2007 Florida Legislative Update
The Florida Legislature concluded its annual regular session on May 4. During the 60-day session, the Legislature considered a number of environmental and land use measures. The following are a few measures that passed.
HB 1375 is designed to encourage the provision of affordable housing. For example, it requires certain counties to adopt a financially feasible plan for ensuring adequate workforce housing by July 1, 2008. The bill also authorizes local governments to identify in their comprehensive plans the types of housing development and conditions under which they will expedite consideration of amendments consistent with identified affordable housing incentive strategies. In addition, the bill offers tax relief for certain affordable housing properties.
HB 7183 creates the Open Government Act. Among other things, it provides for additional restrictions on the use of unadopted rules, clarifies limitations on an agency’s rulemaking authority, limits materials that may be incorporated by reference, and increases the caps on attorneys’ fees that maybe awarded in challenges to proposed and existing rules.
HB 1472 makes changes to Florida’s beach renourishment program. For example, the bill allows the Department of Environmental Protection to issue permits for dune restoration projects that incorporate geotextile containers or similar structures, and it establishes specific requirements for the installation of these structures.
Construction Aggregate Materials
HB 985 recognizes the strategic and critical need for an available supply of construction aggregate materials and that the disruption of the supply could cause a significant detriment to the state’s transportation system. The bill therefore requires local governments making decisions affecting the availability of construction aggregate materials to first consider information provided by the Department of Transportation. The bill also prohibits a local government from imposing a moratorium of more than 12 months’ duration on the mining or extraction of construction aggregate materials. In addition, the bill provides that limerock environmental resource permitting and reclamation applications are eligible for expedited permitting.
HB 7123 creates the Energy Policy Governance Task Force and directs it to address a number of energy related issues, including the appropriate approach to promote alternative and renewable energy technologies. It also requires the DEP to develop an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in Florida. Another bill, HB 549, authorizes investor-owned utilities to accelerate cost recovery for IGCC plants, and it requires an applicant for a need determination to address whether renewable energy sources and technologies, as well as conservation measures, are utilized to the extent practicable.
HB 7203 is intended to address implementation issues arising out of the comprehensive growth management legislation enacted in 2005. In particular, the bill makes changes to financial feasibility requirements and proportionate share options relating to transportation and school concurrency. It allows for the “pipelining” of improvements and provides that adopted levels of service may be met and achieved over time as to the adopted capital improvement schedule. The bill also extends by one year the deadline for local governments to submit their annual capital improvements elements that meet the financial feasibility requirements. These are now due December 1, 2008. In addition, the measure clarifies that proportionate share mitigation is limited to the impacts the development has on a transportation system and does not require the developer to reduce or eliminate a back-log. Finally, the bill includes a number of pilot projects designed to streamline growth management oversight in certain urban areas.
SB 392 designates the Northern Everglades and sets up a planning and funding process to meet pollution cleanup and water management level targets for Lake Okeechobee and for the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. The budget also includes $100 million in new funding for these projects.
SWFWMD Governing Board
HB 1039 increases the size of the governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District from 11 members to 13 members.
Solid Waste Management
SB 2052 generally updates Florida’s comprehensive solid waste management law. Among other things, it provides for the management of storm-generated debris resulting from a storm event that is the subject of an emergency order. The bill also authorizes the disposal of yard waste in construction and demolition debris landfills.
In our next newsletter, we will summarize some of the notable bills that died in 2007, including those that are likely to be considered again in 2008.