On June 27th, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law that gives counties, municipalities, school boards and other political subdivisions in the Sunshine State authority to enter into public-private partnership (P3) agreements for facilities that “serve a public purpose.” The bill - HB 85 - authorizes 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. The bill does not cover the Florida Department of Transportation or other Florida state agencies.
The new P3 law will go into effect on July 1, 2013 and builds on Florida’s success in using P3s for social infrastructure and landmark transportation facilities such as the Port of Miami Tunnel and the I-595 Corridor Roadway Improvements Projects.
View a full copy of the P3 bill.
Notably, the new law creates a seven-member task force that will recommend P3 guidelines, including guidelines related to the factors public entities should consider when procuring a P3 project. The task force must submit its recommendations to the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives by July 1, 2014. While such guidelines will be helpful, the bill does not require the guidelines be established or for public entities to adopt the guidelines as a condition to entering into a P3 agreement.
Other highlights of the bill include the following:
- Authorization and related guidelines for consideration of unsolicited proposals;
- Safeguards against P3 agreements precluding the construction of additional capacity or competing facilities;
- A requirement that private sector partners meet standards otherwise applicable to providing professional services;
- Flexible payment and performance security requirements (e.g., letters of credit, parent company guarantees, etc.), provided that standard bonding requirements apply to all construction work (see F.S., § 255.05);
- Either before the procurement is initiated or before the contract is awarded, public entities must perform an independent analysis of the proposed P3 and demonstrate its cost-effectiveness and overall public benefit; and
- Public entities procuring P3s must give affected local jurisdictions notice of the project – with a copy of the project proposal – and consider any comments it receives from the local jurisdictions before entering into the P3 agreement.