Gov't Affairs Blog

OLD Gov't Affairs Blog
We stopped using this blog after the 2013 Florida Legislative Session and created a new Government Affairs Forum, which will allow us to better control distribution of information.  This one will be maintained as an archive. 

More formal bulletins, summaries of legislation, position papers and the like appear on the Government Affairs page



  • 05/04/2012 9:35 PM | Anonymous
    5/4/12 Update:  Today Governor Scott signed HB 725 making it law.   The FLTA bulletin providing more detail about this bill can be found here.

    4/20/12 Update:  HB 725 was sent to the Governor today.  He has until May 5 to act on this bill. 

    3/7/12 Update:   The house version of the bill which included the title industry fixes on key issues was unanimously adopted in the Senate today.   Our Special Thanks to Greg Thomas at DFS, Senator Richter and Rep. Hagar for working so closely with the title industry to address our concerns.

    3/5/12 Update:   SB 938 has been placed on the Senate Special Order calendar on Wednesday 3/7/12.

    2/29/12 Update:  HB 725, including the title industry supported amendments unanimously was passed by the full House of Representatives.    


    2/28/12 Update.   Today on second reading, HB 725 was amended on the house floor to exempt title agents from the requirement to take a single 7 hour continuing education course.   Our Thanks to the good folks at DFS and the title insurance Lobby team for arranging this important change for the title industry.  

    The Senate counterpart awaiting second reading and we anticipate conforming changes. 

    2/22/12 Update.    Today HB 725 was passed out of the House Judiciary committee with amendments preserving the $35,000 surety bond -- but moving responsibility for it to the insurers as part of the appointment renewal process; softening the prohibition on solicitation for title insurance, but still requiring that only a licensed agent or an attorney-agent could solicit the individual proposed insured.   We were unsuccessful in lessening the requirement that the majority of our continuing education hours be taken in a single 7 hour block.   This bill will now move to the house floor. 


    2/21/12 Update    Today SB 938 was approved by the Senate Budget committee without the title industry's amendments.   We'll continue to work on protecting the existing surety bond, and make other changes but things are not looking promising on this bill. 

    Senator Richter and Rep. Hagar have filed a bill at the request of DFS that the industry has been tracking since early in the session.  Along with changes, the bill would 

    a. Eliminate the current $35,000 surety bond requirement 
    b. Provide that only licensed agents could solicit for the sale of insurance
    c. Require continuing education to be taken in a 7 hour course (which could be broken up over multiple days) from a single provider. 

    We have been working with DFS in an attempt to address concerns with these provisions and believe we have reached agreement on language to preserve the current $35,000 bond -- which is important to the protecting the public, and softening the prohibition on unlicensed persons communicating with Realtors and other referral sources.    We are still working on a solution to the 7 hour block CE requirement. 

    In the meantime, these bills have been progressing.   both bills have one remaining committee stop.   
  • 05/04/2012 9:23 PM | Anonymous
    5/4/12 Update:  Today, Governor Scott signed the Title Data Call Bill (HB 643) and its related public record exemption (HB 645) making them law.   This bill was strongly supported by FLTA and our bulletin providing more information can be found here.

    4/20/12 Update:   The Title Data Call bill HB 643 and its public records companion HB 645 have been submitted to Governor Scott for consideration.  He has until May 5 to act on these bills. 

    3/7/12 Update:   Thanks to the Hard Work and Dedication of Rep. George Moraitis and Sen. Thad Altman, the Title Insurance Data Call bill, and the related public records exemptions, have passed in both the House and the Senate.  Given Gov. Scott's historic concern about minimizing regulatory burden, we expect it will be necessary to reassure his staff that this bill is something that the regulated feel is appropriate and necessary.

    3/5/12 Update: SB 1404 and 1406 have been placed on the special order calendar for Senate vote on Wednesday 3/7/12.   This could not have been accomplished without all of the coordinated hard work of the lobby team that represents the various underwriters and the Agents Section.   My thanks to all of you!!!

