Legislation

Damage prevention stakeholders request legislative enforcement study - recommendations

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Sunshine 811 and industry stakeholders including the Florida Natural Gas Association, TECO Peoples Gas, AT&T, Florida Internet and Television, the National Utility Contractors Association of Florida, and the Florida Energy Pipeline Association, have asked the Legislature to conduct a study of Florida’s damage prevention law enforcement program with recommendations for future legislation as appropriate.

This request follows annual determinations made by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), U.S. Department of Transportation, that the State of Florida's enforcement of its excavation damage prevention law is INADEQUATE.

PHMSA’s determinations, made initially for 2016 and again for 2017, have opened the door for federal enforcement action to be taken against excavators that violate federal one-call law and damage PHMSA-regulated pipelines with fines of up to $205,648 per violation per day with a maximum civil penalty of $2,056,380 for a related series of violations.

Purpose of Legislature Study

  • Identify options and future legislation needed to bring the State of Florida in line with federal enforcement standards;
  • Increase compliance with Florida’s one-call law; and
  • Reduce excavation damages to underground facilities through more effective enforcement of Chapter 556, the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Florida Statutes.

A copy of the May 11, 2018 letter to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House is provided below.


11-18-16 DRAFT LEGISLATION REVISIONS

Sunshine 811's Board of Directors approved its fourth revision at the November 18, 2016, meeting. The revision added "and sole discretion" 

When an event giving rise to a notice results in damage to any pipe, cable or its protective covering, or any other underground facility, the member operator receiving the notice shall file a report with the system. Reports shall be submitted to the center annually, no later than March 31st for the prior calendar year, or more frequently at the option AND SOLE DISCRETION of the member operator. The report shall describe if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage. The system shall establish and maintain a process to facilitate submission of reports by member operators.


The fully amended Chapter 556, F.S., language follows:

Chapter 556, F.S. PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

RELATED TO DAMAGE REPORTING

s. 556.103(5) The board of directors shall submit to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Governor, not later than 60 days before the convening of each regular session of the Legislature, an annual progress report on the participation by municipalities and counties in the one-call notification system created by this chapter. The report must include a summary of the reports to the system from the clerks of court, as well as a summary of the damage reporting data received by the system pursuant to s. 556.105(12) for the preceding year, and any analysis of the data authorized by the board of directors.

[Note—the foregoing section requires annual reporting by the system (Sunshine 811) to the Legislature of the damage data reported to it pursuant to the amendment proposed to s. 556.105(12); authorizes the Sunshine 811 to analyze the damage data reported to it, if so authorized by the Board; and requires reporting on any analysis of the data authorized by the Sunshine 811 Board]

s. 556.105(12) If any contact with or damage to any pipe, cable, or its protective covering, or any other underground facility occurs, the excavator causing the contact or damage shall immediately notify the member operator. If any contact with or damage to an underground pipe results in the escape of any natural and other gas or hazardous liquid regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation, the excavator must immediately report the contact by calling the 911 emergency telephone number. Upon receiving notice, the member operator shall send personnel to the location as soon as possible to effect temporary or permanent repair of the contact or damage. Until such time as the contact or damage has been repaired, the excavator shall cease excavation or demolition activities that may cause further damage to such underground facility. When an event giving rise to a notice results in damage to any pipe, cable or its protective covering, or any other underground facility, the member operator receiving the notice shall file a report with the system. Reports shall be submitted to the center annually, no later than March 31st for the prior calendar year, or more frequently at the option and sole discretion of the member operator. The report shall describe, if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage. The system shall establish and maintain a process to facilitate submission of reports by member operators.

[The foregoing amendments add two new requirements to this section—1) to report damage to an underground pipe that results in escape of gas or hazardous liquids immediately by calling the 911 emergency number; and 2) to annually report (or more frequently at the option of the member) to the system any contact resulting in damage to a facility which must describe, if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage.  The system is authorized to create a process for submission of the reports.]

s. 556.107(1)(c) Any excavator or member operator who commits a noncriminal infraction under paragraph (a) may be required to pay a civil penalty for each infraction, which is $500 plus court costs. If a citation is issued by a state law enforcement officer, a local law enforcement officer, a local government code inspector, or a code enforcement officer, 80 percent of the civil penalty collected by the clerk of the court shall be distributed to the state or local governmental entity whose employee issued the citation and 20 percent of the penalty shall be retained by the clerk to cover administrative costs, in addition to other costs. If a citation is issued by a state law enforcement officer, the civil penalty collected by the clerk shall be retained by the clerk for deposit into the fine and forfeiture fund established pursuant to s. 142.01. Any person who fails to properly respond to a citation issued pursuant to paragraph (b) shall, in addition to the citation, be charged with the offense of failing to respond to the citation and, upon conviction, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A written warning to this effect must be provided at the time any citation is issued pursuant to paragraph (b).

