Florida Senate - 2016                              CS for SB 324
       By the Committee on Finance and Tax; and Senators Legg and
       593-03186-16                                           2016324c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to utility projects; providing a short
    3         title; defining terms; authorizing certain local
    4         governmental entities to finance the costs of a
    5         utility project by issuing utility cost containment
    6         bonds upon application by a local agency; specifying
    7         application requirements; requiring a successor entity
    8         of a local agency to assume and perform the
    9         obligations of the local agency with respect to the
   10         financing of a utility project; providing procedures
   11         for local agencies to use when applying to finance a
   12         utility project using utility cost containment bonds;
   13         authorizing an authority to issue utility cost
   14         containment bonds for specified purposes related to
   15         utility projects; authorizing an authority to form
   16         alternate entities to finance utility projects;
   17         requiring the governing body of the authority to adopt
   18         a financing resolution and impose a utility project
   19         charge on customers of a publicly owned utility as a
   20         condition of utility project financing; specifying
   21         required and optional provisions of the financing
   22         resolution; specifying powers of the authority;
   23         requiring the local agency or its publicly owned
   24         utility to assist the authority in the establishment
   25         or adjustment of the utility project charge; requiring
   26         that customers of the public utility specified in the
   27         financing resolution pay the utility project charge;
   28         providing for adjustment of the utility project
   29         charge; establishing ownership of the revenues of the
   30         utility project charge; requiring the local agency or
   31         its publicly owned utility to collect the utility
   32         project charge; conditioning a customer’s receipt of
   33         public utility services on payment of the utility
   34         project charge; authorizing a local agency or its
   35         publicly owned utility to use available remedies to
   36         enforce collection of the utility project charge;
   37         providing that the pledge of the utility project
   38         charge to secure payment of bonds issued to finance
   39         the utility project is irrevocable and cannot be
   40         reduced or impaired except under certain conditions;
   41         providing that a utility project charge constitutes
   42         utility project property; providing that utility
   43         project property is subject to a lien to secure
   44         payment of costs relating to utility cost containment
   45         bonds; establishing payment priorities for the use of
   46         revenues of the utility project property; providing
   47         for the issuance and validation of utility cost
   48         containment bonds; securing the payment of utility
   49         cost containment bonds and related costs; providing
   50         that utility cost containment bonds do not obligate
   51         the state or any political subdivision and are not
   52         backed by their full faith and credit and taxing
   53         power; requiring that certain disclosures be printed
   54         on utility cost containment bonds; providing that
   55         financing costs related to utility cost containment
   56         bonds are an obligation of the authority only;
   57         providing limitations on the state’s ability to alter
   58         financing costs or utility project property under
   59         certain circumstances; prohibiting an authority with
   60         outstanding payment obligations on utility cost
   61         containment bonds from becoming a debtor under certain
   62         federal or state laws; providing for construction;
   63         endowing public entities with certain powers; amending
   64         s. 153.03, F.S.; clarifying that counties may initiate
   65         eminent domain over water utilities under certain
   66         circumstances; amending s. 367.072, F.S.; revising
   67         legislative findings; authorizing counties to initiate
   68         condemnation proceedings under certain circumstances;
   69         requiring the Florida Public Service Commission to
   70         notify counties of petitions to revoke a certificate
   71         of authorization; revising how the commission must
   72         respond to such petitions; requiring dismissal of
   73         condemnation proceedings under certain circumstances;
   74         providing an effective date.
   76  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   78         Section 1. Utility Cost Containment Bond Act.—
   79         (1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Utility
   80  Cost Containment Bond Act.”
   81         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   82         (a) “Authority” means an entity created under s.
   83  163.01(7)(g), Florida Statutes, or a separate legal entity
   84  created by one or more local agencies. The term includes any
   85  successor to the powers and functions of such an entity.
