Florida Senate - 2023                                     SB 748
       By Senator Boyd
       20-00634A-23                                           2023748__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the My Safe Florida Home Program;
    3         amending s. 215.5586, F.S.; providing that licensed,
    4         rather than certified, inspectors are to provide
    5         hurricane mitigation inspections on site-built,
    6         single-family, residential properties that have been
    7         granted a homestead exemption; specifying that
    8         townhouses are included in such properties; revising
    9         the information provided to homeowners as part of a
   10         hurricane mitigation inspection; revising the
   11         hurricane mitigation inspectors that may be selected
   12         by the Department of Financial Services to provide
   13         hurricane mitigation inspections; deleting a provision
   14         requiring the department to implement a certain
   15         quality assurance program; authorizing the department
   16         to establish specified criteria for prioritizing
   17         inspection applications; revising the criteria for
   18         mitigation grant eligibility for homeowners; deleting
   19         a provision that subjects mitigation projects to
   20         random reinspection for a specified timeframe;
   21         revising the improvements for which mitigation grants
   22         may be used; revising the amount low-income homeowners
   23         may receive from the department under the grant
   24         program; deleting a provision authorizing low-income
   25         homeowners to use grant funds for specified purposes;
   26         deleting a requirement that the department establish
   27         specified criteria for prioritizing grant
   28         applications; authorizing, rather than requiring, the
   29         program to develop and distribute certain brochures to
   30         specified persons; deleting a provision requiring
   31         certain contracts entered into by the department to be
   32         reviewed and approved by the Legislative Budget
   33         Commission; requiring the department to develop a
   34         certain quality assurance and reinspection program;
   35         revising the contents of the annual report the
   36         department is required to deliver to the Legislature;
   37         conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
   38         making technical changes; reenacting s. 215.5588(3),
   39         F.S., relating to the Florida Disaster Recovery
   40         Program, to incorporate the amendments made to s.
   41         215.5586, F.S., in a reference thereto; providing an
   42         effective date.
   44  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   46         Section 1. Section 215.5586, Florida Statutes, is amended
   47  to read:
   48         215.5586 My Safe Florida Home Program.—There is established
   49  within the Department of Financial Services the My Safe Florida
   50  Home Program. The department shall provide fiscal
   51  accountability, contract management, and strategic leadership
   52  for the program, consistent with this section. This section does
   53  not create an entitlement for property owners or obligate the
   54  state in any way to fund the inspection or retrofitting of
   55  residential property in this state. Implementation of this
   56  program is subject to annual legislative appropriations. It is
   57  the intent of the Legislature that the My Safe Florida Home
   58  Program provide licensed trained and certified inspectors to
   59  perform inspections for owners of site-built, single-family,
   60  residential properties and grants to eligible applicants as
   61  funding allows. The program shall develop and implement a
   62  comprehensive and coordinated approach for hurricane damage
   63  mitigation that may include the following:
   65         (a) Licensed Certified inspectors are to provide home home
   66  retrofit inspections of site-built, single-family, residential
   67  properties for which a homestead exemption has been granted,
   68  property may be offered to determine what mitigation measures
   69  are needed, what insurance premium discounts may be available,
   70  and what improvements to existing residential properties are
   71  needed to reduce the property’s vulnerability to hurricane
   72  damage. The term “single-family, residential property” includes
   73  those properties defined as townhouses in s. 481.203.
   74         (b) The Department of Financial Services shall contract
   75  with wind certification entities to provide hurricane mitigation
   76  inspections. The inspections provided to homeowners, at a
   77  minimum, must include:
   78         1. A home inspection and report that summarizes the results
   79  and identifies recommended improvements a homeowner may take to
   80  mitigate hurricane damage.
   81         2. A range of cost estimates regarding the recommended
   82  mitigation improvements.
   83         3. Insurer-specific Information regarding estimated premium
   84  discounts, correlated to the current mitigation features and the
   85  recommended mitigation improvements identified by the
   86  inspection.
