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House advances new building code

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 29, 2000

The House gave preliminary approval to a building code that would require all new coastal homes to have hurricane shutters, impact-resistant glass or other protections.

The House plan comes a day after the Senate gave preliminary approval to its version. The Senate plan is less strict in coastal areas north of the 28th parallel, which runs through Palm Harbor in Pinellas County.

Both plans would require the new protections in nearly all of Pinellas County and in much of South Florida.

In the north Suncoast, the House plan would reach further inland. Both measures require the protections in the western edge of Hillsborough. -- WILLIAM YARDLEY

Loxahatchee refuge appears safe

A South Florida lawmaker on Friday backed off an amendment he filed on behalf of the sugar industry. It would have eliminated a federal wildlife refuge in the Everglades in 2003 unless a future Legislature voted to keep it.

Environmentalists blasted Rep. Josephus Eggelletion, D-Lauderdale Lakes, for sponsoring the amendment to eliminate the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in western Palm Beach County, a haven for migrating birds.

Florida Audubon Society lobbyist Charles Lee was suspicious that sugar growers were pushing the amendment. -- JULIE HAUSERMAN

Senate okays tobacco tax plan

Ribbed by Republican colleagues for becoming "a tax and spend liberal," Sen. Jim Horne stood firm Friday on his plan to create a special tax on tobacco companies that circumvent state law.

Horne, a Jacksonville accountant, also fought off a Democratic challenge to preserve, rather than spend, tobacco revenues disbursed from a fund named in honor of former Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Horne, who won preliminary approval for his plan from the Senate, is among lawmakers looking for ways to preserve the flow of money the state gets from its settlement with tobacco companies. Some lawmakers worry that a Miami lawsuit against tobacco companies could bankrupt them.

Horne's plan would ensure that companies pay their share into the settlement, even if they try to circumvent the agreement by routing their cigarettes into Florida through subsidiaries in foreign countries.

The plan also would create a state corporation to study other ways to offset threats to the tobacco revenue stream.

The House is "squeamish" about the idea of creating the special tax, said Kati Baur, a spokeswoman for Speaker John Thrasher.

The Senate tentatively approved other tobacco measures Friday, including a plan for the state to buy back equipment from Florida tobacco farmers and help them convert to growing alternative crops. -- WILLIAM YARDLEY

House votes for 'right to farm'

The House gave tentative approval to a "right to farm" measure that ties a local government's hands when it wants to pass laws that affect agricultural operations.

Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, a champion of agribusiness and sponsor of the language, said the measure merely aims to cut duplicate government regulations.

The Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities are fighting the measure.

"They are putting it under the guise of eliminating duplication," said RebeccaO'Hara of the League of Cities. "This would eliminate things like buffering requirements, flood protection ordinances, local water quality standards and well field protection." -- JULIE HAUSERMAN

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