Florida House Passes Bill Rewriting Environmental Laws in Minutes

"TALLAHASSEE -- With head-spinning speed, the Florida House took up and passed a major rewrite of state environmental laws late Friday that Florida conservation groups call one of the worst environmental bills in decades.

House lawmakers spent only seven minutes discussing, amending and voting on the 80-page bill just before the chamber was scheduled to adjourn at 8 p.m.

In that time, lawmakers accepted six amendments that attempt to mitigate environmentalists’ concerns over provisions they had described as a “monstrous threat to the environment.” They added the content of another bill making it easier for ports to dredge to accommodate bulkier ships. And they removed a section that prevented the ability of citizens to challenge environmentally sensitive projects.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, with the cadence of an auctioneer, then recognized bill sponsor Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, for a brief explanation, accepted no questions or debate, and the House voted 95-16 to send it to the Senate. There is no similar companion bill in the Senate, where it faces a difficult road to passage."

Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald May 2, 2011.

Monday, May 2, 2011