2009 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

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FICPA Passes Major Legislative Package

When the 160 Legislators began the 2009 Legislative Session, there was no amount of foresight or planning that could have prepared them for the difficult budget decisions ahead. In fact, the 35 newly elected Representatives and 7 Senators got their feet wet during a special session (January 5th - 16th) that required the legislature to rip apart and reconfigure the 2008-09 budget before they could focus their attention on the 2009 regular session (March 3rd - May 8th) and the 2009-10 budget.

As the legislature began the 2009 regular session, the House and Senate Finance & Tax Committees considered eliminating some tax exemptions and went through every single tax exemption on the books, but neither side could agree to eliminate any existing exemptions. While the Senate focused on creating revenue, and the House on cutting expenses to make up for the more than $10 billion in state revenues lost over the last 3 years, not even the billions of federal government dollars could prevent this legislature from doing what was once considered unthinkable only a year ago - raising fees, taxes and expanding gambling in order to balance the 2009-10 budget.

After all was said and done, the 2009 legislature passed the least amount of bills since 1998, and 44% fewer bills on average than were passed over the last 10 years. With that being said, the FICPA was still able to have one of its most successful legislative sessions.

During the 2009 Legislative Session the FICPA's Governmental Affairs Team worked with Sen. Dennis Jones (R-Seminole), and Rep. Carl Domino (R-Palm Beach Gardens), to pass SB 1640. The bill contained the FICPA's legislative package, including several items that would streamline the licensure process for all FICPA members.

A major provision of the bill was the removal of the laws and rules exam requirement for CPAs, which will go into effect upon the Governor signing SB 1640 into law (May 27, 2009). SB 1640 also provides for a 6-month window to apply to reactivate an inactive license, and the licensee would only need 120 hours of CPE to become active again. Another key provision in SB 1640 is Mobility, which has already been adopted in 38 other states. The following is a summary of what is contained in SB 1640:

Removes the requirement to complete the Laws and Rules Exam as a condition of licensure renewal
  • Coverage of the Laws and Rules is still required as part of the bi-annual 4 hours of Board approved CPE in Ethics.
Revises the statutory reference as to the amount of CPE hours to reactivate an inactive license
  • Limits the amount of CPE to the most recent biennium (80 hours) plus one-half of the next biennium (40 hours) plus those prescribed by rule of the Board.
  • Provides for a 6 month amnesty by limiting the required CPE to 120 hours for those requesting to reactivate between June 30, 2009 through December 31, 2009 (This provision was last in place in 1998).
Clarifies that the CPA members of the Board of Accountancy must hold a current/active Florida license also, allows for past Board of Accountancy members to serve on the probable cause panel for more than a term of 2 years.
Revises the statutory reference requiring an applicant for licensure after December 31, 2008, to have 1 year work experience
  • Allows for those applicants for licensure who completed the required education prior to December 31, 2008, and who pass the uniform CPA examination by June 30, 2010, be exempt from the 1 year work experience requirement. (1-year work experience was added in 2008).
Revises the statutory reference to the education requirements for licensure
  • Adopts the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) 150 hour requirement.
  • Puts Florida CPA firms on equal footing when recruiting CPAs to work in Florida.
Provides for the practice of Mobility for CPAs
  • Pro-consumer choice while also protecting the integrity of the profession.
  • The CPA doing work in Florida automatically agrees to abide by all Florida rules and the Florida BOA can then discipline them like any other licensee.
  • Currently, if a CPA licensed in another state does work in Florida, does not register in Florida, and does substandard work the only course of action is to issue a cease and desist order for unlicensed activity.
  • If a CPA licensed in another state physically moves to Florida, they will have to obtain a Florida license before practicing in the state.

In addition to passing our legislative package (SB 1640), during 2009 the Governmental Affairs Team worked to ensure that the FICPA's Legislative and Regulatory Policies were upheld. Whether it was working with other business groups to push for greater legal reform or working with others to stop a DPBR bill that was not in the best interest of the profession, the FICPA legislative team looked out for the best interest of the profession. Below you will find legislation that passed and failed and was tracked by FICPA during the 2009 Legislative Session.

