Florida Senate - 2018                                     SB 170
       By Senator Grimsley
       26-00117-18                                            2018170__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the Rural Economic Development
    3         Initiative; amending s. 288.0656, F.S.; revising
    4         legislative intent relating to the Rural Economic
    5         Development Initiative; redefining the term “rural
    6         area of opportunity”; revising the duties,
    7         responsibilities, and membership of the Rural Economic
    8         Development Initiative; deleting a provision limiting
    9         the number of rural areas of opportunity that may be
   10         designated; deleting a provision listing the economic
   11         development incentives for which the Governor may
   12         waive criteria requirements or similar provisions;
   13         deleting a requirement that certain catalyst projects
   14         be identified as such by Enterprise Florida, Inc.;
   15         revising reporting requirements; amending ss.
   16         163.3177, 163.3187, 257.193, 288.019, 288.06561,
   17         290.0055, 290.06561, 337.403, 339.2818, 339.2819,
   18         339.63, 479.16, and 627.6699, F.S.; conforming cross
   19         references; providing an effective date.
   21  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   23         Section 1. Section 288.0656, Florida Statutes, is amended
   24  to read:
   25         288.0656 Rural Economic Development Initiative.—
   26         (1)(a) Recognizing that rural communities and regions
   27  continue to face extraordinary challenges in their efforts to
   28  significantly improve residents’ quality of life and their local
   29  economies, specifically in terms of personal income, education,
   30  infrastructure, access to health care, and job creation.
   31  Therefore, average wages, and strong tax bases, it is the intent
   32  of the Legislature to encourage and facilitate their achievement
   33  of the following goals:
   34         (a)Job creation, through the location and expansion of
   35  major economic development projects of significant scale in such
   36  rural communities.
   37         (b)Improved community infrastructure, including, but not
   38  limited to, roads, utilities, water and sewer systems, and
   39  communications.
   40         (c)The development and growth of a skilled workforce.
   41         (d)Improved access to health care.
   42         (2)(b) The Rural Economic Development Initiative, known as
   43  “REDI,” is created within the department, and the participation
   44  of state and regional agencies in this initiative is authorized.
   45         (3)(2) As used in this section, the term:
   46         (a) “Catalyst project” means a business locating or
   47  expanding in a rural area of opportunity to serve as an economic
   48  generator of regional significance for the growth of a regional
   49  target industry cluster. The project must provide capital
   50  investment on a scale significant enough to affect the entire
   51  region and result in the development of high-wage and high-skill
   52  jobs.
   53         (b) “Catalyst site” means a parcel or parcels of land
   54  within a rural area of opportunity that has been prioritized as
   55  a geographic site for economic development through partnerships
   56  with state, regional, and local organizations. The site must be
   57  reviewed by REDI and approved by the department for the purposes
   58  of locating a catalyst project.
   59         (c) “Economic distress” means conditions affecting the
   60  fiscal and economic viability of a rural community, including
   61  such factors as low per capita income, low per capita taxable
   62  values, high unemployment, high underemployment, low weekly
   63  earned wages compared to the state average, low housing values
   64  compared to the state average, high percentages of the
   65  population receiving public assistance, high poverty levels
   66  compared to the state average, and a lack of year-round stable
   67  employment opportunities.
   68         (d) “Rural area of opportunity” means a rural community, or
   69  a region composed of rural communities, designated by the
   70  Governor, which has been adversely affected by an extraordinary
   71  economic event, severe or chronic economic distress, and faces
   72  competitive disadvantages, such as low labor force
   73  participation, low educational attainment levels, high
   74  unemployment, school district grades of “D” or “F” calculated
   75  pursuant to s. 1008.34, high infant mortality rates, and high
   76  diabetes and obesity rates, and which or a natural disaster or
   77  that presents a unique economic development opportunity of
   78  regional impact.
   79         (e) “Rural community” means:
   80         1. A county with a population of 75,000 or fewer.
