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House panel approves growth rewrite to address court ruling

A House panel on Wednesday passed three bills that are intended to address a court ruling that threw out 2009 legislation that revamped the state’s growth management laws.

SB 360 in 2009 removed a requirement that developers pay for new roads and schools in designated areas and it removed state oversight of large developments in designated “dense urban land use areas.” Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill in 2009 despite opposition from environmental groups.

But a Leon County circuit judge threw out the changes in August when he ruled that SB 360 represented an unconstitutional “unfunded mandate” and that illegally dealt with more than one topic. A group of cities and Lee County filed the lawsuit.

The House Community & Military Affairs Subcommittee on Wednesday adopted CMA1, a proposed committee bill that dealt with the growth management changes. The committee also passed CMA2 dealing with affordable housing and HB 93, which prevents local governments from requiring businesses to spend money on security cameras.

Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne and subcommittee chairman, said those three bills covered the three major issues in SB 360, helping the Legislature resolve the legal challenge of having more than one issue in the original bill. He also said the new bills don’t represent unfunded mandates, as the judge ruled in August. Instead, he called the cost to cities and counties just “fuzzy math” that doesn’t consider some local cost savings.

But one of the bills — CMA1 — still touched off debate within the committee.

Several Democrats on the subcommittee said they were voting against it but they could vote for it later if the definitions were tightened to promote good growth management. The bill passed 9-5.

Workman said he didn’t want to “muck up” the bill by changing the law as it had been passed in 2009. He said the court ruling throwing out the law had created uncertainty for developers, cities and counties.

“There is nothing in my soul that says don’t continue to reform growth management,” Workman said. “Just don’t do it on these three bills because these three bills are needed to get done with the stupid lawsuit to give certainty to developers and municipalities.”

(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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