Legal Report, October 2013
General Counsel, Trela J. White
1. Gift Reporting for All Officials and Employees Who Are Not Reporting Individuals
Under State Law—November 1st Deadline
Section 2-444(f)(2) of the Palm Beach County Code of Ethics requires that all officials and
employees who are not reporting individuals under state law and who receive any gift in excess
of $100.00, which is not otherwise excluded or prohibited, must complete and submit an annual
gift disclosure report to the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics no later than November
1st of each year. The reporting period includes any gifts received during the last fiscal year
(October 1st through September 30th). The gift reporting form can be found at:
www.palmbeachcountyethics.com. Officials or employees who are not reporting individuals
under state law and who do not receive a gift in excess of $100.00 during a given reporting
period, are not required to submit a gift disclosure form.
2. Chapter 2013-37, Laws of Florida. Increased Limits to Campaign Contributions.
Chapter 2013-37, Laws of Florida, amends Section 106.08, Florida Statutes, to provide as
follows: “Except for political parties or affiliated party committees, no person or political
committee may, in any election, make contributions” to a candidate for municipal office in excess
of $1,000.00. This is an increase from the prior law, which limited such contributions to $500.00.
The law further provides that a candidate may not accept contributions from a county executive
committee of a political party whose contributions in the aggregate exceed $50,000.00, or from
the national or state executive committees of a political party, including any subordinate
committee of such political party or affiliated party committees, whose contributions in the
aggregate exceed $50,000. This law becomes effective November 1, 2013.
3. Town of Gulf Stream et al vs. Palm Beach County, and Sharon R. Bock, as Clerk and
Comptroller of Palm Beach County, Intervenor
Case No. 502011CA017953XXXXMB. Inspector General Funding Lawsuit.
Fourteen municipalities sued Palm Beach County challenging the method of funding for the
Inspector General Program (the “OIG Program”). The current funding method authorizes the
Board of County Commissioners to set an amount municipalities must pay for the OIG Program
and to bill municipalities for that amount. The municipalities contend that the current funding
method is an unlawful tax and invades municipal home rule budgetary authority. The case has
been noticed for trial. Calendar call is scheduled for December 20, 2013. At calendar call,
the Trial Judge will assign the case a trial date sometime during the period of January 6,
2014 through January 31, 2014.
On October 10, 2013, the Municipalities filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. In this
Motion, the Municipalities argue that the County’s efforts to force them to pay for the OIG
Program are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Municipal sovereign immunity can
be waived only if the Florida Legislature has passed a law requiring municipalities to pay for
the OIG Program (which it hasn’t), or if the municipalities have agreed to pay pursuant to a
written interlocal agreement with the County (which they haven’t). The hearing on this
Motion has been set for November 25, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.
4. City of Orlando and Lasercraft, Inc. vs. Michael Udowychenko, etc.
Case Number SC12-1471. Red Light Cameras.
This case was reported on at the July 2012 League meeting and the details are contained in the
July Legal Update, which is located on the League’s website. On November 6, 2012, the
Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the case. The parties have filed their respective
briefs. The Court has rescheduled oral argument for November 7, 2013, at 9:00 a.m.
Directions for viewing oral argument are listed at www.floridasupremecourt.org.
5. South Florida Water Management District v. RLI Live Oak LLC
Case Number SC12-2336. New Heightened Evidentiary Burden To Enforce Regulatory
Programs Through Monetary Penalties.
This case was reported on at the January 2013 League meeting and the details are contained in
the January 2013 Legal Update, which is located on the League’s website. On March 7, 2013,
the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the case. The initial brief, answer brief and
reply brief have been filed. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Office of
the Attorney General were permitted to file amicus curiae briefs in support of the South Florida
Water Management District. The South Florida Water Management District’s request for oral
argument was denied. No further action has been taken by the Florida Supreme Court at this
time. This case is important to municipalities because it involves what standard must be used
in imposing regulatory penalties on code violators. The South Florida Water Management
District argues they should only have to prove a regulatory violation by the traditional
“preponderance of the evidence” standard. The landowners involved in the case argue that a
regulatory violation must be proven by the higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard
before monetary penalties may be imposed.