   81         2. A county with a population of 125,000 or fewer which is
   82  contiguous to a county with a population of 75,000 or fewer.
   83         3. A municipality within a county described in subparagraph
   84  1. or subparagraph 2.
   85         4. An unincorporated federal enterprise community or an
   86  incorporated rural city with a population of 25,000 or fewer and
   87  an employment base focused on traditional agricultural or
   88  resource-based industries, located in a county not defined as
   89  rural, which has at least three or more of the economic distress
   90  factors identified in paragraph (c) and verified by the
   91  department.
   93  For purposes of this paragraph, population shall be determined
   94  in accordance with the most recent official estimate pursuant to
   95  s. 186.901.
   96         (4)(3) REDI is shall be responsible for coordinating and
   97  focusing the efforts and resources of state and regional
   98  agencies on the challenges of the state’s rural areas of
   99  opportunity and economically distressed rural communities. REDI
  100  shall work problems which affect the fiscal, economic, and
  101  community viability of Florida’s economically distressed rural
  102  communities, working with local governments, community-based
  103  organizations, and private organizations that have an interest
  104  in the renewed prosperity and competitiveness growth and
  105  development of these communities to find ways to balance
  106  environmental and growth management issues with local needs.
  107         (5)(4) REDI shall review and evaluate the impact of
  108  statutes and rules on rural communities and shall work to
  109  minimize any adverse impact and undertake outreach and capacity
  110  building efforts to improve the ability of rural communities to
  111  compete in a global economy.
  112         (6)(5) REDI shall facilitate better access to state
  113  resources by promoting direct access and referrals to
  114  appropriate state and regional agencies and statewide
  115  organizations. REDI may undertake outreach, capacity-building,
  116  and other advocacy efforts to improve conditions in rural
  117  communities. These activities may include sponsorship of
  118  conferences and achievement awards.
  119         (7)(a)REDI shall consist of the following members:
  120         1.The executive director of the department or his or her
  121  designee, who shall serve as chair.
  122         2.The Secretary of Transportation or his or her designee.
  123         3.The Secretary of Environmental Protection or his or her
  124  designee.
  125         4.The Commissioner of Agriculture or his or her designee.
  126         5.The State Surgeon General or his or her designee.
  127         6.The Commissioner of Education or his or her designee.
  128         7.The President of Enterprise Florida, Inc., or his or her
  129  designee.
  130         8.The chair of the board of directors of CareerSource
  131  Florida, Inc., or his or her designee.
  132         9.The chair of the board of the regional economic
  133  development organization for each of the rural areas of
  134  opportunity or his or her designee.
  135         10.Five members from the private sector, three of whom
  136  shall be appointed by the executive director of the department,
  137  one of whom shall be appointed by the President of the Senate,
  138  and one of whom shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House
  139  of Representatives.
  140         (b)In making their appointments, the executive director,
  141  the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of
  142  Representatives shall ensure that the appointments reflect the
  143  diversity of Florida’s business community and have the necessary
  144  skills to assist rural communities and regions in achieving the
  145  goals specified in subsection (1).
  146         (c)The executive director, the President of the Senate,
  147  and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall consider
  148  appointees who reflect the state’s racial, ethnic, and gender
  149  diversity and who are from rural communities.
  150         (d)Each appointed member shall be appointed to a 2-year
  151  term.
  152         (e)Initial appointments shall be made by July 1, 2018,
  153  with members’ terms expiring on June 30 of their second year of
  154  service.
  155         (f)A vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the
  156  unexpired term in the same manner as the original appointment.
  157         (g)An appointed member may be removed by the appointing
  158  officer for cause. Absence of a member from three consecutive
  159  meetings results in automatic removal.
  160         (h)The chair may request the head of any state agency or
  161  organization to serve on an ad hoc committee as needed to
  162  address issues or projects relating to rural areas of
  163  opportunity and economically distressed rural communities. The
  164  chair shall consider requesting the following individuals to
  165  serve on an ad hoc committee:
  166         1.The executive director of the Fish and Wildlife
  167  Conservation Commission or his or her designee.
  168         2.The Secretary of State or his or her designee.
