With new legislation popping up all the time, it’s important that construction managers stay on top of changes that can affect the way they do business. Just recently we’ve seen changes to Louisiana P3 legislation, loosened drone regulations, and potential changes to Texas lien law. While these laws quite obviously apply to contractors, sometimes the relationship can be more attenuated. Such is the case with recent revisions to anti-corruption laws in the Sunshine State. All Florida contractors should take note, as the scope of corrupt conduct has been seriously broadened.
Bar For “Corrupt” Conduct Has Been Lowered For Florida Contractors
Florida Contractors should be wary of the new revisions which will take effect on October 1, 2016. The word “corrupt” may sound harsh, but under the new regulations its definition has been broadened. The revisions are described below, but here is the summary of the changes and full text of the bill.
The bill first redefines what a “government entity” is. Now, this refers to “any agency or entity of the state, a county, municipality, or special district or any other public entity created or authorized by law.”
Next, the bill defines what constitutes a “public contractor.” A public contractor refers to a person, an officer, or an employee of a person who has entered into contract with a governmental entity. A person, as defined by Florida statute, refers to “individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations.”
What is the most drastic, important change to the bill is that an intent to act “corruptly” is no longer required in order to establish corrupt behavior. Previously, in order to face prosecution a party needed to act with intent to corrupt- a party would not be liable for corrupt actions unless it could be proven that the act was undertaken in order to corrupt. Under the new changes, a contractor needs only to “knowingly and intentionally” participate in conduct. If that conduct is deemed corrupt, a contractor’s intent to act in a corrupt way is irrelevant as long as the contractor knowingly and intentionally completed the act.
Corruption laws are a tricky subject. While no one thinks of themselves as corrupt, save for super villains and FIFA executives, these laws could certainly apply to seemingly harmless conduct. What a contractor may describe as building relationships could be construed by the state as bribery or bid tampering. With the state’s renewed focus on ending corrupt business practices on public projects, Florida contractors should be sure to understand the new revisions.
Previously, we have provided many other considerations in Florida construction and lien law. Additional information regarding Florida Lien Laws and Notice Requirements can be found in zlien’s resources, here: Florida Lien and Notice FAQs.