Final Legislative Update of 2018 Legislative Session - March 11, 2018

Florida Conservation Coalition Legislative Priorities

 

Funding for Conservation and Recreation Land Acquisition

The Florida Conservation Coalition’s adopted position statement can be found here. Below is an excerpt:

The Legislature should follow the will of the voters and build on Florida’s rich conservation commitment by passing legislation during the 2018 session that:

Annually dedicates the largest share of funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to the acquisition of natural areas, working farms and ranches, and close-to-home recreation opportunities through the Acquisition and Restoration Council’s scientifically-ranked Florida Forever Priority List, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, and the Florida Communities Trust.

To implement that legislation, the Legislature should appropriate funds from the LATF for these land conservation programs. Funding these scientifically-driven programs, rather than funding individual land acquisition projects, will ensure tax-payer dollars are expended effectively, protecting lands with the greatest conservation value.

 

State Assumption of Federal Permitting Authority Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

SB 1402 and HB 7043 would begin the process of delegating federal wetlands permitting and enforcement authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to the State of Florida. The Florida Conservation Coalition is opposed to these bills as a state 404 program is likely to provide less protection for Florida’s wetlands than the current federal program, and Floridians will not know whether or not a state 404 program will provide sufficient environmental protection until well after these bills have become state law.

To read more about the concerns the Florida Conservation Coalition has with these bills, click here.

 

 

Environmental Legislation of Interest

Note: Legislation listed below is described as a service of the FCC for informational purposes only. The FCC has not taken a position on any of the below legislation, unless otherwise noted.

 

                                                                                                       

Land Conservation/ Land Acquisition Trust Fund

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

 

SB 158 (Sen. Brandes), “Florida Communities Trust”: This bill would allow flood mitigation projects to be funded through the Florida Communities Trust program, which is known for helping local governments preserve open space for public recreation. Under the bill, the purpose of flood mitigation projects is to improve a community’s classification under the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS) and to assist local governments in implementing their flood reduction and mitigation plans.

An identical bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Stevenson: HB 1097.

Senate Referrals (SB 158): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriation

House Referrals (HB 1097): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Died); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 168 (Sen. Steube), “Nonnative Animals”: This amended bill creates a pilot program focused on mitigating the impact of tegu lizards, Burmese pythons, lionfish, and other priority invasive species on public lands and waters. The goal of the pilot program is to examine 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, 2021

There’s an identical bill in the House by Rep. Beshears: HB 145.

Originally these bills included a $300,000 appropriation each year, for two years, to implement the pilot program and a requirement that pet dealers implant a PIT tag in all nonnative animals determined to be a risk to native wildlife before sale. These provisions were removed from the final bill.

Senate Referrals (SB 168): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed)

House Referrals (HB 145): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Substituted SB 168; SB 168 Passed)

 

SB 174 (Sen. Hukill, Sen. Book, Sen. Hutson, Sen. Mayfield, Sen. Taddeo), “Coastal Management”: This amended bill would change the way the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ranks beach and inlet projects requesting funding. One change requires DEP to take into consideration the tourism-related tax revenues for the most recent year of the County where the project is located.

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

SB 174 previously included a dedicated annual allocation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for beach projects. The Senate Appropriations Committee removed funding from the bill before passing SB 174 in their committee.

An identical bill was filed in the House by Rep. Peters: HB 131.

Senate Referrals (SB 174): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed); (Died in Messages to the House)

House Referrals (HB 131): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Died); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 204 (Sen. Bradley/Sen. Bean/ Sen. Perry/Sen. Stewart, Sen. Simpson, Sen. Stargel, Sen. Passidomo, Sen. Baxley, Sen. Hukill, Sen. Young, Sen. Hutson, Sen. Montford), “St. Johns River WMD & Springs”: This bill would require an annual allocation of $50 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for the St. Johns River Water Management District to help fund projects dedicated to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region.

In addition, this bill would increase the allocation of Amendment One funds for springs. Currently, springs receive an annual allocation of either 7.6% of LATF funds after debt service or $50 million, whichever amount is lower. This bill would increase the annual allocation to either 10.7% of LATF funds after debt service or $75 million, whichever is lower.

Senate Referrals (SB 204): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed); (Died in Messages to the House)

 

HB 339 (Rep. Harrell), “Indian River Lagoon”: This bill would dedicate the lesser of 7.6% or $50 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for projects in the Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Under this bill, funding preference would be given to projects for ecosystem monitoring and habitat restoration, projects to connect septic systems to central sewer lines, and projects for the management of stormwater, freshwater, and agricultural discharges.

The Department of Environmental Protection would be required to submit a report on the funded projects to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives annually.

A similar bill was filed in the Senate by Sen. Mayfield: SB 786.