  169         3.The Secretary of Children and Families or his or her
  170  designee.
  171         4.The Secretary of Corrections or his or her designee.
  172         5.The Secretary of Juvenile Justice or his or her
  173  designee.
  174         6.The Secretary of Health Care Administration or his or
  175  her designee.
  176         7.A board member of the Florida Regional Councils
  177  Association or his or her designee.
  178         (6)(a)By August 1 of each year, the head of each of the
  179  following agencies and organizations shall designate a deputy
  180  secretary or higher-level staff person from within the agency or
  181  organization to serve as the REDI representative for the agency
  182  or organization:
  183         1.The Department of Transportation.
  184         2.The Department of Environmental Protection.
  185         3.The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  186         4.The Department of State.
  187         5.The Department of Health.
  188         6.The Department of Children and Families.
  189         7.The Department of Corrections.
  190         8.The Department of Education.
  191         9.The Department of Juvenile Justice.
  192         10.The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  193         11.Each water management district.
  194         12.Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  195         13.CareerSource Florida, Inc.
  196         14.VISIT Florida.
  197         15.The Florida Regional Planning Council Association.
  198         16.The Agency for Health Care Administration.
  199         17.The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).
  201  An alternate for each designee shall also be chosen, and the
  202  names of the designees and alternates shall be sent to the
  203  executive director of the department.
  204         (i)(b) Each REDI member who is, or is designated by, a
  205  state agency or organization head representative must have
  206  comprehensive knowledge of his or her agency’s functions, both
  207  regulatory and service in nature, and of the state’s economic
  208  goals, policies, and programs. This person shall be the primary
  209  point of contact for his or her agency with REDI on issues and
  210  projects relating to rural areas of opportunity and economically
  211  distressed rural communities and with regard to expediting
  212  project review, shall ensure a prompt effective response to
  213  problems arising with regard to rural issues, and shall work
  214  closely with the other REDI members representatives in the
  215  identification of opportunities for preferential awards of
  216  program funds and allowances and waiver of program requirements
  217  when necessary to encourage and facilitate long-term private
  218  capital investment and job creation. Such members shall also
  219  ensure that each district office or facility of his or her
  220  agency or organization is informed about REDI and provide
  221  assistance throughout the agency in the implementation of REDI
  222  activities.
  223         (c)The REDI representatives shall work with REDI in the
  224  review and evaluation of statutes and rules for adverse impact
  225  on rural communities and the development of alternative
  226  proposals to mitigate that impact.
  227         (d)Each REDI representative shall be responsible for
  228  ensuring that each district office or facility of his or her
  229  agency is informed about the Rural Economic Development
  230  Initiative and for providing assistance throughout the agency in
  231  the implementation of REDI activities.
  232         (8)(7)(a) REDI may recommend to the Governor up to three
  233  rural areas of opportunity. The Governor, may by executive
  234  order, may designate up to three rural areas of opportunity
  235  which will establish these areas as priority assignments for
  236  REDI, and, acting through REDI, may as well as to allow the
  237  Governor, acting through REDI, to waive criteria, requirements,
  238  or similar provisions of any economic development incentive.
  239  Such incentives shall include, but are not limited to, the
  240  Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program under s. 288.106,
  241  the Quick Response Training Program under s. 288.047, the Quick
  242  Response Training Program for participants in the welfare
  243  transition program under s. 288.047(8), transportation projects
  244  under s. 339.2821, the brownfield redevelopment bonus refund
  245  under s. 288.107, and the rural job tax credit program under ss.
  246  212.098 and 220.1895.
  247         (b) Designation as a rural area of opportunity under this
  248  subsection is shall be contingent upon the execution of a
  249  memorandum of agreement among the department; the governing body
  250  of the county; and the governing bodies of any municipalities to
  251  be included within a rural area of opportunity. Such agreement
  252  must shall specify the terms and conditions of the designation,
  253  including, but not limited to, the duties and responsibilities
  254  of the county and any participating municipalities to take
  255  actions designed to facilitate the retention and expansion of
  256  existing businesses in the area, as well as the recruitment of
  257  new businesses to the area.