   87         (c)(b) To qualify for selection by the department as a wind
   88  certification entity to provide hurricane mitigation
   89  inspections, the entity must shall, at a minimum, meet the
   90  following requirements:
   91         1. Use hurricane mitigation inspectors who are licensed or
   92  certified as:
   93         a. Are certified as A building inspector under s. 468.607;
   94         b. Are licensed as A general, building, or residential
   95  contractor under s. 489.111;
   96         c. Are licensed as A professional engineer under s. 471.015
   97  and who have passed the appropriate equivalency test of the
   98  building code training program as required by s. 553.841;
   99         d. Are licensed as A professional architect under s.
  100  481.213; or
  101         e. A home inspector under s. 468.8314 and who have
  102  completed at least 3 hours of hurricane mitigation training
  103  approved by the Construction Industry Licensing Board, which
  104  training must include hurricane mitigation techniques and
  105  compliance with the uniform mitigation verification form and
  106  completion of a proficiency exam Have at least 2 years of
  107  experience in residential construction or residential building
  108  inspection and have received specialized training in hurricane
  109  mitigation procedures. Such training may be provided by a class
  110  offered online or in person.
  111         2. Use hurricane mitigation inspectors who also:
  112         a. have undergone drug testing and a level II background
  113  screening. The department may conduct criminal record checks of
  114  inspectors used by wind certification entities. Inspectors must
  115  submit a set of the fingerprints to the department for state and
  116  national criminal history checks and must pay the fingerprint
  117  processing fee set forth in s. 624.501. The fingerprints must
  118  shall be sent by the department to the Department of Law
  119  Enforcement and forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  120  for processing. The results must shall be returned to the
  121  department for screening. The fingerprints must shall be taken
  122  by a law enforcement agency, designated examination center, or
  123  other department-approved entity; and
  124         b. Have been certified, in a manner satisfactory to the
  125  department, to conduct the inspections.
  126         3. Provide a quality assurance program including a
  127  reinspection component.
  128         (c) The department shall implement a quality assurance
  129  program that includes a statistically valid number of
  130  reinspections.
  131         (d) An application for an inspection must contain a signed
  132  or electronically verified statement made under penalty of
  133  perjury that the applicant has submitted only a single
  134  application for that home.
  135         (e) The owner of a site-built, single-family, residential
  136  property for which a homestead exemption has been granted may
  137  apply for and receive an inspection without also applying for a
  138  grant pursuant to subsection (2) and without meeting the
  139  requirements of paragraph (2)(a).
  140         (f)The department may establish objective, reasonable
  141  criteria for prioritizing inspection applications, consistent
  142  with the requirements of this section.
  143         (2) MITIGATION GRANTS.—Financial grants shall be used to
  144  encourage single-family, site-built, owner-occupied, residential
  145  property owners to retrofit their properties to make them less
  146  vulnerable to hurricane damage.
  147         (a) For a homeowner, including an owner of a townhouse as
  148  defined in s. 481.203, to be eligible for a grant, the following
  149  criteria must be met:
  150         1. The homeowner must have been granted a homestead
  151  exemption on the home under chapter 196.
  152         2. The home must be a dwelling with an insured value of
  153  $500,000 or less. Homeowners who are low-income persons, as
  154  defined in s. 420.0004(11), are exempt from this requirement.
  155         3. The home must undergo have undergone an acceptable
  156  hurricane mitigation inspection as provided in subsection (1)
  157  after July 1, 2008.
  158         4. The home must be located in the “wind-borne debris
  159  region” as that term is defined in the Florida Building Code.
  160         5. The building permit application for initial construction
  161  of the home must have been made before January 1, 2008.
  162         5.6. The homeowner must agree to make his or her home
  163  available for inspection once a mitigation project is completed.
  165  An application for a grant must contain a signed or
  166  electronically verified statement made under penalty of perjury
  167  that the applicant has submitted only a single application and
  168  must have attached documents demonstrating the applicant meets
  169  the requirements of this paragraph.
  170         (b) All grants must be matched on the basis of $1 provided
  171  by the applicant for $2 provided by the state up to a maximum
  172  state contribution of $10,000 toward the actual cost of the
  173  mitigation project.
