Capitol Watch - January 29

Date 02/02/2018

Capitol Watch 2018

2018 Legislative Session, January 29
By Preston Robertson and Jay Liles

The second and third weeks of the Session are now past and the status of some bills of note have changed. 

As of Friday, February 26: 
·  SB 370 (Bradley) - $100 million to Florida Forever Trust Fund has now passed all referenced committees, as amended. The amendments attempt to stop ongoing diversions of Florida Forever monies to state agency operations, which is a very positive sign. The similar House bill, HB 1353 (Beshears and Ausley) has yet to be heard by a committee.
·  CS/SB 204 (Bradley) - $50 million for projects to restore St. Johns River and Keystone Lakes region has passed all referenced committees and will be taken up for a full vote by the Senate.
·  HB 237 (Peters)/SB 462 (Young) - Prohibits fracking in Florida. Neither of these good bills has been agendaed for hearing.
·  SB 292 (Rodriguez) - Solar power can be sold to private users on same property. This pro-solar and private property bill has not been agendaed for a hearing.
·  SB 348 (Rodriguez) - Pilot project to determine impact of plastic bags. Unfortunately, this bill has not been agendaed even though recent news has revealed marine fish sickened by the ingestion of plastics and a vast stream of plastic trash in our oceans.
·  SB 168 (Steube) - Pilot project to slow spread of invasive animals by FWC. This good bill has passed the Environmental Protection Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources with the support of FWF. HB 145, the House companion bill, has not moved as of yet.
·  SB 574 (Steube)/HB 521 (Edwards-Walpole) - The Senate bill preempting local tree ordinances has not moved. The House companion is to be heard January 29 in the Capital, Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. FWF opposes these bills.
·  SB 804 (Passidomo)/HB 631 (Edwards-Walpole) - Section 10 of 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 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 appropriate establishment of customary use.

On January 25, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill with an amendment that raises the legal bar for Customary Use to require a preponderance of the evidence. 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. The bill now moves to the House floor for final passage in that chamber. SB 804 has another committee stop in Community Affairs before it goes to the floor of the Senate. Thanks to Representatives Cortes, Geller and Pritchett for voting No on this bill in committee.
Other bills of note:
·  HB 53 (Jacobs) - Establishes Southeast Florida Coral Reef Conservation Area,. This bill has passed all referenced committees and is now in position for a full vote by the House.
·  House Resolution 319/Senate Resolution 550 - Supports present moratorium on drilling in Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The House bill has moved through all committees, while the Senate bill has been consistently approved and is now in the Rules Committee.
·  SB 786 (Mayfield) - $50 million for Indian River Lagoon projects. This bill has not been agendaed.
·  HB 1247 (Cruz) – This bill to oppose federal efforts to lift the present moratorium on oil drilling off coasts of Florida has not moved.
·  SB 1402 (Simmons) - State assumption of federal Section 404 (Clean Water Act) Dredge and Fill permitting. This bill has passed the Environmental Preservation Committee and has two more committees before it gets to a full Senate vote. The House companion bill, 7043, has not yet been agendaed, but has only one committee to get through.

House Budget Chair’s recommendations for FY 2018-2019:
These are the preliminary budget numbers provided by the House Appropriations Committee Chairs for review and comment by the members. This is usually a good indicator of where each chamber will start from in their final budget negotiations. The Senate has yet to release their recommendations.

·  $10 million for Rural and Land Legacy conservation easement program
·  $3.6 million for coastal resiliency
·  $8m for Florida Forever projects 
·  $50m to repair Hoover Dike
·  $163.5m for Everglades restoration per CERP

FWF supports all efforts to increase funding for sensitive land protection, to aid our endangered coral reefs and stop oil drilling and exploration in Florida’s coastal waters.

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Please contact you 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!
 



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