Bill Text: FL S0600 | 2017 | Regular Session | Comm Sub

Bill Title: Rural Economic Development Initiative

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Failed) 2017-05-05 - Died in Rules [S0600 Detail]

Download: Florida-2017-S0600-Comm_Sub.html
       Florida Senate - 2017                              CS for SB 600
       By the Committee on Agriculture; and Senators Grimsley,
       Montford, and Passidomo
       575-03317-17                                           2017600c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the Rural Economic Development
    3         Initiative; amending s. 288.0656, F.S.; revising
    4         legislative intent relating to the Rural Economic
    5         Development Initiative; redefining the term “rural
    6         area of opportunity”; revising the duties,
    7         responsibilities, and membership of the Rural Economic
    8         Development Initiative; deleting a provision limiting
    9         the number of rural areas of opportunity that may be
   10         designated; deleting a provision listing the economic
   11         development incentives for which the Governor may
   12         waive criteria requirements or similar provisions;
   13         deleting a requirement that certain catalyst projects
   14         be identified as catalyst projects by Enterprise
   15         Florida, Inc.; revising reporting requirements;
   16         amending ss. 163.3177, 163.3187, 257.193, 288.019,
   17         288.06561, 290.0055, 290.06561, 337.403, 339.2818,
   18         339.2819, 339.63, 479.16, and 627.6699, F.S.;
   19         conforming cross-references; providing an effective
   20         date.
   22  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   24         Section 1. Section 288.0656, Florida Statutes, is amended
   25  to read:
   26         288.0656 Rural Economic Development Initiative.—
   27         (1)(a) Recognizing that rural communities and regions
   28  continue to face extraordinary challenges in their efforts to
   29  significantly improve their quality of life and economies,
   30  specifically in terms of personal income, education,
   31  infrastructure, access to healthcare, and job creation, average
   32  wages, and strong tax bases, it is the intent of the Legislature
   33  to encourage and facilitate:
   34         (a)Job creation through the location and expansion of
   35  major economic development projects of significant scale in such
   36  rural communities.
   37         (b)Improved community infrastructure, including, but not
   38  limited to, roads, utilities, water and sewer, and
   39  communications.
   40         (c)The development and expansion of a skilled workforce.
   41         (d)Improved access to healthcare.
   42         (2)(b) The Rural Economic Development Initiative, known as
   43  “REDI,” is created within the Department of Economic
   44  Opportunity, and the participation of state and regional
   45  agencies in this initiative is authorized.
   46         (3)(2) As used in this section, the term:
   47         (a) “Catalyst project” means a business locating or
   48  expanding in a rural area of opportunity to serve as an economic
   49  generator of regional significance for the growth of a regional
   50  target industry cluster. The project must provide capital
   51  investment on a scale significant enough to affect the entire
   52  region and result in the development of high-wage and high-skill
   53  jobs.
   54         (b) “Catalyst site” means a parcel or parcels of land
   55  within a rural area of opportunity that has been prioritized as
   56  a geographic site for economic development through partnerships
   57  with state, regional, and local organizations. The site must be
   58  reviewed by REDI and approved by the department for the purposes
   59  of locating a catalyst project.
   60         (c) “Economic distress” means conditions affecting the
   61  fiscal and economic viability of a rural community, including
   62  such factors as low per capita income, low per capita taxable
   63  values, high unemployment, high underemployment, low weekly
   64  earned wages compared to the state average, low housing values
   65  compared to the state average, high percentages of the
   66  population receiving public assistance, high poverty levels
   67  compared to the state average, and a lack of year-round stable
   68  employment opportunities.
   69         (d) “Rural area of opportunity” means a rural community, or
   70  a region composed of rural communities, designated by the
   71  Governor, which has been adversely affected by an extraordinary
   72  economic event, severe or chronic economic distress, and faces
   73  competitive disadvantages such as low labor force participation,
   74  low educational attainment levels, high unemployment, “D” or “F”
   75  district grades pursuant to s. 1008.34, high infant mortality
   76  rates, and high diabetes and obesity rates, and which or a
   77  natural disaster or that presents a unique economic development
   78  opportunity of regional impact.
