Skate to the Puck, by David Daniel, Agents Section Lobbyist, Smith Bryan & Myers
Ok, here is the truth, I use to be an avid Detroit Red Wings hockey fan watching the NHL playoffs each year to see them compete. Big cross-checks on the boards by the defensive, visually blocking the opposing goalie for a redirected shot on goal and the sheer desire by players to hold the Stanley Cup were all a part of the draw for me. “The Great One”, Canadian Wayne Gretzky, who has more assists in his career than the next leading goal scorer, is considered by many to be the most accomplished and well-known hockey player. In discussing his early hockey training, one of his father’s instructions was to skate “To where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” So simple and highly effective for his amazing hockey career.
While I don’t watch much NHL anymore and the players I enjoyed have come and gone, I have come back to the phrase, “skate to the puck” many times. Its application is greater than simply a training tool in hockey and applying this principle to politics has been helpful. Think about it, if you know the direction of a special interest group or politician you can use that to your advantage in getting your agenda across the line or defeating a bad bill. So how do you know where “the puck” is going in politics? It is based on information gained by investing in relationships. Knowing how best to approach a state legislator is information and information is power and can provide much needed intelligence to make navigating the legislative process easier.
As a veteran of prior legislation seeking to reform Florida’s broken HOA estoppel process, I know first-hand how challenging this issue can be. In addition, this battle is over money with the current process simply authorizing an exit tax on Florida’s homeowners to excessively enrich the HOA. We all know just having the right public policy does not guarantee success during a legislative session. It is hard to pass a bill through the legislative process and the right policy must often be worked around the politics of session, individual legislators, and the committee process.
Fortunately, we have a unique opportunity during the 2023 and 2024 Legislative Sessions. The incoming Senate President, Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) is both a Florida Bar certified real estate lawyer and member of the Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar. She gets it and understands our industry and the challenges we face each day to serve Floridians by accurately and timely completing real estate transactions. She has made it clear to all she believes both the lender estoppel and HOA estoppel issues need change.
So, how do we skate to the puck? We know tough legislative battles lie ahead. We know the incoming Senate President is interested in making this process work more efficiently and be less costly for Florida homeowners. We know the opposition will hire up lobbyists to oppose any change to their lucrative exit tax. We know that during the last HOA estoppel battles our biggest advantage were the examples provided across the state of outrageous fees and charges homeowners had to pay to simply get an estoppel letter. We know where the puck is going, as do our opponents. The question is what we are willing to do to this summer to get there first.
How about supporting pro-title industry candidates’ election and re-election? How about using this election season to develop relationships with state legislators from your area of the state? How about starting now to collect examples of the significant fees and charges required by HOAs as an exit tax from their association? We know what is coming and we know we need to be prepared prior to the annual Legislative Session which begins on March 7, 2023. Will you be in position when the puck gets there?