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Legislative Update - January 21, 2019

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 ⅓ of documentary stamp taxes set aside by the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment One) in 2014. 

SB 376 (Montford) Land Acquisition Trust Fund

This bill amends the Land Acquisition Trust Fund in Florida statutes by adding the requirement that $50 million is to be appropriated for Hurricane Michael recovery projects each year through the 2025-2026 fiscal year.  The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would use these funds for reforestation, ecosystem management, fire control measures, debris removal, pollution mitigation, beach renourishment, coastal armoring and protection, and the construction, enhancement, or expansion of wastewater treatment facilities. 

Filed in Senate 1/18/2019

SB 216 (Gruters): Water Quality Improvements

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 & Management Plan. Under this bill, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be authorized to provide multi-year grants for projects such as the construction, upgrading and expansion of waste treatment facilities, and connecting homes and businesses that are not connected to existing wastewater treatment facilities with central sewer systems. Each of these grants would require a minimum 50% match from local funds. DEP would be required to submit an annual report on the funded projects to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

SB 216 would also create a statute requiring wastewater facilities illegally discharging sewage to notify its customers within 24 hours. Facilities would also face a fine equal to $1 per gallon of discharged sewage or, $2 per spilled gallon going towards the upgrading or remediation of the problems that caused the illegal discharge. 

Filed in Senate 1/2/2019

Representatives Fine, Roth and Sirois introduced a similar bill HB 141

This bill does not include the construction of new waste treatment facilities as an item for which funds can be provided. 

House Referrals: Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee; Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee (1/9/2019)

Representative Harrell also filed a similar bill, SB 368 Land Acquisition Trust Fund

This bill would prioritize projects that include ecosystem and habitat restoration, the connection of septic tank systems to central sewer lines, and the management of stormwater, freshwater, and agricultural discharges. Unlike SB 216, SB 368 bill does not include a fine for wastewater facilities illegally discharging sewage.

Filed in Senate 1/17/2019

 

SB 92 (Book)C-51 Reservoir Project

Two sessions ago, SB 10 (2017) authorized the C-51 Reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. This year’s SB 92 would change the conditions under which the C-51 reservoir must operate in order to receive state funding. 

SB 92 adds the language “to the extent practicable” regarding how the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) must maximize the reduction of Lake Okeechobee regulatory releases to the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee estuaries. Another verbiage change is the re-ordering of the clause “in addition to any permitted amounts for water supply” placed before the requirement that water be used for natural systems. This sentence was changed from “allocated amounts for water supply” to “permitted amounts for water supply.” Additionally, this bill would allow water from Lake Okeechobee to be used to support consumptive use permits if the use is in accordance with district rules. 

SB 92 allows for SFWMD to negotiate for both Phases I and II (instead of just Phase II) of the C-51 project except for those already committed for alternative water supply purposes. SFWMD may enter into a capacity allocation agreement with water suppliers for unreserved reservoir capacity and can request to waive all repayment of the loan issued. This bill authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to waive loan repayment. 

Currently, Phase II of the C-51 reservoir project is authorized to be funded using Florida Forever bonds, as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP). SB 92 amends the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to allow remaining allocation of LATF funding for the EAA Reservoir to be made available for the entire C-51 reservoir project, rather than Phase II of the reservoir project only. 

Senate Referrals (SB 92): Environmental & Natural Resources (on committee agenda 1/22/2019); Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government; Appropriations 

Senator Jacobs filed an identical bill, HB 95 

House Referrals (HB 95): Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee

 

HB 325 (LaMarca) Coastal Management

This bill amends the criteria the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) must use when assigning funding priorities for beach management and erosion projects. Through a scoring system, the criteria are included in four specified tiers. Tier 1 consists of the tourism-related return on investment and the economic impact of the project. DEP would calculate the return on investment and economic impact through a ratio of tourism-related tax revenues and total county tax revenues. Tier 2 would address the availability of federal matching dollars and federal cost-share percentage, and also delineates the storm damage reduction benefits of the project based on a set of considerations. Tier 3 accounts for previous state commitments and funding, including previous partial appropriations for the project. It addresses the recreational benefits of the project and provides a calculation for the degree to which a project addresses beach erosion problems.  Tier 4 includes criterion such as the increased prioritization of projects that have previously been on the DEP’s list, projects that provide environmental habitat enhancement for threatened or endangered species, and the readiness of the project to proceed to the construction phase. 

HB 325 also would require DEP to update project lists quarterly on its website and to provide more transparency and notification to the Executive Office, Governor, and Legislature regarding the intended use of surplus funds.  

For projects concerning inlet management, this bill would include the requirement of considering the cost-effectiveness of sand source opportunities for addressing beach erosion. 

DEP may pay from legislative appropriations up to 75% of the construction costs of a major inlet management project for erosion projects. The remaining funds must be paid from other funding sources including local sources. HB 325 would require DEP to update a report on the progress of certain inlet management projects.