   79         (e) “Rural community” means:
   80         1. A county with a population of 75,000 or fewer.
   81         2. A county with a population of 125,000 or fewer which is
   82  contiguous to a county with a population of 75,000 or fewer.
   83         3. A municipality within a county described in subparagraph
   84  1. or subparagraph 2.
   85         4. An unincorporated federal enterprise community or an
   86  incorporated rural city with a population of 25,000 or fewer and
   87  an employment base focused on traditional agricultural or
   88  resource-based industries, located in a county not defined as
   89  rural, which has at least three or more of the economic distress
   90  factors identified in paragraph (c) and verified by the
   91  department.
   93  For purposes of this paragraph, population shall be determined
   94  in accordance with the most recent official estimate pursuant to
   95  s. 186.901.
   96         (4)(3) REDI is shall be responsible for coordinating and
   97  focusing the efforts and resources of state and regional
   98  agencies on the challenges of the state’s rural areas of
   99  opportunity and economically distressed rural communities. REDI
  100  shall work problems which affect the fiscal, economic, and
  101  community viability of Florida’s economically distressed rural
  102  communities, working with local governments, community-based
  103  organizations, and private organizations that have an interest
  104  in the renewed prosperity and competitiveness of growth and
  105  development of these communities to find ways to balance
  106  environmental and growth management issues with local needs.
  107         (5)(4) REDI shall review and evaluate the impact of
  108  statutes and rules on rural communities and shall work to
  109  minimize any adverse impact and undertake outreach and capacity
  110  building efforts to improve rural communities’ ability to
  111  compete in a global economy.
  112         (6)(5) REDI shall facilitate better access to state
  113  resources by promoting direct access and referrals to
  114  appropriate state and regional agencies and statewide
  115  organizations. REDI may undertake outreach, capacity-building,
  116  and other advocacy efforts to improve conditions in rural
  117  communities. These activities may include sponsorship of
  118  conferences and achievement awards.
  119         (7)(a)REDI shall consist of the following members:
  120         1.The executive director of the Department of Economic
  121  Opportunity or his or her designee, who shall serve as the
  122  chair.
  123         2.The Secretary of Transportation or his or her designee.
  124         3.The Secretary of Environmental Protection or his or her
  125  designee.
  126         4.The Commissioner of Agriculture or his or her designee.
  127         5.The State Surgeon General or his or her designee.
  128         6.The Commissioner of Education or his or her designee.
  129         7.The President of Enterprise Florida, Inc., or his or her
  130  designee.
  131         8.The chair of the board of directors of CareerSource
  132  Florida, Inc., or his or her designee.
  133         9.The chair of the board of the regional economic
  134  development organization for each of the rural areas of
  135  opportunity or his or her designee.
  136         10.Five members from the private sector, three of whom
  137  shall be appointed by the executive director of the Department
  138  of Economic Opportunity, one of whom shall be appointed by the
  139  President of the Senate, and one of whom shall be appointed by
  140  the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  141         (b)In making their appointments, the executive director,
  142  the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of
  143  Representatives shall ensure that the appointments reflect the
  144  diversity of Florida’s business community and are representative
  145  of the economic development goals in subsection (1).
  146         (c)The executive director, the President of the Senate,
  147  and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall consider
  148  appointees who reflect the state’s racial, ethnic, and gender
  149  diversity, and who are from rural communities.
  150         (d)Each appointed member shall be appointed to a 2-year
  151  term.
  152         (e)Initial appointments shall be made by July 1, 2017.
  153  Member terms shall expire on June 30.
  154         (f)A vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of an
  155  unexpired term and filled in the same manner as the original
  156  appointment.
  157         (g)An appointed member may be removed by the appointing
  158  officer for cause. Absence of a member from three consecutive
  159  meetings results in automatic removal.
