government 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

  • 03/02/2012 6:02 PM | Anonymous
    3/2/12:   SB 1890 has been placed on the Senate Calendar for second reading.

    2/29/12:   Our thanks and congratulations to Rep. Kathleen Passidomo who successfully managed the passage of HB 213 by the full house.  This frequently misrepresented bill drew significant and often unwarranted attacks, but nonetheless passed the full house 97-17.  

    2/28/12 Update:   HB 213, by Rep. Passidomo moved to second reading where various technical amendments were made.  Like its senate companion, HB 213 has been stripped of the "finality" provision that was so important to the title industry.  We nonetheless support the remainder of the bill as a good step toward solving some parts of the foreclosure problem. 

    2/27/12 Update:  Recognizing the great impact that foreclosure problems are having on the people of Florida, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee held a special, late in the session hearing to consider SB 1890 by Sen. Latvala. Out of concern that the "finality" provision might be construed to prevent criminal sanctions of lenders, the amendment preserving that important provision was withdrawn and the bill moved forward by a 6-4 vote. 

    2/24/12 Update:   This morning, Senator Richter filed a proposed amendment to SB 1890 which would include the "finality Mini-MRTA provision" that FLTA has been advocating. 

    2/22/12 Update:  This morning a strike all amendment for HB 213 was passed by the Senate judiciary committee.   Unfortunately the Mini-MRTA provisions designed to protect a subsequent owner of the foreclosed property are still not part of the house bill.   From here, the bill goes to the full house.

    2/20/12  Update:   In spite of opposition, the Senate Companion to the Foreclosure bill, SB 1890, by Senator Latvala passed was approved 5-2 by the Judiciary Committee.  The approval included a strike all amendment which includes the title industry's Mini-MRTA provisions.   You can review a copy of the Strike All here

    2/8/12.8:45 am Update : This morning discussion was running long and the House Economic Affairs committee "Temporarily Passed" HB 213. this is a procedural move that keeps the bill alive, and but will require a later hearing and approval of the committee. This late in the process, this is not a positive thing. 1/27/12 FLTA members spent many months working with Florida Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) -- herself a Board Certified Real Estate Attorney -- on legislation to address some of the foreclosure problems facing Florida.   Her bill included a clear duty on the part of the lender to provide unconditional estoppels within 15 days, to actually return the original note, and to provide a degree of protection to the innocent purchaser of foreclosed property. 

    We regret to report that the Civil Justice Subcommittee removed each of those important provisions from the bill.   While the handling of estoppels and return of the original note, when paid in full, don't actually affect the foreclosure process, they apparently misunderstood that the ultimate goal of a foreclosure is to get the foreclosed property back into the stream of commerce.  The finality of foreclosure judgments is a critical part of that process.  FLTA will be working with the RPPTL section of the Florida Bar and others in an attempt to bring the finality provisions back into any final bill. 

    While we focus on a narrow aspect of the bill, we applaud Rep. Passidomo and the Civil Justice Subcommittee for taking on a very complex task and taking very good steps to fixing some of the key problems in Florida's foreclosure crisis.

  • 02/23/2012 10:25 PM | Anonymous
    2/23/12 HB 1331 by Rep. Wood, unanimously passed the full house of representatives today.   The senate companion, SB 996 by Sen Dean passed unanimously out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee with an amendment yesterday and has one remaining committee stop. 

    SB 996/HB 1331 (By Real Estate Attorney, John Wood) attempts to deal with some of the practices of so-called sovereign citizens, and with elements of the robo-signing problem, by expressly criminalizing the filing, with intent to defraud, of a document relating to real or personal property containing material false information.  

    HB 1331 was reported favorably by the House Criminal Justice subcommittee today. 

    Last week, the Senate version was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee and is now headed for hearing in the Senate criminal justice committee.
  • 02/07/2012 1:05 PM | Anonymous
    Thanks to the generous support of a number of our underwriters, we were able to engage Ken Bell, former supreme court justice, and a great dirt lawyer in his own right to file a "Friend of the Court" brief with the Florida Supreme Court in Pino v. Bank of New York.

    More detail and a copy of the brief can be found here.
  • 02/02/2012 8:18 PM | Anonymous
    Update 2/2/12 

    SB 1050 is on the agenda for the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee for 2/7/12 at 1:30.   After this, it will have one additional committee stop in Senate Judiciary.