House Referrals (for HB 339): Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Died); Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Appropriations

Senate Referrals (for SB 786): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 370 (Sen. Bradley, Sen. Stewart, Sen. Perry, Sen. Bean, Sen. Taddeo, Sen. Mayfield, Sen. Montford, Sen. Gibson, Sen. Young, Sen. Passidomo, Sen. Campbell), “Land Conservation”: This bill would dedicate $100 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the Florida Forever Trust Fund, regardless of new debt service payments. Florida Forever is the state’s premier land conservation program.

Funding in the Florida Forever Trust Fund could be allocated according to a formula in statute which shares money with different conservation programs, including 35% for the Florida Forever Priority List, 30% for land acquisition by Water Management Districts (WMDs), 21% for the Florida Communities Trust program, and 3.5% for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.

SB 370 would also prevent Amendment One funds (funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund) from being used to pay agency salaries and benefits in certain situations. Had this provision been in law last year, it would have prevented the allocation of over $26 million in expenses from the LATF. If this bill passes, the money saved can be rerouted to conservation projects, including land acquisition. The conservation community has been advocating for changes like this since the Water and Land Conservation Amendment was first implemented.

The Florida Conservation Coalition applauds SB 370 as a good start toward meeting the state’s land conservation needs, but notes that this level of funding may not allow us to reach our conservation goals. The FCC advocates for the largest share of funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to be allocated to land conservation annually. This year, the FCC asks for approximately $300 million for land conservation through the Florida Forever Priority List, Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, and the Florida Communities Trust program.

The Florida Conservation Coalition is very supportive of the movement in SB 370 to shift Land Acquisition Trust Fund dollars away from existing operating expenses, like salaries, so that more of these funds can be used for conservation.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Beshears: HB 1353. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Ausley, Rep. Harrison, Rep. Altman, and Rep. Geller. This bill does not include the provision restricting LATF allocations, but is otherwise identical to SB 370.

A 3rd bill dedicating funding for land conservation was filed and supported by the House Government Accountability Committee: HB 7063. The Florida Conservation Coalition has not taken a position on HB 7063, but has a few significant concerns with the bill as currently drafted.

Among other things, HB 7063 would:

·      Dedicate annual funding from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the Florida Forever Trust Fund starting in 2019 and lasting throughout the life of the Water and Land Conservation Amendment. No funds are provided for Florida Forever this year through the bill. When funds are provided, the funding level begins at $57 million in 2019 and slowly increases to $200 million in 2029, where funding plateaus for the rest of the life of the Amendment.

HB 7063 states that the allocations provided to the Florida Forever Trust Fund will be reduced by an amount equal to the amount paid in debt service for new Florida Forever bonds. HB 7063 authorizes the use of Florida Forever bonds for many reservoir projects including the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir and the C-51 reservoir. The Florida Conservation Coalition is concerned that new bonding for these projects could significantly reduce, and possibly eliminate, funding for land acquisition.

The Florida Conservation Coalition also believes that not providing funding for Florida Forever this year is a significant flaw in HB 7063.

·      Change the formula for dividing funds in the Florida Forever Trust Fund, allocating less funding for the Florida Forever Priority List. The new formula provides:

o   1/3 of funds for the Florida Forever Priority List, acquisition of inholdings, the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program, Water Management District land acquisition work plans, and statutorily required funding for land acquisition in the Florida Keys ($5 million annually through 2026).

o   1/3 of funds for the Florida Communities Trust program which focuses on partnering with local governments to purchase parks.

o   1/3 of funds for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program which purchases conservation easements on working agricultural lands.

·      Remove language prioritizing Florida Communities Trust (FCT) projects in low-income or disadvantaged areas.

·      Requires the Florida Communities Trust program to prioritize projects that enhance essential natural resources, contribute to ecosystem service parcels, and connect linkage corridors

·      Require proceeds from the sale of surplus conservation lands, owned by a County, municipality, or WMD, that were purchased with Florida Forever funds before July 1, 2015 to be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund unless the proceeds are used for another purpose identified in the Florida Forever Act within three years.

·      Require proceeds from the sale of surplus conservation lands, owned by a County, municipality, or WMD, that were purchased with state funds on or after July 1, 2015 to be deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund unless the proceeds are used for another purpose identified in the Water and Land Conservation Amendment within three years

·      Require WMDs to deposit any revenue generated from the use of conservation lands (like revenue generated from contracts with timber companies), purchased with state funds, into a separate agency trust fund to be used for land management.

·      Provide mechanisms for DEP and DACS to provide technical support to local governments’ rural-lands protection easement programs for a fee.

·      Add “wildlife crossings” to the list of factors the Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) considers when evaluating and ranking Florida Forever priority projects.

