Government

Bill to Reduce Fed Control Over Florida's Water Issues Passes House Committee

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: March 31, 2014 5:40 PM
Jimmy Patronis

Jimmy Patronis

A permitting bill sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, passed through the House Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee meeting Monday, moving the bill one step closer to reducing government control of wetlands, springs and stormwater protections in Florida.

The bill passed the committee 8-4.

The goal of HB 703 is to eliminate duplicate regulation. Hydrologists, engineers, wetlands specialists and others within the state claim state standards currently in place are more than enough to protect businesses, residents and the environment. But Patronis said it costs too much in time, money and frustration to add a local layer of regulation that often comes without scientific justification.

On Monday, many legislators on the committee expressed a desire for further revisions to the bill, which Patronis seemed happy to make. The bill has enjoyed support from Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

A companion bill in the Senate, SB 1464, sponsored by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, has been zipping its way through that chamber after Simpson filed it at the end of February.

The bills haven’t been met without opposition, however. Several groups, including Audubon Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida and Reef Relief, have made it clear they don’t support where Patronis’ bill is headed.

Progress Florida has even started an online petition in opposition to the bill.

“Please don’t leave the local decision-making out of the equation,” said Amy Datz of the Florida Climate Institute, speaking against the bill. “This legislation is bad ... for the health and well-being of our environment. We can’t depend on [the Department of Environmental Protection] to protect us.”

Also at issue in the bill is Section 6, which would provide for water use permits of up to 30 years for larger developments and up to 50 years for landowners who participate in water storage programs.

"We wouldn't want this to negatively impact the Everglades," said Audubon of Florida’s Mary Jane Young.

Patronis fully acknowledged his bill was a work in progress, noting several times during the meeting that there were still further revisions to be made. The bill has two more committee stops to make before it heads to the House floor.



Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen. 
 



Comments (3)

Frank
2:34PM APR 1ST 2014
Yes, yes, clearly the article proves the article's headline of "Bill to Reduce Fed Control Over Florida's Water Issues" . . . . . at least to those to whom facts, logic and English don't matter . . . like how the bill affects FEDERAL actions at all . . . . . I guess that's just to be expected on SSN . . . . a home of partisan FoxNoise style written truthiness . . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Michael
10:54AM APR 1ST 2014
Maybe Senator Patronis can be put in charge of Florida's waters.
LDouglas
8:18AM APR 1ST 2014
If it passes, at least we'll have names and faces of who to blame if we don't see any measurable improvement to our waters by each election.

He may enjoy support for his bill now but if the status quo remains or our waters get worse, he and his supporters may not enjoy the campaign signs that will go up in front of every polluted body of water. "This water courtesy of Rep. Patronis, etc., the Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Florida Farm Bureau Federation".

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