   86         (b) “Cost,” as applied to a utility project or a portion of
   87  a utility project financed under this section, means:
   88         1. Any part of the expense of constructing, renovating, or
   89  acquiring lands, structures, real or personal property, rights,
   90  rights-of-way, franchises, easements, and interests acquired or
   91  used for a utility project;
   92         2. The expense of demolishing or removing any buildings or
   93  structures on acquired land, including the expense of acquiring
   94  any lands to which the buildings or structures may be moved, and
   95  the cost of all machinery and equipment used for the demolition
   96  or removal;
   97         3. Finance charges;
   98         4. Interest, as determined by the authority;
   99         5. Provisions for working capital and debt service
  100  reserves;
  101         6. Expenses for extensions, enlargements, additions,
  102  replacements, renovations, and improvements;
  103         7. Expenses for architectural, engineering, financial,
  104  accounting, and legal services, plans, specifications,
  105  estimates, and administration; or
  106         8. Any other expenses necessary or incidental to
  107  determining the feasibility of constructing a utility project or
  108  incidental to the construction, acquisition, or financing of a
  109  utility project.
  110         (c) “Customer” means a person receiving water or wastewater
  111  service from a publicly owned utility.
  112         (d) “Finance” or “financing” includes refinancing.
  113         (e) “Financing cost” means:
  114         1. Interest and redemption premiums that are payable on
  115  utility cost containment bonds;
  116         2. The cost of retiring the principal of utility cost
  117  containment bonds, whether at maturity, including acceleration
  118  of maturity upon an event of default, or upon redemption,
  119  including sinking fund redemption;
  120         3. The cost related to issuing or servicing utility cost
  121  containment bonds, including any payment under an interest rate
  122  swap agreement and any type of fee;
  123         4. A payment or expense associated with a bond insurance
  124  policy; financial guaranty; contract, agreement, or other credit
  125  or liquidity enhancement for bonds; or contract, agreement, or
  126  other financial agreement entered into in connection with
  127  utility cost containment bonds;
  128         5. Any coverage charges; or
  129         6. The funding of one or more reserve accounts relating to
  130  utility cost containment bonds.
  131         (f) “Financing resolution” means a resolution adopted by
  132  the governing body of an authority that provides for the
  133  financing or refinancing of a utility project with utility cost
  134  containment bonds and that imposes a utility project charge in
  135  connection with the utility cost containment bonds in accordance
  136  with subsection (4). A financing resolution may be separate from
  137  a resolution authorizing the issuance of the bonds.
  138         (g) “Governing body” means the body that governs a local
  139  agency.
  140         (h) “Local agency” means a member of the authority, or an
  141  agency or subdivision of that member, which is sponsoring or
  142  refinancing a utility project, or any municipality, county,
  143  authority, special district, public corporation, regional water
  144  authority, or other governmental entity of the state that is
  145  sponsoring or refinancing a utility project.
  146         (i) “Public utility services” means water or wastewater
  147  services provided by a publicly owned utility. The term does not
  148  include communications services, as defined in s. 202.11,
  149  Florida Statutes, Internet access services, or information
  150  services.
  151         (j) “Publicly owned utility” means a utility providing
  152  retail or wholesale water or wastewater services which is owned
  153  and operated by a local agency. The term includes any successor
  154  to the powers and functions of such a utility.
  155         (k) “Revenue” means income and receipts of the authority
  156  related to the financing of utility projects and issuance of
  157  utility cost containment bonds, including any of the following:
  158         1. Bond purchase agreements;
  159         2. Bonds acquired by the authority;
  160         3. Installment sales agreements and other revenue-producing
  161  agreements entered into by the authority;
  162         4. Utility projects financed or refinanced by the
  163  authority;
  164         5. Grants and other sources of income;
  165         6. Moneys paid by a local agency;
  166         7. Interlocal agreements with a local agency, including all
  167  service agreements; or
  168         8. Interest or other income from any investment of money in
  169  any fund or account established for the payment of principal,
  170  interest, or premiums on utility cost containment bonds, or the
  171  deposit of proceeds of utility cost containment bonds.
  172         (l) “Utility cost containment bonds” means bonds, notes,
  173  commercial paper, variable rate securities, and any other
  174  evidence of indebtedness issued by an authority the proceeds of
  175  which are used directly or indirectly to pay or reimburse a
  176  local agency or its publicly owned utility for the costs of a
  177  utility project and which are secured by a pledge of, and are
  178  payable from, utility project property.