·      Require public water systems and domestic wastewater treatment systems to develop asset management plans focusing on the long-term life cycle and performance of system assets, including distribution lines, and establish funds to implement the plans. This bill requires public water systems and domestic wastewater treatment systems to demonstrate that they’re implementing adequate asset management plans in order to receive state funding.

·      Require public water systems and domestic wastewater treatment systems with infrastructure within a 500-year flood area to build new infrastructure to withstand flood conditions.

·      Serve as a companion bill to SB 174 and SB 992.

·      Require the Department of Transportation to coordinate with WMDs, DEP, and local governments to redirect stormwater from road projects for beneficial use, if economically feasible.

HB 7063 provides less funding for Florida Forever than SB 370 in the short term, but more funding for Florida Forever in the long term. Total funding for the Florida Forever program in SB 370 is $1.8 billion for the life of the Water and Land Conservation Amendment and $2.5 billion in HB 7063.

Senate Referrals (for SB 370): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed); (Died in Messages to the House)

House Referrals (for HB 7063): Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Appropriations Committee (Passed); House Floor (Died)

House Referrals (for HB 1353): Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Died); Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee

 

SB 464 (Sen. Bracy), “Little Wekiva River”: This bill would dedicate $5 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the St. Johns River Water Management District for the restoration, enhancement, and management of the headwaters and associated wetlands of the Little Wekiva River.

Additionally, the bill would provide a one-time appropriation of $15 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for the acquisition of lands identified in the Wekiva Study Area and lands in the headwaters of the Little Wekiva River.

This bill has been withdrawn.

Senate Referrals (SB 464): Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 806 (Sen. Baxley), “Water Management District Surplus Lands”: When a water management district (WMD) determines that land it owns is no longer needed for the purpose it was acquired for, it can sell the land as surplus land. The water management district must publish a notice of intention to sell surplus land in the local newspaper once a week, for three weeks. This bill clarifies that the district’s first published notice of intention to sell surplus land has to occur at least 30 days, but not more than 360 days, before any sale is approved by the district. It also requires the District to publish its notice of intention to sell on its website, in addition to the local newspaper.

The bill would remove the current requirement that a WMD must offer to sell surplus lands valued at $25,000 or less to adjacent landowners before the general public.

Finally, the bill removes the requirement that a WMD accept sealed bids and sell surplus properties valued at under $25,000 to the highest bidder or reject all offers 30 days after publishing their notice of intent to sell, if they don’t sell the land to the adjacent property owner. Instead, the bill allows the District to sell the land at any time to the general public for the highest price obtainable, if it does not sell the land to an adjacent property owner.

A similar bill was filed in the House by Rep. Burgess: HB 703.

Senate Referrals (for SB 806): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Governmental Oversight and Accountability (Passed); Rules (Passed); Senate Floor (Substituted HB 703, HB 703 Passed)

House Referrals (for HB 703): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Passed)

 

SB 808 (Sen. Baxley), “Public Records/ Surplus Lands”: In order for SB 808 to become law, SB 806 or similar legislation must also become law.

SB 808, as amended, would make written valuations of WMD land determined to be surplus, documents related to those valuations, and written offers for surplus lands on the market confidential from the public for a period of time. The confidentiality period would end 2 weeks before a contract or agreement regarding the purchase, exchange, or disposal of the surplus land is first considered for approval by the District.

Water management districts would have discretion, throughout the confidentiality period, to share valuations, written offers, and other documents related to surplus lands on the market with potential purchasers during negotiations for the land, during marketing efforts for the sale, disposal, or exchange of the land, when the passage of time has made the conclusions of the valuation invalid, or when negotiations or marketing efforts concerning the land conclude.

This bill requires a two-thirds vote to pass as it would create a new public record exemption. In compliance with the Open Government Sunset Review Act, should the bill pass, the public records exemption in the bill would be repealed on October 2, 2023 unless reenacted by the Legislature.

A similar bill was filed in the House by Rep. Burgess: HB 705.

Senate Referrals (for SB 808): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Governmental Oversight and Accountability (Passed); Rules (Passed); Senate Floor (Substituted HB 705, HB 705 Passed)

House Referrals (for HB 705): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Passed)

 

SB 992 (Sen. Book), “C-51 Reservoir Project”: Last session’s SB 10 authorized a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. It also stated that Phase II of the C-51 Reservoir Project, which could provide water to utilities and natural systems, could be funded via appropriation, the water storage facility revolving loan fund, as a project component of CERP, or via the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. $1 million was appropriated for the C-51 reservoir project from the LATF in SB 10.

SB 10 went on to require that:

1)    The District operate the C-51 reservoir to maximize reduction of Lake Okeechobee discharges and provide relief to the Lake Worth Lagoon;

2)    Water from the C-51 reservoir would be used for natural systems in addition to water supply; and

3)    Water received in the C-51 reservoir from Lake Okeechobee could not be used to support consumptive use permits.