  160         (h)The chair may request the head of any state agency or
  161  organization to serve on an ad hoc committee as needed to
  162  address issues or projects relating to rural areas of
  163  opportunity and economically distressed rural communities. The
  164  chair shall consider requesting the following individuals to
  165  serve on an ad hoc committee:
  166         1.The executive director of the Fish and Wildlife
  167  Conservation Commission or his or her designee.
  168         2.The Secretary of State or his or her designee.
  169         3.The Secretary of Children and Families or his or her
  170  designee.
  171         4.The Secretary of Corrections or his or her designee.
  172         5.The Secretary of Juvenile Justice or his or her
  173  designee.
  174         6.The Secretary of Health Care Administration or his or
  175  her designee.
  176         7.A board member of the Florida Regional Councils
  177  Association or his or her designee.
  178         (6)(a)By August 1 of each year, the head of each of the
  179  following agencies and organizations shall designate a deputy
  180  secretary or higher-level staff person from within the agency or
  181  organization to serve as the REDI representative for the agency
  182  or organization:
  183         1.The Department of Transportation.
  184         2.The Department of Environmental Protection.
  185         3.The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  186         4.The Department of State.
  187         5.The Department of Health.
  188         6.The Department of Children and Families.
  189         7.The Department of Corrections.
  190         8.The Department of Education.
  191         9.The Department of Juvenile Justice.
  192         10.The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  193         11.Each water management district.
  194         12.Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  195         13.CareerSource Florida, Inc.
  196         14.VISIT Florida.
  197         15.The Florida Regional Planning Council Association.
  198         16.The Agency for Health Care Administration.
  199         17.The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).
  201  An alternate for each designee shall also be chosen, and the
  202  names of the designees and alternates shall be sent to the
  203  executive director of the department.
  204         (i)(b) Each REDI member from a state agency or organization
  205  representative must have comprehensive knowledge of his or her
  206  agency’s functions, both regulatory and service in nature, and
  207  of the state’s economic goals, policies, and programs. This
  208  person shall be the primary point of contact for his or her
  209  agency with REDI on issues and projects relating to rural areas
  210  of opportunity and economically distressed rural communities and
  211  with regard to expediting project review, shall ensure a prompt
  212  effective response to problems arising with regard to rural
  213  issues, and shall work closely with the other REDI members
  214  representatives in the identification of opportunities for
  215  preferential awards of program funds and allowances and waiver
  216  of program requirements when necessary to encourage and
  217  facilitate long-term private capital investment and job
  218  creation. The member shall also ensure that each district office
  219  or facility of his or her agency or organization is informed
  220  about REDI and shall provide assistance throughout the agency in
  221  the implementation of REDI activities.
  222         (c)The REDI representatives shall work with REDI in the
  223  review and evaluation of statutes and rules for adverse impact
  224  on rural communities and the development of alternative
  225  proposals to mitigate that impact.
  226         (d)Each REDI representative shall be responsible for
  227  ensuring that each district office or facility of his or her
  228  agency is informed about the Rural Economic Development
  229  Initiative and for providing assistance throughout the agency in
  230  the implementation of REDI activities.
  231         (8)(7)(a) REDI may recommend to the Governor up to three
  232  rural areas of opportunity. The Governor may by executive order
  233  designate up to three rural areas of opportunity which will
  234  establish these areas as priority assignments for REDI. as well
  235  as to allow The Governor may, acting through REDI, to waive
  236  criteria, requirements, or similar provisions of any economic
  237  development incentive. Such incentives shall include, but are
  238  not limited to, the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program
  239  under s. 288.106, the Quick Response Training Program under s.
  240  288.047, the Quick Response Training Program for participants in
  241  the welfare transition program under s. 288.047(8),
  242  transportation projects under s. 339.2821, the brownfield
  243  redevelopment bonus refund under s. 288.107, and the rural job
  244  tax credit program under ss. 212.098 and 220.1895.
