Capitol Watch 3-28-2017

Date 03/29/2017

By Preston Robertson, Sarah Owen Gledhill and Jay Liles


Florida Equal Access to Justice ActThe Federation is opposed to the misleading name of HB 997 – Florida Equal Access to Justice Act. HB 997 would essentially gut the ability of citizens to fight in the courts for their communities against misguided or inappropriate development. If we are to keep our quality of life, we must allow local Floridians to be part of decision-making.

HB 997 is scheduled for the Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee TODAY with two more committee stops. The Senate has a similar bill SB 996. See below how you can TAKE ACTION.  


Disposable Plastic Bags
The Federation supports enabling local governments the ability to implement programs to regulate or ban disposable bags. Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks, eventually making it into the ocean. After plastics enter the marine environment, they slowly photo-degrade into smaller pieces that aquatic life mistakes for food, often with fatal results. An estimated 60-80% of all marine debris and 90% of all floating debris is plastic. SB 162 and HB 93 would establish a pilot program to slow this trend. 

Update: SB 162 was approved unanimously in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee on 3/22/17. Thank you to everyone who supported this bill! Its next stop is Community Affairs with an additional two more stops before it gets to the Senate floor. To date, its companion (HB 93) has not been placed on the agenda.

As to HB 93, it has been referred to three committees; however, the House has yet to agenda this important bill. 


Conservation Land Funding: The Legislature will make a decision on funding Florida Forever while considering the Appropriations Act, which has yet to be filed and is subject to final passage in the budget conference report. We need full funding for Florida Forever! 

Update: The Federation continues to advocate for full funding and we call on you to take action too. Please let your Senators and Representatives know to support Florida Forever and land protection!


Everglades Restoration: The Federation supports the creation of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee (SB 10) so that excess water from the Lake may be cleaned and sent south to rehydrate the Everglades and Biscayne Bay. The result would be the mitigation of pollution of the Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River, and the assurance of water to the Everglades and the Biscayne Aquifer, which one-third of Floridians rely upon.  

Update: Unfortunately, SB 10 has been substantially amended to include funding for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee AND funding for water supply development. It also changes the direction of the “state’s major land acquisition programs” (e.g., Florida Forever) from conservation purposes to acquisition and improvements to land and water areas to protect, restore and develop water resources. These amendments are concerning as they seem to be eliminating the possibility of bonding for Florida Forever and diminishing the role of conservation land protection which was the intent of Amendment 1 passed in 2014 by the voters. Since the amended version of SB 10 was approved by the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources on 3/8/17, the Federation and its allies have been working with the bill sponsors to change the amended language. We need to let them know we need protection of conservation lands which also serve as water recharge areas. This was the purpose of Amendment 1, the Water and Land Legacy Amendment


Ban on Fracking: The Federation supports a ban on fracking in Florida. Fracking, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, is a process used to explore for oil or natural gas, and involves a process heavy in the use of freshwater and carcinogenic chemicals. As a state with Swiss-cheese like karstic geology, fracking’s risk to our precious water supply is too great to allow this activity. SB 442 and HB 451 would ban fracking.  

Update: SB 442 was approved unanimously in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee on 3/7/17. Its next stop is the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources. Thanks to those who supported this bill!

Thank you, 
Your FWF Legislative Advocacy Team 


Take Action:

Florida Equal Access to Justice ActPlease call or write the members of the Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee and ask them to OPPOSE HB 997.

Tell the members that HB 997 would limit your ability, as a citizen, to challenge developments and thus limit your ability  to protect your communities against misguided or inappropriate development. If we are to keep our quality of life, we must allow local Floridians to be part of decision-making.

Please oppose HB 997!

The House Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee members are:
Florida Forever and Everglades Restoration: Please visit this link to let your Florida Senator know your thoughts. https://fwfonline.good.do/keepfloridagreenin2017


Ban on FrackingPlease call or write the Speaker of the House, Representative Richard Corcoran, and ask him to support HB 451. Please also contact Representative Holly Raschein, Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee Chair, and express your support. We have provided a sample email below which you may cut and paste or feel free to personalize.

Richard Corcoran 813-792-5177
Holly Raschein 305-453-1202

###  Sample Email  ###

Dear Speaker Corcoran,

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen about the possibility of fracking in Florida. I am in support of HB 451 and its companion bill SB 442 which ban fracking in Florida. Each bill has bipartisan support in their respective chambers. The fracking process involves the heavy use of freshwater and carcinogenic chemicals.

Please support HB 451 so we may avoid future risks to our precious water supply from this contentious activity.   

###




Tags: Capitol Watch, Cap Watch, Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Legislative Session, 2017, Florida Legislative Session 2017, FWF, Florida Wildlife Federation



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