On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott signed two bills that further advance the state’s existing public-private partnership (P3) framework and provide additional guidance for implementing P3s. The two new laws will go into effect on July 1, 2016.
SB 124 amends the 2013 law that authorizes counties, municipalities, school boards, and other political subdivisions to use P3s for a wide range of facilities, including education facilities, transportation facilities, water/wastewater facilities, roads, highways and bridges, healthcare facilities, and sporting or cultural facilities.
SB 124 includes many of the recommendations submitted by the Partnership for Public Facilities and Infrastructure Act Guidelines Task Force, a task force that was established by statute to study P3 laws around the world and recommend guidelines for the Florida Legislature to consider in developing its own uniform P3 process.
Task force recommendations that were incorporated in the bill include:
- Authorizing school districts and special districts to use P3s;
- Allowing a responsible public entity to alter the statutory timeframe for accepting proposals under certain circumstances;
- Removing the requirements for a responsible public entity to provide additional notice to affected local jurisdictions when procuring a P3 project; and
- Requiring the responsible public entity to own the project upon expiration of the comprehensive agreement.
SB 126, which also includes task force recommendations, exempts unsolicited proposals for P3 projects from public record and public meeting requirements for 180 days after receipt, if the public entity does not issue a competitive solicitation, or until the end of any competitive solicitation or promptly reissued competitive solicitation.
These temporary exemptions are intended to protect the P3 process by “encouraging private entities to submit such proposals, which will facilitate the timely development and operation of a qualifying project.”