October 27, 2004

2005 Florida Legislative Forecast

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Lawrence E. Sellers

The next legislative session will be here before you know it. The Florida Legislature will convene an organizational session in mid-November, and legislative committees will meet each month thereafter until the beginning of the Regular Session on March 8. Early indications are that environmental and land use issues will receive much attention. The following are some issues to watch:

Annexation – There is considerable controversy (and litigation) between cities and counties concerning this issue. Look for legislation that would provide an alternative to the current annexation procedures for incorporating territory into a municipality. This alternative would authorize mediation to determine which local government would provide urban services to annexed areas.

Consolidation of “antiquated” platted lands – Some counties wish to consolidate lands that were platted or subdivided long ago to allow for their re-platting for more appropriate development or use. One controversial proposal would authorize counties to use their eminent domain power for this purpose.

Constitutional initiative petition reform – Some believe that Florida’s Constitution is too easily amended via the initiative process. Last year, the Legislature came close to passing several measures that would reform the initiative process and ostensibly limit future citizen initiatives. Look for these proposals to be considered again in 2005.

Growth management – A Senate committee has held two public workshops to discuss various proposals for changes to Florida’s growth management laws. These include: public participation (including standing to challenge development decisions), infrastructure funding, certainty for development interests and the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) program. It is expected that these workshops will lead to the introduction of legislation on some or all of these topics.

Water reservations – DEP’s ongoing rulemaking to update the Water Resource Implementation Rule, Chapter 62-40, contains, among other things, a new section on water reservations. This new section provides more guidance to the water management districts in their implementation of the existing statutory authority for water reservations and it has proven to be controversial. Interested parties continue to seek to resolve this controversy by balancing the need to reserve water for the environment with supplying water for development and industry through providing clarity to the water supply planning process.

Working waterfronts – There is a concern that boatyards, boat access facilities and public marinas are being driven out of business as the economic value of their property skyrockets, and “working waterfront” activities are replaced by condominiums and other more economically valuable commercial activities. Look for proposals to address this issue.

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