Status: Water Management District Legislation (SB 1986)

The House and Senate Conference Committee has reached agreement on SB 1986.  It will now go to the House and Senate floors for final vote, which is expected tomorrow.  The votes will be up or down.

The Governor's Office and DEP held a briefing this morning with environmental groups to pass out and explain the final version of the bill.... The bill is now, very much like the House offer which tracked the Governor's amendments.  The bill removes the revenue caps, and gives the Legislature the authority to review and comment on wmd budgets and to set millage rates if they are dissatisfied with the preliminary budgets (this is allowed under current law, and would require an act of the Legislature).  The Legislative budget commission is authorized to reject: (1) single land purchases over $10 million; (2) accumulative land purchases of over $50 million in one year; (3) issuance of debt; (4) expenditures for outreach or management and admin. in excess of 15% of total budget; and (5) individual variances in wmds tentative budgets in excess of 25% from the preliminary budgets.
 
The Bird Drive amendment has been removed.
 
In summary, this legislation will largely place wmd budget oversight and mgt. back under the Governor, as it has existed for the past several years.  It does not remove legislative influence (a political impossibility since wmd creation), but it does remove legislative command and control and micro management.  The bill will take the state back much closer to 2011 than existed with SB 2142 (2011).
 
We didn't achieve total victory, but we gained a lot of ground.

"Thank you" to all the Florida Conservation Coalition members who joined in this effort.  Together, we have made a difference.

Estus Whitfield