District 3 Digest. Your monthly e-Newsletter from Commissioner Julie Fishman, May 2019. Julie.Fishman@Tamarac.org. Office: (954) 597-3460. Cell: (954) 461-1311. Tamarac The City For Your Life.
Florida State Capital Building Image

Representing Tamarac
in Tallahassee 


During this year's state legislative session, I was honored to represent our City in Tallahassee on two separate occasions.

 
Broward Days is a time designated for local businesses and elected officials to meet with state officials about priorities in our county. While there, I enjoyed presentations by and met with several people representing different state departments. Kevin Thibault, whom I worked with on numerous bills in the Transportation Committee while serving as a legislative aide, is now the secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation. I was able to congratulate him after he spoke and to say hello to the President and CEO of Visit Florida, former Senator Dana Young.
 
In addition, I met Florida’s new Attorney General, Ashley Moody, and discussed the horrors of human trafficking and my desire to make Tamarac a sealed city. I hope you'll hear more about this. I also informed her about the correlation between human trafficking and vacation rentals, something no one else mentioned. There are currently two bills that would take away any rights of cites to regulate vacation rentals, eliminating existing ordinances such as our vacation rental registration.
 
I spoke to many legislators regarding the vacation rental/human trafficking tie, and left copies of a report on vacation rentals and human trafficking from Polaris, an internationally recognized organization which compiles data on human trafficking. This report says that traffickers use vacation rentals because they are less likely to be scrutinized.
 
Additionally, I supported several of our appropriations items when they were heard in committee, and met with several House members on our projects. This includes the Chair of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, Representative Holly Raschein, whom I met years ago when we both were aides.

I also met with Senator Thurston, Senator Book and Representative Omphroy on our appropriations, along with Commissioner Bolton and Assistant City Manager Kathleen Gunn. We originally had four projects, but through our discussions with the projects’ sponsors, we understood that not all could be funded due to so much financial need in the panhandle. We still have two projects working their way through the budget process.
 
Finally, we met with Mark Kruse from the Department of Economic Opportunity to discuss additional information on the Opportunity Zones we have in Tamarac.

Florida League of Cities logo

My second week in Tallahassee was with the Florida League of Cities and focused on the shared needs of most Florida cities. Increasingly, those in Tallahassee are trying to take away home rule, the right of cities to chart their own course and the ability of your local elected officials to protect your city by passing ordinances on a variety of issues. There are more and more bills each year that would preempt issues to the state.
 
In addition to the vacation rental bills, others that would infringe on home rule include:

  • Bills that would prevent local governments from regulating vegetable gardens (SB 82 and HB 145).
  • Communications Services bills (SB1000 and HB693) that would: place “small wireless infrastructure” shot clocks on ALL other communications infrastructure in the public rights-of-way; reduce local control of new pole placement in rights-of-way; and remove language requiring wireless providers to comply with local government nondiscriminatory utility undergrounding requirements.
  • The School Choice bill (7095) that would allow entities such as houses of worship, colleges or universities, and community service organizations to provide space or land to charter schools within their property or facilities under preexisting zoning and land use designations without obtaining any local approval, rezoning or a land use change.
  • HB 9, which would require a countywide vote if a city chose to start a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). That means if Tamarac wanted to create a CRA, people across Broward would vote on it. It would then have to pass by a 2/3’s majority, a higher percentage than what's needed to change the state’s constitution!

Good luck going to Tallahassee for help if something goes wrong when trying to get jobs done in these areas!  While only some of these bills were heard while I was in Tallahassee, the message we delivered was for the legislature to allow cities to do the job we were created to do. LET CITIES WORK!


Illustration of a yellow house

Affordable Housing Trust Fund in Danger in Tallahassee!


The William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act established that portion of documentary stamp taxes collected during real estate transactions would be collected to support affordable housing initiatives such as the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program and the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program. It also created the Sadowski Trust Fund to hold these monies.
 
It is vital that we can count on the Sadowski Trust Fund to help build affordable housing here in Broward County, where the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,902, and a median single-family home is $350,000. These rental and home prices are out of reach for many hardworking Broward residents.
 
Unfortunately, the state government is once again considering sweeping millions of dollars out of the trust fund and into the general fund for other things besides affordable housing!
 
There are a couple of problems with this. First, and most important to me, is the lack of trust created by redirecting dollars specifically earmarked for affordable housing, especially when other dollars are going to tax breaks. Additionally, it sends a message to every one of those hardworking residents who cannot afford a home at $350,000 that they will likely never reach the American Dream of home ownership.
 
In my opinion, we must STOP the raiding of the Sadowski Trust Fund this year, and any other year the legislature considers this a way to balance the budget.

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