SPEAKER RICHARD CORCORAN AND SEN. PRES. JOE NEGRON
    Moraitis and Bogdanoff detailed the procedural requirements for a veto override, exhorting its dependence on advocacy by the legislative leadership. They planned to discuss the legislation with Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, as their cooperation would also help facilitate an understanding with the Governor's office. Moraitis and Bogdanoff favored cloistering their preparations until they could coalesce the key elements of the strategy.

    Citing “political complications” inherent in an election year session and a tragic July 14 fire in a Honolulu high-rise, Bogdanoff later suggested altering the near-term objective. In late August she proposed legislation to extend the December 31, 2019 ELSS installation deadline while convening a task force to study the cost and explore other options. In short – a holding action until she and Moraitis could cultivate traction with the legislative leadership – or after Governor Scott is term limited into another line of work on January 7, 2019. In early December, fate smiled – as House Speaker Richard Corcoran gave Mortaitis his blessing to refile the unadulterated ELSS Opt-Out bill. On December 12, Bogdanoff sent supporters a “First Update”, signaling that Round 2 of this struggle is underway. See for yourself. Read on... - [editor]

     

     

    “First Update”
    December 12, 2017

    Hi members:

    Bogdanoff in Tallahassee
    BOGDANOFF IN TALLAHASSEE
    I just wanted to give you a quick update before the holiday season takes over our lives. I met with Rep. Moraitis last week and he has decided that he will file the exact opt out bill from last year. He was encouraged to do so by the Speaker. I also spoke with Senator Farmer and he is filing the Senate companion bill. They have until 12PM on the first day of session to file but I suspect both will file before then so staff has time to do the analysis and we can get on the committee agenda. If the bills are filed, I will let you know the numbers so that you can track them if you want. I will be sending out regular updates as I did last year. This will be an interesting ride since it is an election year. I am sure I will have plenty of material to keep you entertained.

    CALL Alert - Join ELSS 2018 Opt Out Group If I don’t write to you before the season kicks in, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year. Let your fellow associations know it is not too late to add their names to the list, and I don’t mean Santa’s list. The more associations we have the more power in our message. Please encourage them to join the ELSS 2018 Opt Out Group.

    Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    Senator Gary Farmer
    SENATOR GARY FARMER
    Following the Governor’s veto, State Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R – Naples), who had previously filed the companion bill in the other chamber (Senate Bill 744), exclaimed her intention to withdraw from the 2018 effort. Later, she said she would participate. To dispel further confusion, Bogdanoff recruited Senator Gary Farmer (D – Broward), who won the Senate seat vacated by former State Senator Jeremy Ring. Since the recently redrawn Senate District 34 boundaries now include the entire Broward coast, Farmer represents the Galt Mile in the Florida Senate, as does Moraitis in the Statehouse. Ironically, when Bogdanoff filed her Fire Sprinkler Opt-Out legislation in 2010, Ring filed the companion bill in the Senate.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran
    HOUSE SPEAKER RICHARD CORCORAN
    House Speaker Richard Corcoran is a fearless political force of nature. Providing Moraitis with a green light to refile in 2018 will help rebuild credibility undermined by the 2017 gubernatorial flip-flop. Moraitis apparently considers Corcoran’s support sufficiently influential to set aside a legislative delay pending Scott’s departure or the threatened “political complications” of an election year session. Instead, he will dust off last year’s successful package and jump in with both feet.

    The bill’s supporters face another challenge. Given the rigors of an election year playing field, the new team will need sufficient resources to effectively engage fire sprinkler association lobbyists with daunting deep pockets (and fire marshals on their payroll). While Moraitis and Farmer are paid by the state, Bogdanoff has to rely on contributions from those in the fiscal crosshairs of this ELSS mandate. As thousands of high-rise association homeowners threatened with a crippling assessment are apprised of the struggle’s resumption, their associations are asking the lawmakers about how they can help – an issue that Bogdanoff addresses in her “First Update”.

    In high-rise associations across the state – including those on the Galt Mile, unit owners conversant with this issue have been pressuring association boards to increase their modest contributions to this effort – given the $multi-million alternative. However, time is short. Although the 60-day legislative session ordinarily begins on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, lawmakers seeking an extended post-session electioneering window voted to commence the 2018 session on January 9. Mirroring last year’s strategy, the team plans to hit the ground running and stay one step ahead of the opposition More to come... - [editor]

     

    Click To Top of Page


    July 24, 2017 Update

    Click Here to Declaratory Statement Case No. 189152-16-DS July 24, 2017 - In furtherance of a scheme hatched by Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists to circumvent the statutory protection afforded to associations that opted out of a sprinkler retrofit, on May 4, 2016, a state bureaucrat issued a Declaratory Statement authorizing local Fire Marshalls to demand that thousands of Florida high-rise associations retrofit a $multi-million Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) - an arbitrary collection of fire safety features that includes a sprinkler system.

    Representative George Moraitis
    REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE MORAITIS
    Angered by a mercenary ploy to relegate the intent of the legislature, District 93 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis met with association officials last year to plan a response. On February 6, 2017 Moraitis issued a press release announcing his intention to file legislation “to protect condominium residents from overreaching regulation.”

    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    Later that day, Moraitis filed House Bill 653, which would allow association homeowners to decide whether or not they should install a $multi-million ELSS (which contains sprinklers) in high-rise association buildings that were code compliant when constructed and annually subjected to rigorous fire-safety inspections. The next day, Senator Kathleen Passidomo filed Senate Bill 744, a companion bill in the other chamber.

    Bogdanoff fights for relief
    BOGDANOFF FIGHTS FOR RETROFIT RELIEF
    The lawmakers were joined by former Statehouse Representative and Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff. Since members of the Fire Marshall's union openly employed by the Fire Sprinkler associations were fighting to preserve their anticipated windfall, Bogdanoff's unique experience in this arena would prove invaluable, having authored the original 2010 Sprinkler opt-out legislation. Throughout the committee review process, Bogdanoff turned potential opponents into supporters and repeatedly adapted the bills as required to insure their survival.

    Despite relentless efforts to defeat the legislation by powerful Sprinkler Association lobbyists, the bills were passed favorably by three vetting committees in the Senate and four in the House. Ultimately, the legislation was approved unanimously in the House and overwhelmingly in the Senate (only one Senator opposed the bill). Moraitis, Passidomo and Bogdanoff delivered on their promise.

    Governor Rick Scott
    GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT
    When Senator Kathleen Passidomo met with Governor Rick Scott in early April, the Governor promised to withhold a veto if the bills were amended to require approval by 2/3 of the association’s voting interests to forego an ELSS retrofit - in lieu of a simple majority. The Governor’s approval criteria were immediately incorporated into the legislation. Unfortunately, he didn’t keep his word.

    Association Advocate Donna Berger
    ASSOCIATION ADVOCATE DONNA BERGER
    On June 26, 2017, without informing Moraitis, Passidomo or Bogdanoff of his intention, the Governor vetoed the legislation, citing the June 14 fire at Grenfell Tower in London for his decision. Ironically, proliferation of the London fire was attributed to combustible aluminum cladding affixed to the building’s exterior (which is not protected by the features that comprise an ELSS). As observed by association advocate Donna Berger, “...it struck me as a failure to recognize the differences between the building codes in London, England and the very stringent building codes we have in Florida which are the strongest in our nation.”

