Legislative Update - April 20, 2017

Note: This is a summary of filed environmental legislation, and is provided as a service of the Florida Conservation Coalition to our members. To date, the FCC has identified the top piece(s) of legislation as priorities.

 

Florida Conservation Coalition Legislative Priorities

 

Funding for Conservation and Recreation Land Acquisition

The FCC has approved the following position statement:

The primary reason the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (WLCA) was proposed and supported by Florida voters was to restore funding for Florida’s landmark conservation and recreation land acquisition programs, including Florida Forever.

The Legislature should statutorily dedicate a minimum of 25 percent of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund each year for land acquisition projects through the Florida Forever program and Florida Communities Trust. These funds must be used for land acquisition (including conservation easement projects) on the approved Acquisition and Restoration Council’s priority list and for Florida Communities Trust (Chapter 380, Part III). Additionally, the Legislature should increase Land Acquisition Trust Fund allocations for land conservation through the Rural and Family Lands program.

Update: The Senate has adopted a budget with a mere $15 million for land acquisition on Florida Forever’s priority list. The House has adopted a budget with $0 for the Florida Forever program. Neither the House or the Senate provide any funding for the Rural and Family Lands program. The House’s budget includes $10 million for the Florida Communities Trust program and the Senate’s budget includes $5.3 million.

 

 

Other Environmental Legislation of Interest

 

 

Land Acquisition Trust Fund

Note: Funding from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund comes from the 1/3 of documentary stamp taxes set aside by the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment One) in 2014.

 

SB 10 (Sen. Bradley/ Sen. Flores), “Reservoir Project in the Everglades Agricultural Area”: This bill is related to Senator Negron’s proposal to construct a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

SB 10 has been comprehensively amended again. The bill now focuses on using primarily state-owned lands for the reservoir project. Specifically, the bill proposes the use of the “A-2” parcel, which had previously been approved as the location of another Everglades restoration project, as well as adjacent lands the state currently leases out by amending or terminating lease agreements and then using or exchanging those lands. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) would be authorized to purchase additional lands for the reservoir project, but would not be allowed to utilize eminent domain. In order to avoid using as much agricultural land, the footprint of the proposed reservoir has been reduced to provide a minimum of 240,000 acre-feet of water storage south of the lake. Additionally, the bill allows U.S. Sugar to unilaterally terminate its contract to sell sugar lands to the state if certain conditions are met.

The bill requires state-owned land necessary for the reservoir project to be provided to the SFWMD. It also states that the “A-1” parcel could be used for the reservoir project if it would result in a reservoir with at least 360,000 acre-feet of water storage and enough land to treat the water from the reservoir to state and federal water quality standards.

The bill authorizes up to $1.2 billion of Florida Forever bond proceeds to be used for land acquisition, planning, construction, and operation and maintenance related to the reservoir project. It would allocate $33 million during the 2017-2018 fiscal year for reservoir-related expenses. The following year, statutorily guaranteed annual allocations from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for the Everglades would increase by $100 million. This would provide that up to $300 million is guaranteed each year for Everglades restoration, including the southern reservoir project. The C-51 water supply project would also be funded.

The C-51 reservoir project could provide water to utilities and natural systems. This bill would authorize the SFWMD to negotiate with the owners of the C-51 reservoir for the acquisition of the project or to enter into a public-private partnership. The SFWMD would also be authorized to acquire land near the C-51 project through purchase or exchange of land in order to achieve an optimal combination of water quality and water storage. The bill would allocate $31 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for expenses related to the C-51 project.

The bill mandates the State to provide funding assistance, via a revolving loan fund, to local governments or water supply entities (both public and private) for the development of water storage facilities, including the costs of planning, construction, and land acquisition. Loans would be awarded by the Department of Environmental Protection from the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund. The Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund would be used for alternative water supply and water storage projects, like the C-51 project, and could no longer be used to fund the implementation of Best Management Practices or capital project expenditures necessary for achieving Total Maximum Daily Loads.

Finally, the bill includes provisions to connect certain people south of Lake Okeechobee with jobs.

