Legislative Update - Week 5
Legislative Session Update-Week 5

Budget : The legislature is in budget negotiations with both the Senate and the House passing their budgets this week. The Senate voted 40-0 to pass its $90.3 billion budget plan and the $ 89.9 billion dollar budget plan passed the House by a vote of 105-8. The chambers’ overall budget plans are about $400 million apart, but both present large variations in spending priorities, particularly around the largest areas of expenditure, education and health care. The House and Senate’s environmental budget proposals are linked on the SCCF Legislative Tracker. The Senate’s budget plan is $1 billion less and the House’s plan is $1.4 billion less than the Governor’s $91.3 billion dollar budget recommendation. At this point in the session many of the legislative committees have met for the last time and the budget negotiations between the Senate and the House will kick into high gear. Just one of his environmental priorities, the Governor’s has proposed $625 million for Everglades restoration. The Senate has proposed $656 million for Everglades restoration which includes some additional related water quality projects. The House has proposed $607 million for Everglades restoration. 

Water Quality :  The Water Quality Improvement Bill, SB 1758 by Mayfield passed the Senate Community Affairs Committee Tuesday with a disappointing amendment to remove penalties for non-compliance with remediation standards. The bill does contain some good water quality components including: waste water spill notification requirements, sets deadlines for septic and waste water treatment remediation plans, establishes a real time water quality monitoring program, establishes a grant program for septic to sewer projects and revises Basin Management Action Plans for Outstanding Florida Springs. This bill has one more committee stop in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill seems to be the vehicle that is moving the fastest through the system and SCCF supports it for its beneficial features.

A positive storm water quantity and quality bill, SB 1344 by Cruz, passed its first committee hearing this week in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. This bill requires water management districts and the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules governing the removal of nutrients from stormwater discharges for new development and redevelopment projects that discharge into impaired waters. Unfortunately the similar House companion bill, HB 1343 by Good, has not been scheduled in its first of three committees of reference .

As these water quality bills move forward to their last committees we will ask for your support through upcoming Action Alerts for the bills that provide the biggest impact for improvement.

Transportation : The detrimental Heartland and Suncoast Expressway bill, SB 7058 , is anticipated to be scheduled in the Senate Appropriations Committee this coming Thursday. SCCF will send out an Action Alert to oppose this bill as soon as it is scheduled. If you are interested in knowing more about this bad bill, you can sign up for a 1000 Friends of Florida free webinar being held at noon on Thursday, April 18 th Link to webinar on SB 7068 registration here.

Everglades Action Day in Tallahassee: SCCFs Natural Resource Policy Team along with CEO, Ryan Orgera, will be in Tallahassee Monday and Tuesday of next week for Everglades Action Day sponsored by the Everglades Coalition. We will be advocating for the support of the Governor’s environmental budget requests, stronger protection for all Florida's waters, reinstatement of strong statewide land use planning for sustainable growth and a comprehensive ban on fracking. We look forward to talking with and hearing from our legislators on these priority issues.  Thank you, as always, for your advocacy and involvement.

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