Governor signs 42 bills including measure to exempt farms from water management permitting

Jun 17, 2011

The following article was published in the Florida Current on June 17, 2011:

Governor signs 42 bills including measure to exempt farms from permitting

By Bruce Ritchie

Gov. Rick Scott signed 42 bills on Friday including HB 421, which exempts agricultural lands from having to receive water management district permits.

Audubon of Florida and Sierra Club Florida had asked the governor to veto the bill, saying it would make it easier for farmers to clear their lands for future development without having to get permits.

“Governor Scott has made it harder to protect wetlands and water resources and easier to flood your neighbor,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida. “This a short-sighted bill that is going to increase cost to ordinary taxpayers for future water management problems.”

Agriculture groups said the bill was needed to reinstate an exemption that they said already existed in state law but had been eroded by state agencies and court opinions.

“I think this is the most significant thing for Florida agriculture and for the 55,000 farmers we have in this state that has happened in a long time,” Rep. Leonard Bembry, D-Greenville and sponsor of HB 421, said during the legislative session. “When the day comes we have to buy permits to farm, we have a real problem.”

Other bills signed by Scott covered everything from firearms to education and insurance.

Among the bills Scott signed was SB 234. The measure allows for incidental exposure of a gun to be legal as long as it is not in a threatening or intimidating manner. The bill, however, does not allow people to openly carry their guns.

Scott also signed SB 88 which prevents local governments placing in future contracts the payment of severance pay in excess of 20 weeks of salary.

Another measure that Scott approved was HB 99. This new law deregulates commercial insurance rates charged in non-residential property, non-residential multiperil, general liability and burglary and theft policies.

The governor also backed professional sports organizations pushing to change Florida’s workers’ compensation law. He signed HB 723, which was supported by the Jacksonville Jaguars and other professional sports teams. The new law makes it clear that Florida employees who are injured while working in another state will receive Florida’s workers compensation benefits. Conversely, out-of-state employees injured while temporarily working in Florida are exempt from state law under the bill unless they are deemed to be temporarily working in Florida.

The legislation was pushed in response to pro athletes filing worker’s comp claims in other states such as California instead of Florida.

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