SB 992, as amended, would change the conditions, set out by SB 10, the C-51 reservoir must operate under to receive state funding. If SB 992 becomes law, the District would only have to maximize the reduction of Lake Okeechobee discharges in either Phase 1 or Phase II of the project, and only to the extent practicable. SB 992 states that water allocated for water supply shall be permitted in accordance with executed capacity allocation agreements. Finally, SB 992 would allow water from Lake Okeechobee to be used to support consumptive use permits if the use is in accordance with district rules.

Senate Referrals (for SB 992): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Passed); (Died in Messages to the House) (Language was included in HB 1149)

 

 

 

Growth Management

 

SB 574 (Sen. Steube), “Tree and Timber Trimming, Removal, and Harvesting”: This amended bill would hold local governments liable for an electric utility’s restoration costs when a tree or vegetation causes damage and the utility warned the local government that their vegetation management plan, ordinances, or practices may adversely impact electric reliability. Under this bill, if a local government wanted to challenge a cost incurred by a utility, the local government would have to prove that the utility’s damages weren’t caused by trees or vegetation in their control or that the damages were less than those claimed by the utility.

The bill removes a requirement for utilities to meet with local governments, if requested by the local government, to discuss the utility’s vegetation maintenance plan.

The bill also prohibits local governments from regulating tree trimming and removal in a right of way for flood protection or drainage control.

Finally, the bill makes void all local ordinances regulating tree trimming and removal at single-family homes during any state of emergency.

There’s a companion in the House by Rep. Edwards: HB 521. The amended language would prohibit local governments from regulating tree trimming or removal by the state, water management districts, water control districts, neighborhood improvement districts, independent school districts, or community development districts when they trim or remove trees or vegetation to maintain a Right of Way. An exception to the prohibition exists when regulation of tree trimming and removal is authorized under existing mangrove protection laws.

Senate Referrals (for SB 574): Community Affairs (Passed); Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Rules

House Referrals (for HB 521): Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Passed); (Died in Messages to the Senate)

 

SB 362 (Sen. Perry), “Growth Management”: This bill would require local governments to include a property rights element in their comprehensive plans that protects private property rights and encourages economic development. The element must be adopted at the plan’s next evaluation and appraisal or by July 2020, whichever comes first. If this bill passes, local governments would be required to consider the impact on private property rights of all proposed development orders, plan amendments, ordinances, and other government decisions.

A similar bill was filed in the house by Rep. McClain: HB 207.

Senate Referrals (for SB 362): Community Affairs (Died); Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Rules

House Referrals (for HB 207): Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee (Died); Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee; Commerce Committee

 

 

 

Water

 

SB 244 (Sen. Brandes), “Domestic Wastewater Collection System Assessment and Maintenance”: This amended bill would establish the blue star collection system assessment and maintenance program in the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The purpose of the program would be to provide incentives for public and private utilities to voluntarily take actions which reduce the likelihood of sewer overflows and unauthorized discharges.

If utilities could show they’re taking the appropriate precautionary measures, as determined by DEP, then they could apply to DEP for certification under the program. Certified utilities may benefit from reduced penalties for sewer overflows and may be allowed to apply the amount of penalties incurred toward assessment and maintenance costs for their wastewater system.

Domestic wastewater utilities with a history of compliance with wastewater disinfection requirements in their operating permit who are certified under the blue star program would be presumed in compliance with state water quality standards for pathogens. Blue star certified utilities who renew their operation permits, and meet certain conditions, would be issued a 10-year permit.

The Small Community Sewer Construction Assistance Act assists financially disadvantaged small communities with their needs for adequate sewer facilities. This bill would allow private, not-for-profit utilities serving financially disadvantaged communities to receive funding under the Act and allow funds from the Act to be used for assessment costs.

Finally, SB 244 provides that a person violating certain pollution laws can reduce their penalty based on their investment in expanding, maintaining, or rehabilitating their permitted facility.

A similar bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Edwards: HB 837.

 Senate Referrals (SB 244): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Died); Appropriations; Rules

House Referrals (for HB 837): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Passed); (Died after being received by the Senate) (Language was included in HB 1149)

 

HB 641 (Rep. Lee), “St. Lucie River Watershed Pollutant Control Program”: HB 641 states that county ordinances regulating transportation, composting, or land application of sewage on agricultural land within the St. Lucie River watershed cannot be deemed “duplicative” and therefore cannot be prevented from being implemented for that reason.

An identical bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Braynon: SB 1570.