  245         (b) Designation as a rural area of opportunity under this
  246  subsection shall be contingent upon the execution of a
  247  memorandum of agreement among the department; the governing body
  248  of the county; and the governing bodies of any municipalities to
  249  be included within a rural area of opportunity. Such agreement
  250  shall specify the terms and conditions of the designation,
  251  including, but not limited to, the duties and responsibilities
  252  of the county and any participating municipalities to take
  253  actions designed to facilitate the retention and expansion of
  254  existing businesses in the area, as well as the recruitment of
  255  new businesses to the area.
  256         (c) Each rural area of opportunity may designate catalyst
  257  projects, provided that each catalyst project is specifically
  258  recommended by REDI, identified as a catalyst project by
  259  Enterprise Florida, Inc., and confirmed as a catalyst project by
  260  the department. All state agencies and departments shall use all
  261  available tools and resources to the extent permissible by law
  262  to promote the creation and development of each catalyst project
  263  and the development of catalyst sites.
  264         (9)(8)Before September 1 of each year, REDI shall submit a
  265  report to the department, the Governor, the President of the
  266  Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a
  267  complete and detailed report, including, but not limited to on
  268  all REDI activities for the previous fiscal year as a supplement
  269  to the department’s annual report required under s. 20.60. This
  270  supplementary report must include:
  271         (a) A description of the operations of status report on all
  272  projects currently being coordinated through REDI, the number of
  273  preferential awards and allowances made pursuant to this
  274  section, the dollar amount of such awards, and the names of the
  275  recipients, and an evaluation of progress toward achieving
  276  organizational goals and specific performance outcomes, as
  277  established by the department.
  278         (b) A description of the accomplishments of REDI and
  279  identification of major trends, initiatives, or developments
  280  affecting the performance of a program or activity coordinated
  281  through REDI.
  282         (c) A description of all waivers of program requirements
  283  granted.
  284         (d)(c) Information as to the economic impact of the
  285  projects coordinated by REDI.
  286         (e)(d) Recommendations based on the review and evaluation
  287  of statutes and rules having an adverse impact on rural
  288  communities and proposals to mitigate such adverse impacts.
  289         Section 2. Paragraph (e) of subsection (7) of section
  290  163.3177, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  291         163.3177 Required and optional elements of comprehensive
  292  plan; studies and surveys.—
  293         (7)
  294         (e) This subsection does not confer the status of rural
  295  area of opportunity, or any of the rights or benefits derived
  296  from such status, on any land area not otherwise designated as
  297  such pursuant to s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7).
  298         Section 3. Subsection (3) of section 163.3187, Florida
  299  Statutes, is amended to read:
  300         163.3187 Process for adoption of small-scale comprehensive
  301  plan amendment.—
  302         (3) If the small scale development amendment involves a
  303  site within a rural area of opportunity as defined under s.
  304  288.0656(3)(d) s. 288.0656(2)(d) for the duration of such
  305  designation, the 10-acre limit listed in subsection (1) shall be
  306  increased by 100 percent to 20 acres. The local government
  307  approving the small scale plan amendment shall certify to the
  308  state land planning agency that the plan amendment furthers the
  309  economic objectives set forth in the executive order issued
  310  under s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7), and the property subject to
  311  the plan amendment shall undergo public review to ensure that
  312  all concurrency requirements and federal, state, and local
  313  environmental permit requirements are met.
  314         Section 4. Subsection (2) of section 257.193, Florida
  315  Statutes, is amended to read:
  316         257.193 Community Libraries in Caring Program.—
  317         (2) The purpose of the Community Libraries in Caring
  318  Program is to assist libraries in rural communities, as defined
  319  in s. 288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) and subject to the provisions
  320  of s. 288.06561, to strengthen their collections and services,
  321  improve literacy in their communities, and improve the economic
  322  viability of their communities.
  323         Section 5. Section 288.019, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  324  read:
  325         288.019 Rural considerations in grant review and evaluation
  326  processes.—Notwithstanding any other law, and to the fullest
  327  extent possible, the member agencies and organizations of the
  328  Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) as defined in s.