Bill Track

Regulation/DBPR

Passed

SB 1640 Relating to Public Accountancy - Jones

Public Accountancy [CPSC]; Provides that persons regulated as public accountants by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation under ch. 473, F.S., are exempt from certain requirement. Provides that certain licensees are not subject to specified continuing education requirements for reactivation of a license. Provides that past board members of probable cause panels may be reappointed for additional terms, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 7/01/2009.

HB 0425 Relating to DBPR - Plakon

Department of Business & Professional Regulation: Deletes signature notarization from information that DBPR may require in documents submitted for issuance or renewal of license; authorizes DBPR's representative to appear in criminal proceedings under certain circumstances & provide certain assistance to court; increases penalty DBPR may assess against talent agency that violates certain provisions of law; requires written examination for barbering license, etc. Effective Date: October 1, 2009

SB 1754 Relating to DBPR - Baker

Department of Business and Professional Regulation [WPSC] ; Exempts certified public accountants from passage of an examination pertaining to state laws and rules applicable to the practice of the profession. Removes provisions authorizing a late filing fee for the laws and rules examination, provisions requiring passage of the examination for license renewal, and provisions requiring passage of the examination for reactivation of an inactive license, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.

Failed

HB 1413 Relating to Regulation of Professions - T.Williams

Requires DBPR to increase renewal period for licenses from biennially to quadrennially; authorizes board or DBPR to require completion of certain continuing education requirements by inactive licensees seeking to regain active status; revises fees for approval of continuing education providers & courses to conform to quadrennial license renewal periods required by act, etc.

Taxation/DOR

Passed

SB 1112 Relating to Corporate Income Tax - Altman

Corporate Income Tax [WPSC]; Deletes certain provisions relating to federal amendments to federal law dealing with bonus depreciation for purposes of adjusted federal income and corporate income tax liability. Deletes certain adjustments to federal income. Requires the Department of Revenue to compromise certain penalties and interest under certain circumstances. Provides for retroactive operation, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon becoming law.

SB 2504 Relating to Corporate Income Tax - Altman

Corporate Income Tax [WPSC]; Provides for the adoption of the 2009 version of the Internal Revenue Code. Provides exceptions, Revises the definition of the term "adjusted federal income" for purposes of specifying the treatment by this state of certain provisions dealing with depreciation and expensing of assets and deferral of income that are allowed for federal income tax purposes. Authorizes the Department of Revenue to adopt rules. Provides for retroactive operation. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon becoming law.

SB 1748 Relating to Department of Revenue - Baker

Department of Revenue [WPSC]; Revises provisions relating to forms prescribed by the DOR for the administration and collection of ad valorem taxes. Imposes an administrative collection processing fee for collection events. Provides exceptions for extraordinary circumstances. Revises application of payments. Provides for application of the administrative collection processing fees to certain collection events, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon becoming law except as otherwise provided.

SB 2430 Relating to Taxation of Documents - Lawson

Taxation of Documents [WPSC]; (THIS BILL COMBINES CS/S2430 & S1960) Extends a future repeal date of provisions authorizing counties to levy a discretionary surtax on documents. Limits the percentage of surtax revenues that may be used for administrative costs. Imposes the excise tax on documents on certain transfers of ownership interests in a conduit entity. Exempts the transfer of shares or similar equity interests in such entity from the tax, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon becoming law except as otherwise provided.

Failed

SB 2270 Relating to Corporate Income Tax/Water's Edge Group - Gelber

Corporate Income Tax/Water's Edge Group [WPSC]; Requires the subtraction of certain dividends from taxable income. Provides rules and criteria to determine if a corporation is a member of a water's edge group. Provides a reporting method for such group. Provides for the apportionment of income to the state. Deletes provisions relating to affiliated groups with respect to certain sales of a financial institution, etc.

SB 2578 Relating to Department of Revenue - Altman

Provides for the duration of certain judgment liens. Clarifies the date by which an action to contest any tax, interest, or penalties must be filed. Authorizes the DOR to reduce a tax refund or a tax credit to the extent of liability for unemployment compensation taxes. Repeals provisions relating to monitoring and reporting on the use of a tax deduction claimed by international banking institutions, etc.

HB 0681 Relating to Tax on Sales, Use, and Other Transactions- Vasilinda

Tax on Sales, Use, and Other Transactions; Deletes exemption for sales of drinking water in containers.

HB 0329 Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement - Vasilinda

Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement; Revises various provisions of law relating to Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.

