FCC Legislative Wrap-Up March 18-22, 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 33 (Rep. Smith) / SB 466 (Sen. Altman) – Allows individual and corporate private land owners to exchange state owned land for 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. Since the alteration of the original state lands for these new agricultural uses would be relatively irreversible, and since there is no requirement in the bills for the conservation easements to be permanent, this does not seem fair to Florida’s taxpayers. This bill is opposed by the United Water Fowlers of Florida, Audubon Florida, and other conservation groups. The bills are still awaiting committee hearings in the House and Senate.

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. (In fact, since much of the public lands have been purchased with bonds requiring the land to remain in conservation, it could be interpreted that the bill is really a prohibition against acquiring new public conservation lands) This bill is opposed by the FCC. See the previous FCC ACTION ALERT. The House and Senate versions have been referred to 4 Committees in each chamber. The FCC will keep you updated on these bills as and if they are heard by the Committees.

HB 1063 (Rep. Hutson) / SB 948 (Sen. Grimsley) - Places the Department of Agriculture and Consumer services in a powerful role in advocating for agriculture in the water management 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.  Certain provisions conflict with needs for protection from drought or recognition of environmental restoration priorities. The bill increases the power of other “self-suppliers” in the water supply planning process; and does nothing to advance the cause of conservation and efficient water use or help our springs. On March 7th this bill received a favorable vote by the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. The bill has yet to be heard by any House Committees. This bill, in current form, is opposed by the FCC. See the original FCC ACTION ALERT on SB 948.  The outlook for this bill has changed as you will see, below.

Senator Grimsley, (the sponsor) has met with us twice in the last two weeks.  She very graciously temporarily postponed her bill, which has the effect of giving us one more week to further work things out.  The signs are good that this will happen following a two hour meeting with the Senator and DACS staff on Monday.  However, we have not seen the second set of amendments, yet. The House Bill is being conformed with the Senate Bill in real time as amendments have been accepted by the groups. In the meantime, Senator Bullard has helped by preparing and submitting amendments to meet our concerns in case negotiations break down. The next stop will be a later meeting of the Senate Agricultural Committee. We are hoping for a bill that provides DACS specific ability to participate in the water planning process under the conditions that  all data is available, the local planning process is recognized, conservation is specifically part of the DACS planning, and the effects of adding the self-suppliers to the planning and contracting process is clarified and made appropriate.  If there is a need for a further alert, we will let you know.

HB 7065 (Rep. CaldwellSB 768 (Sen. Simpson– As a result of persistent negotiations by conservationists, many, but not all, of our member organizations now support Everglades legislation moving forward this session. It is hard to estimate how difficult this session has been for the environmental lobbyists in Tallahassee.  That, considered, the compromise reached is understandable.

This legislation, HB 7065 and SB 768, has been modified under this compromise and is moving rapidly towards adoption.  Two of the most unacceptable provisions in the House Bill have been removed.  The “Principles” for Everglades restoration have been restored, which set forth many of the most important policy parameters for restoration, including contemplated sources of funds and percentage contributions. The attempt by the sugar industry to be deemed in compliance with water quality standards (the “cause or contribute issue”), automatically, if they install best management practices (BMP), was also removed from the House bill.  The third positive aspect of the bill lies in extending payments by the industry for Everglades restoration.  For those for whom restoration of the Everglades is the top priority, the inclusion of “appropriations” for the next 10 years is also a good thing.  However, the automatic transfer of $20 million/year from the Water Management Lands Fund for Everglades Restoration will make distribution from the Trust Fund even more political, and other Districts may be affected by this because the Trust Funds are no longer being managed in the way originally envisioned by the Legislature.   Also, unfortunately, language still remains which exists in the current statute (and was arguably strengthened in this change), to “deem” the (now extended) sugar payments (plus, now the BMP’s) to meet the Florida Constitutional requirements that the polluter pay for its share of the clean-up costs. It is probable that we really still do not know what the total bill for restoration will be.

The bill has been amended and the amended version passed the house 114-0 yesterday.   Senate Bill 768 by Senator Simpson has been amended to align it with HB 7065 and has been approved by the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation.

 

The House version has been referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, Rulemaking Oversight and Repeal Subcommittee, and State Affairs Committee. The Senate version has been referred to the Environmental Preservation and Conservation, Community Affairs, and Rules Committees. The FCC will keep you updated on these bills as they are heard by the Committees.

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.

Last week, HB 109 and SB 364 passed through their referring committees. Both bills await second readings in their respective chambers.