This bill adds a comprehensive long-term management plan component that must be maintained by DEP to include a strategic beach management plan, a critically eroded beaches report, and a statewide long-range budget plan that includes a 3-year work plan for beach projects accompanied by a 3-year financial forecast for the availability of funding for the projects. 

Filed in House 1/17/19

 

WATER 

HB 63 (Rodrigues) Property-Assessed Clean Environment

In 2010, HB 7179 was signed into law to provide local governments the ability to enter financing agreements with private property owners to fund energy conservation retrofits, renewable energy additions and/or wind resistance improvements. Property-assessed financing programs have been adopted by over 30 states across the country. 

This year’s HB 63 amends Florida’s property-assessed clean environment program by including “advanced technologies for wastewater removal” as a property improvement that qualifies under special financing program PACE. This bill specifies that retrofitted septic systems and converting from septic to sewer significantly benefits the quality of water that may enter streams, lakes, rivers, aquifers, or coastal areas. This bill adds sewage treatment improvement as a qualifying improvement, which includes the upgrade and/or conversion of a septic system to sewer system. Includes the costs of installation. HB 63 expands qualifying improvements to include ‘water quality’ alongside energy efficiency, renewable energy, and wind resistance improvements. 

House Referrals (HB 63): Local, Federal & Veteran Affairs Subcommittee; Ways & Means Committee; State Affairs Committee

Senators Albritton and Gruters filed an identical bill SB 282.

SB 214 (Gruters) Onsite Sewage Treatment & Disposal Systems

SB 214 would amend the duties of the Department of Health (DOH) and require the identification, location and operational condition of all onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems in the state to update the current database. DOH would be required to generate a report of the total number of the statewide septic systems and submit to the Governor, President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This bill requires septic inspections at least every five years, where the DOH shall administer this inspection program. The DOH would adopt rules that must include a five-year inspection cycle schedule, a county-specific implementation plan giving priority to areas within springshed protection areas, requirements for failing systems and enforcement procedures for the failure of septic owners to obtain an inspection and failure of contractors to make a timely inspection report to the department. 

The bill specifies what a septic inspection must include: a tank and drain field inspection, and a written assessment of the condition of the system conducted by a registered contractor. It specifies that owners are responsible for paying the cost of the inspection and any required pump-out. 

This bill delineates a failing’ septic system as one where the system no longer functions in a sanitary manner and discharges untreated or partially treated wastewater onto the surface of the ground or into surface waters or groundwaters, or results in the failure of the building’s plumbing system. 

This bill specifies the meaning of “repair” as any replacement, modification, or addition to a failing system in order to function according to its design.

SB 214 also amends the disclosure of septic systems where a seller must provide a prospective buyer with a disclosure summary of the property regarding if the property has or will have a septic system. The prospective buyer would acknowledge in writing the receipt of this disclosure. 

Filed in Senate 1/2/2019 

Representative Robinson introduced a similar bill HB 85

In this bill, the septic disclosure summary differs slightly, suggests the prospective buyer request latest inspection report and advises to pump out system every 3 to 5 years. 

House Referrals (HB 85): Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee

HB 105 (Jacobs) Domestic Wastewater Collection System Assessment & Maintenance

This 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 are able to prove they are 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. 

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. 

House Referrals (HB 105):Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee

Senator Albritton filed an identical bill SB 286

 

HB 157 (Thompson) Fertilizers

HB 157 provides legislative intent regarding the adoption of the Model Ordinance for Florida-Friendly Fertilizer Use on Urban Landscapes. This bill expands upon current statute by including findings about nitrogen pollution due to the volume of fertilizers applied to residential lawns, linking fertilizer application to pollution and harm to marine animals. To protect water quality, the Legislature intends to require county and municipal governments to use the Model Ordinance for Florida-Friendly Fertilizer Use on Urban Landscapes. This bill also calls for county and municipal governments to require the use of slow-release fertilizers on residential lawns and to implement and enforce a summer fertilizer holiday for governments within an estuary run-off area.  

HB 157 would allow for county or municipal government to adopt more stringent standards if it documents the consideration of scientific information from DEP, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) on the need for additional fertilizer provisions. 

House Referrals (HB 157): Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee; Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee

  

GROWTH MANAGEMENT

HB 291 (McClain) Growth Management

This bill amends the Comprehensive Plan Bill by providing a private property rights element. Local government must include in its comprehensive plan an aspect which ensures the consideration of private property rights in local decision making. This bill proffers language for the private property rights element which lists the right of physical possession and control of private property, the right to the “quiet enjoyment” of the property, the right to maintain, develop, and improve property for personal use, the right to privacy and to exclude others from the property, and the right to dispose of property through sale or gift. If passed, local government would have to include this element in the comprehensive plan by July 2020 and would be required to consider the impact on private property rights of all proposed development orders, plan amendments, ordinances, and other government decisions. 