  179         (m) “Utility project” means the acquisition, construction,
  180  installation, retrofitting, rebuilding, or other addition to or
  181  improvement of any equipment, device, structure, process,
  182  facility, technology, rights, or property located within or
  183  outside this state which is used in connection with the
  184  operations of a publicly owned utility.
  185         (n) “Utility project charge” means a charge levied on
  186  customers of a publicly owned utility to pay the financing costs
  187  of utility cost containment bonds issued under subsection (4).
  188  The term includes any adjustments to the utility project charge
  189  made under subsection (5).
  190         (o) “Utility project property” means the property right
  191  created pursuant to subsection (6). The term does not include
  192  any interest in a customer’s real or personal property but
  193  includes the right, title, and interest of an authority in any
  194  of the following:
  195         1. The financing resolution, the utility project charge,
  196  and any adjustment to the utility project charge established in
  197  accordance with subsection (5);
  198         2. The financing costs of the utility cost containment
  199  bonds and all revenues, and all collections, claims, payments,
  200  moneys, or proceeds for, or arising from, the utility project
  201  charge; or
  202         3. All rights to obtain adjustments to the utility project
  203  charge pursuant to subsection (5).
  204         (3) UTILITY PROJECTS.—
  205         (a) A local agency that owns and operates a publicly owned
  206  utility may apply to an authority to finance the costs of a
  207  utility project using the proceeds of utility cost containment
  208  bonds. In its application to the authority, the local agency
  209  shall specify the utility project to be financed by the utility
  210  cost containment bonds and the maximum principal amount, the
  211  maximum interest rate, and the maximum stated terms of the
  212  utility cost containment bonds.
  213         (b) A local agency may not apply to an authority for the
  214  financing of a utility project under this section unless the
  215  governing body has determined, in a duly noticed public meeting,
  216  all of the following:
  217         1. The project to be financed is a utility project.
  218         2. The local agency will finance costs of the utility
  219  project, and the costs associated with the financing will be
  220  paid from utility project property, including the utility
  221  project charge for the utility cost containment bonds.
  222         3. Based on the best information available to the governing
  223  body, the rates charged to the local agency’s retail customers
  224  by the publicly owned utility, including the utility project
  225  charge resulting from the financing of the utility project with
  226  utility cost containment bonds, are expected to be lower than
  227  the rates that would be charged if the project were financed
  228  with bonds payable from revenues of the publicly owned utility.
  229         (c) A determination by the governing body that a project to
  230  be financed with utility cost containment bonds is a utility
  231  project is final and conclusive, and the utility cost
  232  containment bonds issued to finance the utility project and the
  233  utility project charge are valid and enforceable as set forth in
  234  the financing resolution and the documents relating to the
  235  utility cost containment bonds.
  236         (d) If a local agency that has outstanding utility cost
  237  containment bonds ceases to operate a water or wastewater
  238  utility, directly or through its publicly owned utility,
  239  references in this section to the local agency or to its
  240  publicly owned utility must be to the successor entity. The
  241  successor entity shall assume and perform all obligations of the
  242  local agency and its publicly owned utility required by this
  243  section and shall assume the servicing agreement required under
  244  subsection (4) while the utility cost containment bonds remain
  245  outstanding.
  247         (a) An authority may issue utility cost containment bonds
  248  to finance or refinance utility projects; refinance debt of a
  249  local agency incurred in financing or refinancing utility
  250  projects, provided such refinancing results in present value
  251  savings to the local agency; or, with the approval of the local
  252  agency, refinance previously issued utility cost containment
  253  bonds.
  254         1. To finance a utility project, the authority may:
  255         a. Form a single-purpose limited liability company and
  256  authorize the company to adopt the financing resolution of such
  257  utility project; or
  258         b. Create a new single-purpose entity by interlocal
  259  agreement under s. 163.01, Florida Statutes, the membership of
  260  which shall consist of the authority and two or more of its
  261  members or other public agencies.
  262         2. A single-purpose limited liability company or a single
  263  purpose entity may be created by the authority solely for the
  264  purpose of performing the duties and responsibilities of the
  265  authority specified in this section and constitutes an authority
  266  for all purposes of this section. Reference to the authority
  267  includes a company or entity created under this paragraph.