    Throughout the 2017 legislative session, Bogdanoff regularly updated associations across the State about the legislation’s progress, detailing the obstacles, recounting how they were overcome and warning about those that remained. The next day (June 27, 2017), Bogdanoff sent the following message to the legislation’s supporters (including Galt Mile officials): - [editor]

     

     

    ELSS Retrofit: Round 2
    June 27, 2017

    Hi members:

    Bogdanoff in Tallahassee
    BOGDANOFF IN TALLAHASSEE
    I received a call last night from Rep. George Moraitis to let me know that Governor Scott vetoed the bill. The London fire clearly played a role in this decision. The loss of life there was a tragedy that gave all of us pause but it should not have had an impact on the opt-out for ELSS. Our opposition seized the moment and in an abundance of political caution, Governor Scott vetoed the bill. We lost the battle but we have not lost the war. We will regroup and press on.

    Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    Few bills ever attract the overwhelming legislative support achieved by HB 653 in 2017. Its success was primarily due to quick thinking by Moraitis and Bogdanoff during the session and impeccable planning beforehand. Within days of the veto, Galt Mile officials received a blizzard of statewide inquiries from concerned association officials and residents, often laboring under the mistaken impression that HB 653 was their last chance to reverse this regulatory rip-off.

    Bogdanoff plans 2018 strategy
    BOGDANOFF PLANS 2018 STRATEGY
    Representative George Moraitis
    REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE MORAITIS
    At a July 18, 2017 meeting with Galt Mile officials, Moraitis and Bogdanoff discussed refiling the bill for the 2018 legislative session. Although the Gubernatorial veto was a political knee-jerk reaction to the world-wide coverage of the London fire, Moraitis and Bogdanoff outlined several strategies to preclude a potential replay in 2018, including – if need be – a veto override. Although it will require additional resources, Moraitis and Bogdanoff also plan to equip themselves with authoritative substantiation for the legislation (more on this later).

    Mirroring last year’s successful preparation protocols, after researching the options discussed at the meeting, those measures deemed most effective will be incorporated into the 2018 legislative strategy. To avoid tipping off the opposition, participants agreed to keep the specific meeting details confidential until that strategy is finalized (over the summer).

    Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas
    FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE MARSHAL JEFF LUCAS
    Although the statutory deadline for initiating an ELSS permit application passed on December 31, 2016, local Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas agreed to temporarily suspend enforcing the measure through the legislative session. Since the deadline for installing the ELSS is December 31, 2019, there are two more opportunities to cure this mercenary scam - the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions.

    Until then, associations can only be required to initiate an ELSS permit application. Although this enigmatic regulatory figment is structurally undefined, some engineers have charged associations roughly $15,000 to $25,000 to craft plans for an ELSS. Each impacted association will also have to decide the extent to which it will help fight this questionable mandate – considering its members’ $multi-million alternative. More to come... - [editor]

     

    Click To Top of Page


    ELSS - Final Chapter

    Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff
    REP. ELLYN BOGDANOFF FILES
    2010 OPT-OUT BILL - HB 561
    May 12, 2017 - Last May, an official from the Fire Marshals union played out a charade choreographed six years earlier, when the
    2010 fire sprinkler opt-out legislation filed by then Statehouse Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff was on the verge of approval by the legislature. Unable to block Bogdanoff’s bill, Fire Marshals employed by the Fire Sprinkler Associations offered to withdraw opposition to the legislation if she agreed to remove an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) from the opt-out bill. Since an ELSS is an undefined stew of fire safety elements, the Fire Marshals told Bogdanoff that it would help associations and their fire safety engineers to frugally comply with local fire codes. Of course, that was just smoke.

    Click Here to Declaratory Statement Case No. 189152-16-DS Six years later, Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists cashed in on the slop they sold to Bogdanoff. After dispatching an official from the Fire Marshals union to solicit a “friendly” interpretation of the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC), they would leverage the resulting Declaratory Statement to demand the installation of an Emergency Life Safety System (ELSS) in thousands of Florida high-rise associations. Since local Fire Marshals enjoy sole statutory approval authority over any ELSS in their jurisdiction, the stage was set for a statewide $multi-billion bait and switch. Although barred from officially requiring sprinklers in associations that opted out, local Fire Marshals could reject any ELSS that didn’t include a $multi-million sprinkler system. Brazenly exceeding their authority, local Fire Marshals began ordering associations to immediately install sprinkler systems; others arrogantly specified an engineer and contractor for these installations.

    Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas
    FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE MARSHAL JEFF LUCAS
    At a meeting with Galt Mile officials, Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas disagreed with the basis for the Declaratory Statement, observing “I would think if you opt out, then you opt out of all,” and suggested that associations “pursue this issue with the State”. Lucas admonished that an ELSS would be more expensive than a sprinkler system, and most Galt Mile associations would have to cough up $millions. To provide the neighborhood association with an opportunity to legislatively address the Declaratory Statement during the upcoming session, he agreed to temporarily refrain from enforcing the measure.

    Association Advocate Donna Berger
    ASSOCIATION ADVOCATE DONNA BERGER
    Taking his advice, Galt Mile officials met with Statehouse Representative George Moraitis (R – Fort Lauderdale) and association advocate Donna Berger, who helped Ellyn Bogdanoff draft her 2010 fire sprinkler opt-out bill. Angered by a conspiracy to circumvent the intent of the legislature and bloodlet $billions from association homeowners,
    Representative George Moraitis
    REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE MORAITIS
    Moraitis and State Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R – Naples) filed legislation that would provide associations with the right to opt-out of the costly ELSS. Given her intimate familiarity with the legislative process, the specific issues at stake and the slippery tactics of the same opponents she faced in 2010, former Representative and State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff also headed to Tallahassee.

    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    Last month Bogdanoff updated Galt Mile officials about the legislation’s progress through the first half of the session, which was forwarded to thousands of Galt Mile residents facing $multi-million assessments. By mid-April, Moraitis’ House Bill 653 had been vetted in two committees, and scheduled for two more. Passidomo’s Senate Bill 744 survived its first committee, with two to go. Bogdanoff’s reports covering the frenetic second half of the session follow next, including an endgame that proved a double-edged sword. As Week 7 was beginning on April 18, 2017, Bogdanoff sent the following snapshot. – [editor]

     

     

    WEEK 7 OF SESSION
    April 18, 2017

    Hi members:

    Bogdanoff in Tallahassee
    BOGDANOFF IN TALLAHASSEE
    It was a slow week last week. Between the holidays and budget, the legislature was only in Tallahassee 1½ days. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I would have written to you on Friday but I would have nothing to say and that would be boring. However, we are making great progress this week. The House bill was up in committee yesterday. It seemed touch and go by the panicked text messages I was receiving. I ran to the committee room, heels and all, to testify, only to enter the room noticing a calm. It was relatively empty and there was George Moraitis, smiling and perfectly content with how the bill was moving. I looked at my fellow lobbyist who represents another interest on the bill and asked why he hit the alarm bell. He shrugged. Ugh. I called leadership to TP the bill. This bill can’t die in committee, I declared. I was assured it was fine. Not only was it fine, it only got 2 no votes. I wanted to smack my fellow lobbyist upside the head. Setting their hair on fire is a well-known pastime of many lobbyists. Session fatigue starts to set in around the 7th week and every small gesture, comment, or text sets them off and the issue seems insurmountable. Having been on the inside has helped me recognize the warning signs of lobbyists who are about to set their hair on fire. How I missed this one I will never know. I just hope that I have not been infected with the syndrome. Maybe it is like the Pod people in that movie... I digress...

