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Public-Private Partnership Bill Wants To Entice More Public-Private Projects

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.

The partnerships are a way to develop infrastructure, transportation or other similar projects when a local government doesn’t want to go through the process alone. The partnership brings in a private sector company. And between the two a contract is formed and the project gets underway. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) says it sets up statewide guidelines to make the process easier and more attractive.

“And I think this is really how a lot of our infrastructure needs in the State of Florida are going to start to be having done because a lot of these local governments don’t have a lot of money to do this. So to sort-of have private money come in and invest in a project to be able to fund a local project I think is the way to go,” Steube said.

Some of the guidelines included in the bill direct how local governments deal with project proposals. They also help determine if the project has a good purpose and what’s included in the different types of agreements. But Rep. Eddy Gonzalez (R-Hialeah Gardens) saw a way statewide guidelines could actually hinder what’s already being done.

“I believe the value of this bill is that it creates a process which will guide local governments through the public-private partnership process, if they are unfamiliar with it or they don’t want to create one for themselves. Many local governments are already doing public-private partnerships. I feel the process created in this legislation is burdensome with the proceeding on some of these deals,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzales did have an amendment so existing local partnership ordinances wouldn’t have to use the new guidelines but withdrew it before it went to vote. The Florida League of Cities raised similar concerns but both it and Gonzales planned on just hashing out the fine details with Steube. And speaking of improvements…

“It also creates a task force to be involved for one year to develop those guidelines and then give those recommendations to the legislature after a year,” Steube said.

Basically, Steube is saying here, for the first year along with the guidelines in effect, there’ll be a task force and if the task force sees a way to improve, next year he’ll possibly be back with another bill to amend and improve the existing guidelines.