  258         (c) Each rural area of opportunity may designate catalyst
  259  projects, provided that each catalyst project is specifically
  260  recommended by REDI, identified as a catalyst project by
  261  Enterprise Florida, Inc., and approved confirmed as a catalyst
  262  project by the department. All state agencies and departments
  263  shall use all available tools and resources to the extent
  264  permissible by law to promote the creation and development of
  265  each catalyst project and the development of catalyst sites.
  266         (9)(8)Before September 1 of each year, REDI shall submit a
  267  report to the department, the Governor, the President of the
  268  Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a
  269  complete and detailed report, including, but not limited to on
  270  all REDI activities for the previous fiscal year as a supplement
  271  to the department’s annual report required under s. 20.60. This
  272  supplementary report must include:
  273         (a) A description of the operations of status report on all
  274  projects currently being coordinated through REDI, the number of
  275  preferential awards and allowances made pursuant to this
  276  section, the dollar amount of such awards, and the names of the
  277  recipients, and an evaluation of progress toward achieving
  278  organizational goals and specific performance outcomes, as
  279  established by the department.
  280         (b) A description of the accomplishments of REDI and
  281  identification of major trends, initiatives, or developments
  282  affecting the performance of a program or activity coordinated
  283  through REDI.
  284         (c) A description of all waivers of program requirements
  285  granted.
  286         (d)(c) Information as to the economic impact of the
  287  projects coordinated by REDI.
  288         (e)(d) Recommendations based on the review and evaluation
  289  of statutes and rules having an adverse impact on rural
  290  communities and proposals to mitigate such adverse impacts.
  291         Section 2. Paragraph (e) of subsection (7) of section
  292  163.3177, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  293         163.3177 Required and optional elements of comprehensive
  294  plan; studies and surveys.—
  295         (7)
  296         (e) This subsection does not confer the status of rural
  297  area of opportunity, or any of the rights or benefits derived
  298  from such status, on any land area not otherwise designated as
  299  such pursuant to s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7).
  300         Section 3. Subsection (3) of section 163.3187, Florida
  301  Statutes, is amended to read:
  302         163.3187 Process for adoption of small-scale comprehensive
  303  plan amendment.—
  304         (3) If the small scale development amendment involves a
  305  site within a rural area of opportunity as defined under s.
  306  288.0656(3)(d) s. 288.0656(2)(d) for the duration of such
  307  designation, the 10-acre limit listed in subsection (1) shall be
  308  increased by 100 percent to 20 acres. The local government
  309  approving the small scale plan amendment shall certify to the
  310  state land planning agency that the plan amendment furthers the
  311  economic objectives set forth in the executive order issued
  312  under s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7), and the property subject to
  313  the plan amendment shall undergo public review to ensure that
  314  all concurrency requirements and federal, state, and local
  315  environmental permit requirements are met.
  316         Section 4. Subsection (2) of section 257.193, Florida
  317  Statutes, is amended to read:
  318         257.193 Community Libraries in Caring Program.—
  319         (2) The purpose of the Community Libraries in Caring
  320  Program is to assist libraries in rural communities, as defined
  321  in s. 288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) and subject to the provisions
  322  of s. 288.06561, to strengthen their collections and services,
  323  improve literacy in their communities, and improve the economic
  324  viability of their communities.
  325         Section 5. Section 288.019, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  326  read:
  327         288.019 Rural considerations in grant review and evaluation
  328  processes.—Notwithstanding any other law, and to the fullest
  329  extent possible, the member agencies and organizations of the
  330  Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) as defined in s.
  331  288.0656(7)(a) s. 288.0656(6)(a) shall review all grant and loan
  332  application evaluation criteria to ensure the fullest access for
  333  rural counties as defined in s. 288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) to
  334  resources available throughout the state.