    3/2/12 Update:  On Wednesday, Senator Bennett submitted a late filed amendment to the Data Call bill which mandated the issuance of a "supplemental" owners policy every time a lenders policy was written, and separately would have required the payment of policy limits on a total title failure without regard to the fair value of the property.  In combination the two provisions would have created a significant opportunity for fraud.   The title lobby team sprang into action and was successful in blocking the amendment by a close voice vote.  Following that success, the bill (without the objectionable amendment) was passed by the budget committee and has proceeded to the full senate. 

    Separately, the senate public records exemption was withdrawn from its last committee of reference so that it could proceed to the senate floor.  

    2/23/12 Update:    The Public Records exemption for information submitted in response to the data call unanimously passed the full house of representatives today.   The senate companions are awaiting review by the budget committee.

    2/16/12 Update:   Congratulations to Rep. George Moraitis!  Today the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed the title industry Data Call bill, HB 643.  The linked public records exemption has not yet been heard by the full house but has passed all committees.  The Senate companions  SB 1404 & SB 1406 have one remaining committee stop. 

    2/15/12 Update:   HB 643 has been approved by all committees, placed on the special order calendar and had its second reading today and is on the agenda for a floor vote tomorrow.   The companion public records exemption is is also on the special order calendar and has been read twice. 

    2/9/12 Update:   SB 1404 was reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon after amendments conforming it to the house version were made. Next and final committee stop is the Senate Budget Committee.

    2/8/12 Update: This morning both HB 643 and 645 were reported favorably by the House Economic Affairs committee with two negative votes. This was the final committee stop for the public records exemption of HB 645, which will now move to the house floor.

    Yesterday the Senate government operations committee approved the Senate public records exemption SB1406.

    2/3/12 Update: This morning, HB 643 was recommended favorably by the Rulemaking and Regulation Subcommittee.   It has one remaining committee stop before the House economic affairs committee.

    2/2/12 Update:   SB 1406 (the public records companion bill is scheduled to be heard by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on 2/7/12 at 4:00 PM


    One of FLTA's major legislative initiatives for 2012 has been to "fix" the statutes to permit a proper data call.  Anytime a government agency is tasked with promulgating (as they do in Florida) or ruling upon the reasonableness of an insurance rate, they need information to do that.   It's fairly easy in most lines of insurance, where they can get all necessary information from the insurer.

    In title insurance, as we all know, the title agency does a large share of the work in searching title, examining the search, determining insurability and appropriate requirements, in clearing title objections and defects and issuing the final policy.   So if you are going to have an appropriate premium rate, they need to understand the substantial costs the agencies incur in doing all of that work. On the other side of the equation, we've been working closely with OIR and DFS to develop the questionnaire that will provide enough information to do that.  There is a good article on that process in our June 2011 Newsletter.

    In this post, I'm happy to report that this week we were successfully in moving both the House Bill and its related public records exemption (HB 643/HB645 sponsored by Rep. George Moraitis (R-Ft. Lauderdale -- and himself a very good real estate attorney) and its Senate companions (SB 1404/1406 by Sen. Thad Altman R-Melbourne) through one more committee stop.    

    We still have a ways to go, but remain cautiously optimistic about these bills. 


  • 05/04/2012 9:37 AM | Anonymous

    The Oral Arguments in Roman Pino v. Bank of New York will be heard before the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, May 10, 2012 beginning at 9:00 AM.  In this case the court will be addressing the circumstances under which a voluntary dismissal (a final judgment or other court action) can be set aside long after the case is over, based on underlying fraud on the court.  FLTA and ALTA, represented by former Justice Ken Bell, have filed a joint Amicus brief in which we urge the court to protect innocent third party purchasers out of foreclosure from having their ownership rights overturned under such circumstances. 

    More background on this case and copies of the various briefs can be found here.  The Oral Arguments can be watched live on http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/index.php.

    While the certified question being addressed is narrow, the title industry was very concerned about the possibility of a sweeping ruling which might call into question the insurability of any REO property in light of widespread allegations of falsified documents and “robo-signing.”

    Our thanks again to Justice Bell for his excellent brief and to the insurers who have so generously funded our amicus participation in this case. 

  • 04/21/2012 1:40 PM | Anonymous
    Kentucky and Alaska have recently become the 39th and 40th States to prohibit private transfer fee covenants.   The Florida prohibition was an initiative of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, supported by FLTA, which passed the Florida legislature and became law back in 2008 as Fla. Stat. 698.28.   

