Veggie garden protections deepen roots in House
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A companion bill already was passed by the Senate.

Support for home gardeners in Florida took root in the Florida House on Thursday.

The House Commerce Committee, in a unanimous 18-0 vote, advanced a bill (HB 145) pre-empting local laws prohibiting certain gardens on private property.

“More neighborhood gardens have been shown to be a good thing,” state Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff said.

She said the legislation was inspired by a Miami Shores couple who suddenly faced growing fines for keeping a garden. Even though the couple had been growing food on their property for 20 years, local code enforcement ruled that a violation.

The DeLand Republican said property rights must supersede local regulations when it comes to the right to grow legal plants on one’s property.

The Florida League of Cities voiced opposition to the bill, which steps on home rule, the ability of municipalities to set their own local regulations.

Fetterhoff for her part said she believes the legislature should respect home rule and presume it exists when it doesn’t block freedoms. But that mean the principle overrides property rights.

A spokesman for the Institute for Justice spoke out in favor of the legislation. That organization has provided support for the Miami Shores couple, and said the individuals appreciate the action in Tallahassee.

Similar legislation died in the House last year. But Fetterhoff has found a receptive audience now at two committees.

The bill advanced in the Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee with a 13-1 vote. After receiving unanimous support in Commerce, the legislation now heads to the State Affairs Committee.

Companion legislation (SB 82) has already been approved in the Florida Senate by a 35-5 vote.

State Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, also carried the bill in the Senate last year.

Fetterhoff said the bill not only defends property rights but encourages community improvement. She said gardens in communities have been proven to improve quality of life.

“These things should be applauded,” Fetterhoff said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


One comment

  • gary

    April 4, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Just another example of California inspired Democrats trying to impose their will on the people in the name of helping!

    What I find funny about this issue: Democrats are against you growing food on your property, yet they support the green/climate change movement. If you can produce things that typically require multiple car(s) travels to attain, is this not the definition of being pro green/climate change?

    They are either incapable of critically thinking their own issues, or are simply disingenuous or both!

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