A companion bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Altman and Rep. Fitzenhagen which does not reflect the amendments made in the Senate: HB 761.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed (5-1)); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed) – In Messages

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 112 (Sen. Brandes/Sen. Rodriguez), “Flood Hazard Mitigation”: This bill would:

1)    Subject to appropriation, allocate up to $50 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for flood hazard risk reduction policies and projects, including the acquisition of flood-prone property and development of green infrastructure to reduce the risk of flooding. Funds would be used for a matching grant program through the Division of Emergency Management.

2)    Require an annual appropriation of a sum not to exceed $820,000 from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the Emergency Management, Preparedness, and Assistance Trust Fund for nonrecurring administrative costs of implementing the grant program.

3)    Add Flood Mitigation Projects to the list of projects that the Florida Communities Trust program can fund, undertake, and coordinate.

An identical bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Ahern: HB 613

Senate Referrals: Banking and Insurance; Community Affairs; Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development; Appropriations

House Referrals: Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 230 (Sen. Artiles), “Nonnative Animals”: This amended bill would allocate $300,000 annually, for two years, from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to implement a pilot program focused on mitigating the impact of tegu lizards, lionfish, and other invasive species on public lands and waters. Work performed on public lands not owned or managed by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would have to be permitted by the land owners. The FWC, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, would establish a pilot program with the goal of examining the benefits of using strategically deployed teams to capture or destroy the invasive species and simultaneously collect information for research purposes. FWC would submit a report of findings and recommendations regarding the pilot program to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1, 2020.

Additionally, this bill would require “priority invasive species” to be implanted with a PIT tag before sale.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Beshears: HB 587. The House version does not include an appropriation in the bill.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed)

 

SB 234 (Sen. Bradley/Sen. Bean/ Sen. Gibson/ Sen. Hutson/Sen. Stewart), “Land Acquisition Trust Fund”: This amended bill would require an annual allocation of $20 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for the St. Johns River Water Management District to help fund projects dedicated to the restoration and enhancement of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region. The funds could be used for land management, land acquisition, increasing recreational opportunities, and improving public access.

Similar language is also contained in the amended SB 10.

A companion bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Payne: HB 847.

Senator Stewart filed an amendment to SB 234 that mirrors FCC’s adopted land conservation position statement, requesting that 25% of Land Acquisition Trust Fund (Amendment 1) dollars are allocated annually to the Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust programs. Senator Bradley, the bill sponsor, stated that this was an “unfriendly” amendment and asked senators to vote the amendment down. Senator Stewart then withdrew her amendment, preventing a floor vote.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed) – In Messages

House Referrals: Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee

 

HB 551 (Rep. Stone), “Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems”: This bill would require an annual appropriation of $20 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. These funds would be used to help property owners retrofit their septic systems or switch to central sewer when DEP finds that their septic systems are contributing excess nutrient pollution to the Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. The funds would also be used for muck dredging and storm-water improvements in the northern Indian River Lagoon.

Additionally, this bill would require the adoption of septic tank remediation plans where DEP determines they’re necessary for meeting pollution reduction goals set by Total Maximum Daily (Pollution) Loads for water bodies. Plans would include options for septic system repair, upgrade, or replacement; drain field modification; the addition of effective nutrient-reducing features; and connection to central sewer.

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Young and Senator Mayfield: SB 874.

House Referrals: Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

                                    

HB 663 (Rep. Peters), “Implementation of the Water and Land Conservation Constitutional Amendment: This bill would amend the Land Acquisition Trust Fund Statute to appropriate a minimum of the lesser of 12.5 percent or $100 million, annually, through the 2026-2027 fiscal year, to the Department of Environmental Protection for water supply and water resource development projects identified in a recovery or prevention strategy or in a regional water supply plan. The money could also be used for water quality restoration projects identified in a basin management action plan or a reasonable assurance plan.

An identical bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Brandes: SB 1082.

House Referrals: Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 982 (Sen. Mayfield), “Land Acquisition Trust Fund Allocation for the Indian River Lagoon System”: This bill would amend the Land Acquisition Trust fund statute to appropriate $30 million annually for projects dedicated to the restoration of the Indian River Lagoon system. From these funds, $15 million would be distributed to the St. Johns River Water Management District and $15 million would be distributed to the South Florida Water Management District. The funds could be used for land acquisition, land management, increasing recreational opportunities, and improving public access.

