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House overhauls environmental permitting in seven minutes

Friday, April 29th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The House spent seven minutes amending, debating and voting on legislation Friday night that conservationists have condemned as one of the worst bills in decades for Florida’s environment and waterways.

The House voted 95-16 to approve a measure (CS/HB 991) which would streamline or erase broad portions of environmental permitting, make it easier for rock mining projects to commence, and blunt the ability of local governments to enforce regulations.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, rushed the vote on the legislation. But several amendments included in the bill were aimed at softening some of its toughest edges.

Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, got lawmakers to approve an amendment eliminating a ‘burden of proof ‘ provision that would have effectively blocked citizens from challenging any license or permit issued to developers, mining firms or others looking to build in environmentally sensitive areas.

While home-rule — returning power to local governments — has been a popular theme this legislative session, some provisions of the bill do the opposite. The bill would prohibit local governments from requiring state and federal permits be approved before granting local development permits.

“This will have a chilling effect on local governments looking to protect wetlands,” said Janet Bowman of the state’s Nature Conservancy.

 Despite the House’s swift move on the legislation, critics say it faces long odds in the Senate, where there’s been little support for wide-ranging overhaul of environmental permitting.

Senate prez on deregs: ‘We’re not libertarians. We’re Republicans.”

Friday, April 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House scrapped oversight of more than a dozen professions, many of which lawmakers began regulating to curtail scam artists in fields like dance studios, so-called charities and auto repair shops.

Senate GOP leaders, who didn’t have a sweeping deregulation plan of their own, agreed to negotiate with their counterparts on the issue.

But it’s unlikely they’ll sign off on deregulating the broad swath of professions the House approved in a party-line vote yesterday.

“If it’s important to the House we want to give it every consideration but we want to be very sensitive to particular areas where there have been the scammers,” Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters today.

Movers and auctioneers are among the professions Haridopolos, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said he’s leery about relinquishing oversight.

“And again, there is a role for government. Let’s not forget about that. We’re not libertarians. We’re Republicans. And we recognize the role for government and we’re going to try to strike that balance,” said Haridopolos, adding that “there’s a difference between regulation and red tape.”

Haridopolos said it’s likely the House and Senate will reach common ground but “some of the areas where we’ve had the historic scam opportunities for bad folks, we’re going to make sure those doors continue to stay shut or at least more in the sunshine.”

Gov. Rick Scott, who’s pushed deregulation of some businesses since taking office in January, said he wants to do away with government oversight that consumers don’t use. (more…)

Actors Guild fighting House de-reg effort

Monday, April 4th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The Screen Actors Guild weighed in Monday opposing House legislation that would lift state oversight of a wide range of professions, including talent agents.

Richard Masur, the chairman of the organization’s national legislative committee, sent a stinging letter to House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter, Park, budget chief Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, and bill sponsor, Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, warning the measure could kick open the doors to exploitation of wanna-be actors — especially kids.

Masur wrote, “HB 5005 could have the unintended consequence of making Florida a haven for unethical talent agents and scam artists, who would take advantage of uninformed actors and models, demanding fees and advance payments with no oversight, and tainting the reputation of our entire industry.

“In addition, the deregulation of talent agents leaves vulnerable and open the most susceptible in our society: children and young adults,” he added.

The legislation is poised to win preliminary approval Wednesday in the House. Interior designers, hair-braiders and several other professionals whose state licenses are threatened by the measure already have blasted the measure, which supporters defend as red-tape cutting.

Obama SOTU includes some Scott-like talk, but guv doesn’t buy it

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

President Barack Obama threw out a few items in his state of the union speech that sounded as if they could have been lobbed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Obama’s already launched a review of rules and regulations with an eye on getting rid of those that hamstring businesses – the same thing the Republican governor started on his first day in office earlier this month.

And the president plans a massive reorg of the federal government, merging agencies to get rid of redundancies, another plan of Scott’s.

But Scott’s statement issued just after the conclusion of Obama’s hour-long talk didn’t mention any similarites. Instead, Scott derided the president’s “Sputnik moment” while making some big promises about his own budget, scheduled to come out Feb. 7 – three days later than he was supposed to deliver it to state lawmakers.

Read Scott’s remarks after the jump.
(more…)

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