Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fertilizer bill narrowly advances in Florida House

TALLAHASSEE — A controversial bill that would ban cities and counties from regulating fertilizer use and sales faced surprising resistance from House Republicans on Wednesday.

The bill seeks to void local ordinances, such as ones in Pinellas County and St. Petersburg, that ban summer sales of nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Retailers say the ordinances are bad for business, but environmental advocates say they help prevent pollution of local waterways due to runoff during the rainy season.

"This is the best way to improve water quality," said Rep. Clay Ingram, a Pensacola Republican sponsoring the House bill. "It's the right thing to do for business."

But the measure only narrowly passed the House community and military affairs subcommittee, with some of Ingram's fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, opposing it. Rep. Jose Diaz, R-Miami, broke a 6-6 tie when he returned to the meeting after a brief absence.

Some members appeared swayed by arguments that the state can't have a "one-size-fits-all" approach and by the pleas of city and county lobbyists.

Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, said the bill is one he could easily argue for or against. In such cases, he said, it's best to consider feedback from the people he represents. And his BlackBerry, he said, was filled with messages from people opposing the bill.

"I wish Pinellas wasn't so stringent," Hooper said before casting his vote against the proposal. "Maybe they have reached out to the point where there is some need to address their level of restriction."

Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, supported the bill but said the matter needs more discussion.

"I don't think it's a perfect bill," he said. "Regulations should be regional, not statewide."

He doesn't believe that going hyper local works, he said. Places such as Pinellas County, which has more than 20 cities, could end up with dozens of different fertilizer ordinances. Plus, given that neighboring Hillsborough County doesn't have a sales ban, there's nothing to stop Pinellas residents from driving over the bridge to buy fertilizer. And finally, Brandes said, he believes that sales bans might prompt people to overfertilize in the weeks before the ban hits.

"How can you ever judge if it's effective or not?" he asked.

The bill allows cities and counties to go no further than a model ordinance approved by the Legislature in 2009 that includes such provisions as avoiding fertilizing before a heavy rain.

Janet Zink can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

Fertilizer bill narrowly advances in Florida House 03/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 7:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Epilogue: Tony Scaglione served Ybor delicacies and laughs


    Tony Scaglione's childhood dream was to own his family's restaurant.

    Tony Scaglione - the longtime owner of Tony's Ybor Restaurant - has died.  He was 87. Credit: Larry Scaglione
  2. What you need to know for Friday, July 21


    href=""> Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during minicamp this summer. He said the Bucs could be "a bad--- football team." [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Final sign positions should cut danger where trail crosses interstate ramp


    I am concerned with the yield signs I saw recently installed for the new bike and pedestrian trail along either side of Roosevelt Boulevard between Carillon Parkway/28th Street and Interstate 275. These yield signs seem to be pointing to the drivers, one side as they exit the interstate northbound, the other as they …

  4. Trump's lawyers seek to undercut Mueller's Russia investigation


    Some of President Donald Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar …

    President Donald Trump is said to be irritated by the notion that the special counsel's investigation could reach into his and his family's finances. [Associated Press]
  5. North Tampa shooting leaves one man dead


    Times staff

    TAMPA — A man was fatally shot Thursday afternoon after an argument with another man escalated, police said.