P3s for Social Impact

Government agencies at all levels are increasingly turning to public-private partnerships (P3s) for the delivery of new public infrastructure.  However, the discussion often focuses exclusively on transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and mass transit.  This focus is understandable: throughout the country, government transportation agencies, such as the Florida Department of Transportation, have been on the cutting edge of P3s and have many successful projects to show for it.  In addition, our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs are severe and wide-ranging.  However, the focus on transportation infrastructure short-changes the flexibility and benefit of the P3 model, which can be used to develop and operate many types of infrastructure, including social infrastructure.

Florida’s authorizing statute for P3s is incredibly broad and authorizes P3 proposals for a wide variety of social infrastructure, including medical facilities, schools, and recreational facilities.  For example, Monroe County recently utilized the statute to develop and operate an animal-control shelter in Key West using the P3 model, and the City of St. Augustine recently received an unsolicited P3 proposal for the construction and operation of a community health clinic for local veterans. The sky is the limit. Continue Reading

Additional Opportunity to Extend Development Orders & Building Permits

Governor Scott recently expanded the previously declared State of Emergency issued for the Zika Virus, allowing holders of permits and development orders an even greater opportunity to toll the period remaining to exercise rights under the permit or order for more than 19 months. Section 252.363 of the Florida Statutes permits a tolling of development orders and permits upon the declaration of a state of emergency by the Florida Governor. The statute provides that the tolling lasts throughout the state of emergency, plus an additional six months.

On June 23, 2016, Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency in response to the Zika Virus. Because each declared state of emergency can last only for 60 days, the Governor has since extended the Zika Virus State of Emergency six times, with the most recent extension occurring on June 8, 2017. Thus, the total duration of the Zika Virus State of Emergency is now 410 days. Continue Reading

Mexico’s Presence in Miami Is Here to Stay

The Consul General of Mexico in Miami, Horacio Saavedra (center), and Bilzin Sumberg attorney Jose Sariego (right)  at the Mexican Attorney Breakfast hosted by Bilzin Sumberg.

The image of Mexicans in Florida is usually framed around the immigration debate raging in our country currently. But the Mexican influence and presence in Florida goes far beyond migrant workers picking crops in Homestead and elsewhere in the state.

According to the Mexican Consulate in Miami, approximately 290,000 jobs in Florida are dependent on commerce with Mexico, including more than 5,000 jobs in the tourist sector directly dependent on Mexico tourism. More than 50 Florida based businesses have investments in Mexico, including Ryder Systems, World Fuel Services, Seaboard Marine and FTI Consulting. Mexicans invest $5 billion annually in Florida real estate, according to the National Association of Realtors.

These and other positive contributions by Mexicans in Florida were discussed by the new Mexican Consul in Miami, Horacio Saavedra, who arrived from Frankfort to take his post a scant three weeks ago. Consul Saavedra addressed a group of Mexican and other lawyers at a quarterly breakfast held at Bilzin Sumberg last Friday to discuss topics of interest to the Mexican business community. Continue Reading

You Are the Target: 75 Different Ways Your Company Can Be Hacked

Target - Blog 2Join us on Thursday, June 15th from 12:00PM to 1:00PM for an in-depth webinar as Philip R. Stein, a partner in Bilzin Sumberg’s Litigation Practice, and Ray Vasquez, a director in Enterprise Risk Management’s Cybersecurity and IT Risk Management practice, discuss primary cybersecurity risks and leading practices.

They will discuss the reasons why a business may be targeted by cybercriminals, steps that can be taken to better safeguard private data, and fiduciary or professional responsibility obligations associated with protecting confidential information. Learn about best practices following a data breach, including certain actions that should be part of a company’s response.

Click here to register for this CLE-accredited webinar.

The 2017 Fla. Legislature Returns To CondoLand

0531_CondolandSocialOnce again, after a one-year hiatus, the Florida Legislature has produced several condominium bills. Typically, the Legislature passes a single condominium bill into which other approved bills have been merged. This year, perhaps to make up for the failure to enact any condominium legislation, four bills were passed: CS/CS/CS/HB653 (HB653), CS/CS/HB1237 (HB1237), (CS/CS/CS SB398 (SB398), and CSSB1520 (SB1520) were passed by both houses of the Florida Legislature and are awaiting approval or disapproval by Governor Scott.

The HB653 and HB1237, as typical, run 69 and 51 pages respectively and deal with a potpourri of issues for Florida condominiums. SB398 deals only with estoppels and SB1520 deals only with condominium terminations which also appears verbatim in HB653. The principal changes are summarized below. HB653 and HB1237 share many of the same provisions and the references below to “both bills” are to these two bills. Continue Reading

Florida Sales Tax on Commercial Rents Reduced

0531_InterestRates_SocialThe State of Florida has imposed a sales tax on commercial rents since 1969.  Currently, the tax is imposed at the rate of 6 percent in every county except Miami-Dade which fixes the rate at 7 percent by reason of an add-on at the county option.  Florida is the only state in the United States to impose a sales tax on rents.  There has been a movement to repeal this tax for several years, but it should be noted that Florida’s general revenue stream is very heavily reliant on sales tax in general.  For the 2016-17 fiscal year, the sales tax accounted for 78.5 percent of all such revenue.