  268         (b) The governing body of an authority that is financing
  269  the costs of a utility project shall adopt a financing
  270  resolution and shall impose a utility project charge as
  271  described in subsection (5). All provisions of a financing
  272  resolution adopted pursuant to this section are binding on the
  273  authority.
  274         1. The financing resolution must:
  275         a. Provide a brief description of the financial calculation
  276  method the authority will use in determining the utility project
  277  charge. The calculation method must include a periodic
  278  adjustment methodology to be applied at least annually to the
  279  utility project charge. The authority shall establish the
  280  allocation of the utility project charge among classes of
  281  customers of the publicly owned utility. The decision of the
  282  authority is final and conclusive, and the method of calculating
  283  the utility project charge and the periodic adjustment may not
  284  be changed;
  285         b. Require each customer in the class or classes of
  286  customers specified in the financing resolution who receives
  287  water or wastewater service through the publicly owned utility
  288  to pay the utility project charge regardless of whether the
  289  customer has an agreement to receive water or wastewater service
  290  from a person other than the publicly owned utility;
  291         c. Require that the utility project charge be charged
  292  separately from other charges on the bill of customers of the
  293  publicly owned utility in the class or classes of customers
  294  specified in the financing resolution; and
  295         d. Require that the authority enter into a servicing
  296  agreement with the local agency or its publicly owned utility to
  297  collect the utility project charge.
  298         2. The authority may require in the financing resolution
  299  that, in the event of a default by the local agency or its
  300  publicly owned utility with respect to revenues from the utility
  301  project property, the authority, upon application by the
  302  beneficiaries of the statutory lien as set forth in subsection
  303  (6), shall order the sequestration and payment to the
  304  beneficiaries of revenues arising from utility project property.
  305  This subparagraph does not limit any other remedies available to
  306  the beneficiaries by reason of default.
  307         (c) An authority has all the powers provided in this
  308  section and s. 163.01(7)(g), Florida Statutes.
  309         (d) Each authority shall work with local agencies that
  310  request assistance to determine the most cost-effective manner
  311  of financing regional water projects. If the entities determine
  312  that the issuance of utility cost containment bonds will result
  313  in lower financing costs for a project, the authority shall
  314  cooperate with such local agencies and, if requested by the
  315  local agencies, issue utility cost containment bonds as provided
  316  in this section.
  317         (5) UTILITY PROJECT CHARGE.—
  318         (a) The authority shall impose a sufficient utility project
  319  charge, based on estimates of water or wastewater service usage,
  320  to ensure timely payment of all financing costs with respect to
  321  utility cost containment bonds. The local agency or its publicly
  322  owned utility shall provide the authority with information
  323  concerning the publicly owned utility which may be required by
  324  the authority in establishing the utility project charge.
  325         (b) The utility project charge is a nonbypassable charge to
  326  all present and future customers of the publicly owned utility
  327  in the class or classes of customers specified in the financing
  328  resolution upon its adoption. If the regulatory structure for
  329  the water or wastewater industry changes in a manner that
  330  authorizes a customer to choose to take service from an
  331  alternative supplier and the customer chooses an alternative
  332  supplier, the customer remains liable for paying the utility
  333  project charge if the customer continues to receive any service
  334  from the publicly owned utility for the transmission,
  335  distribution, processing, delivery, or metering of the
  336  underlying water or wastewater service.
  337         (c) The authority shall determine at least annually and at
  338  such additional intervals as provided in the financing
  339  resolution and documents related to the applicable utility cost
  340  containment bonds whether adjustments to the utility project
  341  charge are required. The authority shall use the adjustment to
  342  correct for any overcollection or undercollection of financing
  343  costs from the utility project charge or to make any other
  344  adjustment necessary to ensure the timely payment of the
  345  financing costs of the utility cost containment bonds, including
  346  adjustment of the utility project charge to pay any debt service
  347  coverage requirement for the utility cost containment bonds. The
  348  local agency or its publicly owned utility shall provide the
  349  authority with information concerning the publicly owned utility
  350  which may be required by the authority in adjusting the utility
  351  project charge.
  352         1. If the authority determines that an adjustment to the
  353  utility project charge is required, the adjustment must be made
  354  using the methodology specified in the financing resolution.
