May 3, 2011
This past week, the Florida Senate unanimously passed (39-0) a much-needed update to Florida’s Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act. This pro-property rights bill was passed the preceding week by the Florida House of Representatives (98-15). This excellent legislation is now a pending law of the State of Florida and awaits Governor Rick Scott‘s signature. This legislation was originally concepted by CPR in consultation with our state’s top property rights attorneys. This bill was originally authored by Representative Steve Precourt and championed to passage by Representative Eric Eisnaugle and Senator David Simmons.
This update strengthens the property rights protections afforded to all Florida land owners and is aimed at saving taxpayer dollars by reducing unnecessary litigation by municipalities seeking to avoid fiscal accountability for regulatory impacts to property owners. This legislation represents a renewed commitment by the Florida Legislature to protecting individual economic opportunity in our state by limiting the power of government entities over land use rights. This proposed law reaffirms the Constitutional principle of the 5th Amendment (Takings Clause) and intent of the existing Bert Harris Act to make government entities financially accountable for regulatory decisions which place inordinate burdens on individual property owners and which devalue private property.
This legislation positively enhances multiple aspects of the current statute, including shortening the time period land owners must wait to file their suit in court, adding direct compensation as a common-sense solution for settlement and adding a clause relating to moratorium on development which has impacted multiple industries in Florida. The bill also clarifies legislative intent relative to sovereign immunity and will hopefully prevent municipalities from irresponsibly wasting tax dollars litigating this issue in the future, as the City of Miami Beach did in the Royal World Metropolitan case, rather than simply addressing the primary legal issue of damage to property value.
This legislation was strongly supported by Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, as well as Senate President Pro-Tem Mike Bennett, immediate Senate-President Elect Don Gaetz, future House-Speaker Designate Chris Dorworth. The public support of this bill by current and future Legislative leadership sends a signal that property rights are a renewed priority in Tallahassee and leaders in state government are aggressively working to stimulate Florida’s economy recovery.
This bill was supported by a coalition effort, including the Tallassee-based “Property Rights Coalition” lobbying federation, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Florida Farm Bureau, Association of Florida Community Developers, Florida Homebuilders Association, Florida Association of Realtors, and others.
This action by the Florida Legislature is noteworthy on a national level. Florida’s protections are unique and have just been enhanced. Only 3 other states have similar statutory measures which seek to address the impact of regulation on property rights and property values, and two of these are narrowly crafted statutes and not considered substantive in scope. Two other states have constitutional provisions with similar general intent, but in most states in America there is no state-level check on the power of local and state government to regulate land. In most of the nation, citizens have no meaningful state protection against government entities regulating nearly every aspect of land use – and part of the reason why we see absolutely egregious examples of property rights abuse occurring from coast to coast. America’s Founding Fathers understood that unless limited and held fiscally accountable for regulatory takings that government entities would not self limit their power. Florida’s Legislative leaders exhibited true leadership in enhancing Florida’s law which provides a financial check on the power of government to abuse individual rights and to harm individual property owners through actions which devalue their property investment.
This legislation is intended to reiterate the messages that “Florida is open for business” and “Capital investment in real property is welcomed and secure.” This bill also demonstrates, on several levels, what opportunities are possible when an organization like CPR exists that is exclusively dedicated to the promotion of property rights in Florida.
This updated legislation is not a “complete fix” or “silver bullet” in addressing the impact of regulation and “regulatory takings” in our state, but it is another positive and pro-active step forward. This legislation represents property owners uniting to play “offense” for a change instead of “playing defense” as land owners have in past decades while watching their rights and opportunities be diminished.
House Co-Sponsors included: Representatives Dennis Baxley, Jason Brodeur, Chris Dorworth, Paige Kreegel, Steve Precourt, Greg Steube; Charles Van Zant; Trudi Williams.
