Florida Senate - 2024                                    SB 1208
       By Senator Martin
       33-01645-24                                           20241208__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the My Safe Florida Home Program;
    3         amending s. 215.5586, F.S.; providing for home
    4         inspections for flood damage under the program;
    5         requiring the Department of Financial Services to
    6         contract with flood certification entities to provide
    7         mitigation inspections; providing requirements for
    8         flood certification entities to qualify for selection
    9         by the department; revising requirements for wind
   10         certification entities to qualify for selection by the
   11         department; revising the purpose of the program
   12         mitigation grants; providing requirements for flood
   13         mitigation grants; authorizing flood mitigation
   14         inspectors to participate as mitigation contractors
   15         under the program under certain circumstances;
   16         requiring that matching fund grants be made available
   17         to certain entities for projects that reduce flood
   18         damage; authorizing flood mitigation inspectors to
   19         make certain recommendations for program grants;
   20         revising requirements for grants for townhouses;
   21         providing requirements for grants for condominium
   22         units; prohibiting the department from awarding
   23         mitigation grants to homeowners under certain
   24         circumstances; authorizing education and outreach
   25         campaigns on flood inspections and flood damage
   26         mitigation; providing rulemaking authority; revising
   27         the department inspector list to include flood
   28         mitigation inspectors and flood mitigation
   29         inspections; providing appropriations; providing an
   30         effective date.
   32  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   34         Section 1. Section 215.5586, Florida Statutes, as amended
   35  by section 5 of chapter 2023-349, Laws of Florida, is amended to
   36  read:
   37         215.5586 My Safe Florida Home Program.—There is established
   38  within the Department of Financial Services the My Safe Florida
   39  Home Program. The department shall provide fiscal
   40  accountability, contract management, and strategic leadership
   41  for the program, consistent with this section. This section does
   42  not create an entitlement for property owners or obligate the
   43  state in any way to fund the inspection or retrofitting of
   44  residential property in this state. Implementation of this
   45  program is subject to annual legislative appropriations. It is
   46  the intent of the Legislature that, subject to the availability
   47  of funds, the My Safe Florida Home Program provide licensed
   48  inspectors to perform inspections for owners of site-built,
   49  single-family, residential properties and grants to eligible
   50  applicants. The department shall implement the program in such a
   51  manner that the total amount of funding requested by accepted
   52  applications, whether for inspections, grants, or other services
   53  or assistance, does not exceed the total amount of available
   54  funds. If, after applications are processed and approved, funds
   55  remain available, the department may accept applications up to
   56  the available amount. The program shall develop and implement a
   57  comprehensive and coordinated approach for hurricane and flood
   58  damage mitigation that may include the following:
   60         (a) Licensed inspectors are to provide home inspections of
   61  site-built, single-family, residential properties for which a
   62  homestead exemption has been granted, to determine what
   63  mitigation measures are needed, what insurance premium discounts
   64  may be available, and what improvements to existing residential
   65  properties are needed to reduce the property’s vulnerability to
   66  hurricane and flood damage. An inspector may inspect a townhouse
   67  as defined in s. 481.203 to determine if opening protection
   68  mitigation as listed in paragraph (2)(e) would provide
   69  improvements to mitigate hurricane damage.
   70         (b) The Department of Financial Services shall contract
   71  with wind and flood certification entities to provide hurricane
   72  and flood mitigation inspections. The inspections provided to
   73  homeowners, at a minimum, must include:
   74         1. A home inspection and report that summarizes the results
   75  and identifies recommended improvements a homeowner may take to
   76  mitigate hurricane and flood damage.
   77         2. A range of cost estimates regarding the recommended
   78  mitigation improvements.
   79         3. Information regarding estimated premium discounts,
   80  correlated to the current mitigation features and the
   81  recommended mitigation improvements identified by the
   82  inspection.