    House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee
    HOUSE GOVT OPERATIONS & TECH APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
    Anyway, you have to love George, he laughed it off and is ready to push the bill to its next committee and then on to the floor. The Senate version is up Wednesday at 1PM. There is a strike-all and the goal appears to be to match up the Senate and House bills. The strike-all draft I read will require a sign on the building advising the firefighters that the building does not have sprinklers in the common areas. It will be up to the Fire Marshall to choose where the sign goes and how big it will be. I will be speaking to the Senate sponsor to make sure that it is not a neon, flashing sign. There are no limitations in the bill and at the very least it should be placed in a reasonably visible location but not obstruct the aesthetics of a building. The Fire Marshalls have been testifying against the bill... you know what they say about payback.

    Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    MORAITIS TESTIFIES ABOUT ELSS
    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    After this week, we will have 2 weeks to go. The bills are in a good place and should hit the House or Senate floor by next week. I may ask you to start emailing your legislators to encourage them to get the bill up and out. I will keep you posted if we need all hands on deck. The good news is we only have 2½ weeks to go but that is also the bad news. As my law professor used to say “Nothing is safe when the legislature is in session.”

    Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    Click Here to DPBR Condominium Retrofit Report
    House Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee
    HOUSE CIVIL JUSTICE & CLAIMS SUBCOMMITTEE
    On March 28, 2017, just before the bill was approved by the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee (10 Yeas vs. 4 Nays), Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists Buddy Dewar and William Stander advised the committee to kill the bill and force homeowners to buy fire sprinklers (dropping any pretense that the bill was about an ELSS). Arguing that the cost was reasonable, they cited a 2009 DBPR study in which one of six retrofit projects was estimated at $8633 per unit. Warning that retrofit proposals often include other improvements, they explained that unnecessary aesthetic upgrades were not required by code, but because “homeowners don’t like exposed pipes in the lobby and along their hallways.”

    Upon returning to the podium, Moraitis told the Committee that walls and ceilings must be demolished when retrofitting a structure, and after the equipment is installed, restoring these walls and ceilings is neither optional, nor an “aesthetic upgrade”. Waving a document he submitted earlier, Moraitis declared “This is a current vendor proposal for $15,000 per unit.”

    Condo Termination
    Community Associations Institute Lobbyist Travis Moore
    COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS INSTITUTE
    LOBBYIST TRAVIS MOORE
    The panicking lobbyist mentioned by Bogdanoff was Travis Moore, who has ably supported the bill on behalf of the Community Associations Institute (CAI). Bogdanoff’s encounter with Moore took place on April 17, 2017, in the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, where a fiscal review had been mandated to address the controversial Condominium Termination issue discussed last month. As expected, Committee members explored the huge retrofit costs mandated by the fire code.

    Rick Butcher from the Fire Marshals Union
    RICK BUTCHER OF THE FIRE MARSHALS UNION
     Committee Vice Chair Rep. Neil Combee
    COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR REP. NEIL COMBEE
    Exclaiming that the cost was irrelevant, Rick Butcher from the Fire Marshals Union told the committee “If they didn’t think it was important, they wouldn't have put it in the code.” Committee Vice Chair Rep. Neil Combee (R – Polk County) asked Butcher, “Who are ‘they’ – these folks who write the code?” Butcher explained, “It’s a technical committee. It’s done by a group of equipment experts in their field, and it’s passed to the national NFPA, which puts it into the fire code every 3 years.” Combee then asked “And these experts are people in the fire equipment business?” “Yes,” said Butcher, “Manufacturers and installers who want to make their equipment safer.” Combee retorted, “So, the people that make this stuff also make the rules about what goes into these buildings.” Butcher went mute. The Committee approved the bill by a vote of 11 Yeas vs. 2 Nays.

    Bogdanoff to Firefighters
    BOGDANOFF WITH FIREFIGHTERS
    Earlier, Bogdanoff met with firefighters to elicit their concerns about the legislation. In contrast with the Fire Marshals who were paid lobbyists, they assured her that they had no problem with the bill, but asked if a sign could be placed on an association property indicating whether the common areas were sprinklered. Bogdanoff agreed to let the State Fire Marshall determine the location and size of the sign - although it wouldn’t be ostentatious. On April 29, with one week left in the session, Bogdanoff sent the following update about accelerating events - [editor]

     

     

    WEEK 8 OF SESSION
    April 29, 2017

    Hi members:

    Bogdanoff in Tallahassee
    BOGDANOFF PUSHES ELSS LEGISLATION
    You will have to forgive me for my short emails but things are happening fast and if you blink up here, you could lose your bills and any money you may have in the budget. Last week we were sweating it. The bill was possibly dead. The Senate bill was stuck in its last committee of reference and the Chair of that committee said she was likely done with meetings. The bill would never get to the Senate floor. On to plan B. Rep. Moraitis asked another member if he could amend his bill on the floor and hitch a ride with a bill that was likely to pass. Not one we are thrilled with but it was going to pass whether we hitched a ride or not. It is hard enough to find a bill that is germane to our issues, let alone a member willing to take the chance that his/her bill will suffer because of our issues.

    House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee
    HOUSE GOVT OPERATIONS & TECH APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
    Our House bill was on the floor on Friday. We were told that we could amend our bill onto the other member’s bill but needed to get permission from the Senate sponsor. I ran over to the Senate and met with staff. They said the Senator would be happy to take the House bill up with our language so we were safe. Late Thursday night, as we are on a 1 hour notice for meetings, our Senate Committee Chair noticed another meeting for Friday and our Senate bill was on the agenda... whew. Back to plan A, which was a good thing because Friday morning the other bill sponsor decided that our bill could sink his and he was not comfortable putting our language on his bill. Plan B was dead.

    Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    MORAITIS EXPLAINS BILL TO COMMITTEE
    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    Our bill passed out of its last committee of reference in the Senate on Friday and is headed to the Senate floor. Rep. Moraitis’ bill was heard and rolled over to third reading. We have a tight time line because the Senate or House will not be on the floor Monday. Assuming the bill is passes out of the House on Tuesday, it heads to the Senate and Senator Passidomo is free to pick it up in messages and BOOM, we are done. But it ain’t over until it is over. With fingers and toes crossed, you may get a one sentence or one word response from me when and if it passes because the last week of session is nuts. All in all, we are in good shape heading into the last week of session.

    The moral of the story: A bill is dead until it is not or it is alive until it is dead.

    Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    Time
    House Commerce Committee
    HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE
    Moraitis’ House bill was approved in the House Commerce Committee – its final committee stop – on April 24 (23 Yeas vs. 3 Nays) and sent to the House floor. Thanks to a fortunate scheduling quirk, on April 28, the Senate Bill finally cleared its last stop in the Senate Rules Committee (12 Yeas vs. 0 Nays). Although Ellyn was pleased that both bills were out of committee and parked on the floor, in the few remaining days, the legislation still had to be approved in both chambers. Tick Tock. On May 2, Ellyn squeezed out the following frenzied message - [editor]

     

     

    FINAL DAYS OF THE SESSION
    May 2, 2017

    Hi members:

    Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    MORAITIS MOVES BILL IN COMMITTEE
    I am writing you from the 4th floor of the Capitol waiting for the Senate to go back in after a lunch break. The House is busy working and Rep. Moraitis passed his bill out and it is on its way to the Senate with a few fleas

    Rep. J José Félix Díaz
    REP. J JOSÉ FÉLIX DÍAZ
    Rep. Diaz was amended onto the ELSS bill, to avoid conflicting statutory language.