HB 1163 Relating to Review of Exemptions & Exclusions/Sales & Use Tax - Hukill

Provides additional responsibilities of Joint Legislative Sunset Committee to review exemptions from general state sales & use tax & exclusions of sales of services from such taxation; provides for meetings & governance by joint rules; specifies powers & duties; provides for reports; requires continuing periodic review of sales tax exemptions & exclusions; provides for legislative proposals, etc.

CIRA

Passed

SB 0714 Relating to Condominiums - Jones

Condominiums [CPSC]; Requires that coverage under a unit owner's policy for certain assessments include at least a minimum amount of loss assessment coverage. Provides an exemption for certain condominiums from installing a manual fire alarm system as required in the Life SafetyCode if certain conditions are met. Requires that adequate property insurance be based upon the replacement cost of the property to be insured as determined by an independent appraisal, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon becoming law.

Failed

SB 2604 Relating to Residential Properties - Gardiner

Residential Properties [CPSC]; Requires that each newly elected director certify certain information to the secretary of the association. Provides requirements for secret ballots. Prohibits the board of directors of a homeowners' association from passing more than one special assessment per calendar year under certain circumstances. Requires that the disclosure summary to prospective parcel owners include additional provisions, etc.

SB 0880 Relating to Community Associations - Fasano

Community Associations [CPSC]; Provides for the application of certain amendments to a declaration of condominium to certain unit owners. Provides penalties for any person who knowingly or intentionally defaces or destroys certain records of an association with the intent to harm the association or any of its members. Limits the amount of certain costs to the unit owner. Revises requirements for the reappointment of certain board members, etc.

HB 0027 Relating to Residential Properties - Ambler

Residential Properties [CPSC]; Requires DBPR to enter order permanently revoking certain community association manager licenses; requires that association access to unit must be by two persons, one of whom must be board member or manager or employee of association; revises provisions relating to homeowners' association board meetings, inspection & copying of records, reserve accounts of budgets, & recall of directors, etc.

SB 2302 Relating to Community Associations - Garcia

Community Associations [CPSC]; Provides powers for employees of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. Provides jurisdiction for disputes involving a homeowners' association and one or more members of the association. Requires coverage under a condominium unit owner's policy or a cooperative shareholder's policy to include a minimum amount of loss assessment coverage. Revises the definition of the term "transfer fee," etc.

Budget

Passed

SB 2600 Relating to Appropriations - Ways and Means

Appropriations [WPSC]; Providing moneys for the annual period beginning July 1, 2009, and ending June 30, 2010, to pay salaries, and other expenses, capital outlay - buildings, and other improvements, and for other specified purposes of the various agencies of State government. APPROPRIATION: $65,628,308,609. EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.

SB 2602 Relating to Implementing 2009-2010 General Appropriations Act -
Ways and Means

Implementing 2009-2010 General Appropriations Act [WPSC]; Provides legislative intent. Authorizes the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice to use certain appropriated funds to assist in defraying the costs incurred by a county or a municipality to open or operate certain facilities.
Limits the amount of such assistance. Provides for the expiration of the authority to provide the assistance. Provides for use of transportation revenues, etc. EFFECTIVE DATE: 06/29/2009 except as otherwise provided.

Trust Issues

Passed

HB 0379 Relating to Florida Uniform Principal and Income Act - Wood

Florida Uniform Principal and Income Act: Provides requirements for determination of income from certain compensation plans, annuities, & retirement plans or accounts; provides trustee requirements with respect to payment allocations; provides criteria for payment of certain funds to spouse; provides applicability.
Effective Date: July 1, 2009

HB 0599 Relating to Administration of Estates - Hukill

Administration of Estates: Revises various provisions relating to administration of estates.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

HB 0965 Relating to Trust Administration - Grady

Trust Administration: Revises beneficiary definition to exclude specified interests as beneficial interests; provides additional limitation on terms of trust prevailing over Florida Trust Code provisions; revises representation authority for holders of power of appointment; authorizes trust instruments to authorize specified persons to designate one or more persons to represent & bind beneficiary & receive information; authorizes co-trustee to delegate investment decisions to co-trustee; revises provisions for absence of liability of excluded trustees; provides that co-trustee that has delegated investment functions is not liable for investment decisions; revises definition applicable to antilapse of trust distribution.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

Charter Schools

Passed

SB 0278 Relating to Charter Schools - Gaetz

Charter Schools [SPSC]; Provides that a charter technical career center is subject to certain requirements in a financial emergency. Provides for the development of a financial recovery plan, which may be approved by the Commissioner of Education. Provides for duties of a charter school sponsor and governing board if a charter school or charter technical career center experiences a deteriorating financial condition or is in a financial emergency, etc. EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.