Perhaps with this reliance in mind, the Florida  Legislature has been reluctant to eliminate this tax on commercial rents.  In prior years, efforts to phase out the tax have stalled.  This year, however, the Legislature in HB-7109, took a baby step forward by reducing the rate from 6 percent to 5.8 percent or a 3 1/3 percent reduction.  In Miami-Dade County, the rate will fall from 7 percent to 6.8 percent. Continue Reading

Best Practices for Hedge Fund Due Diligence

0524_HedgeFundSocialJoin us Wednesday, June 7th, for an in-depth panel discussion for family offices and other investors about the process of conducting due diligence on potential hedge fund investments and the best practices by which to do so.

Corporate Partner Josh Stone joins Glide Capital Managing Partner Mark Fitzpatrick and Kaufman Rossin Principal Robert A. Kaufman to discuss hedge fund investments from a business, accounting, and legal perspective. Panelists will also provide valuable insights to hedge fund professionals who are involved in the due diligence processes of prospective investors. Global Director of Trident Fund Services Thalius Hecksher will moderate the discussion.

Josh, a Partner in Bilzin Sumberg’s Corporate group, has spent nearly a decade of his career focusing on private investment funds and investment advisor regulation. He has particular experience evaluating and pursuing investments in emerging and frontier markets. Continue Reading

New Federal Infrastructure Plan Coming Soon

0522_InfrastructurePlanTransportation Secretary Elaine Chao recently informed the U.S. Senate that the President’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan will be announced by the end of the month. The new plan is anticipated to rely upon public-private partnerships (P3s) to bridge the gap between the cost of needed infrastructure and available government dollars.

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently estimated that, over the next 10 years, there is a $2 trillion investment gap between available government funding and required infrastructure investments. Unfortunately, our infrastructure is in a severe state of disrepair, and the recent failures of aging roads, bridges, and dams highlight the need to solve this investment problem–with urgency.

Fortunately, private investors have $120 trillion in assets and are always on the lookout for good long-term investments, and a well-structured P3 certainly qualifies.  Although a P3 requires that the private partner accept risks in exchange for its anticipated returns–there is no free money–private investors can mitigate those risks by pooling their investments and by monitoring and disciplining the private contractors to ensure performance targets are achieved.  The end result is a win-win for both the public and private sectors.  The public obtains the private investments required to construct infrastructure that the government could not afford on its own, as well as an additional layer of oversight.  And so long as the private sector delivers what is promised, it obtains a reliable long-term investment.  Continue Reading

Frontier Markets – Smallest Markets Represent Promising but Overlooked Investment Opportunities

Frontier Markets Blog PostThe general public may not be familiar with the term “frontier market,” but frontier markets represent the vast majority of the fastest-growing economies in the world.  The term “frontier market” generally refers to the smaller emerging markets, including those that have been excluded from the emerging markets indices, such as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Frontier markets represent extremely promising investment opportunities as a result of this potential for growth. However, investing in these markets can come with additional risks and background work when compared to investing in more developed markets.

When investing in frontier markets, it is important to understand the situation on the ground in the target market, since the potential risks and opportunities may not be adequately reported in news stories or in investment analyst reports. Having friends, family members, or business associates in the target country or who travel frequently to the target country and can report back to you (or, even better, invite you to visit) can be an invaluable resource. Given the number of international visitors from around the world, the strong ties many in Miami have to friends and relatives in smaller emerging markets and the fact that Miami serves as a second home to so many international business people (including from certain frontier markets), Miami is uniquely situated to serve as a hub for frontier markets investing. This is a natural extension of Miami’s status as a hub for inbound U.S. investment by foreign nationals, including many from emerging and frontier market countries. Continue Reading

What to Expect When Buying a Home in Miami

0120 Incentive-Driven Workforce Housing Ordinance FacebookGuest blog post written by Erin Holdgate of Zillow.

While sellers enjoyed favorable conditions for years, Miami buyers finally have a reason to celebrate. In fact, a recent report placed Miami as the second-best real estate market for buyers.

If you’ve been waiting to buy property in Miami, 2017 might be your year.

Market Conditions and Home Values

Miami is now officially a buyers’ market, with supply outpacing demand. Listings are subject to more price cuts and spend a longer time on the market, so buyers retain the negotiating power and are more likely to pay below the initial asking price.

Miami home values rose 4.5 percent in the last year, but are predicted to fall back 1 percent over the next 12 months.

Miami is an incredibly diverse city, and while some of the most exclusive Miami-Dade County communities fall outside the city limits, buyers can expect to find plenty of luxury in these popular neighborhoods. Continue Reading