Friday, February 23, 2018
Editorials

Stop Legislature's land grab

It would be foolish to deny the public access to hundreds of thousands of acres of waterfront property in a misguided attempt to clarify where state waterways end and private property begins. But that would happen under bills working their way through the Legislature. More civic-minded lawmakers should halt this land grab that could cut off access for hunting, fishing, swimming and other public activities.

HB 1103 and SB 1362 would change the definition of the "ordinary" high mark that acts as the dividing line in Florida between navigable waters held by the state in public trust and upland property that belongs to private owners. Florida assumed title to lands under the navigable waters upon becoming a state in 1845, and the state has a duty to preserve them for navigation, swimming, fishing and other legal public uses.

Under existing law, the water line is the "ordinary or normal reach" of water during the high-water season. The proposed bills would change that definition so the public property would no longer include areas where the water rises along the shoreline due to the rain. The dry season — not the wet — would determine the boundary between public and private property. That could privatize between 100,000 and 500,000 acres of shoreline now being used by hunters, canoeists, campers and others. And it would allow anyone interested in developing the property for use as a marina or other for-profit venture to avoid paying the state for a submerged lands lease.

The courts have established that the high water mark can be established by several measures, such as a physical marker that clearly shows the end of a water line and the upland shore. The proponents say the bill would help "clarify" the line between public and private property. There is nothing wrong with steps that increase the accuracy of surveys of the state's rivers, lakes and streams. But this bill does far more — whittling back the public water line to the dry-season boundary. The legislation could turn outdoor enthusiasts into trespassers and undermine efforts to protect natural habitat critical for controlling floods and preserving the state's drinking water supply. Lawmakers should shelve this bill. Generating more consistency in the titling process for private landowners should not be cover for taking away long-established public lands.

Comments
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18