Board of Accountancy Legislative News

Budget

The FY 2009-10 budget passed by the House and Senate on May 8, 2009 includes important funding for the Board of Accountancy (BOA).

With support from the FICPA, the 2009-10 state budget includes $100,000** to fund the Board of Accountancy's Minority Scholarship Program and $200,000 for the Unlicensed Activity Campaign. Both programs are funded from a portion of license fees:

  • $5 from each CPA license fee is earmarked to combat unlicensed activity.
  • $3 from each CPA license fee is earmarked for minority scholarships.

Since the passage of FICPA-supported legislation in 1998 that created the Minority Scholarship Program, the Board of Accountancy has approved $642,000 to 121 studentswho were enrolled in their fifth year of an accounting education program.

**The FICPA successfully lobbied the House to accept the Senates position to fund the Minority Scholarship Program at $100,000 during budget conference committee.

Board of Accountancy Appointments

Governor Charlie Crist announced the reappointment and appointment of Stephen C. Riggs to the BOA. Riggs, a CPA from Destin (Carr Riggs, & Ingram), succeeds Frank D. Puissegur and has been appointed for a term beginning Dec. 11, 2008, and ending Oct. 31, 2012.

Other Bills of Interest

Passed

SB 2198 Relating to Tobacco Settlement Agreements - Haridopolos

Tobacco Settlement Agreements [WPSC]; Includes a parent of a signatory to a tobacco settlement agreement within provisions limiting security required in certain appeals. Prescribes the security necessary to stay execution of judgments pending appeal in actions by certain former class action members against signatories to a tobacco settlement agreement and related entities, etc. EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon becoming law.

HB 0903 Relating to Attorney's Fees in Workers' Comp Cases - Flores

Attorney's Fees in Workers' Compensation Cases: Clarifies requirements for payment of fees & costs under retainer agreement; specifies amount of attorney's fees which claimant is entitled to recover from carrier or employer.
EFFECTIVE DATE: effect July 1, 2009

SB 0762 Relating to State University Tuition and Fees - Pruitt

State University Tuition and Fees [SPSC]; Requires the Education Estimating Conference to develop information relating to the national average of tuition and fees. Revises provisions relating to the use of the student financial aid fee. Revises provisions relating to the establishment of a tuition differential. Provides
requirements for a university board of trustees to submit a proposal to the Board of Governors to implement a tuition differential, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.

SB 0788 Relating to Gaming - Jones

Gaming [WPSC]; Provides terms and conditions for a gaming compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Removes an exception to the required issuance date of licenses to conduct thoroughbred racing performances. Provides that the payout percentage of a slot machine gaming facility must be at least 85 percent. Revises requirements for initial issuance of a cardroom license, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Contingent.

SB 0360 Relating to Growth Management - Bennett

Growth Management [EPSC]; Cites act as the "Community Renewal Act." Revises requirements for adopting amendments to the capital improvements element of a local comprehensive plan. Revises concurrency requirements. Revises requirements for adoption of impact fees. Authorizes local governments to use the alternative state review process to designate urban service areas. Provides for the assessment of property receiving the low-income housing tax credit, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon becoming law.

HB 0479 Relating to Retirement - Schenck

Retirement: Redefines terms "employer," "officer or employee," "past service," "normal retirement date," "termination," "regularly established position," & "temporary position"; requires promotional materials that refer to FRS to include disclaimer unless approval is obtained from DMS or SBA; revises & clarifies provisions relating to employment after retirement; revises provisions relating to renewed membership in retirement system, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