    Governor Rick Scott
    GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT - NO VETO
    The Governor signed off on our language, in particular, because we upped the voting to two-thirds. The Governor's office expressed some concerns about the Diaz bill, which creates criminal penalties for some acts (that are quite frankly, criminal) and other provision that carry some costs.

    However, none of those provisions are anywhere near the cost of an ELSS system. Eating Fleas I’ve attached the bill for your review (link below), and I don’t want to set off any alarm bells, but this just made my job 100 times harder. I may need to solicit your help in letting the Governor’s office know we will eat the fleas for the greater good.

    Let me know your thoughts on the bill. I may update you if the Senate passes it out today. It hasn’t been received yet but it’s only 2PM.

    Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    Eating Fleas While bouncing between the House, Senate and the Governor’s office, Moraitis and Bogdanoff had to quickly and convincingly resolve obstacles that commonly sink bills in the home stretch, by negotiating problematic concessions on the fly. Agreeing to sacrifices required for the legislation’s survival is colorfully characterized as “eating fleas”

    Bogdanoff’s Flea Market

    Former Governor Jeb Bush - Veto 1
    FORMER GOVERNOR JEB BUSH - VETO 1
    Former Governor Charlie Crist - Veto 2
    FORMER GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST - VETO 2
    In 2006 and 2009, shortly after Fire Sprinkler opt out bills were overwhelmingly approved in the House and Senate, a contingent of fire marshals employed by the Fire Sprinkler Associations convinced Governors Jeb Bush (in 2006) and Charlie Crist (in 2009) to veto the bills. This time, when the Fire Marshalls took a run at Governor Rick Scott during Week 5 of the session, Senator Passidomo was hot on their heels, and toughened the voting standard to deter a veto. To placate Scott, the bills would be amended to require that associations opt out of an ELSS by a two-thirds vote of the full membership, not a simple majority.

    Not surprisingly, thousands of associations that voted to opt out of the sprinkler retrofit did so with the approval of 95% - 100% of the membership. As such, resetting the ELSS opt-out standard at two thirds of the voting interests shouldn’t adversely impact the outcome, given how a $multi-million assessment looms as the alternative.

    Rep. J José Félix Díaz
    REPRESENTATIVE J JOSÉ FÉLIX DÍAZ
    Florida Senator René Garcia
    FLORIDA SENATOR RENÉ GARCIA
    In noting that “Rep. Diaz was amended onto the ELSS bill,” Bogdanoff is referring to legislation sponsored by Florida Senator René Garcia (R - Hialeah), Florida Senator José Javier Rodríguez (D - Miami) and Statehouse Representative J José Félix Díaz (R - Miami-Dade). In the House, Diaz filed House Bill 1237 (HB 1237) while Garcia and Rodriguez co-sponsored companion Senate Bill 1682 (SB 1682) in the other chamber. According to the DBPR, condos in Miami-Dade recorded the highest number of complaints of any Florida county for forged ballots, financial fraud, election irregularities, missing records, and disappearing funds. Of the 1,908 complaints received statewide, 566 were filed in Miami-Dade.

    Click Here to Miami-Dade Grand Jury Report on Condominiums Armed with a scathing report by a Miami-Dade Grand Jury, the three Miami lawmakers hoped to rein in the criminal abuses by rogue boards and shady management companies that chronically proliferate in their districts. In short, Board members who are convicted of committing crimes will be subject to Felony charges. These include forging election ballot envelopes or voting certificates, the theft or embezzlement of association funds and destroying or concealing official records in furtherance of a crime. The bill also term limits board members after eight consecutive years, unless there are an insufficient number of candidates or if they are elected by a two-thirds supermajority of the full membership.

    Although aware that certain provisions were problematic, Moraitis hesitantly agreed to incorporate the “Diaz” language to guarantee survival of the ELSS opt-out bill. If Moraitis’ Bill hadn’t passed its final review in the House Commerce Committee – which Diaz chaired – it wouldn’t have reached the House floor. Additionally, the stand-alone version of the Miami condo bill (HB 1237) had already been unanimously approved in the House and Senate and enrolled by 2 p.m. on May 1, almost 2 hours before Moraitis agreed to add the language to his bill at 3:49 p.m. Unless it was vetoed by the Governor, the Miami condo legislation would be enacted whether or not it was included in the ELSS opt-out bill.

    After noting Scott’s concern about criminal penalties for board members, Bogdanoff mentions other provisions that “carry some costs.” Since the bill will require condo associations with 150 or more units to publish a litany of association documents on a password protected web page, most associations will have to fund changes to their websites by the July 1, 2018 deadline. Shortly before Bogdanoff sent the above message on May 2, Moraitis’ bill was unanimously approved by the full House (119 Yeas vs. 0 Nays).

    Stepping into the Sunshine

    Despite daunting odds, the next day brought the silver linings that Moraitis and Bogdanoff hunted for months. On May 3, 2017, Passidomo’s Senate Bill 744 was swapped out for the House Bill and laid on the table (euthanized). After Moraitis’ House Bill 653 was approved by the full Senate (36 Yeas vs. 1 Nay), it was ordered enrolled at 12:09 p.m. – and packed off to the Governor’s desk.

    If the bill survives the Governor’s veto pen - which it should - battalions of high rise association homeowners throughout the State will recover a right to forgo the huge special assessment that’s been hanging over our heads since last May (A detailed analysis of the legislation’s impact is forthcoming). Once armed with the Statutory ELSS Opt-Out, two issues remain central to avoiding a $multi-million assessment.

    First, a minimum of two-thirds (2/3) of a high-rise association’s unit owners must cast a vote to opt-out of retrofitting an ELSS. Since this vote carries a “zero-sum” impact, owners who fail to cast a vote will be considered to have voted against the opt-out (and for an assessment). Second – and equally important – the vote must be conducted and subsequently registered according to the terms specified in the amended Statute. Since one regulatory misstep will void the vote’s impact – and trigger an assessment – the association’s attorney should organize and oversee the entire process.

    Gov Charlie Crist signs 2010 Sprinkler Opt-Out Bill at Beach Community Center
    FORMER GOV CHARLIE CRIST SIGNS 2010 SPRINKLER
    OPT-OUT BILL AT BEACH COMMUNITY CENTER
    It’s also worth noting that a $multi-billion ambush by the deep-pocketed sprinkler associations – seemingly conceived and executed over the past six years – was thwarted by some sleepy retirees in Northeast Fort Lauderdale (fueled by contributions from association homeowners across the State). Not too shabby!