  174         (c) The program shall create a process in which contractors
  175  agree to participate and homeowners select from a list of
  176  participating contractors. All mitigation must be based upon the
  177  securing of all required local permits and inspections and must
  178  be performed by properly licensed contractors. Mitigation
  179  projects are subject to random reinspection of up to at least 5
  180  percent of all projects. Hurricane mitigation inspectors
  181  qualifying for the program may also participate as mitigation
  182  contractors as long as the inspectors meet the department’s
  183  qualifications and certification requirements for mitigation
  184  contractors.
  185         (d) Matching fund grants shall also be made available to
  186  local governments and nonprofit entities for projects that will
  187  reduce hurricane damage to single-family, site-built, owner
  188  occupied, residential property. The department shall liberally
  189  construe those requirements in favor of availing the state of
  190  the opportunity to leverage funding for the My Safe Florida Home
  191  Program with other sources of funding.
  192         (e) When recommended by a hurricane mitigation inspection,
  193  grants may be used for the following improvements:
  194         1. Opening protection.
  195         2. Exterior doors, including garage doors.
  196         3. Brace gable ends.
  197         4. Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections.
  198         4.5. Improving the strength of roof-deck attachments.
  199         6. Upgrading roof covering from code to code plus.
  200         5.7. Secondary water barrier for roof.
  202  The department may require that improvements be made to all
  203  openings, including exterior doors and garage doors, as a
  204  condition of reimbursing a homeowner approved for a grant. The
  205  department may adopt, by rule, the maximum grant allowances for
  206  any improvement allowable under this paragraph.
  207         (f) Grants may be used on a previously inspected existing
  208  structure or on a rebuild. A rebuild is defined as a site-built,
  209  single-family dwelling under construction to replace a home that
  210  was destroyed or significantly damaged by a hurricane and deemed
  211  unlivable by a regulatory authority. The homeowner must be a
  212  low-income homeowner as defined in paragraph (g), must have had
  213  a homestead exemption for that home before prior to the
  214  hurricane, and must be intending to rebuild the home as that
  215  homeowner’s homestead.
  216         (g) Low-income homeowners, as defined in s. 420.0004(11),
  217  who otherwise meet the requirements of paragraphs (a), (c), (e),
  218  and (f) are eligible for a grant of up to $10,000 $5,000 and are
  219  not required to provide a matching amount to receive the grant.
  220  Additionally, for low-income homeowners, grant funding may be
  221  used for repair to existing structures leading to any of the
  222  mitigation improvements provided in paragraph (e), limited to 20
  223  percent of the grant value. The program may accept a
  224  certification directly from a low-income homeowner that the
  225  homeowner meets the requirements of s. 420.0004(11) if the
  226  homeowner provides such certification in a signed or
  227  electronically verified statement made under penalty of perjury.
  228         (h) The department shall establish objective, reasonable
  229  criteria for prioritizing grant applications, consistent with
  230  the requirements of this section.
  231         (i) The department shall develop a process that ensures the
  232  most efficient means to collect and verify grant applications to
  233  determine eligibility and may direct hurricane mitigation
  234  inspectors to collect and verify grant application information
  235  or use the Internet or other electronic means to collect
  236  information and determine eligibility.
  238         (a) The department may undertake a statewide multimedia
  239  public outreach and advertising campaign to inform consumers of
  240  the availability and benefits of hurricane inspections and of
  241  the safety and financial benefits of residential hurricane
  242  damage mitigation. The department may seek out and use local,
  243  state, federal, and private funds to support the campaign.
  244         (b)The program may develop brochures for distribution to
  245  general contractors, roofing contractors, and real estate
  246  brokers and sales associates who are licensed under part I of
  247  chapter 475 which provide information on the benefits to
  248  homeowners of residential hurricane damage mitigation.
  249  Contractors are encouraged to distribute the brochures to
  250  homeowners at the first meeting with a homeowner who is
  251  considering contracting for home or roof repair or contracting
  252  for the construction of a new home. Real estate brokers and
  253  sales associates are encouraged to distribute the brochure to
  254  clients before the purchase of a home. The brochures may be made
  255  available electronically.
