When lobbyists write the legislation, the people get more problems

If you missed the latest installment from “Seeking Rents” reporter Jason Garcia on how a big Florida homebuilder effectively wrote a new law to build subdivisions faster and cheaper, check it out here. It’s key to understanding how the “sprawl” industry operates in Florida.

Here’s Garcia:

Dubbed by lobbyists as the “Lennar permitting language,” the legislation (Senate Bill 812) will compel cities and counties across Florida to issue building permits for most of the homes in a proposed subdivision before the development plans are finalized.

That’s not all. The bill allows homebuilders to hire private contractors in order to perform faster reviews of development applications. It enables them to more quickly lock in “vested rights” that shield them from any stricter development rules or environmental regulations that a community might adopt in the future. And it permits builders to begin selling future homes sooner.

You’ll be shocked, shocked to find out that:

Campaign finance records show Lennar also gave its lobbyists $170,000 to spend last fall on campaign contributions for Florida politicians, right around the same time they were pitching the permitting bill to lawmakers.

According to Garcia, Lennar and its lobbyists basically wrote the bill, then handed it over to compliant legislators who dutifully filed it, pitched it and passed it.

Senate Bill 812 was sponsored by Spring Hill Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, while a second bill, House Bill 267, was sponsored by Fort Myers Republican Rep. Tiffany Esposito, with 7 co-sponsors (Barnaby, Giallombardo, McClain, Rizo, Roth, Trabulsy, Tramont).

So here’s yet another example of how special interests marshal their lobbyists and money, and legislators are happy to introduce special-interest written legislation and mouth the lobbyist-written language.

This isn’t special interests “influencing” the Legislature — this is special interests DIRECTING the Legislature. 

And the most laughable aspect of all this is that proponents those compliant legislators argued that passing these bills was key to expanding Florida’s inventory of affordable housing.

We’ll be very curious to see how much of the housing that actually gets built as a result of this new law is actually affordable and no, $400,000 “luxury” condos don’t fall into that category. Our guess: Not much.

This is simply yet another attempt to pave over as much of wild Florida as is possible while the market remains (relatively) hot, consequences be damned.

And of course there WILL be consequences more sprawl, more traffic, more strain on existing infrastructure, more runoff, more environmental degradation, more habitat lost.

But buck up — we’ll just spend an additional million or two on water quality projects, and it’ll all be fine!

So goes the “thinking” in Tallahassee.

Good thing our legislators have lobbyists to do the thinking for them.