HB 0483 Relating to Investor Protection - Grady

Investor Protection: Expands jurisdiction of Office of Statewide Prosecution to investigate & prosecute specified additional offenses; revises various provisions of law relating to viatical settlements; exempts specified transactions in viatical settlement investments from specified registration requirements; revises registration requirements; excludes postjudgment interest from payments from fund; expands class of persons related to or associated with applicant or registrant for which specified violations may result in adverse actions taken against registrations; requires Financial Services Commission to adopt rules relating to disciplinary guidelines & temporary disqualification; authorizes OFR to apply to court for specified orders; specifies additional investigation & enforcement authority of AG; authorizes AG to recover costs & attorney fees; authorizes OFR use of such information in prosecution actions; increases amount of specified administrative fines; authorizes OFR to bar specified persons from submitting applications or notifications for license or registration under specified circumstances; revises criteria for prohibited practices relating to commodities; authorizes FDLE to enter into agreements to pay rewards for specified information; expands subject matter jurisdiction of statewide grand jury to include specified additional offenses.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

SB 0526 Relating to Court Costs - Lynn

Court Costs [SPSC]; Expands the list of provisions of law for which a court is required to impose an additional court cost for certain pleadings or findings relating to offenses against a minor and certain other offenses. Increases the amount of the court cost. Provides for distribution of a portion of the court costs to the Office of the Statewide Guardian Ad Litem and the Florida Network of Children's Advocacy Centers, Inc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.

SB 0532 Relating to Property Tax Limit/Additional Homestead Exemption - Lynn

Property Tax Limit/Additional Homestead Exemption [WPSC]; The State Constitution generally limits the maximum annual increase in the assessed value of non-homestead property to 10 percent annually. This proposed amendment reduces the maximum annual increase in the assessed values of those properties to 5 percent annually. This amendment also requires the Legislature to provide an additional homestead exemption for persons who have not owned a principal residence during the preceding 8 years, etc.

SB 0216 Relating to Campaign Financing/Local Government Expenditures - Justice

Campaign Financing/Local Government Expenditures [GPSC]; Defines the terms "local government" and "public funds." Prohibits a local government from expending, and a person or group from accepting, public funds for a political advertisement or electioneering communication concerning an issue, referendum, or amendment that is subject to the vote of the electors. Provides an exception for certain electioneering communications. Clarifies restrictions with respect to local officials.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.

SB 2694 Relating to State Financial Matters Alexander

State Financial Matters [WPSC]; Prohibits an agency or branch of state government from contracting to pay, without legislative authority, liquidated damages or early termination fees resulting from the breach or early termination of a contract or agreement, from contracting to pay interest because of insufficient budget authority to pay an obligation in the current year, from obligating the state to make future payments to cover unpaid payments, etc.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/01/2009.

HB 0081 Relating to Repeal of Public Campaign Financing Requirement - Hays

Repeal of Public Campaign Financing Requirement: Proposes repeal of s. 7, Art. VI of State Constitution to eliminate requirement for public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office who agree to campaign spending limits.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Not Specified

Failed

HB 0919 Relating to Revision of Class Size Requirements/Public Schools - Weatherford

Proposes amendment to s.1, Art. IX & creation of s.31, Art. XII of State Constitution relating to class size requirements for public schools. State Constitution currently limits maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms in the following grade groupings: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 18 students; for grades 4 through 8, 22 students; & for grades 9 through 12, 25 students, etc.

HB 0447 Relating to Consensus Estimating Conferences - Hudson

Requires principals & participants in consensus estimating conferences to consider costs & benefits of specific & proposed changes being considered.

SB 1220 Relating to Expert Testimony - Richter

Revises the circumstances under which the court may allow a witness who is qualified as an expert to testify as to the facts at issue in a case. Requires that state courts interpret and apply certain requirements for expert testimony in accordance with specified decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

SB 0886 Relating to Liability Releases - Judiciary

Revises the definition of the term "non-spectators" to include a minor on whose behalf a natural guardian has signed a motorsport liability release. Provides that such release signed by a natural guardian on behalf of a minor is valid. Authorizes natural guardians to waive, in advance, the risks involved in any activity. Authorizes waivers and releases in accordance with specified provisions, etc.

SB 1370 Relating to Contingency Fee Agreements - Fasano

Prohibits the Department of Legal Affairs of the Office of the Attorney General from entering into a contingency fee contract with a private attorney unless the Attorney General makes a written determination prior to entering into such a contract that contingency fee representation is both cost-effective and in the public interest, etc.

For more information about legislative or regulatory issues, please contact the FICPA's Governmental Affairs team at (850) 224-2727, Ext. 203 or via e-mail at govaffairs@ficpa.org.