Debate over a controversial bill in the Florida senate ended this week after opponents to Senate Bill 604 was defeated. The measure would have restricted local laws regulating urban fertilizer application by setting statewide standards for the commercial application of fertilizer within urban areas and would have prohibited local governments from enacting seasonal bans on fertilizer applications.
Many states were watching the measure since Florida is a bellweather state for many fertilizer issues in both rural and urban areas.
The bill was killed Monday in a Senate Committee following the objections of local officials and environmental groups. Opposition to the bill argued that ignoring fertilizer rules would lead to a decline in water quality and a decline in tourism as a result.
Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah said the bill would be “a job killer,” and a disadvantage to Florida’s $65 billion tourism industry. “Tourists don’t come to see blue green algae, the destruction of sea grasses and dead fish on the beaches.”
One especially problematic issue for many critics was that it would have originally allowed those with “limited certifications” (that, in some cases, could be earned online) to ignore fertilizer blackout periods. Those periods, which occur during rainy season, are meant to lessen the runoff of nutrients into waterways so that algal blooms and fish kills are less common.