    1/31/12 -- One of the issues periodically faced by title agents is how to get a mortgage estoppel information when the mortgagor is no longer in title. They've passed, a subordinate lien was foreclosed, or the property was sold "subject to" without a formal assumption.   Many lenders took the position that they were not permitted to provide any information because it would be a violation of their privacy obligations to the original mortgagor.

    HB 505/SB 1050 attempts to address this issue by requiring lenders to provide a payoff amount and per diem estoppel (but no other detail) when presented with a request from or on behalf of the current owner of the property. The request must include a copy of the instrument vesting title in the new owner. 

    Today, HB 505 unanimously passed its second committee of reference, and has one more committee stop with the Economic Affairs Committee (Chaired by FLTA 2011 Legislator of the Year Dorothy Hukill).

  • 01/31/2012 10:17 PM | Anonymous
    Last year, we thought we had fixed the problems created by the Everglades Electric case, holding that the landlord's interest was not exempt from liens for tenant improvements unless each and every lease contained exactly the same language claiming the statutory exemption and that language exactly matched the notice filed. 

    During the sausage making process, some critical language was dropped and it didn't solve the entire problem. 

    HB 897 (by Real Estate attorney Rep. Moraitis) fixes the critical language.   Today, this bill was unanimously approved by the Government Operations Subcommittee, leaving it with one more stop before the House Judiciary Committee.  The Senate companion SB 1202 was also scheduled to be heard today, but the Judiciary Committee meeting was cancelled. 
  • 01/31/2012 9:58 PM | Anonymous
    FLTA had some concerns about HB 149/SB 230 because it seemed to change the longtime standard for making a diligent effort to serve someone before resorting to giving notice by publication; set standards that only one vendor could meet; and would have unfairly shifted the costs of running the website to those seeking to confirm the validity of the publication (something that is currently free in the court records).

    We are pleased to report that the House Civil Justice Subcommittee shared our concerns and voted down the bill today.   As a practical matter, this bill can be considered dead for this year. 
  • 01/27/2012 11:56 AM | Anonymous
    Now for the bad news.   Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) has filed SB 826, which among other things would require:

    1. The insurer to pay policy limits if a claim is not fully resolved within 90 days -- or to pay architects, engineers, lawyers fees, mortgage interest and other listed damages.

    2. Would require an Earliest Public Records Search (later amended to a MRTA search) in every case; 

    3. Payment of policy limits on a failure of title without regard to the value of the insured property; and

    4. As amended, would require the issuance of an owners policy at simo rates with every refinance or construction loan. 

    As one would expect, the title industry -- agents and insurers alike -- have significant concerns about these requirements.   The search requirements and inclusion of consequential damages will only increase the costs to the consumer.  Yesterday, a committee substitute for this bill (incorporating the changes referenced above) passed out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Copy here

    To his credit, Sen. Bennett has expressed a willingness to work with the title industry (and has already amended his bill in response to some of the industry's concerns).  Those discussions will continue in the weeks ahead.

  • 01/27/2012 11:14 AM | Anonymous
    The Large Banks are again nearing a settlement over the allegations of robo-signing and fraudulent assignments. More from the Palm Beach Post.

    Within the title industry, we rely on the accuracy and validity of the documents which wind up recorded in the court files and the official records.  While it is one thing to reach an economic settlement that may preclude future criminal charges, those of us who rely on those official records encourage the collective Attorneys' General to complete their investigation into the scope and nature of the problem and release that information publicly so that we can consider appropriate underwriting standards. 

  • 01/27/2012 11:10 AM | Anonymous
    The Palm Beach Post reports that 1 in 4 of the third-quarter home sales in Palm Beach County were post foreclosure properties.   More here.   This highlights the importance to the title industry and to Florida's still fragile real estate economy of making sure final judgments of foreclosure remain "Final" and are not later called into question by allegations of underlying fraud and robo-signing.

    These are the reasons that FLTA has been leading the fight for Rep. Kathleen Passidomo's (R-Naples) HB 213, which would statutorily protect the innocent purchaser of a previously foreclosed home, and are filing an amicus brief on the subject before the Florida Supreme Court.

  • 01/21/2012 10:51 PM | Anonymous
    I'm now posting the Tracking Charts showing the status in the process of all of the bills that I'm actively tracking on behalf of FLTA on our Government Affairs Page.   I'll endeavor to update these every weekend through the rest of the legislative session.  

    If you come across any bills that concern you for the title industry, which I'm not tracking, please let me know.

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