    Who says Florida can't have a national influence?




  • 04/21/2012 1:38 PM | Anonymous
    Our friends at ALTA have posted an article on the new short sale timeline guidelines from Fannie & Freddie.    More here.
  • 04/20/2012 7:27 PM | Anonymous
    4/20/12 Update:   HB 897, which includes the landlord liability for tenant improvements "Fix" from last year's bill, has been sent to Governor Scott for consideration.  He has until May 5 to act on it. 

    3/9/12 Update:  HB 897 has passed the Senate by unanimous vote

    3/7/12 Update:  SB 1202 has been placed on the special order calendar for Friday 3/9/12.

    3/6/12 Update:    SB 1202 was "withdrawn" from its last committee of reference and placed on the Senate calendar for second reading.

    2/23/12:   Today the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved HB 897 by FLTA Member Rep. George Moraitis.  Among other things this bill fixes a glitch in last year's bill addressing the landlord's liability for tenant improvements and a last minute amendment made last session which implied that a Notice of Commencement continued in effect until the work was completed and final payment made, regardless of the date specified.  This was its last committee of reference in the House and the bill will proceed to the full House of Representatives.

    The Senate companion, SB 1202, has one more committee stop. 

  • 04/10/2012 11:55 AM | Anonymous

    HB 517 Chapter 2012-61, Laws of Florida

    In an effort to revitalize the Condominium market, in 2010 the Legislature passed the Distressed Condominium Relief Act.  This act relieved bulk buyers and bulk assignees (generally purchasers of seven or more units, with or without an assignment of developer rights), from certain liabilities and obligations as a successor developer.  The original Act was scheduled for automatic repeal on July 1, 2012.  HB 517 including language extended the Act until July 1, 2015.   
  • 04/09/2012 4:00 PM | Anonymous
    Some months ago -- thanks to the hard work of Homer Duvall (with a little assistance from me and others), FLTA filed an amicus brief with the Florida Supreme Court in City of Palm Bay v. Wells Fargo.   This is the case which addresses the relative priority of city code liens vs. recorded mortgages and which mischaracterized Florida as a "race notice" state.   More on that at  http://www.flta.org/GovtAffairs

    The oral arguments are scheduled for this Wednesday 4/11 and expected to begin at about 10:40.  While amici do not usually have the opportunity to make oral arguments, FLTA will be present to answer any questions the court may choose to direct to us.  The proceedings are normally broadcast over the internet at http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/index.php 
  • 04/09/2012 1:53 PM | Anonymous

    HB 733 was part of the package sent to the Governor last week.  He has until April 21 to act.

    The first issue addressed in HB 733 is simply bringing the statutes into conformity with judicial interpretations.   We have long known that Tenancy by the Entireties properties and properties held as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship passed automatically to the survivor upon death and were not subject to the constitutional prohibition on devise.  Ostyn v. Olympic, 455 So.2d 1137 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984); see also Marger v. De Rosa, 57 So.3d 866 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011).   The bill amends the current definition of “protected homestead” to expressly state that “real property owned in tenancy by the entireties or in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship is not protected homestead.”

    The bill also clarifies the timeframes for a surviving spouse, who would normally receive a life estate in homestead property to elect instead to receive an undivided one-half interest in the homestead as a tenant in common.

    Currently a natural or adoptive parent whose parental rights have been terminated may still inherit through intestate succession upon the death of the child.  The bill creates §732.1081, Fla. Stat., treats the parent as having predeceased for inheritance purposes upon termination of parental rights. 
  • 04/09/2012 12:36 PM | Anonymous

    Subject to approval by voters in the affected areas, HB 800, Laws of Florida, ch. 2012-45 will change the boundary between St. Lucie County and Martin County such that a 129 acre enclave, including the subdivision of Beau Rivage off Northwest Britt Road will move from St. Lucie to Martin County. 

    If approved, this change will become effective July 1, 2013.

    Please make certain that your searchers and examiners are aware of this upcoming change, as it will be necessary to search the affected properties in records of both counties.  

    The last time county boundaries were changed was 2007 when part of southern Palm Beach County was annexed into Broward County.

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