FL SB 550- Forced Septic Tank Inspection
Lawmakers Plan Repeal of Septic Tank Inspection Bill
By Keith Laing
The News Service Florida
October 7, 2010
A pair of lawmakers from the Florida Panhandle have said that they will file a bill for the 2011 session that would repeal legislation passed earlier this year to require septic tank inspections every five years to protect Florida springs.
Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, said the requirement, which they say could cost residents $500 or more, was secretly inserted into a wide-ranging springs protection bill (SB 550) passed late in session this year.
“The proper management of septic systems is important to our environment,” Gaetz said in a statement. “But this mandate is not supported by scientific necessity. Moreover, it works a special hardship on many people in rural areas who are struggling to make it financially in these exceptionally hard times.”
“One of the many problems with this requirement is that it was crafted by the companies that will be paid to do the inspections,” Coley added. “This is a clear conflict of interest.”
The wide-ranging spring bill, SB 550, would require inspections of the state’s 2.6 million septic tanks once every five years by 2016. The bill would ban solid and liquid residuals created by septic tanks that are currently allowed in other unrestricted public places and expand the definition of alternative water supply projects, which opponents have said would require some septic tanks to be replaced altogether.
The bill also calls for the creation of regional bodies to handle the septic tank inspections, instead of a state agency or “water czar,” as had been floated in previous proposals that ran into opposition in the Legislature. The new requirements are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.
The planned repeal bill, which would only affect the septic tank provision, follows a comment last month from Gov. Charlie Crist that he would not delay implementation of the bill despite requests to do so by two other Panhandle lawmakers, Sen. Durrell Peaden, R-Crestview, and Rep. Greg Evers, R-Baker. Peaden and Evers wanted Crist to push back the effective date of the requirement to July 2011 so lawmakers could study the effects of the mandate when they return to Tallahassee next March.
However, Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey noted “it was a Senate bill that passed both houses and he signed into law” and told the News Service of Florida recently that the governor had no plans to wade back into the septic tank debate this fall, his last at the head of state government.
Backers of SB 550 say the septic requirements will cost much less than possible federal water regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is currently considering limits on the amount of chemical pollution that would be allowed in state water bodies. SB 550 supporters argued the federal agency may consider letting Florida have more of a say in septic tank monitoring if the state showed it was serious about protecting its water resources.
But Gaetz and Coley said that was not enough reason to ignore the burden they said requiring the inspections would put on taxpayers.
“County governments, taxpayer organizations and hundreds of concerned citizens have asked for relief from this intrusive, unnecessary expense,” both lawmakers said.
Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, declined to comment Tuesday because he will not be in the Legislature next year after facing term-limits. Constantine has said he considered SB 550 to be a capstone of his career in the Legislature and lawmakers presented him with a framed copy of the bill after he made farewell remarks on the floor of the Senate this year.
Earlier this summer, another term-limited senator, Democratic Leader Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, said the bill should be repealed.
“Tallahassee simply cannot impose such a high financial burden on homeowners at this time,” Lawson said in August.
Article here: http://www.northescambia.com/?p=30663
Click here to find and contact your FL State Senator today to voice your opinion on this issue! (For those of us in Alachua County it would be State Senator Steve Oelrich. Click here to email him.).