House Referrals (for HB 641): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Died); Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals (for SB 1570): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Community Affairs; Rules

 

HB 1075 (Rep. Raburn), “Inland Protection”: This bill would, among other things:

-       Authorize the use of the Inland Protection Trust Fund for the state’s drycleaning solvent cleanup program. The Trust Fund currently funds cleanup related to inland contamination of petroleum.

-       Require $30 million to be appropriated annually from the Trust Fund into the Water Quality Assurance Trust Fund for the drycleaning solvent cleanup program.

-       Require a minimum of $150 million to be appropriated annually to the Inland Protection Trust Fund.

-       Require the Department of Environmental Protection to have at least 25 individual state contractors participating in the drycleaning solvent cleanup program by December 31, 2018.

A similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Senator Grimsley: SB 1438.

House Referrals (for HB 1075): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Died); Government Accountability Committee

Senate Referrals (for SB 1438): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

HB 1149 (Rep. Payne), “Environmental Regulation”: This amended bill would, among other things:

-Provide examples of reclaimed water use that would create an impact offset when water management districts are evaluating consumptive use permits, including the use of reclaimed water to raise aquifer levels.

- Require The Water Resource Implementation Rule to include criteria by which an impact offset or substitution credit may be applied to the issuance, renewal, or extension of a consumptive use permit or may be used to address additional water resource constraints imposed through the adoption of a recovery or prevention strategy.

- Allow an applicant implementing a reclaimed water project to require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the relevant Water Management District to conduct a coordinated review of their applications for a reclaimed water facility permit, underground injection control permit, and consumptive use permit; thereby streaming the application process.

- Provide that a residential recycling collector or a recovered materials processing facility is NOT required to collect, transport, or process “contaminated recyclable material”. The definition for “contaminated recyclable material” would be determined via private contracts based on available markets for recyclable material. These contracts must also include the responsibilities of the local government and residential recycling collector to reduce the amount of contaminated recyclable materials being collected, including education and enforcement measures that will be used.

- Prohibit local governments from requiring applicants claiming an activity is exempt from state environmental permitting to provide verification from DEP.

- Permit a WMD or DEP to reissue the construction phase of an expired permit in certain circumstances.

- Serve as a companion to SB 992 and HB 837. See the bill descriptions for those bills for more information.

Representative Ingoglia filed an amendment to HB 1149 that was withdrawn amid public backlash. The amendment would have, among other things, prohibited the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health from developing or enforcing any septic system remediation plans or nitrate regulations until after a years-long pilot program was complete.

Senator Perry sponsored the companion bill in the Senate: SB 1308.

Senator Farmer filed and later withdrew 3 amendments to HB 1149/SB 1308. The first would have banned fracking and similar techniques in geological formations above, below, or within the Floridan or Biscayne aquifers. The 2nd would have strengthened water quality standards for reclaimed water pumped into the Floridan Aquifer or Biscayne Aquifer. The last amendment would have required the DEP and the Department of Health to determine whether to adopt drinking water regulations for at least 5 contaminants included on the most recent Contaminant Candidate List every 5 years.

House Referrals (for HB 1149): Natural Resources and Public Land Subcommittee (Passed); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed 16 - 7); House Floor (Passed)

Senate Referrals (for SB 1308): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Community Affairs (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Substituted HB 1149, Passed 27 - 10)

 

SB 1402 (Sen. Simmons, Sen. Galvano), “State Assumption of Federal Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permitting Authority”: SB 1402 would begin the process of delegating federal wetlands permitting and enforcement authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to the State of Florida. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have to approve Florida’s application for assumption of the program.

The House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee filed an identical bill: HB 7043. Representative Diamond filed an amendment to HB 7043 which would have required the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to submit its completed assumption application to the Legislature for ratification before it’s submitted to the EPA. Representative Diamond withdrew his amendment as it did not have the support of his colleagues, including the sponsor, Representative Raschein.

The Florida Conservation Coalition is opposed to SB 1402 and HB 7043. Florida has already lost approximately 44% of its wetlands since 1845. If Florida is granted delegation of the 404 program, the risks to our wetlands ecosystem are high. Section 404 permits help protect wetlands in large-scale landscape conversion projects such as new cities and large phosphate mining projects.

Wetlands are critical to the sustainability of our state because they provide significant flood protection (each acre of wetland can store 1–1.5 million gallons of floodwater), recharge the aquifers which provide 90% of the state’s drinking water, filter pollutants from stormwater before they reach our rivers and lakes, and provide habitat for many of the state’s imperiled species (including the Florida panther). Protecting wetlands is far cheaper than constructing water treatment plants or water storage reservoirs to replicate the services wetlands provide naturally.

