Florida League of Cities

WFSU

Tallahassee Commissioner and incoming Florida League of Cities President Gil Ziffer is vowing to step up his fight against what calls a legislative power grab.

Florida mayors came to the Capitol this week to circle the wagons.

Sanoma Index-Tribune

On the eve of the 2017 legislative session, local governments are circling the wagons.

MGN Online

Last year’s Orlando attack—the worst mass shooting in modern American history—is prompting Governor Rick Scott to put millions of dollars in his proposed budget toward counterterrorism and intelligence efforts in Florida. Law enforcement agencies around the state are praising Scott’s decision.

Project leader points his construction crew to fix concrete levels on the side of the road.
Caitie Switalski / WFSU News

Legislation is heading to the House floor that would give Florida utilities a break from construction costs. Critics claim it could end up costing taxpayers more.

The Florida League of Cities is dropping its opposition to a highly controversial fracking bill after Republican sponsors and their industry allies agreed to give local officials some say over where oil and gas drilling could occur.

A rural lawmaker is reviving an old debate as he tries to protect agritourism.  Republican Representative Neil Combee of Polk County wants to promote an industry he says is keeping family farms above water.

The Florida Channel

There are more than 400 local pension plans paid for by cities and counties and many of them are underwater. The problem has gotten increasingly worse during the past 15 years—with the systems more than $10 billion  in the red. Last year, lawmakers thought they had a deal to fix the system, but the cities are backing away from it.

Local pension funds for police and firefighters are overdue for an overhaul says the Senate’s Governmental Oversight Committee Chairman.

The plan approved Wednesday was a negotiated compromise between unions and cities. But cities have withdrawn their support due to concerns it doesn’t leave many options for collective bargaining. The committee chairman says the comments from the cities reaffirm his belief the legislature is bailing them out.

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Pension reform is slated to come up during the 2015 legislative session. So, could this be the year local pension reform actually comes to pass? What about overhauling Florida’s Retirement System that opponents say is already sound? We'll take a look at what stakeholders are hoping for in the New Year.

Robert Weissert is the Chief Research Officer for Florida TaxWatch, a government watchdog group, which recently released its annual cost savings report. One area Weissert says state government could save some money is by overhauling the Florida Retirement System.

Florida Channel

Pension reform will be coming back up in the 2015 legislative session. But, the question some stakeholders are asking is whether a local pension effort will be tied to a controversial  state pension reform plan again, which caused both issues to die earlier this year.

After the issue died during the 2014 session, should Florida lawmakers revisit a push to make changes to municipal pensions largely affecting police and firefighter unions? A coalition made up of mainly business-backed groups say yes. But, some say while they agree, the recent formation of the coalition pushing for local pension reform is disingenuous.

Bill To Be Filed In 2015

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

A coalition of business and policy groups want lawmakers to pass a fix to a troubled local pension system in 2015, after he issue died during the 2014 session when it got tied to a controversial overhaul of the Florida Retirement System. The municipal pension reform mainly affects local police and firefighters.

Florida League of Cities Spokesman Ryan Matthews says overall, it was a successful Legislative Session for local governments.

“I think it was a successful legislative Session for local governments in general. We managed to defeat a number of preemptions and unfunded mandates and really came out relatively unscathed. I think the election year really loomed large over the session as a whole. Only 264 bills passed this year, and that’s really the lowest since 2011,” said Matthews.

MGN Online

A bill seeking to legalize the sale of all fireworks in Florida may not be an issue during this year’s Legislative Session.

Currently, sparklers are legal in Florida. But any resident wanting to buy more explosive fireworks in the state must sign a waiver swearing they’ll use them for agricultural purposes. Those found in violation could face a first degree misdemeanor charge, and Fort Walton Beach Republican Representative Matt Gaetz says he finds that unfair.

WFSU

As winter weather exits Florida, and with spring on the horizon, another yearly season (not subject to an equinox) has descended upon the state: It’s legislative priorities season.  Those who are prepared stand a better chance of basking in the warm glow of cooperative lawmakers. Those who aren’t may get left out in the cold.

The Florida League of Cities says its disappointed Governor Rick Scott has approved a new law changing how local pension reports are interpreted. The group says the new measure makes local pension funds look worse than they already are.

About 60 percent of Florida’s local pensions are 80 percent funded. That figure is used to determine whether a pension program is healthy. Florida League of Cities Kraig Conn says cities are well aware of the figures, and he says a new law requiring the use of a lower rate of return for financial outlooks makes the funds look even worse.

A bill creating statewide guidelines for public-private partnerships passed through the House Appropriations Committee today Wednesday. But the bill to promote development drew some criticism that it might limit the public sector’s involvement.

Florida’s city pension plans are overburdened and underfunded. That’s according to the latest report from the non-partisan LeRoy Collins Institute. The report is once again raising the issue of pension reform and how best to deal with a large number of mainly local police and firefighters who are in the local pension systems.