Members of a Senate committee said Wednesday they want state wildlife officials to explain at their next committee meeting why they are considering requiring deer hunters to report their kills.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will consider the reporting requirement when it meets next month in Apalachicola, said Tim Breault, director of the agency’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. Some groups, Reault said, want reporting to improve estimates of white-tailed deer populations to possibly allow more hunting in some areas.
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, reminded Breault that even though the commission is an independent agency established under the state constitution, the Legislature approves its budget. Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, said he wanted commission members to appear personally before the committee.
But Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek, noted that other states have stricter reporting requirements, such as having to purchase tags for killing a deer.
After the meeting, Latvala said requiring the reporting in Florida is “a ridiculous overreach and the ultimate example of over-regulation by the government.” But he denied he was threatening the agency’s budget.
“I’m not in a position to threaten this agency,” Latvala said. “I’m not a chairman of this committee or the budget committee. There is a constitutional balance that needs to be reminded. They [commission members] need to respond to citizens too.”
The committee on Wednesay also passed SB 132, which expands reporting requirements for contamination to neighboring properties. The bill, introduced by Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, was offered in response to groundwater contamination at the Raytheon electronics manufacturing plant in St. Petersburg.
And the committee heard briefly from Dean on his SB 130, which would repeal the requirement that septic tanks statewide be inspected every five years. The Legislature in November delayed the beginning date for the inspections from Jan. 1 to July 1 after opposition from rural residents in North Florida.
Dean said counties should be allowed to decide whether to participate rather than all state residents being subject to a “one-size-fits-all” law. But some other committee members said the problem of failing septic tanks and their effects on groundwater flowing to springs still needs to be addressed.
“I think we have a responsibility to make sure people have septic tanks that operate effectively,” said Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole.
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