    To punctuate the successful Statutory slugfest undertaken to reinstate our rights as homeowners, GMCA President Pio Ieraci has invited Governor Rick Scott to sign the bill into law at the Beach Community Center, mirroring a similar ceremonial bill-signing by Charlie Crist when Bogdanoff’s 2010 sprinkler retrofit opt-out legislation was enacted. Whether or not Scott will show up is currently running 6-5 and pick ‘em. More to come – [editor]

     

    Click To Top of Page


    April 8, 2017 Update

    Click Here to Declaratory Statement Case No. 189152-16-DS April 15, 2017 - When a skewed interpretation of the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC) was implanted in a May 4, 2016 Declaratory Statement, it authorized local Fire Marshalls to demand that thousands of Florida high-rise associations retrofit a $multi-million Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS). Since an ELSS is an arbitrary collection of fire safety features that includes a sprinkler system, Sprinkler association lobbyists used the Declaratory Statement to circumvent the statutory sprinkler opt-out and realize a $multi-billion payday - at our expense.

    Representative George Moraitis
    REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE MORAITIS
    Angered by a mercenary ploy to relegate the intent of the legislature, Representative George Moraitis filed House Bill 653,
    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    which would provide associations with the right to opt-out of the costly ELSS. Since members of the Fire Marshall's union openly employed by the Sprinkler associations are fighting to preserve their anticipated windfall, Association Advocate Ellyn Bogdanoff - who sponsored the 2010 Sprinkler opt-out legislation - is lobbying on behalf of Moraitis’ bill. Florida Senator Kathleen Passidomo filed Senate Bill 744, a companion bill in the other chamber.

    A former State Senator, Bogdanoff regularly updates associations across the State about the legislation’s progress, recounting the obstacles that were overcome and those that remain. On April 8, 2017, she sent the following message to GMCA officials to help update thousands of Galt Mile residents threatened with this questionable $multi-million assessment - [editor]

     

     

    WEEK 5 OF SESSION
    April 8, 2017

    Hi members:

    Bogdanoff in Tallahassee
    BOGDANOFF IN TALLAHASSEE
    This was an exhausting week in Tallahassee. Leadership in the House has its eyes on the Moraitis bill and amended the “association termination” language on to the bill in the last committee. There is a separate bill moving through the process on this issue but as session progresses, members look for all moving legislation to make sure their issue has the best opportunity of passing. The termination language increases the threshold associations need in order to terminate the association. This seems to be a Hillsborough/Pinellas issue. I have spoken to a couple of the House and Senate members from that area and they are very concerned about people losing their homes because of the will of others in the association. What does this have to do with ELSS? Nothing and everything!!

    House Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee
    HOUSE CIVIL JUSTICE & CLAIMS SUBCOMMITTEE
    Once the bill was amended, it was referenced to a fiscal committee, which added another committee stop to the bill.. ugh!!! This slows down the process and we are fast approaching the end of committee meetings in the House. Next week, because of the holidays, the House is only on the floor to pass out the budget. There will be no committee meetings. It is hard to lobby against this issue (displacing elderly people for progress) but what I can do and did do is address with Senator Passidomo that accepting this language places a fiscal on the bill and doing that this late in the game will kill it. She agreed and has asked me to work with her to move the bill through. She does not have a dog in the hunt on the termination language... yet. Both Senators Young and Latvala are very supportive of the termination language. As mentioned, the stand alone version of this bill appears poised to pass so there may be no reason for them to approach Senator Passidomo and ask for a courtesy amendment. Let’s hope. Fingers and toes crossed please.

    Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    MORAITIS TESTIFIES ABOUT ELSS
    I will be working on moving the Senate bill through the process clean. We have two committees to go in the Senate. Judiciary, which will meet in week 7, and then Rules, which meets until the end so we are alive and well. The goal is to pass out the Senate bill without the termination language and send it over to the House. It gets a bit complicated because even if Moraitis wanted to amend the termination language out of his bill, which he appears willing to do, he still needs to go to the fiscal committee to do that. However, I have been advised that they will not allow amendments in that committee, which means we still need to go through the fourth committee and amend it there. It just appears that we may run out of time on the House side to get the bill to the floor first, but we still need to get it to the floor. Either way, if we can send the Senate bill over to the House, our goal is for the House to accept the Senate version and send it on to the Governor, which brings me to the last issue.

    Governor Rick Scott
    GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT
    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    Senator Passidomo met with the Governor’s office, which now has an interest in the bill. I am sure they have been visited by the Fire Marshalls and the Fire Sprinkler folks. We will need to amend the bill for a 2/3 vote in lieu of simple majority to opt out of ELSS to avoid a veto. I know that is not the preferred position but I suspected that we might need to go there, especially after speaking to several members to gain their support for the bill. I am happy to hear your thoughts, but again, unless I have a strong argument to say that a simple majority is good enough, we will need to support the Senator’s amendment to make this change in the Judiciary committee. I am all ears. Convince me so I can convince the Governor. Thoughts?

    Anyway, this is a typical week in Tallahassee. I can assure you that we will have several more twists and turns with 4 weeks to go in the 2017 Session, but I remain confident that are on track for passage. The good news is that we have two very committed sponsors, a path to avoid a veto, and did I mention a pit bull for a lobbyist.

    Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    Floridians Against Condo Takeover The “association termination” provision mentioned by Bogsdanoff refers to the unintended consequences of a glitch in Condominium law. As of 2007, an investor who buys 80 percent of the condos in a complex can vote to convert the complex into apartments and force the remaining individual owners to sell and get out, unless the condo’s governing documents state otherwise. .

    Floridians Against Condo Takeover Before 2007, converting a condominium required the consent of every unit owner. Hurricane-damaged, insolvent and obsolete properties often sat vacant because developers had trouble getting consent from elderly and out-of-state owners who abandoned an uninhabitable property. Unit owners in Condominiums that were no longer functional were stuck with properties they could neither sell nor use, creating a terrible hardship. All it took was one unreachable owner to thwart a much-needed condo termination.

    Broward Commissioner and Former Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller
    BROWARD COMM. & FORMER FLA. SEN. STEVE GELLER
    Former Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller (D-Cooper City), currently District 5 Broward Commissioner, began working with the Florida Bar to draft legislation that would lower the threshold for condominium terminations to 80 percent owner approval, unless 10% of the owners objected. When it passed both chambers in 2006, it was vetoed by former Governor Jeb Bush, whose veto message insightfully admonished that it may cloak “unintended consequences.” Tweaked and refiled in 2007, after Senate Bill 314 was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers (only one “Nay” in the House), the measure was signed into law by former Governor Charlie Crist.

    Senator Jack Latvala
    SENATOR JACK LATVALA
    The termination provision discussed by Bogdanoff seeks to protect unit owners (and their tenants) from predatory bulk buyers by reducing the percentage of association members required to reject a termination plan from 10% to 5%. If rejected, the legislation also extends how long a bulk buyer must wait before submitting another termination plan – from 18 months to 24 months. Since the termination language is patterned after provisions in Senate Bill 1520 by Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) – which should easily be approved – its inclusion in Moraitis’ bill is extraneous.

