Florida Cedes Growth Management to Localities

By: - May 11, 2011 12:00 am

GROWTH LAW GONE: Florida is getting out of the business of policing development, as a result of the repeal of a 1985 growth management law in this year’s budget, the St. Petersburg Times

reports . The move mostly eliminated the power of the state Department of Community Affairs to review development and reverses the requirement that builders take into account the environmental effects of their projects. Instead, the state is giving local governments the power to make most development decisions on their own — though the legislation did also bar localities from charging impact fees on non-residential development for two years.  Environmental groups strongly opposed the changes.

ENERGY TAX FLAP: A two-year tax increase on energy generation was among the many revenue raisers in the budget Connecticut lawmakers approved last week. Now, a Massachusetts utility that partially owns Connecticut’s only nuclear power plant is talking about suing, the Day

reports . Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company argues that it’s unfair for Connecticut to balance its budget by effectively raising energy prices for residents of other states. 

MORE OFFSHORE: New Jersey has given final approval for what could be the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm. The six turbines in state waters off of Atlantic City may be generating power by the end of next year, Bloomberg News

reports . The project isn’t as ambitious as Cape Wind off of Massachusetts , which will consist of 130 turbines and may begin construction later this year. But the New Jersey project may be producing electricity first.

BIOFUEL BOON: The Iowa legislature has extended and expanded a variety of tax credits for biofuels, the Sioux City Journal

reports . The package, which is expected to cost $90 million through 2020, is designed to encourage the production and sale of ethanol-blended gasoline and biodiesel. Republican Governor Terry Branstad has not said whether he will sign the bill. Iowa produces the most ethanol of any state — twice as much as second-place Nebraska.

MURKY MINERAL RIGHTS: Ohio Governor John Kasich has hit an obstacle in his plan to allow natural gas drilling in state parks to help fund the parks system: The state owns less than a third of the mineral rights in the parks. Other owners include the Army Corps of Engineers and private companies. In many places the state isn’t even sure who owns the mineral rights and would need to conduct title searches to find out, the Columbus Dispatch

reports . So far, the legislature hasn’t acted on the drilling proposal.

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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.