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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

DCA-State merger gets swift approval by House panel



Call it the whistle stop. That's practically all the time it took for the House Military Affairs and Local Government Committee to pass the massive bill to merge the state's growth management regulating agency -- the Department of Community Affairs -- with the Department of State.

There was overwhelming support for the provisions to roll back transporation concurrency, streamline the comprehensive plan process, give local governments more opportunities to encourage urban in-fill and control their growth decisions. But when it came to the decision to merge the agency run by Tom Pelham, one of the state's veteran growth management gurus, with the agency run by Kurt Browning, the state's top elections official, there were few defending it but the House sponsors.

"Right now you have a stand alone agency, when you remove an agency and assign its duties elsewhere, you can all agree there will be some efficiencies,'' said Rep. Chris Dorworth, a Heathrow Republican who presented the bill to the committee.

Dorworth insisted the move was not an attempt "get Pelham'' and suggested that if the agency is merged he could be reappointed by Gov. Charlie Crist, since the governor will continue to have the appointment power over the merged department.

Crist wasn't buying it. When asked if he agreed with the proposal, he told the Times/Herald: "No. No, I don't.'' Said Dorworth late in the day, "This is just a starting point.''

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 7:31pm]


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