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Fertilizer compromise a win for governments and retailers

Monday, April 25, 2011 | Palm Beach Post

A compromise in the Legislature will help the state’s retail community.

House Bill 457 was crafted to safeguard Florida businesses against inconsistent bans on the sale of fertilizer while providing a local rulemaking process. Today, cities and counties must adhere to the state model fertilizer ordinance or use it as a guide to build their own rules. Since the state ordinance was crafted in 2007, approximately 40 local governments have adopted fertilizer rules. While some follow the scientifically vetted model ordinance, others have adopted local rules that vary from county to county. In some cases, citywide regulations differ with county rules. This creates a logistical nightmare for retailers.

City and county governments voiced opposition to a statewide approach. It remained clear, however, that a solution to the patchwork retail regulations was necessary. To find common ground, an amendment from Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, was adopted to allow local rulemaking to remain intact. The amendment also ensures that all previously adopted rules stay in place, but sales bans are excluded from any future local rules.

The amended legislation solves both retail and local control concerns. It also establishes a foundation for reference by requiring local governments to report future rules to the Department of Environmental Protection. This allows for accountability and a statewide registry of each area’s fertilizer rules. As a result of the this sound compromise, the House voted unanimously to support this bill, which is a balance of protections and safeguards for Florida’s waterways, residents and retailers.

– Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola

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