  355         2. The adjustment may not impose the utility project charge
  356  on a class of customers which was not subject to the utility
  357  project charge pursuant to the financing resolution imposing the
  358  utility project charge.
  359         (d) Revenues from a utility project charge are special
  360  revenues of the authority and do not constitute revenue of the
  361  local agency or its publicly owned utility for any purpose,
  362  including any dedication, commitment, or pledge of revenue,
  363  receipts, or other income that the local agency or its publicly
  364  owned utility has made or will make for the security of any of
  365  its obligations.
  366         (e) The local agency or its publicly owned utility shall
  367  act as a servicing agent for collecting the utility project
  368  charge throughout the duration of the servicing agreement
  369  required by the financing resolution. The local agency or its
  370  publicly owned utility shall hold the money collected in trust
  371  for the exclusive benefit of the persons entitled to have the
  372  financing costs paid from the utility project charge, and the
  373  money does not lose its designation as revenues of the authority
  374  by virtue of possession by the local agency or its publicly
  375  owned utility.
  376         (f) The customer must make timely and complete payment of
  377  all utility project charges as a condition of receiving water or
  378  wastewater service from the publicly owned utility. The local
  379  agency or its publicly owned utility may use its established
  380  collection policies and remedies provided under law to enforce
  381  collection of the utility project charge. A customer liable for
  382  a utility project charge may not withhold payment, in whole or
  383  in part, thereof.
  384         (g) The pledge of a utility project charge to secure
  385  payment of utility cost containment bonds is irrevocable, and
  386  the state, or any other entity, may not reduce, impair, or
  387  otherwise adjust the utility project charge, except that the
  388  authority shall implement the periodic adjustments to the
  389  utility project charge as provided under this subsection.
  390         (6) UTILITY PROJECT PROPERTY.—
  391         (a) A utility project charge constitutes utility project
  392  property on the effective date of the financing resolution
  393  authorizing such utility project charge. Utility project
  394  property constitutes property, including contracts for securing
  395  utility cost containment bonds, regardless of whether the
  396  revenues and proceeds arising with respect to the utility
  397  project property have accrued. Utility project property shall
  398  continuously exist as property for all purposes with all of the
  399  rights and privileges of this section through the end of the
  400  period provided in the financing resolution or until all
  401  financing costs with respect to the related utility cost
  402  containment bonds are paid in full, whichever occurs first.
  403         (b) Upon the effective date of the financing resolution,
  404  the utility project property is subject to a first-priority
  405  statutory lien to secure the payment of the utility cost
  406  containment bonds.
  407         1. The lien secures the payment of all financing costs then
  408  existing or subsequently arising to the holders of the utility
  409  cost containment bonds, the trustees or representatives of the
  410  holders of the utility cost containment bonds, and any other
  411  entity specified in the financing resolution or the documents
  412  relating to the utility cost containment bonds.
  413         2. The lien attaches to the utility project property
  414  regardless of the current ownership of the utility project
  415  property, including any local agency or its publicly owned
  416  utility, the authority, or any other person.
  417         3. Upon the effective date of the financing resolution, the
  418  lien is valid and enforceable against the owner of the utility
  419  project property and all third parties, and additional public
  420  notice is not required.
  421         4. The lien is a continuously perfected lien on all
  422  revenues and proceeds generated from the utility project
  423  property regardless of whether the revenues or proceeds have
  424  accrued.
  425         (c) All revenues with respect to utility project property
  426  related to utility cost containment bonds, including payments of
  427  the utility project charge, shall be applied first to the
  428  payment of the financing costs of the utility cost containment
  429  bonds then due, including the funding of reserves for the
  430  utility cost containment bonds. Any excess revenues shall be
  431  applied as determined by the authority for the benefit of the
  432  utility for which the utility cost containment bonds were
  433  issued.
  435         (a) Utility cost containment bonds shall be issued within
  436  the parameters of the financing provided by the authority
  437  pursuant to this section. The proceeds of the utility cost
  438  containment bonds made available to the local agency or its
  439  publicly owned utility shall be used for the utility project
  440  identified in the application for financing of the utility
  441  project or used to refinance indebtedness of the local agency
  442  which financed or refinanced utility projects.