An identical bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Altman: HB 1033.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

House Referrals: Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee

 

SB 1590 (Sen. Latvala/ Sen. Hutson/ Sen. Mayfield), “Coastal Management”: This bill would amend the Land Acquisition Trust fund statute to appropriate the lesser of 7.6 percent or $50 million annually for projects that preserve and repair the state’s beaches.

Additionally, this bill would change the way the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ranks beach and inlet projects requesting funding.

Finally, the bill would require DEP to include a strategic beach management plan, a critically eroded beaches report, and a statewide long-range budget plan in their comprehensive long-term management plan. The budget plan would include three-year work plans for beach and inlet projects and a long-range plan that identifies projects for inclusion in the fourth and fifth ensuing fiscal years.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Peters and Rep. Moraitis: HB 1213. However, HB 1213 does not amend the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to provide annual funding for beaches.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed)

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee

 

 

 

Water

 

HB 285 (Rep. Fine/ Rep. Altman/ Rep. Diamond/ Rep. Edwards/ Rep. Fischer/ Rep. Fitzenhagen/ Rep. Jacobs/ Rep. Leek/ Rep. Massullo/ Rep. Plasencia), “Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Inspections”: This amended bill would no longer require septic system inspections when properties with septic systems are sold. The bill, instead, would simply require sellers of property with septic systems to disclose the existence of the system to buyers. The disclosure would have to include the possible environmental effects of the system and advice for properly maintaining the system. Additionally, the Department of Health would be required to identify the location and operational condition of all septic systems in the state in order to update their database of septic system information. However, the Department of Health would not be allowed to visit or inspect septic systems in order to collect information, forcing them to rely on existing data from state, local, or commercial sources. This database would be used to generate a report to be submitted to the Governor, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House.

The companion to this bill is SB 1748 by Sen. Stewart. SB 1748 used to include enforcement provisions for septic systems in need of repair in addition to mandatory septic system inspections. It has been amended to reflect changes made in the House. It does not include the provision, however, that prohibits the Department of Health from visiting septic systems to collect data.

House Referrals: Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee (Passed); Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Commerce Committee (Passed); House Floor (Passed)

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; Appropriations

 

HB 413 (Rep. Antone), “Water Oversight and Planning”: This bill would establish a Water Oversight & Planning Board to oversee regional water supply and water quality planning, flood protection planning, and environmental restoration. The board would include two members appointed by the Governor, several industry-minded members, and one representative from an environmental organization. The stated purposes of this Board are basic functions of the water management districts.

A similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Gibson: SB 1300.

SB 1300 has been withdrawn from its committees and further consideration.

House Referrals: Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations; Rules

 

SB 532 (Sen. Galvano/Sen. Stewart/Sen. Benacquisto/ Sen. Rouson/ Sen. Book/ Sen. Young/ Sen. Hukill), “Public Notification of Pollution”: This amended bill uses existing rules to determine when pollution must be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection. An owner or operator of an installation where a reportable pollution release occurs must report the release to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) within 24 hours after discovering the release. Then, DEP must publish this report online within 24 hours of receipt. If an owner or operator of an installation fails to comply with this law, they would be subject to up to $10,000 per day of civil penalties for each violation.

Additionally, SB 532 requires an additional report to be sent to the DEP if a reportable pollution release migrates outside of the property boundaries of the installation.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Peters: HB 1065. HB 1065 requires less information in pollution notification reports and does not require additional notification if pollution migrates outside the property boundaries of the installation where the pollution release occurred.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed) - In Messages

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

HB 573 (Rep. Burton), “Heartland Headwaters Protection & Sustainability Act”: This amended bill would require the Polk Regional Water Cooperative to develop a comprehensive annual report, including estimated project costs and completion dates, for water resource projects identified for priority state funding within the Cooperative’s jurisdiction.

A similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Stargel: SB 928. SB 928 would allow a county or municipality who receives proceeds from a local government infrastructure surtax to transfer those proceeds to a regional water supply authority.

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (April 25, 2017; 9:00 AM; 412 Knott Building)

 

SB 678 (Sen. Montford), “Financial Assistance for Water and Wastewater Infrastructure: This bill would make it easier for local governments to finance septic to sewer conversions by allowing them to receive payments from the State for invoices, rather than paying the invoices themselves and then waiting for reimbursement from the State.

An identical bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Payne: HB 629.

