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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Florida Lawmakers Bow to Land Developers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Land use management advocates say Florida's real estate 'bear market' is having a bullish effect on natural resources. Last month, state lawmakers passed several bills, claiming that fewer rules are needed in order to revitalize the gloomy construction industry.

David Guest, regional director and lead attorney for Earthjustice Florida, points out that the deregulation outlined in such legislation as HB 7207 also means developers can build where they could never build before. In his view, lawmakers have practically reversed three decades of land-use progress.

"Essentially, all of the growth management laws in Florida were repealed, under the spurious premise that development is being inhibited by growth management laws."

According to Guest, it is not growth management laws that hinder development, but the gutted Florida housing market, with its thousands of homes and condos sitting empty. He disagrees with the deregulation strategy, noting that deregulation is one of the factors that sparked the recession in the first place.

"We've seen what the unfettered market does in triggering this recession. It was the total absence of government regulation and the market going wild. It was casino capitalism at its very worst, and it nearly took down the world economy."

Guest calls the last legislative session the "most sewage-friendly in 50 years," although what he classifies as some of the worst legislation in the House was stopped in the State Senate. His list includes a bill that would have allowed utilities to dump partially-treated sewage in the ocean, and even a bill to allow septic tank pumping companies to spread sewage on the ground.

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