  443         (b) Utility cost containment bonds shall be issued as set
  444  forth in this section and s. 163.01(7)(g)8., Florida Statutes,
  445  and may be validated pursuant to s. 163.01(7)(g)9., Florida
  446  Statutes.
  447         (c) The authority shall pledge the utility project property
  448  as security for the payment of the utility cost containment
  449  bonds. All rights of an authority with respect to utility
  450  project property pledged as security for the payment of utility
  451  cost containment bonds shall be for the benefit of, and
  452  enforceable by, the beneficiaries of the pledge to the extent
  453  provided in the financing documents relating to the utility cost
  454  containment bonds.
  455         1. If utility project property is pledged as security for
  456  the payment of utility cost containment bonds, the local agency
  457  or its publicly owned utility shall enter into a contract with
  458  the authority which requires, at a minimum, that the publicly
  459  owned utility:
  460         a. Continue to operate its publicly owned utility,
  461  including the utility project that is being financed or
  462  refinanced;
  463         b. Collect the utility project charge from customers for
  464  the benefit and account of the authority and the beneficiaries
  465  of the pledge of the utility project charge; and
  466         c. Separately account for and remit revenue from the
  467  utility project charge to, or for the account of, the authority.
  468         2. The pledge of a utility project charge to secure payment
  469  of utility cost containment bonds is irrevocable, and the state
  470  or any other entity may not reduce, impair, or otherwise adjust
  471  the utility project charge, except that the authority shall
  472  implement periodic adjustments to the utility project charge as
  473  provided under subsection (5).
  474         (d) Utility cost containment bonds shall be nonrecourse to
  475  the credit or any assets of the local agency or the publicly
  476  owned utility but are payable from, and secured by a pledge of
  477  the utility project property relating to the utility cost
  478  containment bonds and any additional security or credit
  479  enhancement specified in the documents relating to the utility
  480  cost containment bonds. If, pursuant to subsection (4), the
  481  authority is financing the project through a single-purpose
  482  limited liability company, the utility cost containment bonds
  483  shall be payable from, and secured by, a pledge of amounts paid
  484  by the company to the authority from the applicable utility
  485  project property. This paragraph is the exclusive method of
  486  perfecting a pledge of utility project property by the company
  487  securing the payment of financing costs under any agreement of
  488  the company in connection with the issuance of utility cost
  489  containment bonds.
  490         (e) The issuance of utility cost containment bonds does not
  491  obligate the state or any political subdivision thereof to levy
  492  or to pledge any form of taxation to pay the utility cost
  493  containment bonds or to make any appropriation for their
  494  payment. Each utility cost containment bond must contain on its
  495  face a statement in substantially the following form:
  497   “Neither the full faith and credit nor the taxing power of the  
  498  State of Florida or any political subdivision thereof is pledged 
  499   to the payment of the principal of, or interest on, this bond.” 
  501         (f) Notwithstanding any other law or this section, a
  502  financing resolution or other resolution of the authority, or
  503  documents relating to utility cost containment bonds, the
  504  authority may not rescind, alter, or amend any resolution or
  505  document that pledges utility cost charges for payment of
  506  utility cost containment bonds.
  507         (g) Subject to the terms of any pledge document created
  508  under this section, the validity and relative priority of a
  509  pledge is not defeated or adversely affected by the commingling
  510  of revenues generated by the utility project property with other
  511  funds of the local agency or the publicly owned utility
  512  collecting a utility project charge on behalf of an authority.
  513         (h) Financing costs in connection with utility cost
  514  containment bonds are a special obligation of the authority and
  515  do not constitute a liability of the state or any political
  516  subdivision thereof. Financing costs are not a pledge of the
  517  full faith and credit of the state or any political subdivision
  518  thereof, including the authority, but are payable solely from
  519  the funds identified in the documents relating to the utility
  520  cost containment bonds. This paragraph does not preclude
  521  guarantees or credit enhancements in connection with utility
  522  cost containment bonds.
