Tallahassee emptied out on Saturday after a one day extension of the official end of session. The news has been filtering in all weekend. What’s the score? Did we get repeal of SB550 inspections? Was it repeal and replace with another inspection program? Was it delay? What happened with the Phase III Nitrogen Reduction Study funding? What else passed you need to know about? There is a new head of the Dept. of Health. A heads-up for you to keep you safe from some scamming going on.
Game over! Now that the dust has settled a little, we are able to fill you in on events that unfolded in the last days of session.
HB13 – Representative Marti Coley’s bill that called for repeal only passed the house almost unanimously. It then moved to the Senate. There was no exact companion bill in the Senate. The bill waited for action on Senator Dean’s bill SB1698. Either Senator Dean’s bill would have to be stripped down by amendment to match Rep. Coley’s bill or HB13 would have to attach the inspection provisions of Senator Dean’s bill.
Neither happened. Senator Dean’s bill died on the floor, and HB13 went with it. We did not get a clean repeal of SB550 inspection provisions, and we did not get repeal of SB550 with a replacement inspection program.
So, what did we get? We got a delay….but it’s a delay with some serious substance to it. In the last hours of the session, the House Budget Chair, Rep. Denise Grimsley and the Senate Budget Chair, Senator J.D. Alexander agreed on a budget item that essentially stopped the inspections until 2012.
The budget line item essentially restricts the Bureau of On-Site Sewage from spending any of their budget on implementing inspections. Further, the Bureau must develop an inspection plan and submit the plan to the Legislative Budget Committee. The plan must then be ratified by the 2012 legislature before implementation can begin.
Final score – SB550 is still in place. The good news is, there are finally some stop-sticks in road to keep us from getting run over by the rules. It’s a situation that can and will be monitored by citizens all over the state. Finally, the Bureau of On-Site Sewage has to justify and explain what they want to do!
PHASE III – NITROGEN REDUCTION STUDY
Money for the final year of the study is in the budget, passed by both the house and senate. Oversight of the project is given to the Dept. of Health, Dept. of Environmental Protection, and RRAC (Research Review and Advisory Committee). The budget specifically instructs that “the main focus and priority to be completed during Phase III shall be developing, testing, and recommending cost-effective passive technology design criteria for nitrogen reduction.”
GOVERNOR SCOTT HAS VETO AUTHORITY OVER THE LINE ITEMS IN THE BUDGET. PLEASE MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO CONTACT THE GOVERNOR AND ASK HIS SUPPORT FOR BOTH OF THESE BUDGET ITEMS –
(1) We need his approval on the budget restrictions imposed on the Dept. of Health, and on the provisions for Legislative Budget Committee oversight of the inspection plan.
(2) We need his approval for Phase III of the Nitrogen Reduction Study.
MAILING ADDRESS: E-Mail: Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com
Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee FL 32399-0001
THANK YOU FOR CONTACTING THE GOVERNOR !!!
Gov. scott appoints new head of dept. of health
Governor Rick Scott named Dr. Frank Farmer as Surgeon General to head the Dept. of Health. Dr. Farmer has served as president of the Florida Medical Assoc. and chairman of the Florida Board of Medicine. He has also served in the military, in special operations and in the medical corps of the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Florida National Guard. Dr. Farmer retired from the Air Force in 2004 with the rank of Colonel.
THANK YOU FOR CONTACTING THE GOVERNOR !!!
TRI-COUNTY ASSOCIATION H.E.L.P. issues an alert to citizens needing septic repairs.
Last week, Representative Bryan Nelson published a summary in the Apopka Chief – an update on the long-running saga of the Dept. of Health, Bureau of On-Site Sewage and their relentless septic system rule-making. In the past the past three years, the bureau has engaged in behavior that, by any simple definition, can only be described as abusive to the citizens of this state, disrespectful to our legislative body, and irresponsible in their constant push to write a very self-serving opinion into law.
