March 12, 2018

March 12, 2018

The Legislature completed week 9 of the 2018 Legislative Session yesterday.  The unusual Sunday session was needed to allow the budget the required 72 hour cooling off period.  The Legislature adjourned sine die at 4:16 pm yesterday, after passing the budget, implementing bill, and tax package.

You can review all of the legislation FLERA monitored during the 2018 Legislative Session here.

Budget Summary

Final funding amounts for major environmental programs includes the following:
Florida Forever and related land acquisition programs - $101M
     Florida Forever - $77M
     Florida Communities Trust - $10M
     FRDAP - $6M
     Rural and Family Lands - $6M
     Working Waterfronts - $2M

Land Management - $22.5M
     State Lands - $3.6M
     Water Management Districts - $10M
     State Parks - $1.8M
     Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - $300,000
     Florida Forest Service - $6.8M

Petroleum Storage Tanks Cleanup - $123M
     Petroleum Tanks Cleanup - $110M
     Local Government Cleanup Contracting - $13M

Air Program Distribution to Counties - $8.7M

Beaches $61M
     Statewide Beach Program - $50M
     Storm Damaged Beaches - $11M

Florida Resilient Coastline Initiative - $3.6M

Springs - $50M

Everglades Restoration - $248M
     CERP - $111M
     EAA Reservoir - $64M
     Restoration Strategies - $32M
     Northern Everglades - $31M
     Agricultural Nutrient Reduction - $5M
     Dispersed Water Storage - $5M

Bills that Passed

Coral Reefs
HB 53 by Representative Jacobs was signed by the Officers and presented to the Governor on March 9.  The Governor has until March 24 to act on this bill.  The bill establishes the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area. 

Environmental Regulation/Springs
HB 1149 by Representative Payne has passed both chambers and goes next to the Governor for final action.  This bill contains provisions related to reclaimed water, solid waste recycling, dock and pier permitting, mitigation banking, environmental resource permits, and the C-51.  An amendment was proposed by Representative Ingoglia on the House floor that would have indefinitely postponed advanced wastewater treatment requirements in Priority Focus Areas surrounding springs.  This amendment was withdrawn.  Additional amendments surfaced late in session that would have authorized a six month delay of the septic requirements; however, this language was not amended to any bill.  As such, the septic requirements will go into effect on July 1, 2018.  Additionally, there was an amendment by Senator Farmer to add a fracking ban to the bill, but it was withdrawn.

State Assumption of Federal 404 Permitting Authority
HB 7043 by the House Natural Resources and Conservation Lands Subcommittee and Representative Raschein has passed both chambers and goes next to the Governor for final action.  The bill authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to pursue assumption of federal 404 permitting.  There will need to be rulemaking and memoranda of agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency in order for DEP to assume federal permitting responsibilities.

Bills that Failed

Florida Forever Legislation
SB 370 by Senator Bradley and HB 7063 by the House Governmental Accountability Committee and Representative Caldwell both would have provided future funding for the Florida Forever program.  SB 370 would have provided $100M annually; it passed the full Senate and died in House messages. 

HB 7063 would have provided zero dollars in the current budget year, and would have scaled up from $57M beginning next year to $200M over the course of several years.  HB 7063 also contained numerous policy changes.  It would have split the Florida Forever distributions into thirds, with 1/3 going to Rural and Family Lands, 1/3 for the traditional Florida Forever program and water management districts combined, and 1/3 for Florida Communities Trust.  It also contained numerous other policy related provisions, and at one point contained language that would have required intervenors in environmental administrative cases to pay attorney fees simply for losing, without consideration of whether the intervenor exhibited an improper purpose in joining the case.  This language would have had a significant chilling effect on potential intervenors in environmental cases.  While this language was removed, the bill ultimately failed to pass the full House.

As filed, HB 521 by Representative Edwards-Walpole and SB 574 by Senator Steube, were significantly different bills, but both had dire consequences for local tree protection ordinances.  We worked with Representative Edwards-Walpole to significantly improve and narrow the scope of the House bill.  The Senate bill improved to some extent and then was amended to bring in new language of concern.  Ultimately, HB 521 passed the House and died in Senate messages, while SB 574 died in committee.

HB 237 by Representative Peters and SB 462 by Senator Young would have banned fracking in Florida.  SB 462 died in its last committee.  HB 237 did not receive a hearing.  An amendment by Senator Farmer to HB 1149 would have added the fracking ban to the environmental regulation package, but it was withdrawn.

Local Government Land Use Legislation
HB 883 by Representative Ingoglia was initially a bill relating to construction development districts (CDDs). However, an amendment by Representative Caldwell would have required re-ratification of certain rural or urban development boundaries adopted by referendum.  A substitute amendment by Representative Caldwell would have arbitrarily re-drawn certain urban service area (USA) and urban development boundary (UDB) lines.  The sponsor of SB 1348, Senator Perry, filed an amendment to remove the problematic language. Senator Brandes filed another series of amendments that would have essentially required losing parties in challenges to development orders and comprehensive plan amendments to pay attorney fees. These bills died on the Senate calendar.