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Owners of solvent-tainted land would escape liability

Today is the 31st day of the 60-day session.

By Associated Press
Published April 3, 2003

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday to relieve owners of property contaminated by dry cleaning solvent from liability when the value of adjacent land is diminished.

The sponsor, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, said it was needed to offset a court ruling that a property owner could be sued even if the property was scheduled for cleanup under the state's dry cleaning solvent cleanup program.

More than 1,400 sites have been identified for cleanup under the program, initiated in 1994, but the process has only been completed at 58.

Scott Randolph, a lawyer with the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, said it could take 75 years to complete the process. In the meantime, property owners whose land lost value would have no redress.

But Ross said the bill (HB 741) was needed because the current situation could lead to a windfall for some property owners who could sue for damages, then get their land cleaned up by the state.

Students rally to save funding for "TRUTH' ads

Students in an antismoking program paid for by the state's settlement with the tobacco industry rallied at the Capitol, urging the Legislature not to cut its funding.

The Florida Tobacco Control Program, best known for its "TRUTH" ads against teen smoking, may be a casualty of lawmakers' efforts to balance the budget.

The Department of Health and Gov. Jeb Bush requested $39-million for the program. The Senate hasn't set aside any money for it. The House has earmarked $10-million for in-school tobacco control programs, but doesn't have any money for the edgy ads.

The program is credited with a 50 percent drop in middle school smoking and for partly contributing to a 35 percent drop in high school smoking in five years.

Computer porn filters might block hate talk too

A bill to require libraries to filter out obscenity from computers used by children under 18 was approved for a second time by the House Judiciary Committee, with an amendment that would also encourage blocking hate language.

The bill (HB 415) by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, was sent to the House floor earlier, but pulled back into committee after an amendment was proposed to require filters for language that advocates violence against persons based on race, gender or religion.

Rep. Phillip Brutus, D-Miami Shores, agreed to change his amendment to make the antiviolence filter optional and Baxley accepted it on his bill.

The Florida Library Association has argued that the obscenity filter is not needed and would be costly to library boards.

House panel favors July primary, return of runoff

Florida voters could be at the polls on one of the hottest days of summer under a measure approved Wednesday by a House committee that also favored reinstating the runoff election voided in the 2002 election.

In 2004 the Florida primary would be held July 20, with the runoff Sept. 7 and the general election Nov. 2.

County elections supervisors thus would have seven weeks between the primary and a runoff and eight weeks between the second primary and general election.

The primary election has traditionally been scheduled on the Tuesday following Labor Day in the first week of September.

[Last modified April 3, 2003, 02:44:42]

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