So much of their time is spent re-inventing themselves as champions of environmental purity, they seem to have forgotten their purpose – permitting and inspecting installations and repairs, licensing and educating contractors, and record keeping. Those are their basic functions. However, borrowing a page from the environmental lobbies, the Bureau of On-Site Sewage has instead spent all their time engaging in a huge public relations campaign intended to paint septic system owners as “devoted polluters.” Unfortunately, the negative perception has filtered down and it has produced a really ugly side affect.
Homeowners, be wary. You need to know the law and protect yourself against a very real problem that has surfaced. In just the past few weeks, several reports have come into our e-mail at TRI-County Association that some unscrupulous septic contractors have been telling homeowners outright lies about what the law is and what they must do to repair their systems. One homeowner in Seminole County was told that the law required him to install a performance-based septic system, and that a lien would be placed on his home if he did not comply. Sadly, he believed the contractor. Another in Orange County was told they couldn’t repair their drainfield unless they built a mound in their front yard. Their system was originally installed under the 24” water table separation rule, so a mound was not needed. In Lake County, another was told that the law required them to pump out the system. The law does not currently require that.
We urge homeowners to protect themselves! Get at least two separate estimates before you have any work done – so you can compare what you are being told. While price is important, be very suspicious of wildly low bids or hugely expensive bids. Question complicated design recommendations. Be informed! KNOW WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES, AND WHAT IT DOES NOT REQUIRE. Like in any business, there are very legitimate, knowledgeable and honest contractors – and a few that are using the negative publicity as an excuse to take advantage of homeowners. Ask neighbors for a reference. Call your local/county health department. If you have questions about the law, you are welcome to e-mail TRI-County Association H.E.L.P., a newly formed homeowners’ organization that represents septic owners in Orange, Lake, and Seminole Counties. We will get answers for you.
James L. Clark
Vice President, Education
TRI-County Association H.E.L.P.
COALITION FOR PROPERTY RIGHTS SCORES A BIG VICTORY FOR ALL OF US:
Excerpts from CPR’s newsletter highlight a bill passed unanimously by the Florida Senate and by a huge majority in the House of Representatives. The bill strengthens property rights protections against regulations that devalue private property.
This past week, the Florida Senate unanimously passed (39-0) a much-needed update to Florida’s Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act This pro-property rights bill was passed the preceding week by the Florida House of Representatives (98-15). This excellent legislation is now a pending law of the State of Florida and awaits Governor Rick Scott signature. CPR originally developed the conceptual basis for this legislation in consultation with our state’s top property rights attorneys. The bill was additionally authored by Representative Steve Precourt and championed to passage by Representative Eric Eisnaugle Senator David Simmons
This proposed law reaffirms the Constitutional principle of the 5th Amendment (Takings Clause) and intent of the existing Bert Harris Act to make government entities financially accountable for regulatory decisions which place inordinate burdens on individual property owners and which devalue private property.
Thank you to Carol Saviak for championing this cause. Carol is the Director of Coalition for Property Rights. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for TRI-County Association H.E.L.P. We so appreciate her efforts on this issue, as the we have seen evidence that the regulations promoted by the DOH Bureau of On-Site Sewage, especially in the Wekiva Study Area have impacted our home values. Bureaucratic actions have consequences, and this type of accountability is imperative when those consequences are ignored or denied.
Thank you also to the coalition effort that supported this bill. The list includes Tallassee-based Property Rights Coalition lobbying federation, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Florida Farm Bureau, Association of Florida Community Developers, Florida Homebuilders Association, Florida Association of Realtors, and others.
PLEASE ASK GOVERNOR SCOTT TO SIGN THIS IMPORTANT LEGISLATION INTO LAW!
It’s been a wild ride the past few months! Thanks for hanging in there everybody! Please write your letters to the Governor. Pass information to your friends, and ask them to write as well. Keep checking the sludge report for more updates.