  523         (i) Except as otherwise provided in this section with
  524  respect to adjustments to a utility project charge, the recovery
  525  of the financing costs for the utility cost containment bonds
  526  from the utility project charge is irrevocable, and the
  527  authority does not have the power, by rescinding, altering, or
  528  amending the applicable financing resolution, to revalue or
  529  revise for ratemaking purposes the financing costs of utility
  530  cost containment bonds; to determine that the financing costs
  531  for the related utility cost containment bonds or the utility
  532  project charge is unjust or unreasonable; or to in any way,
  533  either directly or indirectly, reduce or impair the value of
  534  utility project property that includes the utility project
  535  charge. The amount of revenues arising with respect to the
  536  financing costs for the related utility cost containment bonds
  537  or the utility project charge is not subject to reduction,
  538  impairment, postponement, or termination for any reason until
  539  all financing costs to be paid from the utility project charge
  540  are fully met and discharged.
  541         (j) Except as provided in subsection (5) with respect to
  542  adjustments to a utility project charge, the state pledges and
  543  agrees with the owners of utility cost containment bonds that
  544  the state may not limit or alter the financing costs or the
  545  utility project property, including the utility project charge,
  546  relating to the utility cost containment bonds, or any rights
  547  related to the utility project property, until all financing
  548  costs with respect to the utility cost containment bonds are
  549  fully met and discharged. This paragraph does not preclude
  550  limitation or alteration if adequate provision is made by law to
  551  protect the owners. The authority may include the state’s pledge
  552  in the governing documents for utility cost containment bonds.
  553         (8) LIMITATION ON DEBT RELIEF.—Notwithstanding any other
  554  law, an authority that issued utility cost containment bonds may
  555  not, and a governmental officer or organization may not
  556  authorize the authority to, become a debtor under the United
  557  States Bankruptcy Code or become the subject of any similar case
  558  or proceeding under any other state or federal law if any
  559  payment obligation from utility project property remains with
  560  respect to the utility cost containment bonds.
  561         (9) CONSTRUCTION.—This section and all grants of power and
  562  authority in this section shall be liberally construed to
  563  effectuate their purposes. All incidental powers necessary to
  564  carry this section into effect are expressly granted to, and
  565  conferred upon, public entities.
  566         Section 2. Subsection (5) of section 153.03, Florida
  567  Statutes, is amended to read:
  568         153.03 General grant of power.—Any of the several counties
  569  of the state which may hereafter come under the provisions of
  570  this chapter as hereinafter provided is hereby authorized and
  571  empowered:
  572         (5) To acquire in the name of the county by gift, purchase
  573  as hereinafter provided, or by the exercise of the right of
  574  eminent domain, such lands and rights and interests therein,
  575  including lands under water and riparian rights, and to acquire
  576  such personal property as it may deem necessary for the
  577  efficient operation or for the extension of or the improvement
  578  of any facility purchased or constructed under the provisions of
  579  this chapter and to hold and dispose of all real and personal
  580  property under its control.; Counties may also exercise such
  581  eminent domain rights pursuant to an action initiated under s.
  582  367.072. provided, However, that no county shall have the right
  583  to exercise the right of eminent domain over any such lands or
  584  rights or interests therein or any personal property owned by
  585  any municipality within the state nor to exercise such right
  586  with respect to any privately owned water supply system or
  587  sewage disposal system including without limitation ponds,
  588  streams and surface waters constituting a part thereof, provided
  589  any such system is primarily used, owned or operated by an
  590  industrial or manufacturing plant for its own use as a water
  591  supply system or in disposing of its industrial wastes.
  592         Section 3. Section 367.072, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  593  read:
  594         367.072 Petition to revoke certificate of authorization;
  595  condemnation.—The Legislature finds that it is in the public
  596  interest that water service be of good quality, be priced at a
  597  rate that is commensurate with the market and the quality of
  598  service provided, and be consistent with the standards set forth
  599  in this chapter. Furthermore, the Legislature declares that the
  600  residents of the state have a right to participate in the
  601  selection of their water service provider. Therefore, a
  602  utility’s certificate of authorization to provide water service
  603  may be revoked if, after its customers file a petition to revoke
  604  a certificate of authorization with the commission, the
  605  commission finds that revocation is in the best interest of the
  606  customers in accordance with this section. Upon the filing of
  607  such petition, and owing to the demonstrated dissatisfaction
  608  with the water service received by such customers, the county
  609  where the customers are located also may deem it a public
  610  necessity that the utility be brought under county ownership,
  611  and may, upon its own election, begin condemnation by eminent
  612  domain proceedings against the utility. As used in this section,
  613  the term “customer” means an individual whose property is
  614  serviced by a single meter or a person whose name appears on the
  615  bill for a master meter.