  335         (1) Each REDI agency and organization shall review all
  336  evaluation and scoring procedures and develop modifications to
  337  those procedures which minimize the impact of a project within a
  338  rural area.
  339         (2) Evaluation criteria and scoring procedures must provide
  340  for an appropriate ranking based on the proportionate impact
  341  that projects have on a rural area when compared with similar
  342  project impacts on an urban area.
  343         (3) Evaluation criteria and scoring procedures must
  344  recognize the disparity of available fiscal resources for an
  345  equal level of financial support from an urban county and a
  346  rural county.
  347         (a) The evaluation criteria should weight contribution in
  348  proportion to the amount of funding available at the local
  349  level.
  350         (b) In-kind match should be allowed and applied as
  351  financial match when a county is experiencing financial distress
  352  through elevated unemployment at a rate in excess of the state’s
  353  average by 5 percentage points or because of the loss of its ad
  354  valorem base.
  355         (4) For existing programs, the modified evaluation criteria
  356  and scoring procedure must be delivered to the department for
  357  distribution to the REDI agencies and organizations. The REDI
  358  agencies and organizations shall review and make comments.
  359  Future rules, programs, evaluation criteria, and scoring
  360  processes must be brought before a REDI meeting for review,
  361  discussion, and recommendation to allow rural counties fuller
  362  access to the state’s resources.
  363         Section 6. Section 288.06561, Florida Statutes, is amended
  364  to read:
  365         288.06561 Reduction or waiver of financial match
  366  requirements.—Notwithstanding any other law, the member agencies
  367  and organizations of the Rural Economic Development Initiative
  368  (REDI), as defined in s. 288.0656(7)(a) s. 288.0656(6)(a), shall
  369  review the financial match requirements for projects in rural
  370  areas as defined in s. 288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2).
  371         (1) Each agency and organization shall develop a proposal
  372  to waive or reduce the match requirement for rural areas.
  373         (2) Agencies and organizations shall ensure that all
  374  proposals are submitted to the department for review by the REDI
  375  agencies.
  376         (3) These proposals shall be delivered to the department
  377  for distribution to the REDI agencies and organizations. A
  378  meeting of REDI agencies and organizations must be called within
  379  30 days after receipt of such proposals for REDI comment and
  380  recommendations on each proposal.
  381         (4) Waivers and reductions must be requested by the county
  382  or community, and such county or community must have three or
  383  more of the factors identified in s. 288.0656(3)(c) s.
  384  288.0656(2)(c).
  385         (5) Any other funds available to the project may be used
  386  for financial match of federal programs when there is fiscal
  387  hardship, and the match requirements may not be waived or
  388  reduced.
  389         (6) When match requirements are not reduced or eliminated,
  390  donations of land, though usually not recognized as an in-kind
  391  match, may be permitted.
  392         (7) To the fullest extent possible, agencies and
  393  organizations shall expedite the rule adoption and amendment
  394  process if necessary to incorporate the reduction in match by
  395  rural areas in fiscal distress.
  396         (8) REDI shall include in its annual report an evaluation
  397  on the status of changes to rules, number of awards made with
  398  waivers, and recommendations for future changes.
  399         Section 7. Paragraph (d) of subsection (6) of section
  400  290.0055, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  401         290.0055 Local nominating procedure.—
  402         (6)
  403         (d)1. The governing body of a jurisdiction which has
  404  nominated an application for an enterprise zone that is at least
  405  15 square miles and less than 20 square miles and includes a
  406  portion of the state designated as a rural area of opportunity
  407  under s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7) may apply to the department
  408  to expand the boundary of the existing enterprise zone by not
  409  more than 3 square miles.
  410         2. The governing body of a jurisdiction which has nominated
  411  an application for an enterprise zone that is at least 20 square
  412  miles and includes a portion of the state designated as a rural
  413  area of opportunity under s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7) may
  414  apply to the department to expand the boundary of the existing
  415  enterprise zone by not more than 5 square miles.