  329  288.0656(7)(a) s. 288.0656(6)(a) shall review all grant and loan
  330  application evaluation criteria to ensure the fullest access for
  331  rural counties as defined in s. 288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) to
  332  resources available throughout the state.
  333         (1) Each REDI agency and organization shall review all
  334  evaluation and scoring procedures and develop modifications to
  335  those procedures which minimize the impact of a project within a
  336  rural area.
  337         (2) Evaluation criteria and scoring procedures must provide
  338  for an appropriate ranking based on the proportionate impact
  339  that projects have on a rural area when compared with similar
  340  project impacts on an urban area.
  341         (3) Evaluation criteria and scoring procedures must
  342  recognize the disparity of available fiscal resources for an
  343  equal level of financial support from an urban county and a
  344  rural county.
  345         (a) The evaluation criteria should weight contribution in
  346  proportion to the amount of funding available at the local
  347  level.
  348         (b) In-kind match should be allowed and applied as
  349  financial match when a county is experiencing financial distress
  350  through elevated unemployment at a rate in excess of the state’s
  351  average by 5 percentage points or because of the loss of its ad
  352  valorem base.
  353         (4) For existing programs, the modified evaluation criteria
  354  and scoring procedure must be delivered to the department for
  355  distribution to the REDI agencies and organizations. The REDI
  356  agencies and organizations shall review and make comments.
  357  Future rules, programs, evaluation criteria, and scoring
  358  processes must be brought before a REDI meeting for review,
  359  discussion, and recommendation to allow rural counties fuller
  360  access to the state’s resources.
  361         Section 6. Section 288.06561, Florida Statutes, is amended
  362  to read:
  363         288.06561 Reduction or waiver of financial match
  364  requirements.—Notwithstanding any other law, the member agencies
  365  and organizations of the Rural Economic Development Initiative
  366  (REDI), as defined in s. 288.0656(7)(a) s. 288.0656(6)(a), shall
  367  review the financial match requirements for projects in rural
  368  areas as defined in s. 288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2).
  369         (1) Each agency and organization shall develop a proposal
  370  to waive or reduce the match requirement for rural areas.
  371         (2) Agencies and organizations shall ensure that all
  372  proposals are submitted to the department for review by the REDI
  373  agencies.
  374         (3) These proposals shall be delivered to the department
  375  for distribution to the REDI agencies and organizations. A
  376  meeting of REDI agencies and organizations must be called within
  377  30 days after receipt of such proposals for REDI comment and
  378  recommendations on each proposal.
  379         (4) Waivers and reductions must be requested by the county
  380  or community, and such county or community must have three or
  381  more of the factors identified in s. 288.0656(3)(c) s.
  382  288.0656(2)(c).
  383         (5) Any other funds available to the project may be used
  384  for financial match of federal programs when there is fiscal
  385  hardship, and the match requirements may not be waived or
  386  reduced.
  387         (6) When match requirements are not reduced or eliminated,
  388  donations of land, though usually not recognized as an in-kind
  389  match, may be permitted.
  390         (7) To the fullest extent possible, agencies and
  391  organizations shall expedite the rule adoption and amendment
  392  process if necessary to incorporate the reduction in match by
  393  rural areas in fiscal distress.
  394         (8) REDI shall include in its annual report an evaluation
  395  on the status of changes to rules, number of awards made with
  396  waivers, and recommendations for future changes.
  397         Section 7. Paragraph (d) of subsection (6) of section
  398  290.0055, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  399         290.0055 Local nominating procedure.—
  400         (6)
  401         (d)1. The governing body of a jurisdiction which has
  402  nominated an application for an enterprise zone that is at least
  403  15 square miles and less than 20 square miles and includes a
  404  portion of the state designated as a rural area of opportunity
  405  under s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7) may apply to the department
  406  to expand the boundary of the existing enterprise zone by not
  407  more than 3 square miles.
  408         2. The governing body of a jurisdiction which has nominated
  409  an application for an enterprise zone that is at least 20 square
  410  miles and includes a portion of the state designated as a rural
  411  area of opportunity under s. 288.0656(8) s. 288.0656(7) may
  412  apply to the department to expand the boundary of the existing
  413  enterprise zone by not more than 5 square miles.
