The 2017 Legislative Session definitely had it challenges, especially when House Bill 13 showed up to abolish CRA’s. During the course of the legislative session, a lot of ground was covered to address the Legislature’s legitimate concerns while also protecting CRA’s as one of Florida’s most valuable and effective tools for revitalization, economic development, and public private partnerships.
Many CRA’s engaged their state legislators on these bills, and many CRA and City stakeholders travelled to Tallahassee to testify before House and Senate Committees. Even more CRA stakeholders spoke to their state representatives. A special shout out needs to go to Florida Redevelopment Association lobbyist Bill Peebles and his team, and to the Florida League of Cities for their efforts to remove the bad parts of the bills, to move forward amendments that help CRA’s, and to ultimately ensure that bad CRA legislation did not pass.
There are some key issues that we expect will reappear in 2018, and they are both practical and philosophical:
- There are practical issues related to CRA operations, which include continued improvements to transparency, reporting, and effectiveness of CRA’s as a tool. CRAs use public money, and we should all work to continue to improve our communication with the public, and work with the Legislature and our local stakeholders to establish reasonable performance and ethical standards. We also look forward to working with the Legislature to implement operational enhancements which will improve efficiencies and improve the ability of CRA’s to be effective in their statutory mission.
- There are also philosophical issues regarding the use of public money and incentives for economic development which will have to be addressed, especially regarding the use of public resources as incentives for developers and private sector businesses. These concerns are not limited to CRA’s and were on full display during the debates regarding Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.
RMA Economic Development Director Kevin Crowder is Chair of the Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA) Legislative Committee, and the FRA Board of Directors will be meeting over the summer to develop the legislative position of the FRA. They are beginning their work by addressing the good and bad issues from last session and identifying areas of common ground for all parties to this debate. RMA will work with FRA to keep you informed as the 2018 Session approaches.