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UUCF’s Kershner Weighs in on Legislative Session

Fri June 10, 2011 - Southeast Edition
CEG



It didn’t happen this year in the state legislature as far as construction goes, according to Bruce Kershner, executive director of the Underground Utility Contractors of Florida.

“We usually have a fairly good success rate on getting bills through legislature and to the governor. This year most issues never even got a committee hearing.

“Major bills impacting construction this year, there were maybe two bills. One was the building code bill, it deals with how amendments to codes will be handled in the future. The second, the growth management law, has had major changes made to it. These are two bills that will have an impact on construction,” Kershner said.

Business related issues that passed also will affect construction.

“The first that comes to mind is the unemployment compensation tax. The current law is fairly antiquated. It was not business friendly. The major change to the law is how the unemployment folks handle the claim. In the past they always erred on the side of the employee. Now it is a more level playing field. They also adjusted the number of weeks of unemployment compensation to 23 weeks. They did tie it to the unemployment rate depending on how high or low the unemployment rate is,” Kershner said.

There also were a few tax bills that may have a positive impact on construction companies, according to Kershner.

“Heavy construction was impacted by the raid on the highway trust fund. UUCF partnered with other associations to oppose it. The bill started at $300 million and we got it down to $150 million in the legislative process. It will mean a loss of 8,000 jobs in construction. There were over 4,000 petitions sent to Governor Scott to line item veto this diversion but he did not so the diversion will take place.

“The verdict is still out on if any of the bills passed will help create jobs, but the diversion of trust fund money will not create jobs.

“Growth management law had a major overhaul. Developers will be able to work better with local governments on major projects. A closer look at the bill will show that it reigns in bureaucracy that developers had to deal with,” Kershner said.