  616         (1)(a) If the commission receives a letter from the
  617  customers of a utility stating their intent to file a petition
  618  pursuant to this section, the commission staff, within 10 days
  619  after receipt of the letter, shall notify the utility of the
  620  customers’ intent to file a petition.
  621         (b) Commission staff shall send to the customers
  622  instructions regarding the information required on the petition
  623  and the subsequent process the commission will follow. The
  624  petition must be filed within 90 days after the receipt of the
  625  instructions. Commission staff shall review the petition and
  626  notify the customers within 10 days after receipt of the
  627  petition that the petition is sufficient for the commission to
  628  act or that additional information is necessary. The customers
  629  must file a cured petition within 30 days after receipt of the
  630  notice to cure and provide a copy of the petition to the
  631  utility. If the customers fail to file or refile a petition
  632  within the allotted time, the commission shall dismiss the
  633  petition with prejudice, and the customers may not file another
  634  petition for 1 year after the dismissal.
  635         (c)Upon receipt of a properly filed petition, the
  636  commission shall send to the county where the customers are
  637  located a copy of the petition and notify such county of its
  638  right to initiate condemnation by eminent domain proceedings
  639  pursuant to this section and s. 153.03.
  640         (2) A petition must:
  641         (a) State with specificity each issue that customers have
  642  with the quality of water service, each time the issue was
  643  reported to the utility, and how long each issue has existed;
  644  and
  645         (b) Be signed by at least 65 percent of the customers of
  646  the service area covered under the certificate of authorization.
  647  A person whose name appears on the bill for a master meter may
  648  sign a petition if at least 65 percent of the customers,
  649  tenants, or unit owners served by the master meter support the
  650  petition, in which case documentation of such support must be
  651  included with the petition.
  652         (3) If the petition is in compliance with this section and
  653  the issues identified within the petition support a reasonable
  654  likelihood that the utility is failing to provide quality of
  655  water service, the utility shall thereafter be prohibited from
  656  filing a rate case until the commission has issued a final order
  657  addressing the issues identified in the petition. The utility
  658  shall use the following criteria in preparing a response to the
  659  commission, addressing the issues identified within the petition
  660  and defending the quality of its water service:
  661         (a) Federal and state primary water quality standards or
  662  secondary water quality standards pursuant to s. 367.0812; and
  663         (b) The relationship between the utility and its customers,
  664  including each complaint received regarding the quality of water
  665  service, the length of time each customer has been complaining
  666  about the service, the resolution of each complaint, and the
  667  time it has taken to address such complaints.
  668         (4) The commission shall evaluate the issues identified in
  669  the petition, the utility’s response as to whether it is
  670  providing quality of water service, and any other factor the
  671  commission deems relevant.
  672         (5) Based upon its evaluation, the commission shall:
  673         (a) Dismiss the petition, in which case the decision must
  674  be supported by clear and convincing evidence and is subject to
  675  ss. 120.569 and 120.57; or
  676         (b) Require the utility to take the necessary steps to
  677  correct the quality of water service issues identified in the
  678  petition. The commission shall set benchmarks within a
  679  timeframe, not to exceed 3 years, and may require the utility to
  680  provide interim reports describing its progress in meeting such
  681  benchmarks. The commission may extend the term 3 years for
  682  circumstances that delay the project which are not in the
  683  control of the utility, such as natural disasters and obtaining
  684  permits necessary for meeting such benchmarks; or
  685         (b)(c) Notwithstanding s. 367.045, revoke the utility’s
  686  certificate of authorization, in which case, any condemnation
  687  proceedings initiated pursuant to this section must be dismissed
  688  and a receiver must be appointed pursuant to s. 367.165 until a
  689  sale of the utility system has been approved pursuant to s.
  690  367.071.
  691         (6) The commission shall adopt by rule the format of and
  692  requirements for a petition and may adopt other rules to
  693  administer this section.
  694         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.