Eminent DomainNews

Special Session Signals New Era in Florida Governance

By November 16, 2010 No Comments

November 16, 2010

This afternoon, the Florida Legislature will convene a brief Special Session which may be referenced by future historians as Florida’s version of “the shot heard round the world.”

Under the leadership of Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who are both pro-prosperity conservatives, the Florida Legislature is poised to begin the critical work of “Turning the Titanic” and restoring common-sense to Florida’s “ship of state” so that we may avoid the policy mistakes which have essentially bankrupted the State of California.

Due to several approaching deadlines for implementation, a special session has been called to address a relatively short list of public policy issues, including items directly impacting Florida property owners and also to potentially override several pieces of substantive legislation which Governor Crist elected to veto.

One of the results of Florida’s 2010 General Election was the election of enough majority party representatives in each house to “override” Governor Crist’s vetoes. While veto overrides are rare, they represent an important check on the power of the Governor and executive branch.

Most of the issues to be addressed during this Special Session represent an attempt to inject common sense into regulation and to make government more pro-property owner, more pro-business and more pro-taxpayer. These items clearly reflect the interest of Florida’s newly elected leaders in helping and not hurting Florida’s economy. This is a welcome change of focus!

CPR has often asked its readers, “What would Florida’s economy look like, if Florida Government – from our top leaders to line-level staff – were working each day to support the aspirations of property owners and small business owners instead of seeking to trample their rights and dreams at nearly every opportunity?”

Under the leadership of Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, we may have an opportunity to witness something almost unheard of in public policy – the potential to move forward an economic agenda aimed at restoring common sense to government and repealing regulations to effectively, “get government out of the way.” 

CPR has previously described Florida’s economy as “a camel or pack-animal which is exhausted and has fallen to its knees under too heavy a weight or burden.” This is exactly where Florida’s economy is at today. The motivation for investment and growth is there, but investment and growth cannot occur due to the layer-upon-layer of regulation stifling opportunity at the local and state level. If we desire to see Florida’s economy “rise again”…If we are seeking to aggressively promote economic growth and job creation opportunities, we must learn from California’s huge mistakes in not “lessening the load” carried by property owners and small businesses.

It is a simple economic truth that, generally speaking, where no opportunity for profit is perceived, there will be no investment and no job creation. Savvy investors move dollars away from potential losses and toward the perception of future opportunities for profit or yield.

This is why the freedom and opportunity to use real property for constructive economic benefit is critical to Florida’s economy and why property rights must be aggressively protected by Florida’s government.

To briefly summarize the items of importance to Florida property owners:

– Potential Veto Override of HB 545 – Residential Property Sales – A current law scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2011, represents a new regulatory mandate and is designed to force all sellers of coastal property to openly disclose the home’s “windstorm mitigation rating” which could unnecessarily “scare” or deter uneducated buyers from buying Florida property. This statute is viewed as a potential impediment to home sales in Florida as it puts an additional burden on the seller. The good legislation – aimed at removing this burden on residential property owners – was vetoed by Governor Crist.

Potential Veto Override of HB 981 –  Agriculture – This legislation was drafted following a ruling in the 8th Judicial Circuit which puts farmers who may offer their property for sale at risk of losing their agricultural classification and could be forced to pay higher taxes even if they continue farming or ranching. This good bill – aimed at protecting Florida property owners who are utilizing their property for agricultural purposes. This bill was vetoed by Governor Crist.

Potential Veto Override of HB 1516 – State Owned Lands – This legislation was aimed at protecting Florida tax payers and property owners whose lands are targeted by environmentalists for acquisition. During the past few decades, almost every local and state agency with the power and financial resources to do so has engaged in land purchases for the purported purpose of “conservation.” However, it is almost impossible to find out exactly how much land now rests in various public hands – a key piece of data which should be considered before any additional land is purchased at taxpayer expense. This bill requires a comprehensive tracking system be developed and implemented in nine months time. This vital legislation – aimed at protecting taxpayers and property owners victimized when their land is targeted for acquisition and the sole purpose of which is to improve the data available for public sector decision-making – was vetoed by Governor Crist.

Potential Veto Override of HB 1565 – Rulemaking – This legislation was aimed at checking the abuse of power of government agencies who continue to adopt rules which create significant fiscal impacts on small business and increase bureacracy in direct defiance of Legislative intent. This legislation was aimed at restricting agencies almost unfettered appetite for creating rules that burden Florida citizens. This legislation was vetoed by Governor Crist who was seeking to protect executive power.

Potential Veto Override of HB 1842 – Transportation Projects – This legislation was aimed at helping businesses impacted by transportation projects to have an opportunity to “weigh in” on the projects and impacts to their individual locations during the design phase of the construction. This bill simply encourages greater dialogue between FDOT staff and the property and business owners potentially impacted by transportation construction and reflects government striving to work in “good faith” with taxpayers impacted by a public priority impacting their businesses and livelihoods. This common-sense, pro-business legislation was vetoed by Governor Crist.

Issue of Special Concern – Septic Tank Evaluation Program – This is an issue which CPR has reported on regularly and also provided testimony to the FDOH regarding implementation. Several legislative leaders are seeking to delay or extend the implementation date of a new mandated Septic Tank inspection program from January 1, 2011 to July 1, 2001. Their goal is to allow additional time to ensure the program is being implemented in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible – and with as minimal an impact on affected property owners as possible. CPR has previously voiced concerns about whether or not the new requirements are being written in a manner which triggers a de facto mandate for replacement of legally permitted models operating according to original design and also has been a vocal critic of the limited underlying science being used to push these regulations forward. However, the simple enforcement of current health code and the concept of septic tank inspections, potentially every 5 or 10 years would not necessarily constitute a significant burden on property owners.

_ Issue of Special Concern – HVAC & Solar Rebates – Legislative leaders may act on this issue and channel federal stimulus dollars into the HVAC and Solar Rebate Programs that are implemented at the state level. Various public and private entities have aggressively promoted the solar and HVAC rebate programs, but the State Legislature must appropriate funding.

A complete list of the policy issues to be addressed during Florida’s Special Session can be viewed at: http://myfloridahouse.gov/contentViewer.aspx?category=website&file=ssi.htm

OPPORTUNITY FOR ACTION:

Florida property owners have a civic responsibility to communicate with their elected representatives. CPR strongly encourages its members and readers who have an interest or concern regarding any of the topics to be addressed during this special session to make a call or send an email to their officials. Since we have a new slate of elected officials recently elected, CPR is encouraging land owners who do not know the name of their new state representative or state senator to visit: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/ or http://www.flsenate.gov/ to ascertain their name and best methods for contacting them today. It is just as important to call and thank Legislative leaders for leading our state in a positive fashion as it is to express concerns…as those who do not value property rights are assuredly “finding the time” to communicate their views.

This special session will be extremely brief – so make calls or send emails this afternoon!

Reader responses always welcomed! carolsaviak@aol.com

Carol Saviak
Executive Director
Coalition for Property Rights
2878 S. Osceola Avenue
Orlando, FL 32806
407-481-2289
407-481-0834 fax
http://www.proprights.com/

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