   83         (c) To qualify for selection by the department as a wind or
   84  flood certification entity to provide hurricane or flood
   85  mitigation inspections, the entity must, at a minimum, meet the
   86  following requirements:
   87         1. Use hurricane or flood mitigation inspectors who are
   88  licensed or certified as:
   89         a. A building inspector under s. 468.607;
   90         b. A general, building, or residential contractor under s.
   91  489.111;
   92         c. A professional engineer under s. 471.015;
   93         d. A professional architect under s. 481.213; or
   94         e. For wind certification entities, a home inspector under
   95  s. 468.8314 and who have completed at least 3 hours of hurricane
   96  mitigation training approved by the Construction Industry
   97  Licensing Board, which training must include, at a minimum,
   98  hurricane mitigation techniques, such as proper hurricane strap
   99  installation and building code requirements for secondary water
  100  barriers and secondary water resistance;, compliance with the
  101  uniform mitigation verification form;, and completion of a
  102  proficiency exam; or.
  103         f.For flood certification entities, a home inspector under
  104  s. 468.8314 and who have completed at least 3 hours of flood
  105  mitigation training approved by the Construction Industry
  106  Licensing Board, which training must include, at a minimum,
  107  flood mitigation techniques, such as proper hurricane strap
  108  installation and building code requirements for secondary water
  109  barriers and secondary water resistance; compliance with the
  110  uniform mitigation verification form; and completion of a
  111  proficiency exam.
  112         2. Use hurricane or flood mitigation inspectors who also
  113  have undergone drug testing and a background screening. The
  114  department may conduct criminal record checks of inspectors used
  115  by wind certification entities. Inspectors must submit a set of
  116  fingerprints to the department for state and national criminal
  117  history checks and must pay the fingerprint processing fee set
  118  forth in s. 624.501. The fingerprints must be sent by the
  119  department to the Department of Law Enforcement and forwarded to
  120  the Federal Bureau of Investigation for processing. The results
  121  must be returned to the department for screening. The
  122  fingerprints must be taken by a law enforcement agency,
  123  designated examination center, or other department-approved
  124  entity.
  125         3. Provide a quality assurance program including a
  126  reinspection component.
  127         (d) An application for an inspection must contain a signed
  128  or electronically verified statement made under penalty of
  129  perjury that the applicant has submitted only a single
  130  application for that home.
  131         (e) The owner of a site-built, single-family, residential
  132  property or townhouse as defined in s. 481.203, for which a
  133  homestead exemption has been granted, may apply for and receive
  134  an inspection without also applying for a grant pursuant to
  135  subsection (2) and without meeting the requirements of paragraph
  136  (2)(a).
  137         (2) MITIGATION GRANTS.—Financial grants shall be used to
  138  encourage single-family, site-built, owner-occupied, residential
  139  property owners to retrofit their properties to make them less
  140  vulnerable to hurricane and flood damage.
  141         (a) For a homeowner to be eligible for a grant, the
  142  following criteria must be met:
  143         1. The homeowner must have been granted a homestead
  144  exemption on the home under chapter 196.
  145         2. The home must be a dwelling with an insured value of
  146  $700,000 or less. Homeowners who are low-income persons, as
  147  defined in s. 420.0004(11), are exempt from this requirement.
  148         3. The home must undergo an acceptable hurricane or flood
  149  mitigation inspection as provided in subsection (1).
  150         4. For hurricane mitigation grants, the building permit
  151  application for initial construction of the home must have been
  152  made before January 1, 2008.
  153         5.For flood mitigation grants, the building permit
  154  application for initial construction of the home must have been
  155  made before January 1, 1982, and the home must:
  156         a.Exist in a 100-year floodplain as determined by the
  157  Federal Emergency Management Agency;
  158         b.Exist in a community that participates in the National
  159  Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System administered by
  160  the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a Class 6 or above;
  161  and
  162         c.Be covered by flood insurance.
  163         6.5. The homeowner must agree to make his or her home
  164  available for inspection once a mitigation project is completed.
  166  An application for a grant must contain a signed or
  167  electronically verified statement made under penalty of perjury
  168  that the applicant has submitted only a single application and
  169  must have attached documents demonstrating the applicant meets
  170  the requirements of this paragraph.
