Florida's Growth Management Agency in Peril

Here's a lesson for middle-school students who will be required to take civics classes under a proposed law headed to the governor: Look out for closed-door shenanigans when a law gets passed -- or not -- in Tallahassee.

Example: The fate of the Department of Community Affairs, the state's final arbiter of growth management laws that ensure new development doesn't hopscotch outside designated urban areas. Every 10 years the Legislature reviews whether agencies are still warranted. This year, the DCA's review passed in the Senate, and after initial blocks in the House two committees gave the nod.

Then came the roadblock.

With barely a week left in the session, the full House has yet to vote on the DCA's fate. Why? Because incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon has made no secret that he loathes growth management laws and the agency that stands between sprawl and sustainable growth so that schools, roads and sewer systems aren't overwhelmed. If nothing happens, DCA will be in limbo for another year.

Delaying DCA's reenactment likely will strengthen the case for those who back Hometown Democracy, Amendment 4, to the state Constitution. It would require local voters to decide on every new project outside their community's designated urban areas.

Builders don't want this; neither does Mr. Cannon. Yet House stalling tactics can backfire. Call their intransigence a textbook case in the law of unintended consequences.

All Floridians concerned about the future of their state should contact Cretul and Cannon to urge them to use their leadership positions to assure the reauthorization of DCA in the 2010 legislative session. You can reach them here.

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