Senate Referrals: Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

HB 751 (Rep. Clemons), “Stormwater Management”: This bill would require local governments to adopt DEP’s best management practices and other measures adopted by rule in their stormwater plans. If this bill passes, local governments that edit their stormwater plans as required above would be considered in compliance with water quality standards. Finally, this bill would prohibit local governments from adopting more stringent water quality standards for stormwater discharges than those required by the state.

A Similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Perry: SB 1378.

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Community Affairs; Rules

 

HB 755 (Rep. Albritton), “Aquifer Replenishment”: This amended bill would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to place additional permit conditions on permits for underground injections intended to protect or replenish the state’s ground water resources.

Additionally, this bill would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules establishing voluntary facility classifications and associated operator licensing requirements for water treatment facilities that handle reclaimed water and stormwater as a means of promoting the availability of sufficient water.

A similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Broxson: SB 1438.

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Appropriations Committee; Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 816 (Sen. Simmons), “Central and Southern Florida Project for Flood Control and Other Purposes”: This bill would require the South Florida Water Management District to request the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite repair, improvement, and strengthening of the dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee so as to reach substantial completion before July of 2020. It aims to ensure that Lake Okeechobee discharges are executed only as part of a schedule approved by the District. The bill would set a goal of holding an additional 2 feet of water in Lake Okeechobee so that maximum discharges wouldn’t be required until the water level of the lake reached 19 feet. The bill also directs the District to request the Corps work with them to reevaluate the CERP with the intention of increasing storage in the authorized Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir on A-1 and A-2 lands AND to provide water quality treatment.

SB 816 permits all costs associated with maintaining the dike, including the costs for land acquisition, construction, and operation and maintenance, to be funded out of the Florida Forever program – historically the primary source for statewide conservation land acquisition. It further states that up to $1 billion in Florida Forever bond proceeds in the 2017-2018 fiscal year shall be deposited to the Everglades Trust Fund for dike repair, improvement, and strengthening. This money would be additional to funds allocated to Everglades restoration in last year’s Legacy Act. The funding to accomplish this, in excess of state obligation under the C&SF agreement, would be considered an interest-free loan to the United States.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Roth: HB 1211. Among other differences from SB 816, HB 1211 would require an annual $100 million allocation through 2020-2021 from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for the rehabilitation and improvement of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability

 

SR 1230 (Sen. Bradley), “Springs Protection Awareness Month”: This bill would recognize the importance of Florida’s springs by declaring April 2017 as “Springs Protection Awareness Month” in Florida and encouraging all levels of government to support springs protection, restoration, and preservation awareness.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Porter: HR 8005.

Both SR 1230 and HR 8005 have been adopted.

 

SB 1700 (Sen. Farmer), “Water Management”: This bill would improve upon last year's omnibus water bill to provide greater protection for Florida's waters, particularly Florida's Outstanding Florida Springs. Among other provisions, this bill would:

-       Give Water Management Districts information necessary to better determine how much water Floridians are consuming

-       Require Water Management Districts to determine how much water can be sustainably consumed in districts containing Outstanding Florida Springs

-       Require that sufficient water be reserved to restore the minimum flow or water level of an Outstanding Florida Spring

-       Strengthen prohibitions on new pollution to Outstanding Florida Springs

-       Collect information necessary to reduce pollution to Outstanding Florida Springs

-       Require Agricultural Best Management Practices be used that can achieve pollution reductions called for by Basin Management Action Plans which include an Outstanding Florida Spring

-       Permits funding for conservation easements on lands within a Basin Management Action Plan that includes an Outstanding Florida Spring when the Department of Environmental Protection determines that the land is being used in a way that is inconsistent with springs protection. The easements may include a move from the current use of the land to less-polluting agricultural activities.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

 

 

Growth Management

 

HB 17 (Rep. Fine/ Rep. Renner), “Local Regulation Preemption”: This bill would prevent any political subdivision of the state from adopting new regulation on a business, profession, or occupation unless the regulation is expressly authorized by general law. It also sunsets existing regulations and permitting of businesses, professions, and occupations on July 1, 2020.

A similar, though less broad, bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Passidomo: SB 1158.