HB 999 (Rep. Patronis) / SB 1684 (Sen. Altman) - This bill creates, amendments and revises provisions relating to: development permit applications; marinas, boatyards, & marine retailers; general permits for special events; well permits; exemptions from permits, fees & related environmental requirements & regulation; regional water supply planning; agricultural water supply demand projections; major sources of air pollution; water quality testing, sampling, collection, & analysis; & restoration of seawalls. Unfortunately, and despite meeting with all the stakeholders, the environmental lobbyists who have been working with Representative Patronis have not yet been presented with the version of the bill likely to be heard in committee next week.  You may see an alert on this bill in the next couple of days.

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.

HB 7 is awaiting a hearing in the House Rulemaking Oversight & Repeal Subcommittee. SB 244 is scheduled for a second reading on March 27th.

 HB 319 (Rep. Ray) – This problematic growth management bill restricts mobility plans and fees, which many local governments have adopted instead of transportation concurrency.  Developers want to place the same restrictions on those plans regarding credits, proportionate share and prohibiting operating and maintenance costs. 1000 Friends of Florida met with stakeholders to voice concerns about the bill.  After reviewing the amendments made, serious concerns remain.  It did pass the first committee this week, and could be at the second committee stop next week.  We believe the bill unnecessarily restricts local government flexibility regarding mobility plans and mobility fees even though it appears to protect existing programs.  The Florida Association of Counties has expressed concerns about the bill. Currently, there is no Senate companion. 

HB321 (Rep. La Rosa) /SB1716 (Sen. Garcia) – Prohibits any local government from applying school and transportation concurrency, including proportionate share contributions, through July 1, 2017, unless 2/3 of elected officials vote to do so.  This bill would over-ride existing local government authority which already exists to suspend concurrency and/or impact fees, and interfere with local home rule authority.  

Florida Forever and Everglades restoration Appropriations – As part of the compromise on HB 7065, $32 million has been allocated for Everglades restoration. This includes $12 million in general revenue fund and a $20 million transfer from the Water Management Lands Trust Fund. The FCC will continue to monitor Florida Forever and Everglades funding as specific budget proposals come out of the relevant House and Senate Appropriation Committees.

 Ryan Smart

he House version has been referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, Rulemaking Oversight and Repeal Subcommittee, and State Affairs Committee. The Senate version has been referred to the Environmental Preservation and Conservation, Community Affairs, and Rules Committees. The FCC will keep you updated on these bills as they are heard by the Committees.

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.

Last week, HB 109 and SB 364 passed through their referring committees. Both bills await second readings in their respective chambers.

HB 999 (Rep. Patronis) / SB 1684 (Sen. Altman) - This bill creates, amendments and revises provisions relating to: development permit applications; marinas, boatyards, & marine retailers; general permits for special events; well permits; exemptions from permits, fees & related environmental requirements & regulation; regional water supply planning; agricultural water supply demand projections; major sources of air pollution; water quality testing, sampling, collection, & analysis; & restoration of seawalls. Unfortunately, and despite meeting with all the stakeholders, the environmental lobbyists who have been working with Representative Patronis have not yet been presented with the version of the bill likely to be heard in committee next week.  You may see an alert on this bill in the next couple of days.

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.

HB 7 is awaiting a hearing in the House Rulemaking Oversight & Repeal Subcommittee. SB 244 is scheduled for a second reading on March 27th.

 HB 319 (Rep. Ray) – This problematic growth management bill restricts mobility plans and fees, which many local governments have adopted instead of transportation concurrency.  Developers want to place the same restrictions on those plans regarding credits, proportionate share and prohibiting operating and maintenance costs. 1000 Friends of Florida met with stakeholders to voice concerns about the bill.  After reviewing the amendments made, serious concerns remain.  It did pass the first committee this week, and could be at the second committee stop next week.  We believe the bill unnecessarily restricts local government flexibility regarding mobility plans and mobility fees even though it appears to protect existing programs.  The Florida Association of Counties has expressed concerns about the bill. Currently, there is no Senate companion. 

HB321 (Rep. La Rosa) /SB1716 (Sen. Garcia) – Prohibits any local government from applying school and transportation concurrency, including proportionate share contributions, through July 1, 2017, unless 2/3 of elected officials vote to do so.  This bill would over-ride existing local government authority which already exists to suspend concurrency and/or impact fees, and interfere with local home rule authority.  

Florida Forever and Everglades restoration 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 transfer from the Water Management Lands Trust Fund. The FCC will continue to monitor Florida Forever and Everglades funding as specific budget proposals come out of the relevant House and Senate Appropriation Committees.

 Ryan Smart