The Florida Times-Union
Speaker-Designate Cannon on North Florida’s water: “It’s a state asset”
Submitted by Abel Harding
November 25, 2009
Speaker-designate Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park) was in Jacksonville Tuesday to speak at the quarterly Cornerstone Regional Development Luncheon. During his speech, Cannon was effusive in his praise of North Florida, telling attendees that the region was "setting the standard" for the state.
The luncheon was focused on JaxPort and the private companies that have achieved success as a result of the port's growth, something Cannon highlighted in his speech.
"We need to take government's foot off the air hose of commerce and do things such as invest in our ports," Cannon said in his speech.
Interviewed after the speech, Cannon didn't identify what funds the state would use to invest in the port, but stated that he wanted to reduce delays on permitting, something he referred to as an "insidious tax."
An issue likely to place the incoming speaker at odds with local officials is his view of the state's water supply.
"Water is a statewide resource," Cannon said. "It's a state asset. And, while we respect the region that it comes from, it belongs to the population as a whole."
That view differs sharply from many of the elected officials in attendance, including Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton.
Peyton led the effort by the City of Jacksonville to join the St. Johns Riverkeeper in its lawsuit against Seminole County's efforts to withdraw millions of gallons daily from the St. Johns River.
The water issue, and the autonomy of Florida's five water management districts, is likely to be a subject of heated debate in the next few years. Lawmakers who have advocated for eliminating the districts in favor of a statewide water management agency have several hurdles to overcome before they have a chance of passage, not the least of which would be the loss of ad valorem taxes that water management districts have the ability to levy.
Cannon says that the state must recognize and plan for future demand, but that's something that the state has shown no desire to do and it's something unlikely to begin now. In the eyes of many lawmakers, "recognizing and planning for future demand" consists of building the conduit that will move water from areas of the state with an abundance of it to areas that grew without any thought to natural resources.
Cannon served as the personal attorney for Noelle Bush, the daughter of former Gov. Jeb Bush, and was first elected in 2004. He rose quickly through the legislative ranks and was chosen to be the Speaker in 2010.