House Referrals: Careers & Competition Subcommittee (Passed); Commerce Committee

Senate Referrals: Commerce and Tourism; Community Affairs; Appropriations; Rules

 

SB 996 (Sen. Perry), “Administrative Proceedings”: This bill would lower the standard for when an individual or non-profit organization that challenges a development would be forced to pay a developer’s attorney fees. A party challenging a development would have to pay the developer’s attorney fees and costs if the developer prevails, a settlement that is reached that is favorable to the developer on a majority of issues, or if the challenging party drops the challenge.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Killebrew: HB 997.

Senate Referrals: Judiciary (Temporarily Postponed); Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government; Appropriations

House Referrals: Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee (Temporarily Postponed); Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

 

 

Wildlife

 

HB 491 (Rep. Mercado/ Rep. Baez/ Rep. Jenne/ Rep. Moskowitz), “FloridaBlack Bear Habitat Restoration Act”: The bill declares that it is the intent of the Legislature to enact measures to restore black bear habitat and thereby reduce human-bear conflicts.

It would:

1)    Establish a Bear-Resistant Garbage Container Account, with a minimum appropriation of $1 million, within the Nongame Wildlife Trust Fund. Counties with bear-human conflicts would be able to apply for funding assistance for bear-resistant garbage containers from this Account.

2)    Require burn schedules for state forests and parks to be adjusted to allow for the regrowth of oak trees, saw palmettos, and other berry-producing plants that black bears eat to the extent that, after such regrowth, bears are not compelled to enter residential areas in search of food.

3)    Prohibit roller-chopping of saw palmettos in black bear habitat.

4)    Prohibit the sale of timbering rights to acorn-producing trees in state forests and state parks with black bear habitat.

5)    Prohibit hunting black bears until July 1, 2027.

6)    Require FWC to conduct a 5-year population trend study of the Florida black bear which includes an analysis of the potential impact of hunting.

7)    Prohibit saw palmetto berry harvesting on state lands with black bear habitat.

8)    Establish a sales certificate system for saw palmetto berry transactions.

9)    Prohibits prescribed burns in black bear habitat, during denning season, until a certificate from FWC is obtained that says that no adult female bears with juvenile offspring are denning within the burn site.

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Stewart and Sen. Torres: SB 1304.

SB 1304 has been significantly amended. For example, the provision creating a revolving fund for bear-resistant trash cans has been removed.

The amended bill would prohibit the FWC from allowing bears mothering cubs under 100 pounds to be taken during a Florida black bear hunt. It provides that anyone who unlawfully harvests saw palmetto berries on state lands commits petit theft of the second degree. It would require FWC to designate, on state lands, black bear habitats where females are likely to be denning in February and lands where there are critical food sources for bears. Finally, it would prohibit prescribed burning on state lands during the month of February where the FWC has designated as a likely location for black bear denning.

House Referrals: Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 884 (Sen. Hutson), “Sharks”: This amended bill would codify the prohibition of the possession of separated shark fins or tails on Florida waters without special permission. It would codify the prohibition on bringing separated shark fins or tails ashore without special permission. And it would also create incremental punishments for violations.

The companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Miller, Rep. Gruters, Rep. Burgess, Rep. Cortes, and Rep. Jacobs: HB 823.

These bills would no longer prohibit the sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins and tails.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed) – In Messages

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Careers and Competition Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed)

 

 

 

Energy

 

SB 90 (Sen. Brandes), “Renewable Energy Source Devices”: This bill would implement 2016’s Constitutional Amendment 4.

Previously “renewable energy source devices” were exempt from consideration when assessing the value of residential property. This bill extends this exemption to commercial properties as well, until December 31, 2037.

This bill would also exempt “renewable energy source devices” from ad valorem taxation until December 31, 2037.

The bill has been amended so that the definition of “renewable energy source device” excludes a utility’s distribution or transmission equipment.

Two companion bills have been filed in the House:

An identical bill has been filed by Rep. Berman: HB 1411. It has not been heard in any of its committees.

A similar bill was filed by Rep. Rodrigues: HB 1351.

The tax exemptions for renewable energy source devices on commercial properties provided for by HB 1351 would only apply to installations on or after January 1, 2018.

HB 1351 has numerous provisions requiring disclosures to be included in agreements governing the sale or lease of distributed energy generation systems.

Violations would be punishable by fines.