Senate Co-Sponsors included: Senate President Haridopolos, Senate President Pro-Tem Mike Bennett, Senate President-Elect Don Gaetz and Senators Alan Hays, John Thrasher, Stephen Wise, JD Alexander, Charlie Dean, Greg Evers, Gary Siplin.
CPR would also like to take a moment to extend our organizational thanks to several individuals whose personal interest and advocacy helped to shape this legislation and secure its passage: Dan Stengle and Gary Hunter of the Hopping Green & Sams law firm, Butch Calhoun of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Bill Hunter of the Association of Florida Community Developers, Amy Brigham Boulris and Andrew Brigham of the Brigham Moore law firm. Toby Brigham, Bert J. Harris, Jr., Tracy Marshall of the GrayRobinson law firm and the late Wade Hopping also provided instrumental guidance. Adam Babbington, David Hart, Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber, Jose Gonzalez of Associated Industries, Keith Hetrick of Broad and Cassel along with legislative aides Dan Peterson and Joe Clements also deserve our sincere thanks for their support. We would also like to express our gratitude to those that played critical roles in the passage of this legislation, but who were not specifically named.
SPECIAL EVENT RECAP:
CPR would like to thank all of our members and guests who attended CPR’s “Return to Prosperity Event” Dinner & Fundraising Event last Friday evening. The event featured Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal and was a resounding success!
CPR president and founder Doug Doudney opened the event with a quick look back at CPR’s decade of service and successes which have included the filing of two amicus briefs to the Supreme Court of the United States, successfully championing both statutory and constitutional eminent domain reforms, working as part of a statewide coalition effort to defeat Amendment 4, defeating locally proposed special tax assessments, impacting state and local regulations, and working to help individual property owners in need. This summer, CPR is proudly celebrating its 10th anniversary of operations.
CPR Executive Director Carol Saviak also presented CPR’s Board of Trustees with special plaques commemorating their service as well as two special “Champion of Property Rights” awards to Michael Moehle of CCPR and the Kantner Foundation and to Andrew Brigham of the Brigham Moore law firm. CPR’s “Champion of Economic Liberty” award was presented to Stephen Moore following his keynote speech, recognizing his dual influence on national public policy as an author, educator and media commentator and his significant contribution to the work of “changing public policy by changing the make-up of Congress” as founder of the Club for Growth.
Every attendee left enlightened and inspired by Moore’s candid and surprisingly optimistic assessment of America’s national fiscal challenges. Moore is confident in America’s ability to reignite our economy IF we can get our fiscal house in order. Many attendees were able to ask Moore individual questions and carried home signed copies of Moore’s recent book, “Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its International Superpower Status” which he co-authored with Dr. Art Laffer.
Moore praised CPR’s grassroots work to impact public policy at the state and local level in Florida. In his speech, he referenced the International Index of Economic Freedom (an international study of the economic factors that lead nations to prosperity or poverty) and pointed out that “Property Rights Protections” are one of the key factors linked to prosperity across the world. Moore strongly encouraged members to financially support the Coalition’s work. He stated, “You will not find a better bang for your buck than CPR” and also remarked, “We need organizations like CPR in every state.” This national endorsement of CPR’s work is certainly worth cheering about!
THANK YOU! CPR would like to express our sincere appreciation to Stephen Moore for his personal support of the work of the Coalition for Property Rights. This inaugural dinner program was made possible through the generous support of event sponsors Phoenix Real Estate Co. and Crittenden Fruit Co., Inc. whose corporate leaders share CPR’s vision that property rights should be protected and promoted in Florida.
JOIN CPR TODAY! If you are a citizen, property or small business owner who believes that government should be limited in its ability to restrict property rights and in doing so, limit the raw resources of American land and the socio-economic mobility open to American citizens, then we invite you to today to make a statement about your personal commitment to this all-American value. Join CPR today online at www.proprights.com/contribute/ which also has a form which can be printed and mailed in to: Coalition for Property Rights, 2878 S. Osceola Avenue, Orlando, FL 32806.
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