[Note—the amendments to this section will permit state law enforcement officers who issue citations to excavators of member operators who commit noncriminal infractions under section (a) to receive 80 percent of the penalty money received as a result of the citation, as local law enforcement is currently authorized to receive.  State law enforcement officers currently are prohibited from receiving any of the penalty money resulting from citations they issue]  


8-12-16 DRAFT LEGISLATION REVISIONS

Sunshine 811's Board of Directors approved a third round of revisions at its meetings, August 11 and 12, 2016. Our goal is for stakeholders to reach consensus on this legislation. To ask questions or leave comments, please use the form at the bottom of this post.


Chapter 556, F.S.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS 

RELATED TO DAMAGE REPORTING

s. 556.103(5) The board of directors shall submit to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Governor, not later than 60 days before the convening of each regular session of the Legislature, an annual progress report on the participation by municipalities and counties in the one-call notification system created by this chapter. The report must include a summary of the reports to the system from the clerks of court, as well as a summary of the damage reporting data received by the system pursuant to s. 556.105(12) for the preceding year, and any analysis of the data authorized by the board of directors.

[Note—the foregoing section requires annual reporting by the system (Sunshine 811) to the Legislature of the damage data reported to it pursuant to the amendment proposed to s. 556.105(12); authorizes the Sunshine 811 to analyze the damage data reported to it, if so authorized by the Board; and requires reporting on any analysis of the data authorized by the Sunshine 811 Board]

s. 556.105(12) If any contact with or damage to any pipe, cable, or its protective covering, or any other underground facility occurs, the excavator causing the contact or damage shall immediately notify the member operator. If any contact with or damage to an underground pipe results in the escape of any natural and other gas or hazardous liquid regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation, the excavator must immediately report the contact by calling the 911 emergency telephone number. Upon receiving notice, the member operator shall send personnel to the location as soon as possible to effect temporary or permanent repair of the contact or damage. Until such time as the contact or damage has been repaired, the excavator shall cease excavation or demolition activities that may cause further damage to such underground facility. When an event giving rise to a notice results in damage to any pipe, cable or its protective covering, or any other underground facility, the member operator receiving the notice shall file a report with the system. Reports shall be submitted to the center annually, no later than March 31st for the prior calendar year, or more frequently at the option of the member operator. The report shall describe, if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage. The system shall establish and maintain a process to facilitate submission of reports by member operators.

[The foregoing amendments add two new requirements to this section—1) to report damage to an underground pipe that results in escape of gas or hazardous liquids immediately by calling the 911 emergency number; and 2) to annually report (or more frequently at the option of the member) to the system any contact resulting in damage to a facility which must describe, if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage.  The system is authorized to create a process for submission of the reports.]

s. 556.107(1)(c) Any excavator or member operator who commits a noncriminal infraction under paragraph (a) may be required to pay a civil penalty for each infraction, which is $500 plus court costs. If a citation is issued by a state law enforcement officer, a local law enforcement officer, a local government code inspector, or a code enforcement officer, 80 percent of the civil penalty collected by the clerk of the court shall be distributed to the state or local governmental entity whose employee issued the citation and 20 percent of the penalty shall be retained by the clerk to cover administrative costs, in addition to other costs. If a citation is issued by a state law enforcement officer, the civil penalty collected by the clerk shall be retained by the clerk for deposit into the fine and forfeiture fund established pursuant to s. 142.01. Any person who fails to properly respond to a citation issued pursuant to paragraph (b) shall, in addition to the citation, be charged with the offense of failing to respond to the citation and, upon conviction, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A written warning to this effect must be provided at the time any citation is issued pursuant to paragraph (b).

