The challenge posed by deteriorating infrastructure in communities throughout the United States has received increasing attention in recent years. While roads and bridges are crumbling and important civic spaces such as convention centers are in desperate need of retrofit, infrastructure budgets at all levels of government are shrinking. In this climate, public-private partnerships (“P3s”) have become a much-cited new source of funding. Most states throughout the country, however, lack comprehensive P3 legislation.
The transportation sector has been a popular arena for the use of P3s throughout the United States. A map on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website reveals that even in this context many states have been slow to adopt laws that would stimulate the use of P3s. Thirty-three states and one territory have enacted statutes enabling the use of P3s for the development of transportation infrastructure. The remaining 17 states have yet to take action in this area. Some commentators have suggested the slow pace at which the U.S. has entered the P3 market has left American businesses inexperienced in the field, forced to forfeit profitable development opportunities to foreign interests.
Florida is a leader in the area of comprehensive P3 legislation. Over two decades ago the state first enacted a statute allowing the use of P3s for the development of transportation facilities and on June 27, 2013, Governor Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 85, providing public entities across the state the tools to complete long-overdue infrastructure projects in a variety of sectors. This most recent P3 statute, § 287.05712, delivers guidelines for the use of P3s and has opened the door for the private sector to projects throughout Florida and its many political subdivisions. Over the coming years, Florida will continue to refine its P3 laws and will likely serve as a model to other states wishing to enact comprehensive P3 legislation.