Governor Rick Scott has insisted the construction industry is a major part of his new jobs initiative to help the state's economy rebound. This week the house passed a bill that supporters say will help advance that cause.
Last year, State Representative Jimmy Patronis introduced a bill that would have streamlined the environmental permitting process to attract new industry or help existing businesses that want to expand. The bill didn't pass. But Patronis didn't give up. He introduced House Bill 503 this session.
Some of the highlights include cutting the amount of time the Department of Environmental Protection has to issue a permit from ninety to sixty days. It also allows an individual or business to pull permits from city, local, state and even federal agencies, at the same time. That prevents what Patronis calls finger-pointing, where an agency says you must have a permit for another agency before they will issue their own.
Patronis believes the changes will make Florida a more attractive place for industries to conduct business.
"Hopefully the senate see's the common sense in the legislation we pass. We allow people to take advantage of Florida’s business environment because we made it a lot nicer," said State Representative, Jimmy Patronis.
The bill also allows facilities like the Bay County incinerator to burn a wider range of materials that can be converted into energy. And it decriminalizes the sale of ethanol-free gasoline by Florida gas stations.
While some critics say all these changes will weaken environmental protection, Patronis says he consulted all of major environmental groups and all are on-board with the changes.
A companion bill is making its way through the Florida Senate. Patronis says he expects it to pass, so the two chambers can send the final version to the governor.