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Among the bills

By JULIE HAUSERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2000


Here are a few of the bills that Florida environmentalists are warning against:

RODMAN DAM: Would make a state park out of the controversial bass-fishing reservoir in a dammed-off portion of the Ocklawaha River. Environmentalists say the state park plan is a veiled attempt to stop efforts to tear down the dam and let the river run free again. The dam was put in years ago for the failed Cross-Florida Barge Canal project.

AIR POLLUTION: Would eliminate Florida's vehicle emissions-testing program, even in the Tampa Bay area, where air pollution is still a problem. The area risks losing federal highway dollars if air pollution doesn't get better.

RIGHT TO FARM ACT: Prevents any local government from passing any regulations on agricultural operations anywhere.

PROPERTY RIGHTS: Expands Florida's Bert Harris Private Property Rights Act. Landowners could claim a government "taking" -- and compensation from taxpayers -- if government wanted to control growth by "downzoning" building densities in agricultural lands to allow anything less than one house per 5 acres.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES ACT: Changes the way citizens can challenge developments. Advocates say it will streamline the process. Opponents say it gives developers the upper hand.

SOVEREIGN LANDS: Would set, in law, a line in the sand along Florida's lakes and rivers, pinpointing the place where public land ends and private land begins. Opponents call it a "land grab" of public lands by private interests. Proponents say Florida should set the line, once and for all, and not keep battling in court.

GROWTH MANAGEMENT: Some lawmakers want to set up a study commission to look at revamping the state's 1985 Growth Management Act. Others want to do it this year, before the Legislature adjourns. Early drafts would change the face of land planning in Florida as we know it, removing state enforcement and cutting away requirements that developers take care of their traffic impacts.

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