    As observed by Bogdanoff, it was originally anticipated that Moraitis’ House Bill 653 would precede its Senate companion (SB 744) to the floor, and hopefully to the Governor’s desk. However, following its approval by the House Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee on March 28 (10 Yeas vs. 4 Nays), instead of heading to its final stop in the House Commerce Committee, HB 653 was diverted on March 31 to the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee for a fiscal review mandated by the termination issue. This unforeseen detour prompted Bogdanoff’s plan to facilitate the Senate Bill through its remaining committee stops, so if the House Bill runs out of time, the approved Senate version (without the redundant termination language) can be bundled off to the House for a vote, and then to the Governor’s desk. More to come... - [editor]

     

    Click To Top of Page


    Some Background

    Click Here to Declaratory Statement Case No. 189152-16-DS March 27, 2017 - In 2002, Florida lawmakers passed a clandestine bill crafted by Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists that required every Florida Community Association housed in a structure 75 feet above grade – without an exterior exit access from every dwelling unit – to install a full fire sprinkler system. In 2010, former Statehouse Representative (and later State Senator) Ellyn Bogdanoff filed House Bill 561. Unanimously approved in the House and Senate, the statute empowered association unit owners to decide by a full membership vote whether or not it was in their best interests to retrofit their home with a $multimillion fire sprinkler system. Unit owners in tens of thousands of Florida Associations voted to opt-out of the retrofit requirement.

    Click Here to Declaratory Statement Case No. 189152-16-DS On May 4, 2016, a State official issued a questionable interpretation of the Florida Fire Code (AKA: a Declaratory Statement) that would require associations to alternatively install an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS). An undefined blend of fire safety elements (which once again includes fire sprinklers), Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas characterized an ELSS as “more expensive than the sprinklers”. Upon learning how a bureaucrat circumvented State Law, Statehouse Representative George Moraitis filed House Bill 653 on February 6, 2017. The bill will empower association unit owners to decide - by a full membership vote - whether their association should fund a $multimillion ELSS. On February 7, 2017, Senator Kathleen Passidomo filed companion Senate Bill 744 in the other chamber.

    Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas
    FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE MARSHAL JEFF LUCAS
    Having authored the original sprinkler opt-out legislation, associations across the State – including the Galt Mile – contacted Bogdanoff to help address a regulatory ambush launched on behalf of Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists. Before heading to Tallahassee in support of Moraitis’ ELSS opt-out legislation, Bogdanoff warned “This will be a huge fight against the special interests that profit from this requirement and those that have little evidence that installing an ELSS is necessary for the safety of residents.”

    Click Here to Community Association Leadership Lobby Working with Association Advocates Donna Berger and Executive Director Yeline Goin of the Community Association Leadership Lobby (CALL), Bogdanoff updates thousands of concerned unit owners across the State with a weekly legislative progress report, while interactively harvesting current information relevant to this issue. The following two summaries were received on March 17 and March 24, 2017, and cover the bill's journey during the second and third weeks in the session. - [editor]

     

    Ellyn Bogdanoff ELSS Legislative Updates

     

    WEEK 2 OF SESSION
    March 17, 2017

    House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    HOUSE CAREERS & COMPETITION SUBCOMMITTEE
    Last week I reported that the ELSS bill would be up in committee. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I contacted Rep. Moraitis’ office and they advised me the bill was not ready and would be up this week. I have confirmed that it is on the agenda on 3/21 at 8AM in the Careers & Competition Subcommittee. I will be there to listen to the comments and concerns so we are prepared to respond. I will also testify if needed.

    Moraitis Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    MORAITIS TESTIFIES ABOUT ELSS
    Second, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with CFO Atwater on Thursday to talk about the associations that are being pressured to hire consultants immediately. If you could give me brief feedback on whether you are experiencing this with your Fire Marshall, that would be helpful. I suggested a statement from the CFO that would allow us a delay until May 5, close of session, in the hope that we pass this bill. He asked me to follow up, but if I have specific examples that will assist with this endeavor. Feel free to include the cost of the consultant if you received a proposal.

    Bogdanoff Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    BOGDANOFF ADDRESSES SUBCOMMITTEE
    Last, I have attached the bill that will be heard in committee and as of 6:20 on Friday evening, no amendments have been filed YET. I will give you an update after the meeting on Tuesday with a vote sheet so we can talk to those that do not support the bill, if any, and thank those that did. Perhaps you may know some of the legislators. I have attached the link that provides the list of committee members. If you know any of them personally or if they represent your association, please reach out to them before Tuesday morning and ask them to support Rep. Moraitis’ good bill.

    Have a great weekend. Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



     

    WEEK 3 OF SESSION
    March 24, 2017

    Representative Randy Fine
    REPRESENTATIVE RANDY FINE
    Members:

    We have lots of good news this week. House Bill 653, by Representative Moraitis, passed its first committee of reference this week and is on to the next. It was a bit touch and go because a provision in the bill set off several members. We are not quite sure how it got in there. Sometimes it is a drafting error. It was a current provision in statute that was removed that requires notice to new owners that the building they are buying in does not have sprinklers. I guess it looked like we were hiding something, which is not the case. Representative Moraitis quickly agreed to remove that provision. Kudos to Representative Randy Fine who pulled me over in committee to inquire about this provision and advised me that we did not have the votes to pass the bill. I told him we would be fine with its removal and that was not a priority of any of the associations. He assisted us in obtaining the votes necessary to pass it out of committee, whew!!!

    Lobbyist Buddy Dewar, FFSA
    LOBBYIST BUDDY DEWAR
    FLORIDA FIRE SPRINKLER ASSOCIATION
    We did not address that issue because quite frankly, no one realized it was removed. Nor did we ask for it to be removed.

    Lobbyist William Stander, AFSA
    LOBBYIST WILLIAM STANDER
    AMERICAN FIRE SPRINKLER ASSOCIATION
    We knew we would have the fire sprinkler industry and the Fire Marshalls on hand to testify against the bill. They always come in uniform, which is a huge disadvantage for us. Most think the fire fighters oppose this bill but they do not. They met with Rep. Moraitis and he addressed their concerns because all associations currently have signs advising fire fighters when a building does not contain sprinklers. It assists with their strategy. That’s all they need. They seemed fine and I passed a group of Fire Fighters yesterday on Adams Street, they told me that they had no dog in the hunt whew!!!

    Attorney Eric Glazer Supports Bill
    ATTORNEY ERIC GLAZER SUPPORTS BILL
    During committee, I carefully placed my speaking card last in line. Somehow I went to the top of the list and was called first to testify. Probably as a courtesy but darn, they should know I like the last word . I didn’t want to testify unless I had to dispute any of the other testimony but I had no choice. I anticipated what they would say, which was easy considering it was the same argument in 2010. I told the committee, opponents of the bill will say this, but these are the facts. I could talk confidently on legislative intent because I sponsored the first opt out. Anyway, I hit most of the points but some speakers misrepresented costs. I didn’t talk specifics on cost, I just broadly stated that it could cost millions in some buildings and actually costs have been hard to pin down. I also explained that the ELSS system for many condos would have to include a sprinkler system to meet the “score,” and that defeated the purpose of the legislation passed in 2010. I will now go to the members of the next committee to dispel any inaccuracies in the costs given to the members by the Fire Sprinkler Association. The guy who testified said it would only cost around $350 to $500 per unit for an ELSS system. I have documentation to the contrary that I will be sharing with all of the members.

    Representative Heather Fitzenhagen
    REPRESENTATIVE HEATHER FITZENHAGEN
    The next committee in the House is Civil Justice and Claims, chaired by Rep. Fitzenhagen. It is critical that the bill is heard because next week is the last week for committees in the House. I was just advised that it WILL be on the agenda... whew!

    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    We will be filing amendments in the next committee to address the issues in the first committee. I am in touch with Rep. Moriatis’ office on a regular basis. Charles has been great to work with. Rep. Moraitis has been very attentive to this issue. We chat on a regular basis. For those who know him well, he is laser focused on this bill passing.

