GAINESVILLE – Alachua County commissioners recently voted to send a letter to the local state delegation stating their opposition of four proposed bills including a bill which pre-empts the county’s citizen-initiated and voter-approved airboat curfew.
The letter states that the proposed bills would “erode the local home rule authority” of Alachua County and other Florida counties as well.
The text of the letter previously discussed solely the commission’s opposition of Senator Steve Oelrich’s proposed bill which would erode the county’s authority over the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. airboat curfew. The letter was revised to include three other bills as well.
The other proposed bills comprised in the revised letter included a bill that would halt counties from requiring applicants looking to process development plan applications to acquire state and federal permits and a bill that would diminish the local control of workforce boards. The letter further included a bill that would keep counties from collecting a tourist tax from online travel companies.
“The language they gave us in the letter was concentrated on home rule and the reference to the airboats was a minor part,” President of the United Sportsmen & Airboaters Alliance, Jerry Wetherington said. “The original letter badmouthed airboats.”
The voter-approved curfew was passed in 2010 by a vote of 56.18 percent. Oelrich’s bill would require airboats to meet sound level tests in order to operate on waterways with local ordinances prohibiting airboats.
Commissioner Lee Pinkoson, who does not support the curfew, said that the legislation may be much to-do about nothing.
“I don’t think the airboat issue will gain traction at the state level,” Pinkoson said. “In my mind home rule is the issue we should be determined to have in our county.”
The letter, which includes the four bills, passed by a 3-1 vote with Commissioner Susan Baird in dissent.
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