Capitol Watch - January 12

Date 02/02/2018

Capitol Watch 2018

2018 Legislative Session, January 12
By Preston Robertson and Jay Liles

Hope you are having a good winter season. 

The 2018 Florida Legislative Session started on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. The Session is early this year as it is an election year. An election year session generally means a lessening of legislative activity, and this year your elected leaders also have to deal with the sexual harassment issues that have already claimed the careers of two State Senators (Clemmons and Latvala). 
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At present, Florida Wildlife Federation is focused on the following:
(SB = Senate Bill, HB = House Bill)

SB 370 (Bradley)* - $100 million to Florida Forever Trust Fund (FWF is taking a wait and see position on this bill, as we are in litigation to ensure that Florida Forever, per Amendment 1 passed by 75% of voters in 2014, is fully funded - $300 million annually). That said, we are very pleased Senator Bradley has moved this bill forward.

CS/SB 204 (Bradley) - $50 million for projects to restore St. Johns River and Keystone Lakes region (see above)

HB 237 (Peters)/SB 462 (Young) - Prohibits fracking in Florida FWF supports

SB 292 (Rodriguez) - Solar power can be sold to private users on same property FWF supports

SB 348 (Rodriguez) - Pilot project to determine impact of plastic bags FWF supports

SB 168 (Steube)/HB145 – Pilot project to slow spread of invasive animals FWF supports

SB 574 (Steube)/HB 521 (Edwards) – Legislative preemption of local tree ordinances. FWF opposes
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Other bills of note:

HB 53 - Establishes Southeast Florida Coral Reef Conservation Area
HB 319/SB 550 - Supports present moratorium on drilling in Eastern Gulf of Mexico 
SB 786 - $50 million for Indian River Lagoon projects
HB 1247 - Opposes federal effort to lift moratorium of oil drilling off coasts of Florida 
SB 1402 - State assumption of federal Section 404 (Clean Water Act) Dredge and Fill permitting

FWF supports all efforts to aid our endangered coral reefs and stop oil drilling and exploration in Florida’s coastal waters

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Protect your right to access the beach!

SB 804 by Passidomo/HB 631 by Edwards-Walpole: This bill would prohibit any local government from adopting ordinances designed to protect the historic “customary use” of Florida beaches. This debate arises out of enactment of a local ordinance in Walton County that protects the right of beach-goers (local and job-creating tourists) to use the shoreline for recreation. Walton County prevailed in the lower court and the case is currently on appeal. Sponsors of the bill hope to preempt such local ordinances, instead relying on a case-by-case decision on the establishment of customary use. FWF and our allies argue that such a high bar is unworkable, unenforceable and will create a chilling effect for visitors and residents who come to our beaches.

On January 10, 2018, the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee and the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first hearings on this controversial measure. (A similar bill died on the calendar last Session). While the committees gave approval to the bill it was not without a fight. Clearly there are a number of members with questions and concerns about the preemption of local control and about the restrictions this would create for beachgoers simply trying to enjoy our beaches. Senators Bradley, Benacquisto and Garcia voted against the measure. Representative John Cortes was the lone “no” vote on the House subcommittee. We thank these policymakers for their vote.

FWF opposes SB 804/HB 631.
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Please contact your Senators and House of Representatives members about the above bills. Take part in YOUR democracy. See sample email below.

To contact your State Senator, go to www.flsenate.gov
To contact your State Representative, go to www.myfloridahouse.gov

The above websites will allow you to put in your location and give you the proper contact information.

Thanks much!

### Sample Email ###
Dear Representatives,

Please ban fracking and support funding for Florida Forever.

The fracking process involves the heavy use of freshwater and carcinogenic chemicals.
We must avoid future risks to our precious water supply. The Florida Forever program is critical to protect habitats and water supply in this rapidly developing state.

Your Name
Your City

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