The Tampa Bay Libertarian Examiner had the opportunity to speak with Tampa Bay area Attorney Haydee Oropesa Thursday afternoon regarding threats regarding her law license from Republican Mike Fasano, the State Representative representing District 36 in the Florida House.
What should have been a simple explanation to Attorney Oropesa’s inquiry regarding SB 1196 sponsored by Rep. Fasano in 2010 when he served as a senator quickly turned into an hostile interaction.
Rep. Fasano threatened to report Oropesa to the Florida Bar Association after she attempted to follow up with the representative regarding his legislation, which seemly impedes Florida Home Owner Association (HOA) governed communities from shutting off the water on delinquent owners.
The problems associated with SB 1196
Representative Fasano introduced SB 1196 in 2010 in the midst of Florida’s foreclosure crisis. There are tens of thousands of HOAs in the State of Florida. Some of these HOA communities have one master water/sewer meter that serve the community as a whole and they are billed directly by the water department.
This bill changed Florida Statute 720.305 by inserting language that some HOA attorneys are interpreting as disallowing HOAs from disrupting the water service to owners who fail to pay their equal portion of the maintenance dues thereby financially impacting struggling paying owners who must then pick up the financial slack.
Oropesa contacts Fasano’s office
Haydee Oropesa contacted Rep. Fasano’s and made his legislative assistant, Gregory Giordano, aware of the financial impact this change in the statute was creating for hardworking homeowners.
After discussing this information with Giordano, Oropesa asked that Rep. Fasano consider a legislative amendment to the statute allowing HOAs to transition from a master meter to an individual meter scheme.
With individual water meters, all individual owners would have to at least pay for the portion of water/sewer that the individual owner uses to prevent unduly passing on their costs to the other owners.
In Oropesa’s communications to Rep. Fasano’s office she indicated that her legislative proposals would help struggling homeowners, help the foreclosure problem, and help our still weak economy.
Fasano’s initial response to Oropesa’s request
During the first conversation between Oropesa and Rep. Fasano, the Republican from new Port Richey avoided addressing the issue by insisting he had already used his allowance of six bills per legislative sessions, and he would not be able to help this year.
Oropesa learned that state legislators had unlimited opportunities to offer amendments to previous bills passed by the state legislature. With this knowledge in hand, Oropesa contacted Fasano’s office again and requested that Fasano consider an amendment.
Fasano’s second response to Oropesa
Fasano’s office then responded by asking Oropesa to draft the language she wanted considered. When Oropesa emailed the proposed legislative goal of what the amendatory language should be, Oropesa received no response.
After receiving no response, Oropesa once again contacted Rep. Fasano’s office at which point Fasano became highly defensive and combative. Fasano attempted to offer explanations for the bill he sponsored in 2010 instead of solutions to rectify the problem it created.
Fasano began to give reasons for the bills beginning with his “legislative attorneys” (without providing names) advised him it was unconstitutional to shut off waters and ending with “case law” has held it to be unconstitutional (without citing case law when asked).
Oropesa addressed Fasano regarding his efforts to continue sidestepping the issue, at which point the state representative became confrontational. Fasano demanded Oropesa’s full name so he could report her to the Florida State Bar.
Oropesa emailed Fasano her full contact information and advised that it is not unethical for a taxpayer to challenge a Florida Representative about a law that has negatively impacted hardworking Floridian homeowners.