H 73 -- THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL

By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published March 16, 2013

    

It seems like Representative George Moraitis loves to file tricky bills and then add even more nonsense during committee stops. His tactic: File a halfway reasonable bill, get it through the committee hearings and then add the bombshell at the last committee stop or even on the House floor, giving opponents no chance to object. Legislation by ambush! Typical Moraitis!

  

Last year it was House Bill 319, a bill that would have created even more misery in Florida's community associations. The still paying owners living in community associations already suffer enough by having to pay the bills for their deadbeat neighbors and the mortgage lenders, whose lending policies caused the real estate mess in the first place.

  

This bill died on the last day of the 2012 legislative session in the Senate, thanks to a concentrated effort by many grass roots organizations. Obviously Moraitis learned from this concentrated effort to kill his bill and is adding the real bad part of the bill only on the floor

  

But despite the fact that most of his constituents are members of community associations, Representative George Moraitis is again this year doing the bidding of banks and mortgage lenders, to the detriment of his constituents. The voters in District 91 are mostly condo owners. But Moraitis is rather representing the interests of the clients of his law firm than the constituents in his district. What I don't understand is the fact that these voters are voting for a legislators who is clearly working against his constituents. Are these voters looking for more financial punishment?

  

But Moraitis' bill contains a lot of provisions that are really bad for owners and especially homeowners' associations. Moraitis is again trying to destroy some of the improvements to association law enacted by Governor Jeb Bush's HOA TASK FORCE bill. On first view the problematic changes are not obvious, the devil is in the detail. But that is exactly what attorney Moraitis had in mind when he wrote his bills. He just hopes that most of his constituents don't understand the "traps" he is building into the wording of his bills and he can hoodwink his constituents to vote for him for another term next year!


These are the provisions that are still in version HB73 C2 and need to be removed:

HB 73 C2

 

Language to make election challenges more or less impossible!


Line 596 597 (CONDOS FS 718) (Election Challenge): 
596 c. Any challenge to the election process must be commenced 
597 within 60 days after the election results are announced.

The same language is in the bill for
Co-Ops (FS 719) = Line 1370 - 1372 
HOAs (FS720)    =  Line 2020 2022


This change stops any election challenge since there is no way in this world to force boards to hand over election documents within 60 days. Believe me, bad boards don't mind paying $500 from association funds after 61 days in exchange for staying in power for another year after cheating with the election. It has to be changed to 60 DAYS AFTER turn-over of all requested election documents. This is an open invitation to cheat with the election results and destroys the idea of fair elections in its entirety.

      

CHANGES TO RECALL PROVISIONS IN FS 718, FS 719 and FS 720:

The changes to the recall provisions are totally ill-advised. These changes restrict the rights of owners, create even more arbitration and make a few easy steps more complicated (more billing hours). The existing provisions were at length debated during the meetings of the HOA Task Force meetings in 2003/2004 and work ok since that time. These changes make things a lot more complicated. Our goal at the HOA Task Force meetings was aimed at making things easy, even possible without the help of attorneys. The reasoning behind these changes: Make recalls more complicated, so owners have to hire an attorney to deal with these issues.

  

Condo (FS 718) Line 651 745.

Co-Op (FS 719) Line 1448 1541

HOA (FS 720)    Line 1746 -- 1887

       

Change of Language for 2-year terms in FS 718

 

Line 441 - 445 (2-year terms) (FS 718):
441 bylaws. If the bylaws or

442  articles of incorporation permit staggered terms of no more than

443 2 years and upon approval of a majority of the total voting

444 interests, the association board members may serve 2-year

445 staggered terms.

The above change just serves the people who have violated the law since 2008 (H995). This language creates a reward for violating (or ignoring) the statutes and removes the necessity of a membership vote!


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