  171         (b) All grants must be matched on the basis of $1 provided
  172  by the applicant for $2 provided by the state up to a maximum
  173  state contribution of $10,000 toward the actual cost of the
  174  mitigation project.
  175         (c) The program shall create a process in which contractors
  176  agree to participate and homeowners select from a list of
  177  participating contractors. All mitigation must be based upon the
  178  securing of all required local permits and inspections and must
  179  be performed by properly licensed contractors. Hurricane and
  180  flood mitigation inspectors qualifying for the program may also
  181  participate as mitigation contractors as long as the inspectors
  182  meet the department’s qualifications and certification
  183  requirements for mitigation contractors.
  184         (d) Matching fund grants shall also be made available to
  185  local governments and nonprofit entities for projects that will
  186  reduce hurricane or flood damage to single-family, site-built,
  187  owner-occupied, residential property. The department shall
  188  liberally construe those requirements in favor of availing the
  189  state of the opportunity to leverage funding for the My Safe
  190  Florida Home Program with other sources of funding.
  191         (e) When recommended by a hurricane or flood mitigation
  192  inspection, grants for eligible homes may be used for the
  193  following improvements:
  194         1. Opening protection.
  195         2. Exterior doors, including garage doors.
  196         3. Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections.
  197         4. Improving the strength of roof-deck attachments.
  198         5. Secondary water barrier for roof.
  199         6.Elevation of the home and improvements to the home.
  200         7.Dry floodproofing protection, including backflow valves.
  201         8.Utility flood protection, including utility flood
  202  barriers.
  203         9.Installation of flood vents.
  204         (f) When recommended by a hurricane mitigation inspection,
  205  grants for townhouses, as defined in s. 481.203, and condominium
  206  units, as the terms “condominium” and “unit” are defined in s.
  207  718.103, may only be used only for opening protection and roof
  208  coverings.
  209         (g) The department may require that improvements be made to
  210  all openings, including exterior doors and garage doors, as a
  211  condition of reimbursing a homeowner approved for a grant. The
  212  department may adopt, by rule, the maximum grant allowances for
  213  any improvement allowable under paragraph (e) or this paragraph
  214  (f).
  215         (h)The department may not award a hurricane mitigation
  216  grant to a homeowner under this program if the hurricane
  217  mitigation inspector determines that the homeowner’s home has a
  218  form of opening protection that is rated but the homeowner
  219  cannot or does not provide documentation to the inspector
  220  relating to the opening protection.
  221         (i)(g) Grants may be used on a previously inspected
  222  existing structure or on a rebuild. A rebuild is defined as a
  223  site-built, single-family dwelling under construction to replace
  224  a home that was destroyed or significantly damaged by a
  225  hurricane or flood and deemed unlivable by a regulatory
  226  authority. The homeowner must be a low-income homeowner as
  227  defined in paragraph (j) (h), must have had a homestead
  228  exemption for that home before the hurricane or flood, and must
  229  be intending to rebuild the home as that homeowner’s homestead.
  230         (j)(h) Low-income homeowners, as defined in s.
  231  420.0004(11), who otherwise meet the requirements of paragraphs
  232  (a), (c), (e), and (i) (g) are eligible for a grant of up to
  233  $10,000 and are not required to provide a matching amount to
  234  receive the grant. The program may accept a certification
  235  directly from a low-income homeowner that the homeowner meets
  236  the requirements of s. 420.0004(11) if the homeowner provides
  237  such certification in a signed or electronically verified
  238  statement made under penalty of perjury.
  239         (k)(i) The department shall develop a process that ensures
  240  the most efficient means to collect and verify grant
  241  applications to determine eligibility and may direct hurricane
  242  and flood mitigation inspectors to collect and verify grant
  243  application information or use the Internet or other electronic
  244  means to collect information and determine eligibility.