    Community Associations Institute Lobbyist Travis Moore
    COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS INSTITUTE
    LOBBYIST TRAVIS MOORE
    I met with Senator Passidomo. Although she is taking the House’s lead, she indicated to me that it will likely be up this week. The Senate has a very different approach to committee weeks so we are safe there. As soon as the agendas are out, I will advise you.

    Bogdanoff Testifies in the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee
    BOGDANOFF ADDRESSES SUBCOMMITTEE
    We have a busy week ahead and a long way to go. Please review the committee members and if you have any personal relationships, a call or personal email would be great. Rep. Moraitis is on the committee, which is helpful.

    I will keep you posted on our progress. Feel free to email me with any questions.

    Until next time...


    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, Association Advocate
    Government Law and Lobbying, Becker & Poliakoff
    Email: ebogdanoff@bplegal.com

     



    Capitol Building in Tallahassee
    ELSS LEGISLATION IN TALLAHASSEE
    On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Rep. Moraitis’ House Bill 653 was voted favorably (8 Yeas vs. 5 Nays) in the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee. The bill is scheduled for review by the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 3:30 PM in Summer Hall at 404 House Office Building, the second of ten bills on the agenda. As observed by Bogdanoff, Moraitis is one of 15 lawmakers who serve on the Committee. Once approved, the legislation will be vetted by the House Commerce Committee before moving to the House floor for a vote by the entire House of Representatives.

    Also on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Senator Passidomo's companion bill in the upper chamber, Senate Bill 744, will be reviewed in the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries at 11 a.m. The first of three Senate Committee stops, the legislation will also be vetted by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Rules before the measure is placed on the Calendar for a vote by the full Senate. More to come... - [editor]

     

    Click To Top of Page


     


    Switching Scams

    February 21, 2017 - Last May, Fire Sprinkler Associations successfully engineered a regulatory loophole to circumvent a 2010 State Law that enables high rise association homeowners to decide whether or not they should spend $millions to fully retrofit their home with fire sprinklers. Since then, associations that legally opted out of the retrofit requirement have been contacted by local Fire Marshals about installing an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS). Some associations have been threatened with violations unless they immediately install a full sprinkler system. Although barred by a statutory prohibition against enforcing such a requirement, some local Fire Marshals have also specified an engineer and contractor for these installations.

    On February 6, 2017, former Statehouse Representative and Florida State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, who sponsored the 2010 sprinkler opt-out legislation, defined this dilemma in an editorial opinion published in the Sun Sentinel and the Florida Condo & HOA Law Blog. For her take on this scam, read on:

     

    Why the Florida Legislature needs to fix condo sprinkler-system problem

    Opinion

    by Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff

    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff
    ELLYN SETNOR BOGDANOFF
    For more than a decade older high-rise condominiums throughout Florida have been discussing, debating, and exercising their legal rights with regard to sprinkler system retrofitting requirements. In 2003, the Florida Legislature responded by allowing each community to vote to opt out of sprinklers inside their units and the right to opt out of installing an engineered life safety system (ELSS). Many communities missed the opportunity to exercise this right because they were pressured by their local fire marshals to hire life safety engineers and commence installation of a full sprinkler system at a significant cost to the residents.

    In 2010, responding to the outcry from the condominium community, as a member of the Florida House I sponsored House Bill 561 to allow associations the right to opt-out of sprinklers in the common areas and reduced the vote requirement from 2/3 to a simple majority. However, as a compromise, the words “engineered life safety system” were removed from the statute because we were assured that an ELSS system was cost effective, and much less intrusive than the installation of a fire sprinkler system. As a result, associations taking an opt-out vote after July 1, 2010 could not opt out of an ELSS.

    Now, fast forward to January 2017. Scores of local fire marshals throughout the Sunshine State are knocking on the doors of high-rise condominiums that previously opted out of sprinklers (and some who opted out of both sprinkler systems AND ELSS) and advising them that they must immediately hire life safety engineers and begin to pull permits to install an ELSS. Many of these same officials are telling high-rise condominiums that an ELSS will actually be MORE expensive and more intrusive to install than a full sprinkler system.

    Moreover, there is no clear description of what an ELSS system looks like and some are being told that they will need to install a comprehensive fire sprinkler system to “pass the test” so to speak.

    In 2010, I responded to the requests of the condominium communities across this state. It was our intent to avoid the exact scenarios we are faced with today. The cost to install an ELSS could be in the millions and the impact to elderly residents living on fixed incomes could be devastating.

    Where do we go from here?

    Representative George Moraitis
    REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE MORAITIS
    Senator Kathleen Passidomo
    SENATOR KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO
    The 2017 Legislative Session begins on Tuesday, March 7. Representative George Moraitis (R-Fort Lauderdale) has sponsored HB 653 (Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) will sponsor the Senate version) which seeks to address the ELSS problem. This bill would allow older high-rises to opt out of an ELSS and, for those who do not or cannot, provides more time for installation of an ELSS beyond the current 2019 deadline. HB 653 also addresses the confusion that erupted in mid-2016 concerning whether low and mid-rise buildings are required to retrofit and clarifies that they do not. This will be a huge fight against the special interests that profit from this requirement and those that have little evidence that installing an ELSS is necessary for the safety of residents.

    It is imperative that our elected officials understand that a promise made must be kept. We promised more than a million Floridians living in older multifamily buildings that were code-compliant at the time they were constructed that they would not have to undergo the financial or operational rigors of retrofitting their buildings. Call it a full sprinkler system, an ELSS, or something else entirely, the fact remains that our condominium residents should not be facing a deadline they thought was in their rear view mirror.

    Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff

    Former State Sen. Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff is a shareholder with Becker Poliakoff, a Fort Lauderdale headquartered law firm, and represents a number of condominium associations throughout Florida on the ELSS issue in Tallahassee.




    Click Here to National Fire Protection Association Although the Florida Fire Prevention Code encompasses thousands of provisional code snippets transferred annually from the National Fire Protection Association's Fire Code (NFPA 1) and Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), only one of them (FFPC 101:31.3.5.11.4) loosely describes an ELSS. It must be "developed by a registered professional engineer experienced in fire and life safety system design, approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), and include some or all of the following: partial automatic sprinkler protection, smoke detection systems, smoke control systems, compartmentation, and other approved systems.

    As the "Authority Having Jurisdiction" local Fire Marshals are equipped with virtually unlimited approval authority. Since an ELSS is an undefined blend of fire safety elements, ethically challenged local Fire Marshals can reject offhand any system that doesn't contain their personal wish list of features, or isn't installed by their hand-picked engineer and contractor. God Bless the Sunshine State.

     


    Moraitis Press Release

     

    On February 6, 2017, District 93 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis issued a press release (see below) - announcing his sponsorship of a bill that will allow high rise association homeowners to decide whether or not they should spend $millions to retrofit their home with sprinklers or an ELSS.

    Press Release

    February 6, 2017

    Representative George Moraitis Files Legislation to Save Condominium Residents Millions by Eliminating Overreaching Regulation

    Representative George Moraitis
    REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE MORAITIS
    Tallahassee, Florida - Today, Representative Moraitis announced that he filed legislation to protect condominium residents from overreaching regulation.

