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Repeal of controversial septic tank requirements close to reality

The Legislature is close to repealing a 2010 law that required Floridians to have their septic tanks inspected once every five years. Almost from the beginning, critics decried the measure as creating unnecessary and costly “one-size-fits-all” rules for the entire state.

The House has already approved HB 999, which replaces the statewide requirements with new restrictions on local inspection programs in counties with first-magnitude, or large, springs. The measure also allows local governments to opt out of the new program with a 60-percent majority vote.

The Senate’s Budget Committee approve that chamber's version of the repeal, SB 820 sponsored by Charlie Dean, R-Inverness. The legislation is now ready for a floor vote. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, both voted "no" on SB 820. Negron said he was uncomfortable with the measure because it goes beyond a simple repeal of the 2010 law.

The repeal of the 2010 septic tank laws have been applauded by business groups, realtors and home builders. Dean tried to get similar legislation passed last year, but Senate leaders wouldn’t support it.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, voted in favor of SB 820 but said he had some reservations. Lawmakers from Jacksonville have express concerns about the impact of SB 820 and whether it would restrict local governments from updating their existing septic tank guidelines, Thrasher said.