2024 Legislative Update - Week 1
The 2024 Florida Legislative Session began this week with Gov. Ron DeSantis presenting his State of the State address to spotlight his priorities for the upcoming session. He largely spoke about education and tax relief, however, he highlighted that Florida’s success is tied to the environment. 

Introduced on Dec. 5, the governor’s proposed $114.4 billion Focus on Florida’s Future Budget included environmental priorities like $1.1 billion for Everglades restoration and protection of our water resources. The funding proposed this year ties into his overall pledge of $3.5 billion for the Everglades that was made at the start of his second term.
Specific gubernatorial environmental spending proposals

  • $500 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)
  • $64 million for the EAA Reservoir to continue the momentum of this critical project to reduce harmful discharges and help send more clean water south
  • $135 million for the expanded Water Quality Improvement Grant Program for projects to construct, upgrade or expand wastewater facilities, including septic-to-sewer conversions, stormwater management projects, and agricultural nutrient reduction projects
Legislators have also been busy filing legislation and discussing bills. Some of those bills got a head start in committee during the pre-session interim committee weeks that ran October to December 2023. To date, the House has filed 1,679 bills, and the Senate has filed 913 – fewer than last year for the House but a record number in the Senate.
Unfortunately, this week we saw the advancement of SB 738, designed to discourage citizen legal challenges against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Water Management Districts (WMD). This bill will require the losing party of any such challenge to pay $50,000 of prevailing and intervening parties attorney’s fees for failing to succeed in any challenge against the state agencies.
Environmental advocates have opposed similar legislative measures in recent years, specifically bills that required no limit on prevailing party’s attorneys and court fees to citizen challenges of development orders, zoning measures, and comprehensive plans. The bills filed this year seek to put an end to the very last opportunity for judicial review to citizen challenges to DEP and WMD actions.
These laws have had a massive chilling effect, making it too risky to bring legitimate challenges that now have a chance of coming with potentially multimillion-dollar price tags.

SB 738 moves next to its second committee stop in Senate Judiciary. The identical House version, HB 789 has not yet been scheduled. 
Click below to see a table of all of the bills SCCF is following, updated daily during session. Thank you for your involvement, and we welcome your input and comments as we work together to protect our natural environment!
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