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State lawmakers hear from Walton County residents ahead of legislative session

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 8:36 PM CST
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FREEPORT, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Solar energy is an industry growing across the world as an alternative energy source.

But locally, solar energy facilities have recently been rejected by Walton County leaders.

A bill proposed at the upcoming legislative session would make it to where the state would give energy companies permission to build, rather than local governments.

David Herring is an advocate for preserving agricultural land in Walton County.

He said the bills would take away “home rule.”

“Local citizens and the county local government know where these facilities are if some of these are being brought to the county, where they need to be placed. There are several small communities throughout and it’s a big thing where it’s taking up your prime agricultural land, and the other thing is when it’s put right in the middle of a community,” said Herring. “We’re going to ask them to oppose the bills, to not vote in favor of them.”

State Senator George Gainer said at the meeting he would not support any bill that took away home rule.

“The ability for the local government to make these decisions is very important to me, having been on a county commission for 18 years. I understand that we need to leave a lot of these decisions up to the counties themselves,” said Gainer.

Herring adds that preserving agricultural land is important for the future.

“Everybody has to remember, tourism is not all Florida. $160 billion dollars goes into Florida’s economy every year from agriculture,” said Herring.

The legislative session begins March 2nd.

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