The Legislature deems it necessary in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare to regulate the construction industry in Florida. As a result, the Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 489, Florida Statutes. The general policy in Florida is that construction work needs to be performed by an appropriate licensed contractor unless exempt from licensure under 489.103, Florida Statutes. In order to obtain initial licensure for construction work in Florida, the applicant must demonstrate the requisite knowledge, skill and experience, in addition to good moral character and financial stability.
Earlier this year, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 184, which includes important updates to Chapter 489 and added section 489.1131, Florida Statutes, regarding certain experience requirements and allowances for active members of the military to achieve construction licensure in Florida. As of July 1, 2016, an honorably discharged veteran may use his or her active military experience to satisfy the experience component for initial construction licensure.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) must provide a method by which honorably discharged veterans may apply for licensure and they must provide a veteran-specific application. The military experience, training and education received and completed during service in the United States Armed Forces counts toward the experience if it is substantially similar to that which is required for licensure.
The DBPR will now accept up to 3 years of active duty service in the United States Armed Forces, regardless of duty or training, to meet the experience requirements of s. 489.111(2)(c). At least 1 additional year of active experience as a foreman in the trade, either civilian or military, is required to fulfill the experience requirement of s. 489.111(2)(c), however. The Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) is granted the authority to adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement this requirement.
The DBPR, beginning October 1, 2017 and in conjunction with the CILB, is directed to prepare and submit a report titled “Construction and Electrical Contracting Veteran Applicant Statistics” to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report must include statistics and information relating to veteran applications detail:
- The number of applicants who identified themselves as veterans.
- The number of veterans whose application for a license was approved.
- The number of veterans whose application for a license was denied, including the reasons for denial.
- Data on the application processing times for veterans.
- Recommendations on ways to improve the department’s ability to meet the needs of veterans which would effectively address the challenges that veterans face when separating from military service and seeking a license regulated by the department pursuant to this part.
This change in the construction licensing laws is a positive step in helping the U.S. military veterans who have dedicated so much to the service of this country. Understanding the experience requirements for construction licensure is important when trying to achieve initial licensure, and with this change in the law, a new door is open for veterans in the state of Florida.