Issues To Watch In 2017 Legislative Session

The opening session of the Florida Legislature is now slightly more than a month away.

This week 1000 Friends of Florida presented a webinar on some issues to watch.

Many of them are environmental issues.

Amendment 1 spending: This continues to be a repudiation of will of the voters who overwhelming voted in 2014 to spend more money on land protection to restart the Florida Forever program that was sidelined during the budget crunch following the collapse of the real estate bubble. Out of the $646 million available for expenditures other than debt service, very little appears to be going to land acquisition and is being diverted to management and administrative costs instead. Interestingly, Adam Putnam’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services is seeking $50 million to purchase conservation easements from farmers while Rick Scott’s Florida Department of Environmental Protection is seeking only $15 million for park purchases.

Fracking: Bills (SB 98, HB 35) have been filed to ban fracking in Florida and some key legislative leaders are supporting it.

Plastic Bags: Two bills (SB 162, HB 93) have been filed to launch a pilot program for some coastal communities to enact temporary bans on disposable plastic bags and submit a report to state officials on the impact the bans have.

Everglades Restoration: The issue to watch is the outcome of Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to purchase 60,000 acres in the Everglades Agriculture Area to store water to return historic water flow to Everglades National Park.

Environmental Regulation Commission: Legislation (SB198) has been proposed to force Scott to fill vacancies on the panel and to require a supermajority to approve changes in air and water pollution standards.

To view details of any legislation, committees to which bills have been assigned and other details, go to Online Sunshine, the Florida Legislature’s home page, and follow the links.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.