While the state asserts protection for Florida’s wetlands will not be diminished if Florida is granted permitting authority for the 404 program, the Florida Conservation Coalition is concerned because the details of the delegated program will not be worked out until after SB 1402/HB 7043 becomes law. Without knowing how the new Florida program will work, we cannot be sure it will be sufficiently protective of Florida’s environment. Given the comprehensive nature of the federal permitting program, it is likely we will lose protection for Florida’s natural resources if Florida takes control of the program. Furthermore, we have concerns about Florida’s fiscal and staffing capacity to assume the program. To read the FCC’s talking points on SB 1402 and HB 7043, click here. Please call Governor Scott at (850) 488 – 4441 and ask him to VETO HB 7043.

Senate Referrals (for SB 1402): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (HB 7043 Passed 35-1)

House Referrals (for HB 7043): Government Accountability (Passed); House Floor (Passed 112-2)

 

SB 1506 (Sen. Farmer), “Water Management”: This bill would 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

-       Authorize 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 (for SB 1506): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 1664 (Sen. Simmons), “Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems”: This amended bill would require the development and inclusion of septic system remediation plans in Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) when the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) determines that remediation is necessary to achieve a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Similar plans are already required in Basin Management Action Plans that include Outstanding Florida Springs.

Remediation plans must include priority rankings for each septic system or group of systems that require remediation. They must also include implementation schedules with milestones, periodic progress evaluations, and a completion date necessary to achieve the Total Maximum Daily Load within the timeframe established in the Basin Management Action Plan. Remediation plans would have to be completed and adopted as part of their respective Basin Management Action Plans within 5 years of this legislation going into effect.

This bill would also require DEP to evaluate the need for the creation or improvement of wastewater treatment facilities in a BMAP to meet a TMDL. In the BMAP, DEP would be required to identify funding sources available to the relevant local governments for the creation or improvement of wastewater treatment facilities.

Senate Referrals (for SB 1664): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Died)

 

 

 

Energy & Climate

 

 

HB 237 (Rep. Peters, Rep. Abruzzo, Rep. Berman, Rep. Clemons, Rep. Davis, Rep. Diamond, Rep. Fitzenhagen, Rep. Geller, Rep. Jacobs, Rep. Plascencia, Rep. Smith), “Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment”: This bill would ban “advanced well stimulation” techniques, including “fracking,” in Florida.

An identical bill was filed by Senator Young: SB 462. It is being co-sponsored by Sen. Mayfield, Sen. Latvala, Sen. Steube, Sen. Book, Sen. Montford, Sen. Stewart, Sen. Perry, and Sen. Taddeo.

A similar bill was filed by Sen. Farmer: SB 834. Sen. Farmer’s bill also provides a fine of up to $50,000 per day for anyone who violates the new law.

A joint resolution was filed by Sen. Farmer: SJR 828. This resolution has the same intent as SB 834. Rather than creating new law through the legislative process, however, the resolution proposes a change to the State Constitution. If the resolution passes, Florida voters would have the opportunity to approve a ballot measure to amend the Constitution. 

House Referrals (for HB 237): Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee (Died); Natural Resource and Public Lands Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee

Senate Referrals (for SB 462): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Passed); Appropriations (Died)

Senate Referrals (for SB 834): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

Senate Referrals (for SJR 828): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SB 292 (Sen. Rodriguez), “Private Property Rights”: This bill would exempt property owners who produce renewable energy on their property and distribute it to users on the property from being defined as a public utility. It would allow, for example, apartment complexes who produce solar power to sell power to their tenants.

Senate Referrals (SB 292): Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Died); Community Affairs; Rules

 

SB 384 (Sen. Brandes, Sen. Galvano), “Electric Vehicles”: This bill would require the Florida Transportation Commission to prepare a report when electric vehicles make up 2 percent or more of the total number of vehicles registered in Florida, or before the 2 percent threshold if it would like. The report would:

- Assess the effects of projected electric vehicle use on revenue from taxes, fees, and surcharges related to nonelectric vehicles

- Assess transportation infrastructure, including electric vehicle charging stations, with respect to electric vehicles and emergency evacuation situations

- Provide recommendations for ensuring funding for necessary maintenance of transportation infrastructure

- Provide recommendations for improvements to transportation infrastructure with respect to projected population growth and emergency evacuation of electric vehicles.

Additionally, the bill would require Metropolitan Planning Organizations to consider the increasing use of electric vehicles in their long-range transportation plan.

An identical bill was filed in the House by Rep. Olszewski: HB 981.

Senate Referrals (for SB 384): Transportation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development (Died); Appropriations

House Referrals (for HB 981): Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee (Passed); Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Passed); (Died after being received by the Senate)

 

SB 542 (Sen. Rodriguez), “Public Financing of Construction Projects”: This bill would require construction contractors to conduct a sea level impact projection study before beginning work on coastal projects that are funded in whole or part by the State of Florida.

