Tallahassee - Despite public promises to wait until 2001, Governor Jeb Bush has directed his staff to encourage legislation dramatically scaling back the state role in growth management during the current session, according to internal documents released today by Florida Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Florida PEER). While Gov. Bush was assuring the environmental community he opposed "quick action" on legislation relaxing restraints on development, his staff was quietly drafting proposals for action in the 2000 session.
Citing the desire of several term-limited legislators to move major pro-development legislation in their last year in office, Department of Community Affairs (DCA) staff notes describe "pressure in the Legislature to do something", adding that the "Governor felt something will happen [this session]." Consequently, DCA staff was ordered to help state Representative George Albright to move legislation through this year, or, in the notes of one staffer, "be responsive w/ legislative efforts."
Internal documents uncovered by Florida PEER under the state Public Records Act document extensive executive branch assistance behind the scenes to secure legislation to reduce the state planning role, including:
* A decision "to retrieve...a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House requesting a one year delay in the submittal of [land use] legislation ..[i]n view of the expedited schedule for our growth reform initiative."
* An e-mail from the DCA General Counsel stating "After talking with Rep. Albright and receiving some more info about the potential for House member efforts in the growth management area, Secretary Seibert asked me to work with you on some potential fall back legislative amendments in the growth management area."
* Pressure from the DCA Assistant Secretary to use an industry lobbyist to draft year 2000 fall back legislation "FOR FREE."
"Major changes are coming to Growth Management this session with the support of the Bush Administration," stated Florida PEER General Counsel Steve Medina, "And whether total 'reform' occurs in 2000 or 2001, let the public beware. Bush and Seibert are in sync with pro-developer silk stockings walking the halls of the legislature."