  256         (4) FUNDING.—The department may seek out and leverage
  257  local, state, federal, or private funds to enhance the financial
  258  resources of the program.
  259         (5) RULES.—The Department of Financial Services shall adopt
  260  rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to govern the
  261  program; implement the provisions of this section; including
  262  rules governing hurricane mitigation inspections and grants,
  263  mitigation contractors, and training of inspectors and
  264  contractors; and carry out the duties of the department under
  265  this section.
  266         (6) HURRICANE MITIGATION INSPECTOR LIST.—The department
  267  shall develop and maintain as a public record a current list of
  268  hurricane mitigation inspectors authorized to conduct hurricane
  269  mitigation inspections pursuant to this section.
  271  AND SALES ASSOCIATES.—The program shall develop brochures for
  272  distribution to general contractors, roofing contractors, and
  273  real estate brokers and sales associates licensed under part I
  274  of chapter 475 explaining the benefits to homeowners of
  275  residential hurricane damage mitigation. The program shall
  276  encourage contractors to distribute the brochures to homeowners
  277  at the first meeting with a homeowner who is considering
  278  contracting for home or roof repairs or contracting for the
  279  construction of a new home. The program shall encourage real
  280  estate brokers and sales associates licensed under part I of
  281  chapter 475 to distribute the brochures to clients prior to the
  282  purchase of a home. The brochures may be made available
  283  electronically.
  284         (8) CONTRACT MANAGEMENT.—
  285         (a) The department may contract with third parties for
  286  grants management, inspection services, contractor services for
  287  low-income homeowners, information technology, educational
  288  outreach, and auditing services. Such contracts are shall be
  289  considered direct costs of the program and are shall not be
  290  subject to administrative cost limits, but contracts valued at
  291  $1 million or more shall be subject to review and approval by
  292  the Legislative Budget Commission. The department shall contract
  293  with providers that have a demonstrated record of successful
  294  business operations in areas directly related to the services to
  295  be provided and shall ensure the highest accountability for use
  296  of state funds, consistent with this section.
  297         (b)The department shall implement a quality assurance and
  298  reinspection program that determines whether initial inspections
  299  and home improvements are completed in a manner consistent with
  300  the intent of the program. The department may use valid random
  301  sampling in order to perform the quality assurance portion of
  302  the program.
  303         (8)(9) INTENT.—It is the intent of the Legislature that
  304  grants made to residential property owners under this section
  305  shall be considered disaster-relief assistance within the
  306  meaning of s. 139 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as
  307  amended.
  308         (9)(10) REPORTS.—The department shall make an annual report
  309  on the activities of the program that shall account for the use
  310  of state funds and indicate the number of inspections requested,
  311  the number of inspections performed, the number of grant
  312  applications received, the number and value of grants approved,
  313  and the estimated average annual amount of insurance premium
  314  discounts and total estimated annual amount of insurance premium
  315  discounts homeowners received from insurers as a result of
  316  mitigation funded through the program. The report must shall be
  317  delivered to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the
  318  House of Representatives by February 1 of each year.
  319         Section 2. For the purpose of incorporating the amendments
  320  made by this act to section 215.5586, Florida Statutes, in a
  321  reference thereto, subsection (3) of section 215.5588, Florida
  322  Statutes, is reenacted to read:
  323         215.5588 Florida Disaster Recovery Program.—
  324         (3) Up to 78 percent of these funds may be used to
  325  complement the grants awarded by the Department of Financial
  326  Services under s. 215.5586 and fund other eligible disaster
  327  related activities supporting housing rehabilitation, hardening,
  328  mitigation, and infrastructure improvements at the request of
  329  the local governments in order to assist the State of Florida in
  330  better serving low-income homeowners in single-family housing
  331  units, including, but not limited to, condominiums. Up to 20
  332  percent of the funds may be used to provide inspections and
  333  mitigation improvements to multifamily units receiving rental
  334  assistance under projects of the United States Department of
  335  Housing and Urban Development or the Rural Development Division
  336  of the United States Department of Agriculture.
  337         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2023.