The study must assess the flooding, inundation, and wave action damage risks to the project over 50 years. It also has to analyze potential public safety and environmental impacts resulting from damage to the structure including leakage of pollutants. Analysis in the study must take into account sea level rise and increased storm risk over the next 50 years when reaching its conclusions. The study must also include ways to mitigate and reduce risk, including siting the project in a different location.

Senate Referrals (SB 542): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Governmental Oversight and Accountability; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

 

SR 550 (Sen. Broxson, Sen. Rouson, Sen. Farmer, Sen. Taddeo, Sen. Steube, Sen. Gainer, Sen. Montford), “Gulf of Mexico Range Complex”: SR 550 is a resolution in support of indefinitely extending the current moratorium on oil and gas drilling within certain parts of the Gulf of Mexico. The resolution is rooted in the desire to keep oil and gas exploration and production from interfering with sensitive military operations in the area.

An identical resolution has been filed in the House by Rep. Ponder: HR 319. HR 219 is being co-introduced by Rep. Fitzenhagen, Rep. Hanfeldt, Rep. Massullo, Rep. Raschein, and Rep. White.

Senate Referrals (SR 550): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security (Passed); Rules (Passed); Senate Floor (Adopted)

House Referrals (HR 319): Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Adopted)

 

SB 656 (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 must remedy the damage without recovering their costs from ratepayers.

Senate Referrals (for SB 656): Communications, Energy and Public Utilities (Died); Community Affairs; Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Rules

 

SB 716 (Sen. Rodriguez), “Nuclear Cost Recovery”: Florida has nuclear cost-recovery laws which allow utilities to charge ratepayers for the costs of building new nuclear plants. The laws are controversial as they allow the public to be speculatively charged for the construction of nuclear plants, even when the nuclear plants are not ultimately built. SB 716 would repeal these laws.

An identical bill was filed in the House by Rep. Diamond: HB 6071.

Senate Referrals (for SB 716): Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Died); Community Affairs; Rules

House Referrals (for HB 6071): Energy and Utilities Subcommittee (Died); Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee; Commerce Committee

 

SB 852 (Sen. Brandes, Sen. Taddeo), “Florida Smart City Challenge Grant Program”: This bill would create the Florida Smart City Challenge Grant Program with a $15 million appropriation. The goal of the grant program is to provide local governments and universities opportunities to develop smart mobility solutions, including supporting the reduction or elimination of fossil fuel consumption by relying on renewable energy sources and electric vehicles and technologies.

Sen. Brandes added the language of another bill he’s sponsoring, SB 384 (Electric Vehicles), to SB 852. Please see the description on SB 384 for more information.

The bill also limits the annual funding dedicated from the State Transportation Trust Fund to the Florida Rail Enterprise to the years 2018-2019, 2019-2020, and 2020-2021. Beginning in 2021, the bill diverts $35 million of those dedicated funds to a new program, the Statewide Mobility Innovation Program, and $25 million of those funds to the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority. Goals of the new Statewide Mobility Innovation Program include evaluating, financing, and overseeing proposals for innovative mobility systems in the state. Of the $35 million distributed to the program, $25 million is allocated to Miami-Dade County, $5 million to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, and the remaining $5 million to all other counties competing for funding in the program.

Rep. Fischer has a companion in the House: HB 633. This bill has been amended to remove the $15 million appropriation. The amended bill also no longer states the goal of eliminating fossil fuel consumption, only reducing it.

HB 633 does not include any of the language from SB 384 or the language regarding the State Transportation Trust Fund.

Senate Referrals (for SB 852): Transportation (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development (Passed); Appropriations (Passed); Senate Floor (Died)

 House Referrals (for HB 633): Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee (Passed); Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Passed); House Floor (Died)

 

SB 1038 (Sen. Brandes), “Energy 2040 Task Force”: This bill would create the Energy 2040 Task Force within the Public Service Commission. The Task Force consists of the public counsel, the executive director of the Florida Public Service Commission, the chair of the Florida Energy Systems Consortium, the chief executive officer of the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council, 2 members of the Senate appointed by the Senate President, and 2 members of the House appointed by the Speaker of the House.

The Task Force is charged with projecting Florida’s energy needs over the next 20 years and making recommendations for meeting these needs, including statutory changes. Following are some of the topics that the task force is required to cover:

-       Effects of allowing nonutility retail sales of renewable energy, including recommended restrictions on the practice

-       Effects of allowing micro grids, including services provided by nonutility entities, on energy grid reliability, including recommended regulations on nonutility operators of micro grids

-       Solar energy, the effect of electric vehicles on power supply needs and overall emissions, smart grid technology, etc.

-       Storm hardening of the state’s electric system

-       Environmental impact of electricity production, generation, and transmission in Florida

The Task Force would be required to submit its recommendations to the Legislature and the Governor by January 1, 2020.

