Sunshine 811 Legislative Alert

2017 Legislature approves proposed amendments to Chapter 556, F.S.

House Bill 379 and Senate Bill 446 were both passed Monday, May 1, 2017, ordered enrolled and sent to Governor Rick Scott for approval.

Senator Kathleen Passidomo, Senate District 28, with her resourceful and professional staff, moved SB446 through four committee references. It received unanimous support in each committee and on the Senate floor.

Representative Thomas Leek, House District 25, along with his efficient and hard-working staff moved HB379 through two committee references. The bill received near unanimous support in each committee and on the House floor. 

This successful 2017 Legislative effort – passage of our House and Senate bills – is due to the efforts of Senator Passidomo and Representative Leek.

The bills amended the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes, as follows:

  • ·Allow State enforcement authorities to retain 80 percent of the civil penalty collected by the clerk of the court from citations issued for violation of Chapter 556 (as currently granted to local enforcement authorities as an incentive to enforce the law);
  • Require excavators to call 911 to report any contact with an underground pipeline that results in a release of a hazardous material or substance (as directed by US DOT PHMSA for consistency with federal law); 
  • Require that member operators report to the system at least annually by March 31 of each year a report of the damages to their underground facilities for the preceding year (to build a database of damages to underground facilities in Florida to include if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage);
  • Authorize the system analyze the damage data reported to the system as authorized by the Board of Directors (to support future legislation needed to reduce damages to critical underground facilities and assist in developing targeted public awareness campaigns);
  • Require the system to annually send a summary of damages reported to the system for the preceding year to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Governor pursuant to s. 556.103.