  416         3. An application to expand the boundary of an enterprise
  417  zone under this paragraph must be submitted by December 31,
  418  2013.
  419         4. Notwithstanding the area limitations specified in
  420  subsection (4), the department may approve the request for a
  421  boundary amendment if the area continues to satisfy the
  422  remaining requirements of this section.
  423         5. The department shall establish the initial effective
  424  date of an enterprise zone designated under this paragraph.
  425         Section 8. Section 290.06561, Florida Statutes, is amended
  426  to read:
  427         290.06561 Designation of rural enterprise zone as catalyst
  428  site.—Notwithstanding s. 290.0065(1), the Department of Economic
  429  Opportunity, upon request of the host county, shall designate as
  430  a rural enterprise zone any catalyst site as defined in s.
  431  288.0656(3)(b) s. 288.0656(2)(b) that was approved before
  432  January 1, 2010, and that is not located in an existing rural
  433  enterprise zone. The request from the host county must include
  434  the legal description of the catalyst site and the name and
  435  contact information for the county development authority
  436  responsible for managing the catalyst site. The designation
  437  shall provide businesses locating within the catalyst site the
  438  same eligibility for economic incentives and other benefits of a
  439  rural enterprise zone designated under s. 290.0065. The
  440  reporting criteria for a catalyst site designated as a rural
  441  enterprise zone under this section are the same as for other
  442  rural enterprise zones. Host county development authorities may
  443  enter into memoranda of agreement, as necessary, to coordinate
  444  their efforts to implement this section.
  445         Section 9. Paragraph (h) of subsection (1) of section
  446  337.403, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  447         337.403 Interference caused by utility; expenses.—
  448         (1) If a utility that is placed upon, under, over, or
  449  within the right-of-way limits of any public road or publicly
  450  owned rail corridor is found by the authority to be unreasonably
  451  interfering in any way with the convenient, safe, or continuous
  452  use, or the maintenance, improvement, extension, or expansion,
  453  of such public road or publicly owned rail corridor, the utility
  454  owner shall, upon 30 days’ written notice to the utility or its
  455  agent by the authority, initiate the work necessary to alleviate
  456  the interference at its own expense except as provided in
  457  paragraphs (a)-(j). The work must be completed within such
  458  reasonable time as stated in the notice or such time as agreed
  459  to by the authority and the utility owner.
  460         (h) If a municipally owned utility or county-owned utility
  461  is located in a rural area of opportunity, as defined in s.
  462  288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2), and the department determines that
  463  the utility is unable, and will not be able within the next 10
  464  years, to pay for the cost of utility work necessitated by a
  465  department project on the State Highway System, the department
  466  may pay, in whole or in part, the cost of such utility work
  467  performed by the department or its contractor.
  468         Section 10. Subsection (7) of section 339.2818, Florida
  469  Statutes, is amended to read:
  470         339.2818 Small County Outreach Program.—
  471         (7) Subject to a specific appropriation in addition to
  472  funds annually appropriated for projects under this section, a
  473  municipality within a rural area of opportunity or a rural area
  474  of opportunity community designated under s. 288.0656(8)(a) s.
  475  288.0656(7)(a) may compete for the additional project funding
  476  using the criteria listed in subsection (4) at up to 100 percent
  477  of project costs, excluding capacity improvement projects.
  478         Section 11. Paragraph (c) of subsection (4) of section
  479  339.2819, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  480         339.2819 Transportation Regional Incentive Program.—
  481         (4)
  482         (c) The department shall give priority to projects that:
  483         1. Provide connectivity to the Strategic Intermodal System
  484  developed under s. 339.64.
  485         2. Support economic development and the movement of goods
  486  in rural areas of opportunity designated under s. 288.0656(8) s.
  487  288.0656(7).
  488         3. Are subject to a local ordinance that establishes
  489  corridor management techniques, including access management
  490  strategies, right-of-way acquisition and protection measures,
  491  appropriate land use strategies, zoning, and setback
  492  requirements for adjacent land uses.