  414         3. An application to expand the boundary of an enterprise
  415  zone under this paragraph must be submitted by December 31,
  416  2013.
  417         4. Notwithstanding the area limitations specified in
  418  subsection (4), the department may approve the request for a
  419  boundary amendment if the area continues to satisfy the
  420  remaining requirements of this section.
  421         5. The department shall establish the initial effective
  422  date of an enterprise zone designated under this paragraph.
  423         Section 8. Section 290.06561, Florida Statutes, is amended
  424  to read:
  425         290.06561 Designation of rural enterprise zone as catalyst
  426  site.—Notwithstanding s. 290.0065(1), the Department of Economic
  427  Opportunity, upon request of the host county, shall designate as
  428  a rural enterprise zone any catalyst site as defined in s.
  429  288.0656(3)(b) s. 288.0656(2)(b) that was approved before
  430  January 1, 2010, and that is not located in an existing rural
  431  enterprise zone. The request from the host county must include
  432  the legal description of the catalyst site and the name and
  433  contact information for the county development authority
  434  responsible for managing the catalyst site. The designation
  435  shall provide businesses locating within the catalyst site the
  436  same eligibility for economic incentives and other benefits of a
  437  rural enterprise zone designated under s. 290.0065. The
  438  reporting criteria for a catalyst site designated as a rural
  439  enterprise zone under this section are the same as for other
  440  rural enterprise zones. Host county development authorities may
  441  enter into memoranda of agreement, as necessary, to coordinate
  442  their efforts to implement this section.
  443         Section 9. Paragraph (h) of subsection (1) of section
  444  337.403, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  445         337.403 Interference caused by utility; expenses.—
  446         (1) If a utility that is placed upon, under, over, or
  447  within the right-of-way limits of any public road or publicly
  448  owned rail corridor is found by the authority to be unreasonably
  449  interfering in any way with the convenient, safe, or continuous
  450  use, or the maintenance, improvement, extension, or expansion,
  451  of such public road or publicly owned rail corridor, the utility
  452  owner shall, upon 30 days’ written notice to the utility or its
  453  agent by the authority, initiate the work necessary to alleviate
  454  the interference at its own expense except as provided in
  455  paragraphs (a)-(j). The work must be completed within such
  456  reasonable time as stated in the notice or such time as agreed
  457  to by the authority and the utility owner.
  458         (h) If a municipally owned utility or county-owned utility
  459  is located in a rural area of opportunity, as defined in s.
  460  288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2), and the department determines that
  461  the utility is unable, and will not be able within the next 10
  462  years, to pay for the cost of utility work necessitated by a
  463  department project on the State Highway System, the department
  464  may pay, in whole or in part, the cost of such utility work
  465  performed by the department or its contractor.
  466         Section 10. Subsection (7) of section 339.2818, Florida
  467  Statutes, is amended to read:
  468         339.2818 Small County Outreach Program.—
  469         (7) Subject to a specific appropriation in addition to
  470  funds annually appropriated for projects under this section, a
  471  municipality within a rural area of opportunity or a rural area
  472  of opportunity community designated under s. 288.0656(8)(a) s.
  473  288.0656(7)(a) may compete for the additional project funding
  474  using the criteria listed in subsection (4) at up to 100 percent
  475  of project costs, excluding capacity improvement projects.
  476         Section 11. Paragraph (c) of subsection (4) of section
  477  339.2819, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  478         339.2819 Transportation Regional Incentive Program.—
  479         (4)
  480         (c) The department shall give priority to projects that:
  481         1. Provide connectivity to the Strategic Intermodal System
  482  developed under s. 339.64.
  483         2. Support economic development and the movement of goods
  484  in rural areas of opportunity designated under s. 288.0656(8) s.
  485  288.0656(7).
  486         3. Are subject to a local ordinance that establishes
  487  corridor management techniques, including access management
  488  strategies, right-of-way acquisition and protection measures,
  489  appropriate land use strategies, zoning, and setback
  490  requirements for adjacent land uses.
