On Friday, a near-reversal of the state’s 25-year-old growth-management law became law. H.B. 7207 was approved by both the House and Senate at the close of the heavily critiqued legislative session. The bill aims to reduce state oversight over local land planning decisions, allowing cities and counties greater control in approving new developments. Environmental groups argued that the bill could lead to unregulated sprawl and harm Floridian’s quality of life.
According to Free Market Florida, the group that sprung from the ashes of the successful campaign against last year’s “Hometown Democracy” amendment, H.B. 7207 “removes redundant layers of state bureaucracy and returns greater authority over growth decisions to local governments.”
“This is a big step in the right direction,” said Ryan Houck, executive director of Free Market Florida, in a press release. “In returning power to Florida’s individual communities, lawmakers are restoring some commonsense to the economic development process. For working Floridians, it’s going to mean more jobs, fewer delays, and greater economic freedom.”
In his release, Houck said claims by environmental groups opposed to H.B. 7207 were “nonsense”:
The primary purpose of this legislation is to make sure government isn’t doing the same job twice. Some environmental interests don’t like that because it will mean fewer opportunities for them to impede free enterprise and fewer opportunities to sue taxpayers.
Free Market has been very critical of environmental groups in recent months. The group launched a campaign devoted entirely to opposing a set of federally mandated nutrient criteria for Florida waterways in March and has continued releasing videos and press releases opposing the criteria since.