2020 dig law legislation sent to Governor for review; could become law July 1

The 2020 Florida Legislature passed HB 1095 to amend the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes. On June 17, 2020 the legislation was presented to the Governor for review and - unless vetoed - will become effective July 1, 2020.

  • Expands the list of entities that may issue citations for violations of ch. 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 ch. 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 ch. 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 highpriority subsurface installations (HPSI) for investigation by the State Fire Marshal, or its designated agent, who may issue a citation and impose a civil penalty for a violation of ch. 556, F.S., that it finds to be 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, such as 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 ch. 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.