FCC Legislative Update April 8-12, 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.

On Wednesday, April 10th, House Sponsor Jimmy Patronis held a stakeholder meeting in the Capitol that was attended by a handful of FCC leaders and many powerful special interest lobbyists who had a hand in writing these bills. At the conclusion of the meeting Rep. Patronis announced that a new version of HB 999 would be drafted addressing some of the concerns raised by the stakeholders thatday.

On Thursday, April 11th, a Committee Substitute (CS) for HB 999 was introduced. Unfortunately, this “new” bill is not only more of the same, but worse. One particularly alarming section eliminates the existing authority of water management districts to reduce groundwater allocations because of the availability of water from a drought resistance source (such as desalination, reclaimed water, aquifer storage and recovery, etc.). Another section of concern contains a definition of “Mean Annual Flood Line”, which relates to Ordinary High Water Line, and reduces the state’s ability to protect wetlands. The bill also contains language that would limit County and City requests for additional information for development permits, eliminate the requirement that public marinas attain Clean Program Marina status in order to be exempt from review as developments of regional impact, and restrict water quality testing.  

The previous language concerning water supply planning by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service and recycling has been removed in the new Committee Substitute, reducing the bill to a mere 30 pages.

HB 999 will go in front of the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, April 16th.  SB 1684 will be heard by the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, April 17th. 

Contact your legislators and ask them to vote no on HB 999/SB 1684!

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 three weeks 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, maintaining a focus on alternative water supply, and recognizing the unique nature of different regions of our state.

SB 948 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee, likely its last stop before the Senate floor. HB 1063, which contains similar language to the amended SB 948, is waiting for a hearing in the Agricultural and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

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.   Senate Bill 768 by Senator Simpson has been amended to align it with HB 7065 and will be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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 to 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 last week. HB 109 has been placed on the House Calendar.

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 Second Reading 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 added to the House second reading calendar.

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 was placed on the House 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.

HB 7113 is on the State Affairs Committee agenda for Tuesday, April 16th. SB 1806 is on the Special Order Calendar for the full Senate the same day.

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

HB 7115 is waiting for a second reading on the House Floor. SB1808 is on the Special Order Calendar for the Full Senate on Tuesday, April 16th.

Florida Forever and Everglades Appropriations – As part of the compromise on HB 7065, $32 million has been allocated for Everglades water quality improvements. This includes $12 million in general revenue fund and a $20 million from the Water Management Lands Trust Fund.

Florida Forever appropriations were released this week from the House and Senate. The House Budget fulfills Governor Scott’s funding request by allocating $25 million from general revenue and $50 million in proceeds from surplus land sales. The Senate Budget falls short, only allocating $10 million from the Florida Forever Trust Fund and $50 million from the proceeds of surplus land sales. Requires that $10 million from Florida Forever Trust Fund be used to purchase lands buffering military bases.

  Ryan Smart