FCC Legislative Update - April 22 - 26, 2013

Note: These are the Bills the FCC is following according to the FCC priorities of Water Policy and Management, and Public Lands.  Please see many of our charter and affiliate members' sites for details on other important pieces of legislation.  Their websites can be accessed by clicking on the organization's name on our home page.

HB 999 (Rep. Patronis) / SB 1684 (Sen. Altman) These terrible bills, opposed by the FCC, seek to weaken or eliminate over 20 environmental regulations affecting water management, air quality, environmental resource permitting, development permitting, and more.

HB 999 passed in the House on April 25th by a 92-20 vote. A last minute amendment by Representative Patronis to remove wetlands exemptions for Chapter 298 districts failed and the final bill includes the wetland exemptions, threatening over 1 million acres of land and water; a moratorium on local fertilizer ordinances; and the ratification of 30-year no-bid leases on over 13,900 acres of public land to polluters in the Everglades Agricultural Area, among other terrible changes to environmental regulations across our state. 

A Committee Substitute of SB 1684, which includes all of the bad language from the House Bill except the moratorium on local fertilizer ordinances, is now on the Senate floor awaiting a second reading.

Contact your Senator and ask them to vote no on SB 1684!

The 298 Districts wetland exemption has also been added onto HB 7127, a transportation bill, which passed the House on April 25th and is now in messages.

Environmental Appropriations – Friday evening, April 26th, Senate and House leaders came to a compromise on most environmental appropriations for 2013. Florida Forever will receive $70 million in funding, $50 million coming from the sale of existing state lands, $10 million from general revenue, and $10 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The two chambers also agreed to spend $70 million on Everglades clean up and restoration from the Everglades Trust Fund, $58 million on water projects, $26.7 million on beach restoration projects, and $11 million to the Rural and Family Lands Program. A new line item in the House budget, $13 million for springs restoration, received no funding in the agreement.

HB 33 (Rep. Smith) / SB 466 (Sen. Altman) – Allows individuals and corporations to receive state owned land in exchange for placing permanent conservation easements over their private land holdings. This bill removes the state lands from public management, placing them back into the hands of private land owners for farming, grazing, timber and other private uses, likely resulting in the loss of public access to lands for hunting and other uses that benefit the public. This bill is opposed by the United Water Fowlers of Florida, Audubon Florida, Sierra Club, and other conservation groups.

*Both bills have been temporarily postponed in their committees, and are hopefully dead for this session.*

HB 901 (Rep. Stone) / SB 584 (Sen. Hays) – Prohibits the purchase of public conservation lands by any governmental entity unless an equal amount of public property is returned to private ownership, effectively killing the acquisition of conservation land in Florida. This bill is opposed by the FCC. See the previous FCC ACTION ALERT.

*The Florida Current reported Sen. Hays temporarily postponed SB 584, admitting that it “isn’t going to go anywhere” and is likely dead for the 2013 legislative session.* Great job to everyone who called or wrote to oppose SB 584!

SB 948 (Sen. Grimsley) / HB 1063 (Rep. Hutson) - Places the Department of Agriculture and Consumer services in a more prominent position in the water management district Regional Water Supply planning process. A new group within DACS would be established just for the purpose of providing estimates to the water management districts, which they must consider.

Several productive stakeholder meetings over the past month have changed the outlook on this bill. Senator Grimsley worked with all stakeholders to craft a fair compromise. The amended bill includes conservation measures in water supply projections, maintains a focus on alternative water supply, and recognizes the unique nature of different regions of our state.

SB 948 passed unanimously on April 26th. It appears the House will consider SB 948 when received in messages.

HB 7065 (Rep. Caldwell) / SB 768 (Sen. Simpson– Finds that the implementation of BMPs effectively reduces nutrients from entering the Everglades Protection Area. It extends the $25 per acre agriculture privilege tax until 2026 and then implements a phased draw down to $10 per acre from 2036 and thereafter. Instructs that tax proceeds will be used for design, construction, and implementation of the Long Term plan. States that payment of the agricultural privilege tax and implementation of BMPs fulfills the obligation of land owners and users under the Florida “polluter pays” constitutional amendment. Authorizes appropriations of $20 million from the Water Management Land Trust Fund and $12 million in general revenue for the Restoration Strategies Regional Water Quality plan through 2023-2024.

The amended HB 7065 passed the House 114-0.   The Senate has taken up the House version of the bill, which is awaiting a third reading.

HB 109 (Rep. Young) / SB 364 (Sen. Hays) – Extends the duration of Consumptive Use Permits for Development of Alternative Water Supplies from 20 to 30 years and prevents the quantity of alternative water allocated to be reduced, unless the reduction is needed to address harm to water resources or existing legal users. The FCC opposed similar language during recent Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Rulemaking, but with the recent change by Representative Young addressing environmental harm, we are not opposing this bill.

SB 364 passed unanimously. The House has taken up SB 364 in messages.

HB 7 (Rep. Porter)/ SB 244 (Sen. Dean) – Requires Water Management Districts (WMD) to include certain water bodies in priority lists and schedules, provides for adoption of certain reservations and minimum flows by DEP, and requires WMD to apply, without rule adoption, certain reservations, minimum flows and levels, and recovery and prevention strategies. Enables WMD to enter into interagency agreements to promote interagency coordination where boundaries overlap.

SB 244 passed unanimously in the Senate. HB 7 has been added to the Calendar in the House.

HB 183 (Rep. Raulerson) / SB 934 (Sen. Lee) – Grants 20 year general permits for stormwater discharge in redevelopment and infill areas. A new committee substitute to HB 183 removes language that would have restricted stormwater regulations and presumed stormwater discharges did not affect water quality. New version requires stormwater discharges show a net improvement of the quality of discharged water from pre-existing conditions and requires best management practices.

SB 934 passed in the full Senate unanimously. HB 183 has been on the House second reading calendar for more than three weeks.

HB 4007 (Rep. Nelson) / SB 326 (Hays) - Repeals prohibition on DEP acquiring land for the cross-Florida canal - and the rest of the statute that deals with rights of refusal for counties, land owners, renters, etc., whose land had been acquired for the canal. Recognizes the need for a new road in Marion County that would cross greenway lands.

SB 326 pass the Senate unanimously. HB 4007 is on the House second reading calendar.

HB7113 (Rep. Caldwell) / SB 1806 (Committee Bill) – Allows for phased total maximum daily loads (TMDL) if additional data is necessary to increase precision and accuracy. Exempts TMDL rules from legislative ratification. Would aid in the adoption and implementation of TMDL water quality standards.

SB 1806 passed in the Senate unanimously. HB 7113 is one the second reading calendar in the House.

HB 7115 (Rep. Raburn) / SB 1808(Committee Bill) – Provides for legislative ratification of agreement between DEP and EPA for nutrient standards.

SB1808 passed the Senate 33-5 with Senators Clemens, Abruzzo, Negron, and Soto objecting. HB 7115 is on the second reading calendar in the House.

Ryan Smart