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Gainesville Residents United, Inc.

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The long, strange trip of HB 1645

The final CS/HB 1645 (2023) was substituted as an amendment to the placeholder bill and passed by the House on 5/4/23 following approval by the State Affairs Committee on 4/19/23. Governor DeSantis signed it on 6/28/23.

A "Placeholder" bill, HB 1645 (2023), was filed by Rep. Chuck Clemons 4/10/23.
Procedures outlined in FL House manuals for filing "Local" bills were ignored, and the Alachua County delegation voted 4-1 (Rep. Hinson voting against) to file. The placeholder bill simply updated SB 1568, deleting references to City Commission appointments and replacing those with appointments by the Governor. 

CS/HB 759 (2017), filed by Rep. Clemons was the 2017 predecessor to House Bill 1645.

(Its companion, SB 1568, was filed by Sen. Perry and died in committee). CS/HB 759 mandated a 2018 citywide referendum, which failed by a margin of 20%. The referendum would have repealed the GRU management section 3.06 of the city charter and replaced it with Article VII establishing the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority. Unlike in the current bill, the Authority would have been appointed by the City Commission, but was otherwise similar to the HB 1645 Authority. 

CS/CS/HB 1355 (2016) was written and filed by Rep. Perry to directly establish a Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority. 

It would manage, operate and control GRU “as a unit of city government” that would “be free from direction and control of the Gainesville City Commission”. This bill was substantially the same as the current CS/HB 1645. These bills would work by directly replacing the section of the Gainesville City Charter that defines GRU management and direction within City government with one that creates the GRU Authority. The bill was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. 

CS/CS/HB 1325 (2015) This poorly written 52-page bill filed by Perry would mandate a city-wide referendum to transition management, operation, and control of GRU utilities to a “Gainesville Regional Utilities Commission”.

It added a Section VII to the City Charter, defining the GRU Commission as an “independent, not-for-profit enterprise and municipal legal entity with plenary authority…”. The circular language in the bill seems to define GRU Commission as self-governed, yet appointed by the city commission as “a part of the government of the City of Gainesville” and “owned by the City of Gainesville”. It died in Committee. 

HB 1369 (2014)​ This convoluted bill filed by Rep. Perry would require a binding “proxy vote by mail ballot of utility’s account holders”. It would establish a Gainesville Regional Utility Authority and transfer full control of the utility from the city to the Authority, which would act as “a trustee”. It would also establish a Ratepayer Advisory Committee, and require that GRU propose a legislated charter for itself. It died in Committee.   

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