Filed in House 1/15/2019

 

SB 144 (Bean) Impact Fees 

Impact fees are considered to be a charge on new development to help fund and pay for the construction or needed expansion of offsite capital improvements. 

This bill would change the impact fees title in the Florida Statutes, adding “minimum requirements, audits, challenges.” It would set stricter language for the satisfaction of conditions when a local government adopts an impact fee. SB 144 adds the condition that the collection of an impact fee would not be required prior to the issuance of a building permit for the project subject to the fee. 

The bill emphasizes that the expenditure of revenues from an impact fee must have strong connection to the benefits received by those affected by new residential or commercial construction. It requires that local governments designate impact fee funds specifically for the acquiring, constructing, or improving capital facilities to benefit new users, and cannot be used to pay for existing debt or old projects unless impact is strongly connected with the old project. 

This bill specifies that the Impact Fee bill does not apply to water and sewer connection fees. 

Senate Referrals (SB 144): Community Affairs; Finance and Tax; Appropriations

 

SB 350 (Hutson) Impact Fees

This bill would prohibit local governments from charging impact fees for affordable housing projects. 

Filed in Senate 1/16/2019

  

ENERGY & CLIMATE 

SB 78 (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 78): Environment & Natural Resources; Infrastructure & Security; Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government; Appropriations 

Representatives Fernandez and Grieco filed an identical bill, HB 169.

House Referrals (HB 169): Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; State Affairs Committee

 

SB 146 (Stewart) Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment

This bill would ban “advanced well stimulation” techniques, including “fracking” in Florida. This bill was filed in last year’s legislative session but died in committee.

Senate Referrals (SB 146): Environment and Natural Resources; Innovation, Industry, and Technology; Appropriations 

Senator Montford filed a similar bill under the same name. SB 314 also prohibits the performance of well stimulation treatments and includes a definition of “matrix acidization”. This bill also provides an appropriation of $2 million nonrecurring funds from General Revenue and requirement for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct a study on high-pressure well stimulation and matrix acidization and provide findings to the Governor and Legislature. 

SB 314 also notes the threat of well stimulation and matrix acidization upon Florida’s aquifer as reason for the prohibition of such practices.  

Filed in Senate 1/14/2019

Representatives Fitzenhagen and Plasenciafiled HB 239, similar to SB 146. 

Filed in House 1/10/2019

 

SB 222 (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. 

A similar bill was filed in last year’s session, died in committee. 

Filed in Senate 1/3/2019

 

WILDLIFE 

SB 134 (Stewart) Florida Black Bears

This bill would prohibit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (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 a second-degree misdemeanor. 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. 

This bill was filed last year, but died in committee. 

Senate Referral (SB 134): Environment and Natural Resources; Agriculture; Criminal Justice; Rules

SB 140 (Stewart) Specialty License Plates/Gopher Tortoise

This bill would direct the creation of a Gopher Tortoise specialty license plate. The annual use fees from the sale of the plate would be distributed to Wildlands Conservation, Inc., a nonprofit conservation planning, land management and education organization, to fund gopher tortoise species research, education, and conservation, as well as upland habitat protection, restoration and management. 

Filed in Senate 12/11/2018

 

HB 99 (Jacobs, Eskamani, Mercado) Shark Fins & Ray Parts

This bill would expand current legislation on shark fins to include the prohibition of sale, purchase, or distribution of shark fins and ray parts. This bill would ban the commerce of shark fins or ray parts regardless of where the parts were taken and direct the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to adopt rules for implementation.

House Referrals (HB 99):Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee; Business & Professions Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee

Senator Gruters filed a similar bill, SB 352

Filed in Senate 1/16/2019

 

SB 320 (Hooper) Residential Conservation Programs

This bill would authorize the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to create and operate residential conservation programs to provide fish and wildlife education and training to the public. SB 320 would allow FWC to procure contractual services, hire and train personnel and volunteers, and cooperate with federal, state, and local entities. 

Filed in Senate 1/14/2019

 

MISCELLANEOUS 

SB 88 (Stewart) Preemption of Recyclable & Polystyrene Materials

In the 2008 session, legislation was passed directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to analyze the need for new or different regulation of auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags. This legislation also prohibited local government from enacting any rule, regulation or ordinance regarding the use, disposition, sale, prohibition, restriction, or tax of these containers. 

SB 88 would delete the preemptions of local laws regulating polystyrene, disposable plastic bags and auxiliary containers. 

Senate Referrals (SB 88): Community Affairs; Environment & Natural Resources; Rules

 

SB 218 (Gruters) Smoking

This bill renames the ‘Indoor Air: Tobacco Smoke Act’ to ‘Tobacco Smoke’, which expands the application to include outdoor areas- specifically public beaches- and provides a penalty of up to $25 fine or 10 hours of community service.  

Filed in Senate 1/2/2019

Representative Altman filed an identical bill, HB 237

Filed in House 1/10/2019



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