Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislative Briefing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislative Briefing

Article excerpt

ACCORD WOULD DESIGNATE RODMAN DAM A PRESERVE

A Senate committee approved a bill yesterday that includes a provision to build a parking lot and park near the Rodman Dam on the Ocklawaha River, a move that could solidify the future of the controversial Rodman Reservoir behind the dam.

The compromise worked out between Gov. Jeb Bush and Senate Majority Leader Jim King of Jacksonville would designate the area the Rodman Reservoir State Preserve and allow for improvements to a boat landing there.

King has secured $1.5 million in the state budget to pay for the improvements.

Meanwhile, the compromise will allow $800,000 to be inserted into the state budget to complete a sediment and nitrogen study of the water in the reservoir, a step necessary if the dam is to be torn down someday. If that happens, the water from the reservoir will pour into the St. Johns River and the state is worried it will contaminate the river if the nitrogen isn't first reduced.

Bush and environmentalists support tearing down the dam and restoring the natural run of the Ocklawaha River.

But bass fishermen and some Northeast Florida lawmakers want the dam and the bass-laden reservoir behind it to remain.

The park improvements died in previous legislative sessions due to pressure from environmentalists and the understanding that Bush was likely to veto the measure if passed.

But King said yesterday, after the bill passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee, that Bush has agreed to the compromise and will sign the bill if it survives.

DEATH PENALTY VOTE COULD GO BACK TO POLLS

Floridians would vote again on whether to place the death penalty in the state constitution under a measure the House passed yesterday.

State lawmakers, stung when the Florida Supreme Court removed the last death penalty measure they put on the ballot, said the proposal was also about respecting their role as representatives of the people. …

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