1. Health

Department of Health reorg with septic tank regulations headed to governor

Published Mar. 9, 2012

Both measures were on shaky ground at times, bogged down by politics and competing interests. Now the repeal of a septic tanks inspections law is contained in a larger Department of Health measure headed to the governor's desk.

The Department of Health reorganization plan became less controversial once Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, dropped a plan to decentralize the agency and shift duties to counties. But HB 1263 still faced opposition from Democrats who questioned whether the streamlined mission and reduced divisions would affect the level of services.

A.G. Holley Hospital treating tuberculosis patients will also be privatized under the measure.

HB 1263 was approved by the House and the Senate today. On Thursday, an amendment was added that contained language repealing the 2010 septic tank law.

That proposal by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, was initially found in SB 820. It was approved by committees with minimal opposition and poised for a floor vote, but Senate leaders never scheduled it for debate even as session entered its final hours.

Meanwhile, the House approved companion bill HB 999. People began to ask Dean if his pet project had stalled in the Senate as payback for his vote against the leadership on prison privatization.

You have to ask the people in charge, Dean said, but his frustration was well known around the Capitol.

Lawmakers came up with a new plan Thursday, agreeing to add the septic tank language onto HB 1263. Although many Democrats voted against the legislation, it passed both chambers on Friday and is ready for the governor to sign.