  246         (a) The department may undertake a statewide multimedia
  247  public outreach and advertising campaign to inform consumers of
  248  the availability and benefits of hurricane and flood inspections
  249  and of the safety and financial benefits of residential
  250  hurricane and flood damage mitigation. The department may seek
  251  out and use local, state, federal, and private funds to support
  252  the campaign.
  253         (b) The program may develop brochures for distribution to
  254  Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, general contractors,
  255  roofing contractors, and real estate brokers and sales
  256  associates who are licensed under part I of chapter 475 which
  257  provide information on the benefits to homeowners of residential
  258  hurricane and flood damage mitigation. Citizens Property
  259  Insurance Corporation is encouraged to distribute the brochure
  260  to policyholders of the corporation. Contractors are encouraged
  261  to distribute the brochures to homeowners at the first meeting
  262  with a homeowner who is considering contracting for home or roof
  263  repair or contracting for the construction of a new home. Real
  264  estate brokers and sales associates are encouraged to distribute
  265  the brochure to clients before the purchase of a home. The
  266  brochures may be made available electronically.
  267         (4) FUNDING.—The department may seek out and leverage
  268  local, state, federal, or private funds to enhance the financial
  269  resources of the program.
  270         (5) RULES.—The Department of Financial Services shall adopt
  271  rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to govern the
  272  program; implement the provisions of this section; including
  273  rules governing hurricane and flood mitigation inspections and
  274  grants, mitigation contractors, and training of inspectors and
  275  contractors; and carry out the duties of the department under
  276  this section.
  278  department shall develop and maintain as a public record a
  279  current list of hurricane and flood mitigation inspectors
  280  authorized to conduct hurricane and flood mitigation inspections
  281  pursuant to this section.
  282         (7) CONTRACT MANAGEMENT.—
  283         (a) The department may contract with third parties for
  284  grants management, inspection services, contractor services for
  285  low-income homeowners, information technology, educational
  286  outreach, and auditing services. Such contracts are considered
  287  direct costs of the program and are not subject to
  288  administrative cost limits. The department shall contract with
  289  providers that have a demonstrated record of successful business
  290  operations in areas directly related to the services to be
  291  provided and shall ensure the highest accountability for use of
  292  state funds, consistent with this section.
  293         (b) The department shall implement a quality assurance and
  294  reinspection program that determines whether initial inspections
  295  and home improvements are completed in a manner consistent with
  296  the intent of the program. The department may use valid random
  297  sampling in order to perform the quality assurance portion of
  298  the program.
  299         (8) INTENT.—It is the intent of the Legislature that grants
  300  made to residential property owners under this section shall be
  301  considered disaster-relief assistance within the meaning of s.
  302  139 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
  303         (9) REPORTS.—The department shall make an annual report on
  304  the activities of the program that shall account for the use of
  305  state funds and indicate the number of inspections requested,
  306  the number of inspections performed, the number of grant
  307  applications received, the number and value of grants approved,
  308  and the estimated average annual amount of insurance premium
  309  discounts and total estimated annual amount of insurance premium
  310  discounts homeowners received from insurers as a result of
  311  mitigation funded through the program. The report must be
  312  delivered to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the
  313  House of Representatives by February 1 of each year.
  314         Section 2. (1)For the 2024-2025 fiscal year, the sum of
  315  $200 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated from the
  316  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Financial Services to
  317  provide mitigation grants pursuant to s. 215.5586(2), Florida
  318  Statutes, under the My Safe Florida Home Program. The department
  319  may only continue to accept applications and create a waiting
  320  list for the disbursal of appropriated funds, and may not create
  321  a waiting list in anticipation of additional funding unless the
  322  Legislature expressly authorizes it to do so.
  323         (2)For the 2024-2025 fiscal year, the sum of $5 million in
  324  nonrecurring funds is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund
  325  to the Department of Financial Services for administrative costs
  326  related to the implementation of mitigation grants pursuant to
  327  s. 215.5586, Florida Statutes, under the My Safe Florida Home
  328  Program.
  329         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.