A similar bill was filed in the House: HB 1411. In the House Bill, the Energy 2040 Task Force is created within the Office of Public Counsel, rather than within the Public Service Commission.

Senate Referrals (for SB 1038): Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Passed); Governmental Oversight and Accountability (Died); Rules

House Referrals (for HB 1411): Energy and Utilities Subcommittee (Died); Appropriations Committee; Commerce Committee

 

HB 1133 (Rep. Raschein), “Energy Security and Disaster Resilience Pilot Program”: This bill would create a pilot program (with $10 million in funding) within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that would provide grants for critical disaster resilience facilities in areas of critical state concern to install onsite solar storage systems. Critical disaster resilience facilities include facilities like shelters, hospitals, and law enforcement offices that must remain operational during a natural disaster. One of the requirements for a facility to receive a grant is that the onsite solar storage system has to be capable of operating independently, isolated from the electric grid, during an electrical outage.

The bill would also require the Florida Solar Energy Center, if funding is available, to study the benefits of utilizing renewable energy generation and storage as well as the opportunities for expanding the pilot program established in this bill throughout the state.

A similar bill was filed in the Senate by Senator Garcia: SB 1888.

House Referrals (for HB 1133): Energy and Utilities Subcommittee (Died); Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Commerce Committee

Senate Referrals (for SB 1888): Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (Passed); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources (Died); Appropriations

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

 

SB 316 (Sen. Stewart), “Environmental Regulation Commission”: This amended bill would establish a deadline of 90 days for filling vacancies on the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC).

An identical bill was filed in the House by Rep. Willhite: HB 203

Senate Referrals (for SB 316): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Passed); Ethics and Elections (Passed); Rules (Died)

 House Referrals (for HB 203): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Passed); Judiciary Committee (Died); Government Accountability Committee

 

SB 348 (Sen. Rodriguez), “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, 2019 and would end on or before June 30, 2021. 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, 2022 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.

Senate Referrals (for SB 348): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Community Affairs; Commerce and Tourism; Rules

 

HB 791 (Rep. Diaz), “Regulatory Reform”: This bill is an effort to reduce the number of rules in the Florida Administrative Code.

Under this bill, the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee would be tasked with reviewing the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) to determine the total number of rules in effect by January 1, 2019. This number would then be established as the “regulatory baseline.” The bill prevents agencies from exceeding this baseline with new rules and sets up mechanisms to reduce the number of rules in the FAC.

In order for an agency to propose a new rule, they must submit a rule replacement request to the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee that lists rules they propose to repeal to make room for the new rule without exceeding the baseline. Agencies must propose at least 2 rules to be removed from the Code for each proposal to add a rule until the total number of rules in the FAC has been reduced by 35% (from the “regulatory baseline). After the 35% mark, rules can be proposed and repealed on a 1:1 basis.

Beginning November 1, 2019, the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee would be required to submit an annual report providing the percentage reduction in the total number of rules compared to the regulatory baseline to the Governor, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House.

Each agency would be required to prepare a regulatory plan that lists rules that may be repealed to maintain or reduce the number of rules in the Florida Administrative Code.

Finally, the bill would establish the Red Tape Reduction Advisory Council (RTRAC or Council), which would be made up of appointments from the Governor, Senate President, and House Speaker. The RTRAC is charged with annually reviewing the Florida Administrative Code to determine if any rules are duplicative or obsolete, especially burdensome to businesses within the state, or disproportionately affect small businesses. If a rule meets any of this criteria and can be repealed or amended with minimal impact on public health, safety, and welfare, then the Council is to recommend repealing or amending the rule.

A similar bill was filed in the Senate by Senator Perry: SB 1268.

House Referrals (for HB 791): Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee (Passed); Appropriations Committee (Passed); Government Accountability Committee (Died)

Senate Referrals (for SB 1268): Governmental Oversight and Accountability (Died); Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government; Appropriations

 

SB 1014 (Sen. Stewart), “Recyclable Materials”: This bill would remove the preemption in existing law which forbids local governments from regulating auxiliary containers, wrappings, or plastic bags.

An identical bill was filed in the House by Rep. Richardson: HB 6039.

Senate Referrals (for SB 1014): Community Affairs (Died); Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Rules

House Referrals (for HB 6039): Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee (Died); Careers and Competition Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 

 

 

Wildlife

 

 

SB 156 (Sen. Stewart), “Florida Black Bear Protection Act”: This 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 allows 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 the area as a likely location for black bear denning.

An identical bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Olszeski: HB 559.

Senate Referrals (SB 156): Environmental Preservation and Conservation (Died); Criminal Justice; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

House Referrals (for HB 559): Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee (Died); Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

 



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