[Note—the amendments to this section will permit state law enforcement officers who issue citations to excavators of member operators who commit noncriminal infractions under section (a) to receive 80 percent of the penalty money received as a result of the citation, as local law enforcement is currently authorized to receive.  State law enforcement officers currently are prohibited from receiving any of the penalty money resulting from citations they issue]  


Comment and ask questions on proposed legislation here

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LEGISLATION REVISIONS: Fines, damage reporting/notification get restructured

Sunshine 811's Board of Directors approved a second round of revisions at its meeting, May 18 and 19, 2016. The proposed legislation is intended to:  

  • Allow state or local enforcement authorities to retain 80 percent of the civil penalty collected by the clerk of the court;
  • Require excavators to call 911 to report any contact with an underground pipeline that results in a release of a hazardous material or substance; 
  • Require member operators to report at least annually by March any damages to their underground facilities for the preceding year;
  • Authorize the system conduct analysis of the damage data as authorized by the Board of Directors;
  • Require the system to include a summary of damages reported 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.

Form for questions or comments is at the bottom of this post.


Chapter 556, F.S.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS 

RELATED TO DAMAGE REPORTING

s.556.103(5) The board of directors shall submit to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Governor, not later than 60 days before the convening of each regular session of the Legislature, an annual progress report on the participation by municipalities and counties in the one-call notification system created by this chapter. The report must include a summary of the reports to the system from the clerks of court, as well as a summary of the damage reporting data received by the system pursuant to s. 556.105(12) for the preceding year, and any analysis of the data authorized by the board of directors.

[Note—the foregoing section requires annual reporting by the system (Sunshine 811) to the Legislature of the damage data reported to it pursuant to the amendment proposed to s. 556.105(12); authorizes the Sunshine 811 to analyze the damage data reported to it, if so authorized by the Board; and requires reporting on any analysis of the data authorized by the Sunshine 811 Board]

s. 556.105(12) If any contact with or damage to any pipe, cable, or its protective covering, or any other underground facility occurs, the excavator causing the contact or damage shall immediately notify the member operator. If any contact with or damage to an underground pipe results in the escape of any natural and other gas or hazardous liquid regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation, the excavator must immediately report the contact by calling the 911 emergency telephone number. Upon receiving notice, the member operator shall send personnel to the location as soon as possible to effect temporary or permanent repair of the contact or damage. Until such time as the contact or damage has been repaired, the excavator shall cease excavation or demolition activities that may cause further damage to such underground facility. When an event giving rise to a notice results in damage to any pipe, cable or its protective covering, or any other underground facility, the member operator receiving the notice shall file a report with the system. Reports shall be submitted to the center no less frequently than annually, to be submitted no later than March 31st for the prior calendar year. The report shall describe, if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage.

[The foregoing amendments add two new requirements to this section—1) to report damage to an underground pipe that results in escape of gas or hazardous liquids immediately by calling the 911 emergency number; and 2) to annually report to Sunshine 811 any contact resulting in damage to a facility which must describe, if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage]

s. 556.107(1)(c) Any excavator or member operator who commits a noncriminal infraction under paragraph (a) may be required to pay a civil penalty for each infraction, which is $500 plus court costs. If a citation is issued by a state law enforcement officer, a local law enforcement officer, a local government code inspector, or a code enforcement officer, 80 percent of the civil penalty collected by the clerk of the court shall be distributed to the state or local governmental entity whose employee issued the citation and 20 percent of the penalty shall be retained by the clerk to cover administrative costs, in addition to other costs. If a citation is issued by a state law enforcement officer, the civil penalty collected by the clerk shall be retained by the clerk for deposit into the fine and forfeiture fund established pursuant to s. 142.01. Any person who fails to properly respond to a citation issued pursuant to paragraph (b) shall, in addition to the citation, be charged with the offense of failing to respond to the citation and, upon conviction, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A written warning to this effect must be provided at the time any citation is issued pursuant to paragraph (b).

[Note—the amendments to this section will permit state law enforcement officers who issue citations to excavators of member operators who commit noncriminal infractions under section (a) to receive 80 percent of the penalty money received as a result of the citation, as local law enforcement is currently authorized to receive.  State law enforcement officers currently are prohibited from receiving any of the penalty money resulting from citations they issue]