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Agency withdraws proposed growth rule changes after veto override

The Florida Department of Community Affairs has withdrawn two controversial proposed rule changes because of the Legislature’s override of the governor’s veto of HB 1565.

HB 1565 requires legislative approval for proposed regulations that could cost more than $200,000 a year for all businesses across the state. Supporters said the bill would prevent agencies from imposing burdensome costs on businesses while environmental groups argued that it would tie the hands of agencies that enforce environmental laws.

In vetoing the bill, Gov. Charlie Crist said the requirement could create more red tape for businesses and require legislative approval for nearly every agency rule. The House voted 99-21 and the Senate voted 32-7 to override the veto during the Nov. 16 special session.

The Department of Community Affairs last week published a notice saying it was withdrawing proposed growth management rule changes.

DCA spokesman James Miller said while there were no cost studies done, both rules obviously would have triggered the requirements for legislative review. He said they also were withdrawn because they could not get approved before Gov.-elect Rick Scott took over.

“We decided we would cease rule-making and the new administration could pick up where we left off or wipe the slate clean and start over,” Miller said.

Both proposals faced opposition from industry groups.

One proposed change would have established a requirement that local governments demonstrate the need for more development by comparing population growth projections with the amount of development already allowed. DCA Secretary Tom Pelham said several counties already allow far more development than is needed. But the Association of Florida Community Developers said that proposed rule change could restrict local economic development and that it overextends DCA’s authority.

The other proposed change would implement requirements of 2008’s HB 697, an energy bill that required local government growth plans to discourage urban sprawl and include greenhouse gas reduction strategies. The Association of Florida Community Developers and the Florida Chamber of Commerce raised concerns about the potential cost for small businesses while the Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group said the proposal was not authorized by the Legislature in HB 697.

Charles Pattison, president of the growth-management advocacy group 1000 Friends of Florida, said businesses may suffer if agencies have to enforce laws but can’t adopt rules that create more certainty for businesses. “My sense is you will see many fewer administrative rules just because of the agency having to go through that process for the economic assessment,” he said.

Gary K. Hunter, an attorney and lobbyist for Association of Florida Community Developers, said he supported HB 1565 but it had nothing to do with the proposed DCA rule-changes. “The legislature is in session in 60 or 90 days,” he said. “It isn’t as if there would have to be a long wait for the Legislature to look at those rules.

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)

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