  491         4. Improve connectivity between military installations and
  492  the Strategic Highway Network or the Strategic Rail Corridor
  493  Network.
  495  The department shall also consider the extent to which local
  496  matching funds are available to be committed to the project.
  497         Section 12. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
  498  339.63, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  499         339.63 System facilities designated; additions and
  500  deletions.—
  501         (5)
  502         (b) A facility designated part of the Strategic Intermodal
  503  System pursuant to paragraph (a) that is within the jurisdiction
  504  of a local government that maintains a transportation
  505  concurrency system shall receive a waiver of transportation
  506  concurrency requirements applicable to Strategic Intermodal
  507  System facilities in order to accommodate any development at the
  508  facility which occurs pursuant to a building permit issued on or
  509  before December 31, 2017, but only if such facility is located:
  510         1. Within an area designated pursuant to s. 288.0656(8) s.
  511  288.0656(7) as a rural area of opportunity;
  512         2. Within a rural enterprise zone as defined in s.
  513  290.004(5); or
  514         3. Within 15 miles of the boundary of a rural area of
  515  opportunity or a rural enterprise zone.
  516         Section 13. Subsection (16) of section 479.16, Florida
  517  Statutes, is amended to read:
  518         479.16 Signs for which permits are not required.—The
  519  following signs are exempt from the requirement that a permit
  520  for a sign be obtained under this chapter but are required to
  521  comply with s. 479.11(4)-(8), and subsections (15)-(20) may not
  522  be implemented or continued if the Federal Government notifies
  523  the department that implementation or continuation will
  524  adversely affect the allocation of federal funds to the
  525  department:
  526         (16) Signs placed by a local tourist-oriented business
  527  located within a rural area of opportunity as defined in s.
  528  288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) which are:
  529         (a) Not more than 8 square feet in size or more than 4 feet
  530  in height;
  531         (b) Located only in rural areas on a facility that does not
  532  meet the definition of a limited access facility, as defined in
  533  s. 334.03;
  534         (c) Located within 2 miles of the business location and at
  535  least 500 feet apart;
  536         (d) Located only in two directions leading to the business;
  537  and
  538         (e) Not located within the road right-of-way.
  540  A business placing such signs must be at least 4 miles from any
  541  other business using this exemption and may not participate in
  542  any other directional signage program by the department.
  544  If the exemptions in subsections (15)-(20) are not implemented
  545  or continued due to notification from the Federal Government
  546  that the allocation of federal funds to the department will be
  547  adversely impacted, the department shall provide notice to the
  548  sign owner that the sign must be removed within 30 days after
  549  receipt of the notice. If the sign is not removed within 30 days
  550  after receipt of the notice by the sign owner, the department
  551  may remove the sign, and the costs incurred in connection with
  552  the sign removal shall be assessed against and collected from
  553  the sign owner.
  554         Section 14. Paragraph (d) of subsection (14) of section
  555  627.6699, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  556         627.6699 Employee Health Care Access Act.—
  558         (d) Eligibility.—
  559         1. Any small employer that is actively engaged in business,
  560  has its principal place of business in this state, employs up to
  561  25 eligible employees on business days during the preceding
  562  calendar year, employs at least 2 employees on the first day of
  563  the plan year, and has had no prior coverage for the last 6
  564  months may participate.
  565         2. Any municipality, county, school district, or hospital
  566  employer located in a rural community as defined in s.
  567  288.0656(3) s. 288.0656(2) may participate.
  568         3. Nursing home employers may participate.
  569         4. Each dependent of a person eligible for coverage is also
  570  eligible to participate.
  572  Any employer participating in the program must do so until the
  573  end of the term for which the carrier providing the coverage is
  574  obligated to provide such coverage to the program. Coverage for
  575  a small employer group that ceases to meet the eligibility
  576  requirements of this section may be terminated at the end of the
  577  policy period for which the necessary premiums have been paid.
  578         Section 15. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.