  493         4. Improve connectivity between military installations and
  494  the Strategic Highway Network or the Strategic Rail Corridor
  495  Network.
  497  The department shall also consider the extent to which local
  498  matching funds are available to be committed to the project.
  499         Section 12. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
  500  339.63, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  501         339.63 System facilities designated; additions and
  502  deletions.—
  503         (5)
  504         (b) A facility designated part of the Strategic Intermodal
  505  System pursuant to paragraph (a) that is within the jurisdiction
  506  of a local government that maintains a transportation
  507  concurrency system shall receive a waiver of transportation
  508  concurrency requirements applicable to Strategic Intermodal
  509  System facilities in order to accommodate any development at the
  510  facility which occurs pursuant to a building permit issued on or
  511  before December 31, 2017, but only if such facility is located:
  512         1. Within an area designated pursuant to s. 288.0656(8) s.
  513  288.0656(7) as a rural area of opportunity;
  514         2. Within a rural enterprise zone as defined in s.
  515  290.004(5); or
  516         3. Within 15 miles of the boundary of a rural area of
  517  opportunity or a rural enterprise zone.
  518         Section 13. Subsection (16) of section 479.16, Florida
  519  Statutes, is amended to read:
  520         479.16 Signs for which permits are not required.—The
  521  following signs are exempt from the requirement that a permit
  522  for a sign be obtained under this chapter but are required to
  523  comply with s. 479.11(4)-(8), and subsections (15)-(20) may not
  524  be implemented or continued if the Federal Government notifies
  525  the department that implementation or continuation will
  526  adversely affect the allocation of federal funds to the
  527  department:
  528         (16) Signs placed by a local tourist-oriented business
  529  located within a rural area of opportunity as defined in s.
  530  288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) which are:
  531         (a) Not more than 8 square feet in size or more than 4 feet
  532  in height;
  533         (b) Located only in rural areas on a facility that does not
  534  meet the definition of a limited access facility, as defined in
  535  s. 334.03;
  536         (c) Located within 2 miles of the business location and at
  537  least 500 feet apart;
  538         (d) Located only in two directions leading to the business;
  539  and
  540         (e) Not located within the road right-of-way.
  542  A business placing such signs must be at least 4 miles from any
  543  other business using this exemption and may not participate in
  544  any other directional signage program by the department.
  546  If the exemptions in subsections (15)-(20) are not implemented
  547  or continued due to notification from the Federal Government
  548  that the allocation of federal funds to the department will be
  549  adversely impacted, the department shall provide notice to the
  550  sign owner that the sign must be removed within 30 days after
  551  receipt of the notice. If the sign is not removed within 30 days
  552  after receipt of the notice by the sign owner, the department
  553  may remove the sign, and the costs incurred in connection with
  554  the sign removal shall be assessed against and collected from
  555  the sign owner.
  556         Section 14. Paragraph (d) of subsection (14) of section
  557  627.6699, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  558         627.6699 Employee Health Care Access Act.—
  560         (d) Eligibility.—
  561         1. Any small employer that is actively engaged in business,
  562  has its principal place of business in this state, employs up to
  563  25 eligible employees on business days during the preceding
  564  calendar year, employs at least 2 employees on the first day of
  565  the plan year, and has had no prior coverage for the last 6
  566  months may participate.
  567         2. Any municipality, county, school district, or hospital
  568  employer located in a rural community as defined in s.
  569  288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) may participate.
  570         3. Nursing home employers may participate.
  571         4. Each dependent of a person eligible for coverage is also
  572  eligible to participate.
  574  Any employer participating in the program must do so until the
  575  end of the term for which the carrier providing the coverage is
  576  obligated to provide such coverage to the program. Coverage for
  577  a small employer group that ceases to meet the eligibility
  578  requirements of this section may be terminated at the end of the
  579  policy period for which the necessary premiums have been paid.
  580         Section 15. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.