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FLERAlert – Volume 1 Issue 14

May 11, 2017 by FLERA

Session Wrap Up
The Legislature was scheduled to conclude its work on Friday, May 5, but finally adjourned sine die on Monday, May 8 at 8:52 pm, after extending through the weekend and into Monday because the budget was not completed on time.  There was much speculation that the chambers might end session with no budget and come back for a special session in June.  Although the budget was ultimately completed, it was a bumpy ride.  Hundreds of pages of policy were amended into conforming bills and debated on the floor of both chambers Friday and Monday.  Many significant legislative items, such as gaming, medical marijuana, workers compensation, and assignment of benefits legislation did not make it past the finish line.  We have highlighted some of the major environmental items of interest here.  For a detailed bill report that contains the final status of all the legislation FLERA tracked, please click here.


Your Conference Committee is finalizing preparations for the 2017 FLERA Annual Conference at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota from August 2-4, 2017. Registration information and hotel options can be found on the FLERA website.


Bills That Passed

Lake Okeechobee
SB 10 by Senator Bradley authorizes a significant increase in southern water storage to further the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee, a priority of Senate President Joe Negron. The bill authorizes up to $800 million in Florida Forever bonds and appropriates $30 million for this fiscal year and $64 million annually beginning next fiscal year for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project.  It also appropriates funding for the C-51 Reservoir Project.

Natural Hazards
HB 181 by Representative Jacobs creates a natural hazards interagency working group for the purpose of sharing information on current and potential impacts of natural hazards through the state, coordinating ongoing efforts of state agencies in addressing impacts of natural hazards, and collaborating on statewide initiatives to address natural hazards.  The bill defines “natural hazards” to include extreme heat, drought, wildfire, sea-level change, high tides, storm surge, saltwater intrusion, stormwater runoff, flash floods, inland flooding, and coastal flooding.  The bill requires the Division of Emergency Management, on behalf of the workgroup, to prepare and submit an annual progress report to the Governor and Legislature beginning January 1, 2019, and requires agency liaisons to ensure the report is posted on their agency websites.

Resource Recovery and Management
HB 335 by Representative C. Clemons expands the exemption from solid waste regulations to facilities that convert recovered materials by gasification, pyrolysis, or other thermal conversion process.  The bill also defines terms used in the exemption and makes conforming changes to other statutes.

SB 1018 by Senator Grimsley contains provisions related to contaminated site cleanup as well as pollution notification.  The bill provides for the advancement ahead of priority ranking for the rehabilitation of individual petroleum contaminated sites proposed for redevelopment.  It also provides that any reportable pollution release must be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) within 24 hours.


Bills That Failed

HB 17 by Representative Fine and SB 1158 by Senator Passidomo, while different in substance, both would have significantly eroded local government home rule authority.  HB 17 received on hearing that was lengthy and contentious.  The bill passed this committee but was not heard again.  SB 1158 did not receive a hearing.  These bills would have significantly impacted local environmental programs.

Florida Forever
HB 7119 by the House Governmental Accountability Committee would have realigned the components and priorities of the Florida Forever program.  The bill would have removed funding allocations for acquisitions identified on water management districts’ priority lists, acquisition of inholdings and additions to state parks, state forests, lands managed by FWC, greenways and trails, and land acquisition grants under FRDAP.  These projects would remain eligible to receive funding through the priority list developed by the ARC.

The bill would have increased the funding allocation to Florida Communities Trust from 21 percent to 25 percent and would have consolidated the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Program into this allocation.  It also would have increased funding allocations for the Rural and Family Lands Program from 3 percent to 40 percent.  Lastly, it would have removed the use of Florida Forever funding for capital project expenditures and land management.  The Legislature would still be able to directly appropriate funding for these items under the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.  This bill surfaced late in the session and the Senate did not agree to include this proposal in the budget package.

HB 751 by Representative C. Clemons and SB 1378 by Senator Perry would have required all local governments to adopt DEP best management practices (BMPs) and other local stormwater management measures and would have prohibited local governments from adopting more stringent water quality standards for stormwater discharges.  Although it would have given local governments a presumption of compliance with water quality standards, the bills had numerous technical problems.  Neither bill received a hearing.

Agency Rulemaking
HB 1163 by Representative Spano and SB 1640 by Senator Broxson would have required state agencies to prepare a statement of estimated regulatory cost before adoption, amendment, or repeal of any rule except an emergency rule.  HB 1163 passed the House but died in Senate messages.  SB 1640 died in its second of three committees.

HB 1225 by Representative Fitzenhagen and SB 1352 by Senator Young would have required the Governor to appoint Administrative Law Judges to four year terms from nominees selected by a statewide nominating commission.  HB 1225 passed the House but died in Senate messages.  SB 1352 died in its last committee.

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