(Tallahassee, FL) – Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1095 into law amending the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes. The revised law, which establishes new noncriminal violations, enhanced penalties, more enforcement entities, and incident reporting requirements, goes into effect July 1, 2020.
Expands the list of entities that may issue citations for violations of Chapter 556, F.S., to include the State Fire Marshal, or its designated agent, and local fire chiefs.
Increases the maximum civil penalty (up to $2,500 plus court costs) for certain violations of Chapter 556, F.S., that involve an underground pipe or facility transporting hazardous materials regulated by the U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA). Eighty percent of the civil penalty must be distributed to the entity that issued the citation, and the clerk of court retains the remainder.
Requires each clerk of court to submit an annual report to the State Fire Marshal listing each citation issued for a violation of Chapter 556, F.S., which was filed in that county during the preceding calendar year.
Defines the term “permanent marker” and establishes a criminal penalty for knowingly and willfully removing or damaging a permanent marker placed to identify the location of an underground facility.
Requires excavators and underground facility operators to transmit reports of incidents that involve high priority subsurface installations (HPSI) for investigation by the State Fire Marshal, or its designated agent, who may issue a citation and impose a civil penalty up to $50,000 when a violation of Chapter 556, F.S., is a proximate cause of the incident.
Upon collection, five percent of the civil penalty must be retained by the clerk of court, and the remainder must be distributed equally between Sunshine 811 (to fund damage-prevention education) and the State Fire Marshal (to fund programs that provide financial assistance to fire departments to procure equipment, supplies, and educational training designed to mitigate firefighter exposure to hazardous, cancer-causing chemicals).
Establishes a new violation for failure to comply with s. 556.105(5)(c), F.S., which requires an excavator to use increased caution when working within a tolerance zone which includes hand digging, pot holing, soft digging, vacuum methods, or other similar procedures.
Requires Sunshine 811 to review all reports made to the State Fire Marshal and all other complaints of alleged violations of Chapter 556, F.S., to identify issues related to damage prevention and enforcement, and annually provide an analysis and recommendations to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Please refer back to https://sunshine811.com for new information we roll out on these amendments.