Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “Conservationists hope Gov. Rick Scott will veto the state budget enough to free up dollars for land conservation and urged lawmakers address the topic in a special session. The Florida Conservation Coalition sent a letter Tuesday to legislative leaders and Scott asking them to… fund land preservation programs among the topics of a potential special session. Lawmakers expect to reconvene in mid-June to pass a bill to implement a medical marijuana constitutional amendment, among other issues, after they failed to do so during the regular session that ended in May… The coalition, made up of 80 civic and conservation groups, would like to see a bill that uses the vetoed dollars to get Florida Forever closer to the roughly $300 million it used to get annually before 2009…. ‘Gov. Scott understands that maintaining Florida’s natural beauty means preserving natural lands for future generations to enjoy,’ Scott’s office said in an emailed statement. ‘Gov. Scott received the budget… and will review it line by line in order to make the best decision for Florida families.’” Read Group urges special session to fund land conservation
Steve Bousquet, Mary Ellen Klas, Michael Auslen, and Kristen M. Clark report for the Miami Herald – “Gov. Rick Scott has agreed to… bring the Legislature back in special session next week to inject more than $165 million into his top economic development priorities, as well as put about $200 million in additional funding for public schools… All of that would be funded by more than $300 million in vetoes of member projects tucked into the state budget… One notable issue, supported by 71 percent of Floridians, initially will not be part of special session: Medical marijuana… [L]awmakers insist they will pass legislation implementing voters’ will before a key July 3 deadline… [T]hey still do not have a deal on whether to cap the number of storefront dispensaries each licensed grower could open… If an agreement is reached, Corcoran and Negron plan to add medical marijuana to the special session later.” Read Gov. Scott announces budget deal, special session
Shari Anker writes for the TC Palm – “Famed early naturalists like William Bartram and John Audubon waxed poetic about Florida’s paradisiacal feast of diverse land and waterscapes, with a plenitude of flora and fauna at the turn of the 20th century… In the 1930s it became apparent the best representations of natural Florida should be set aside in a protected park system… Otherwise, as is fully evident today because of Florida’s explosive population growth, little, if any, of Florida’s original paradise would remain. Over many decades Florida’s voters agreed: Place our remaining special places into protected state park status – and we’ll pay for it. One can be forgiven for assuming our state parks are forever protected… [W]e are witnessing the first taking of a state park unit for what always was understood as an “incompatible purpose” at odds with the mission of our state parks. To make matters worse, this unit was given the designation of “preserve,” meaning the area has significant ecological and scientific value, to be conserved as is for future generations. The Halpatiokee Trails Buffer State Preserve… hosts the largest remaining intact floodplain/wetland complex along the river… With its highly diverse… flora and fauna, it qualified as one of the best representations of the “Real Florida” motto of our state parks. After more than 25 years of effort, the city of Port St. Lucie can claim the distinction of being the first to successfully overcome policies put into place to protect our state parks from use for incompatible purposes. Their groundbreaking ceremony May 2 celebrated the beginning of the construction of the Crosstown Parkway Bridget that will destroy, fragment and alter Halpatiokee’s ecology and species habitats. Other bridge routes across the river with no parkland and far less ecological impacts could have been chosen, but the city was wedded to the most damaging route… The precedent has been set: Is your favorite state park next up for negotiation?” Read No reason to celebrate the loss of a state park – and the precedent it sets
The Naples Daily News Editorial Board writes – “Collier and Lee county commissioners are considering separate steps toward preserving important Southwest Florida sites in perpetuity… [The application for acquisition of HHH Ranch] suggests the property could be worth $75 million and notes they ‘don’t know’ if they’d consider below-market offers… We recall… how the $32.6 million acquisition of the 2,500-acre Pepper Ranch in Immokalee… nearly exhausted Conservation Collier money, which had been raised through a property tax levy similar to what commissioners now want in a renewed program… We must note that deals of such financial and complicated magnitude wouldn’t just fall to local officials if the Legislature had followed through on the spirit of the November 2014 vote (on Amendment One). We thought voters clearly supported taking hundreds of millions of dollars derived from taxes on property transactions to use for land acquisition.” Read Local leaders land key role in preservation of key properties
Mitch Perry reports for Florida Politics – “State Sen. Tom Lee… joined (Rep.) Grant to defend the Legislature over criticism from environmentalists that they failed to adhere to 2014’s Amendment 1 when it comes to allocating money to properly fund Florida Forever… ‘I think it would be deeply disingenuous to say that a constitutional amendment [requires] us to purchase land,’ Grant said. He insisted the amendment’s language calls for the Legislature to act as ‘stewards of that land,’ which Grant said wasn’t the same thing as purchasing said land. ‘I think it would be equally disingenuous to only say we’re going to manage it and not acquire (land),’ (Rep.) Shaw responded, quoting the exact language of the amendment.” Read Hillsborough state legislators clash in Tampa Chamber Session review
Florida Politics reports – “The chairman of the Constitution Revision Commission has called a meeting of the full panel in Orlando on June 6 to debate and vote on package of procedural rules.” Read Constitution Revision Commission will debate, vote on rules on June 6
The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board writes – “Gov. Rick Scott’s choice for (Constitution Revision) commission chairman,… Carlos Beruff, began the process by attempting to make himself king rather than chairman... It is in the governor’s interest to see that this ship is righted in time for a key meeting in Orlando on Tuesday. Beruff has set things askew by seeking the power to solely decide whether or not the wider commission’s recommendations would make it to the ballot. He also wanted the right to prevent citizens from distributing literature in public areas of the Capitol or outside other meeting spaces… He also attempted to allow secret meetings among commission members… Sen. Tom Lee… urged that the commission re-adopt the successful and non-controversial procedural rules of the Chiles-era commission as its own. Other members have agreed. Beruff has responded aggressively, by disbanding the rules subcommittee and insisting that the full commission consider his proposed rules on Tuesday… Beruff’s track record makes him a highly, political poor choice to chair the commission.” Read Constitution commission needs a revision of its own
Maureen Groppe reports for USA Today – “Mayors from across the country… pledged Friday to take the lead in reducing the nation’s carbon footprint after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.” Read Mayors pledge to take the lead on fighting climate change
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