    Representative Moraitis said, “Several years ago the legislature authorized condominium associations to opt-out of costly sprinkler retrofits and we are completing that work by also allowing condominium associations to opt out of emergency life safety system renovations. In many cases, the only practical method for an existing building to adopt a compliant ELSS is to pay for sprinkler retrofits which is contrary to the intent of the 2010 legislation. I want to emphasize that every building in the state of Florida must be built to meet the fire code safety requirements at the time of construction, that every building in the state is subject to an annual fire safety inspection and that the imposition of a mandate to adopt ELSS cannot be justified as a necessary safety measure. This legislation simply allows the owners in a condominium association to make their own choice of whether to incur the substantial expense needed to adopt a compliant ELSS.”

    GMCA President Pio Ieraci
    GMCA PRESIDENT PIO IERACI
    “We are grateful to Representative George Moraitis for his unwavering support of this important legislation. The installation of an ELSS in a condominium high rise could cost millions of dollars and is an unnecessary burden that would be placed on already financially stressed retirees, elderly, and individuals on fixed incomes.” Said Pio Ieraci, President of the Galt Mile Community Association in Fort Lauderdale.

    House bill 653 allows each association to choose whether to participate in installing an ELSS. Armed with data on its necessity and costs, residents by a majority vote, will be able to opt in or out.




    State Representative - District 93



    Commentary

    Slicing up the Pie

    Make no mistake; sprinkler lobbyists are playing political hardball. They had no intention of leaving $billions in projected revenues on the table following passage of the 2010 sprinkler retrofit relief amendment. After six years of failing to convince lawmakers to mandate another mass purchase of sprinkler systems, the Sprinkler Associations devised a plan to circumvent the statutory relief. Once the 2016 legislative session ended on March 11, 2016, a high-ranking official in the Fire Marshals union put the plan in motion.

    Boca Raton Fire Marshal David Woodside
    BOCA RATON FIRE MARSHAL DAVID WOODSIDE
    On March 17, 2016, Boca Raton Fire Marshal David Woodside – current President of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association (FFMIA) – petitioned the Florida Office of State Fire Marshal for a response to 3 questions about how high-rise buildings are affected by the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC). As per state law, the responses comprise an official opinion, also known as a Declaratory Statement.

    Florida Deputy Chief Financial Officer Jay Etheridge
    FLORIDA DEPUTY CHIEF FINANCIAL
    OFFICER JAY ETHERIDGE
    The questions were channeled to Deputy Chief Financial Officer Jay Etheridge. Ironically, the Florida Fire Prevention code doesn't require high rise associations to install an ELSS. It simply provides that associations with an ELSS or an exterior exit access from every dwelling unit needn’t install an automatic sprinkler system. Woodside and the sprinkler lobbyists needed Etheridge to officially twist this exemption into a mandate.

    Click Here to Declaratory Statement Case No. 189152-16-DS Etheridge obligingly crafted an answer that would authorize local fire marshals to deliver $billions in association funds to the sprinkler industry, despite a glaring lack of any documented safety benefit. In 2010, when Sprinkler lobbyists toured the House floor to ply lawmakers with hypothetical Towering Inferno scenarios, Former Statehouse Representative (and later State Senator) Ellyn Bogdanoff rebutted the melodramatic assaults with official data from State records, imparting, “In 30 years, not one injury resulted from an association’s failure to perform a sprinkler retrofit.”

    Florida Fire Marshals Association
    Chuck Akers - Former Executive Director of of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association & American Fire Sprinkler Association
    CHUCK AKERS - FORMER FFMIA
    & AFSA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Since Fire Marshals are supposed to be public advocates, why are local Fire Marshals in certain jurisdictions ordering associations to immediately retrofit $multi-million sprinkler systems (as confirmed by Bogdanoffl), when the ELSS installation deadline is December 31, 2019? In short, key Fire Marshals are paid by the Sprinkler Associations to move industry product. Consider this:

    FFMIA Past President and lifetime member Steven Randall was also the Florida Regional Manager of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (AKA Florida Fire Sprinkler Association)
    THE LATE STEVEN RANDALL
    FORMER FFMIA PRESIDENT &
    NFSA SOUTH REG. DIRECTOR
    When Bogdanoff filed her retrofit relief bill in 2010 - House Bill 561 - the Executive Director of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association (FFMIA) was veteran Fire Marshal Chuck Akers. Simultaneously, Akers served as Executive Director of the American Fire Sprinkler Association, an industry trade group charged with boosting sprinkler sales.

    FFMIA lifetime member Buddy Dewar NFSA’s Director of Regional Operations
    FFMIA's & NFSA's BUDDY DEWAR
    An FFMIA past President, the late Steven Randall, was also the South Central Regional Manager of the National Fire Sprinkler Association until he retired. FFMIA lifetime member Buddy Dewar is the National Fire Sprinkler Association’s Vice President of Regional Operations, and the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association’s Lobbyist and Legislative Liaison. In a nutshell, these icons in the Fire Marshal Union make a bundle selling sprinklers. To exploit the respect naturally afforded the uniform, others serve as window dressing for Sprinkler Association lobbyists “working the floor” in the House or Senate. You do the math.

    Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas
    FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE MARSHAL JEFF LUCAS
    In contrast with many of his peers, Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas appears fair-minded and forthright. At a meeting with Galt Mile officials, Lucas disagreed with Etheridge’s slippery interpretation of the Fire code, observing “I would think if you opt out, then you opt out of all,” and suggested that associations “pursue this with the State”.

    Unless this scam is blocked by our lawmakers in Tallahassee, one of the costliest rip-offs in Florida history will parboil the family budgets of association homeowners across the State, including those of more than a million elderly retirees on fixed incomes. On February 6, Statehouse Representative George Moraitis filed House Bill 653 (HB 653), which would enable associations to opt-out of an ELSS retrofit. Florida Senator Kathleen Passidomo filed companion Senate Bill 744 (SB 744) in the other chamber on February 16, 2017. They are working with Ellyn Bogdanoff and Association Advocate Donna Berger to beat back this ambush. On the bright side, this isn’t their first time at the dance. More to come...

     

    Click To Top of Page


    To GMCA HOME

    To ISSUES INDEX

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2017

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2016

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2015

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2014

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2013

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2012

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2011

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2010

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2009

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2008

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2007

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2006

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2005

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2004

    To TALLAHASSEE ARCHIVE - 2003

    To FIRE SAFETY PAGE

    To SHORE PROTECTION PAGE

    To EMERGENCY ROOM PAGE

    To CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE PAGE

    To FORT LAUDERDALE BUDGET CRISIS PAGE

    To BROWARD COUNTY PAGE

    To BROWARD COUNTY PROPERTY APPRAISER PAGE

    To AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATOR PAGE

    To CALYPSO GASWORKS PAGE

    To 32nd STREET ALLEY PAGE

    To FLPD CRIME STATISTICS

    To MAIN PAGE

    To GOVERNANCE

    To REPORT CARD

    To LAWS & STATUTES

    To GOVERNMENT LINKS

    Click To Top of Page


    GMCA HOME MAIN PAGE Associations Directors Governance Laws & Statutes Issues
    Newsletters Calendar Market Page Vendors Forum Report Card Archives Site Map Contact
    LINKS PAGE Finance News Weather Government Directions Travel Dining Entertainment Search
    Webmaster EPB