Florida Senate - 2021 COMMITTEE AMENDMENT Bill No. SB 102 Ì260332qÎ260332 LEGISLATIVE ACTION Senate . House . . . . . ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— The Committee on Community Affairs (Burgess) recommended the following: 1 Senate Amendment (with title amendment) 2 3 Delete everything after the enacting clause 4 and insert: 5 Section 1. Section 16.65, Florida Statutes, is created to 6 read: 7 16.65 Matters of great governmental concern.— 8 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that: 9 (a) Several events have led to extensive litigation by 10 multiple governmental entities in this state arising from the 11 same facts, circumstances, or conduct or similar causes of 12 action. This litigation has been difficult to resolve in a 13 timely and expeditious manner because of the number and 14 different types of governmental entities involved. 15 (b) It is in the interest of this state that a single 16 official represent governmental entities in civil proceedings in 17 matters of great governmental concern to maximize recoveries and 18 minimize costs. 19 (c) The Attorney General is the state’s chief legal officer 20 and is the official who should be responsible for the 21 prosecution, management, and coordination of any civil 22 proceedings brought by governmental entities in matters of great 23 governmental concern. 24 (d) The failure to have a single official responsible in 25 matters of great governmental concern undermines fairness and 26 efficiency and risks inconsistent or incongruent results, which 27 will delay recovery and undermine governmental entities’ ability 28 to respond to such matters of great governmental concern. 29 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, unless the 30 context otherwise requires, the term: 31 (a) “Governmental entity” means the state and any 32 department, agency, political subdivision, unit of government, 33 or school district thereof. 34 (b) “Matter of great governmental concern” means any fact, 35 circumstance, or conduct that has caused substantial economic 36 loss or other harm of a similar nature to governmental entities 37 in 15 or more counties in this state. 38 (3) AUTHORITY.— 39 (a) The Legislature by concurrent resolution may declare a 40 matter to be a matter of great governmental concern. Upon such 41 declaration, the Attorney General has the sole authority to file 42 a civil proceeding on behalf of the affected governmental 43 entities in this state until the Legislature by concurrent 44 resolution invalidates, rescinds, or amends that declaration. 45 (b) The Attorney General may investigate a matter before 46 and after the Legislature declares that the matter is a matter 47 of great governmental concern. In any investigation and civil 48 proceeding commenced pursuant to this section, it is the duty of 49 all public officers and their deputies, assistants, clerks, 50 subordinates, and employees to render and furnish to the 51 Attorney General, when so requested, assistance and all 52 information available in their official capacity. 53 (c) The Attorney General may institute or intervene in any 54 civil proceeding in state or federal court, including any 55 pending appeal, on behalf of a governmental entity to seek any 56 relief afforded at law or in equity, under state or federal law, 57 pertaining to a matter of great governmental concern. 58 (d) The Attorney General may consolidate, dismiss, release, 59 settle, or take action that he or she believes to be in the 60 public interest in any civil proceeding in state or federal 61 court pertaining to a matter of great governmental concern, 62 provided that such action is not inconsistent with the terms or 63 provisions of the Legislature’s resolution declaring the matter 64 to be a matter of great governmental concern. 65 (e) Any award for damages or monetary payment arising from 66 a civil proceeding, compromise, or settlement of any claim or 67 litigation pertaining to a matter of great governmental concern, 68 excluding attorney fees described in subsection (4), is subject 69 to full appropriation by the Legislature and may not be 70 appropriated, expended, or encumbered by the Attorney General or 71 the terms or provisions of any settlement agreement. 72 (f) A declaration by the Legislature that a matter is a 73 matter of great governmental concern operates to abate or stay 74 any civil proceeding in state or federal court pertaining to the 75 matter of great governmental concern filed by a governmental 76 entity until the Attorney General takes an action in such 77 proceeding. 78 (g) Any statute of limitations under the laws of this state 79 affecting a claim by a governmental entity is tolled for the 80 pendency of a declaration that a matter is a matter of great 81 governmental concern or for 1 year, whichever is earlier. 82 (h) Upon learning of a declaration that a matter is a 83 matter of great governmental concern, all governmental entities 84 then a party to any affected civil proceeding shall provide 85 notice to the Attorney General of the existence of any such 86 civil proceeding, including the style of the action, the case 87 number, and the court where such proceeding is pending. Any 88 settlement or resolution of the civil proceeding by a 89 governmental entity taken after a declaration without the 90 consent of the Attorney General is void. 91 (i) For purposes of this subsection, the Department of 92 Legal Affairs is exempt from s. 120.57(3). 93 (4) ATTORNEY FEES.— 94 (a) If a governmental entity retains attorneys to represent 95 it before a matter is declared to be a matter of great 96 governmental concern, the governmental entity or its attorneys 97 may apply to the court where the civil proceeding is being 98 prosecuted by the Attorney General or, if no such proceeding 99 exists, in the circuit court in and for Leon County to receive 100 from any recovery its reasonable attorney fees and costs 101 incurred in connection with such representation. 102 (b) In calculating the amount of any reasonable attorney 103 fees, the court shall consider all of the following factors: 104 1. The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty 105 of the question involved, and the skill requisite to perform the 106 legal service properly. 107 2. The likelihood, if apparent, that the acceptance of the 108 particular employment will preclude other employment by the 109 attorney. 110 3. The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar 111 legal services. 112 4. The amount involved and the results obtained. 113 5. The time limitation imposed by the governmental entity 114 or the circumstances. 115 6. The nature and length of the professional relationship 116 with the governmental entity. 117 7. The experience, reputation, and ability of the attorney 118 performing the legal services. 119 8. Whether the fee is fixed or contingent. 120 Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law. 121 122 ================= T I T L E A M E N D M E N T ================ 123 And the title is amended as follows: 124 Delete everything before the enacting clause 125 and insert: 126 A bill to be entitled 127 An act relating to matters of great governmental 128 concern; creating s. 16.65, F.S.; providing 129 legislative findings; defining terms; authorizing the 130 Legislature to declare, by concurrent resolution, that 131 a circumstance or conduct that has caused substantial 132 economic loss or other similar harm to governmental 133 entities in at least a specified number of counties is 134 a matter of great governmental concern; providing that 135 the Attorney General has the sole authority to file 136 certain civil proceedings; authorizing the Attorney 137 General to investigate certain matters; authorizing 138 the Attorney General to institute or intervene in 139 certain civil proceedings; authorizing the Attorney 140 General to take certain actions in certain civil 141 proceedings; providing that any award, excluding 142 attorney fees, are subject to full appropriation by 143 the Legislature; prohibiting such award to be 144 appropriated, expended, or encumbered by the Attorney 145 General or any settlement agreement; providing that a 146 declaration by the Legislature that a matter is a 147 matter of great governmental concern abates or stays 148 certain civil proceedings; providing for the tolling 149 of certain statutes of limitations; requiring certain 150 entities to provide notice to the Attorney General; 151 providing that certain settlements and resolutions are 152 void; providing that the Department of Legal Affairs 153 is exempt from certain requirements related to 154 protests to contract solicitation or award; 155 authorizing a governmental entity or its attorneys to 156 apply to a court for recovery of attorney fees and 157 costs; requiring a court to consider certain factors 158 in calculating the amount of attorney fees; providing 159 an effective date.