Senate Referrals: Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Passed); Community Affairs (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax (Passed); Appropriations (Passed)

House Referrals (for HB 1351): Energy and Utilities Subcommittee (Passed); Ways and Means Committee (Passed); Commerce Committee (Passed)

 

SJR 108 (Sen. Farmer), “Extreme Well Stimulation Ban Resolution”: This resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution that would ban extreme well stimulation techniques, including “fracking,” in Florida.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Community Affairs; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 442, (Sen. Young/Sen. Perry/Sen. Farmer/ Sen. Latvala/ Sen. Stewart/ Sen. Rader/ Sen. Flores/ Sen. Mayfield/ Sen. Steube/ Sen. Rodriguez/ Sen. Torres/ Sen. Bracy/ Sen. Campbell/ Sen. Rouson/ Sen. Book/ Sen. Montford/ Sen. Powell), “Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment”: This bill would ban “advanced well stimulation” techniques, including “fracking,” in Florida. It makes it clear that a permit for drilling or operating a well doesn’t authorize the performance of “advanced well stimulation treatments.”

An identical bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Miller, Rep. Cruz, Rep. Abruzzo, Rep. Berman, Rep. Clemons, Rep. Cortes, Rep. Davis, Rep. Diamond, Rep. Fitzenhagen, Rep. Geller, Rep. Gruters, Rep. Jacobs, Rep. Latvala, Rep. Miller, Rep. Peters, Rep. Plascencia, Rep. Richardson, Rep. Smith, and Rep. Watson: HB 451.

A similar bill had been filed in the House by Rep. Jenne (HB 35). It had been referred to committees. Senator Farmer had previously filed a similar bill, SB 98, which had been referred to committees as well. Senator Farmer is currently co-sponsoring SB 442.

Senate Referrals (for SB 442): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

House Referrals (for HB 451): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 456 (Sen. Rodriguez), “Public Utilities”: This bill would exempt certain producers of renewable solar-based energy from being defined as a public utility. It would allow, for example, apartment complexes who produce solar power to sell power to their tenants without having to go through a utility.

A similar bill was filed in the House by Rep. Davis: HB 1251.

Senate Referrals: Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Temporarily Postponed); Community Affairs; Rules

House Referrals: Energy and Utilities Subcommittee; Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee; Commerce Committee

 

 

Environmental

 

SB 162 (Sen. Rodriguez/ Sen. Farmer/ Sen. Clemens/ Sen. Stewart/ Sen. Campbell), “Disposable Plastic Bags”: This bill would allow coastal communities with a population of fewer than 100,000 to implement pilot programs testing regulations or bans of disposable plastic bags. The pilot programs would take effect on or after January 1, 2018 and would end on or before June 30, 2020. The pilot regulations or bans cannot include new taxes or fees on the use or distribution of disposable plastic bags. Municipalities that implement such pilot programs would collect data on the impact of their regulations or ban and submit a report by April 1, 2020 with this information to the governing board of their municipality at a public hearing. They would also provide a copy of this report to the Department of Environmental Protection.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Richardson, Rep. Geller, Rep. Jacons, Rep. Raschein, and Rep. Slosberg: HB 93

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Community Affairs; Commerce and Tourism; Rules

House Referrals: Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee; Careers and Competition Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 198 (Sen. Stewart/Sen. Rodriguez), “Environmental Regulation Commission”: This amended bill would:

1)    Establish a deadline of 90 days for filling vacancies on the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC)

2)    Require a supermajority of the ERC to approve standards in rules relating to air quality, water quality, and water quantity standards.

A companion bill was filed in the House by Rep. Willhite: HB 861.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Ethics and Elections (Passed); Rules (April 25, 2017; 2:00 PM; 110 Senate Office Building)

House Referrals: Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee (Discussed); Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 974 (Sen. Rodriguez), “Public Utility Environmental Remediation Costs”: If this bill were to become law, a municipality or county would be able to request a hearing with the Public Service Commission when a utility causes environmental damage within the municipality, county, or adjacent bodies of water. The hearing would determine if the utility acted prudently in the events leading up to or causing the environmental damage AND if the utility acted prudently to remedy the damage. If the Public Service Commission decides that the utility did not act prudently, then the utility will not be able to recover the costs of remediation for the environmental damage from ratepayers.

Senate Referrals: Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities; Community Affairs; Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Rules



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