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House Bill 789 amended thanks to you!

Chalk one up for the clean water cause! One of the worst bills of Florida’s legislative session is on the cusp of wholesale changes that would defang it. House Bill 789, filed by Rep. Toby Overdorf, initially sought to stifle environmental lawsuits by forcing anyone who challenges and loses a decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district to pay the “prevailing party’s” legal fees. There are already provisions in state law to prevent frivolous lawsuits — so the only reason we saw for this bill was to grease the skids for developers and polluters. Another problematic part of the bill was Section 4, which would have required FDEP and water management districts to conduct [...]

Tell Rep. Stevenson to keep HB 789 off her committee’s agenda

We need you to speak up! One of the worst bills of the legislative session might get its first committee hearing this week — but you can help head it off at the pass. House Bill 789, sponsored by Rep. Toby Overdorf, would force anyone who challenges and loses a Florida Department of Environmental Protection or water management district decision to pay the other side’s legal fees. It would intimidate citizens and effectively prevent them from filing a challenge, because they literally can’t afford to lose. The bill is bad for other reasons, too. It may run afoul of a federal Environmental Protection Agency proposal which states that this sort of “fee shifting” blocks access to the [...]

WATCH NOW: Wetlands and waterways on the chopping block this legislative session?

https://www.youtube.com/live/mtzUEzFoCJY?si=mwb2bPvLpU2fBBCM Florida's 2024 legislative session began today in Tallahassee — marked by a flurry of bad bills that take aim at important Everglades issues like wetlands protections and growth management.  Today's livestream led us through the worst of the worst filed bills, highlighted key players to watch and reminded viewers of the importance of citizen participation. Legislative Accountability is vitally important to environmental protection and the future of Florida. At Friends of the Everglades, we work hard to help the public understand dense policy measures and how they impact both the natural world and the human environment. As session progresses, we’ll keep our eyes trained closely on the legislation that poses the greatest threats, and we hope you'll follow [...]

Friends of the Everglades 2024 Legislative Preview

Florida’s annual 60-day legislative session begins January 9. In line with our 2024 Legislative Priorities, we offer the following analysis of bills that have been filed. JUMP TO: Protect wetlands Get serious about toxic algae Fix our failing BMAPs Don't ban fertilizer bans Smarter, controlled development Stop sugarcane burning Send more clean water south Other Priorities Priority: Protect wetlands The state must Reject any attempt to preempt local authority on wetlands. To achieve this goal, we recommend the following positions on bills pending before the Legislature: HB 527: Land and Water Management - OPPOSE Sponsor: Rep. Randy Maggard, R-54 Synopsis: Requires wetlands buffer zones established by county or municipality to be acquired through eminent domain; preempts regulation of specified [...]

The first bad bills of 2024 aim to intimidate citizens

The Florida Capitol during the 2023 legislative session in Tallahassee. With weeks to go before the Florida Legislative session even begins, a pair of solid contenders for “Worst Bills of the Year” have entered the fray. And they've got an obvious goal: citizen intimidation. Our friends at VoteWater took a closer look  at these proposals Read their latest report below. WANT TO CHALLENGE AN ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION IN FLORIDA? IT COULD COST YOU With weeks to go before the Florida Legislative session even begins, a solid contender for “Worst Bill of the Year” has entered the fray. And you know that’s going to be a crowded field. Gaze upon House Bill 789 and Senate Bill 738, a pair of proposals which — if passed — [...]

2023-12-14T16:16:42-05:00December 14th, 2023|Bad Bill Alert, Florida Legislative Tracker|

Sugar Reform Now: Sign the U.S. Farm Bill petition to protect the Everglades

For decades, private sugar companies have received enormous government handouts via the U.S. Farm Bill — to the detriment of clean air and water in Florida.   Through controls on production and strict import limits, the cost of the federal sugar program is shifted to consumers and taxpayers. Windfall profits generated by the sugar industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This unjust, outdated policy enriches billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of the iconic, life-sustaining Everglades and nearby communities. It's a double-whammy for South Florida taxpayers, who also foot the bill to clean polluted water from sugarcane fields south of Lake Okeechobee. Meanwhile, people who live near those sugarcane fields [...]

DeSantis approves back-door ban on new fertilizer ordinances

A sneak legislative attack destined to undermine fertilizer bans — a key tool for local governments trying to limit nutrient pollution in waterways — was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday. Ignoring veto requests from Friends of the Everglades, Sierra Club, Captains for Clean Water and many other environmental groups, DeSantis failed to veto a line in the budget bill, Senate Bill 2500, that funds a $250,000 study examining whether fertilizer bans with summer “blackout” periods are effective. Shortly thereafter, DeSantis signed SB 2502, the budget implementing bill, which stipulates that as the fertilizer study is conducted over the next year, local governments are prohibited from adopting or amending strict new fertilizer ordinances.  The provision had been [...]

DeSantis just signed “Sprawl Bill” 540 into law

This afternoon, Gov. DeSantis signed into law the worst environmental bill passed by the Florida Legislature during the 2023 session. Senate Bill 540, which will take effect July 1, is a death knell for smart growth in Florida. It will effectively end citizen challenges to comprehensive plan amendments by sadling those who challenge an amendment and lose with the other side’s legal fees — including developers’ attorney fees if they join the case.  Signing SB 540 into law defies the spirit of DeSantis’ own Executive Order 23-06, which called for protecting the long-term planning process that safeguards sustainable growth in Florida. And it will embolden developers to propose more environmentally perilous projects. Friends of the Everglades did not stand [...]

WATCH NOW — Last call: SB 540 VETO requests

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9eCeQIy86M From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: The clock is ticking. Last Thursday, May 9, state lawmakers sent “Sprawl Bill” 540 to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, triggering a 15-day deadline for him to either sign or veto this environmentally reckless bill. If approved, the legislation would be the death knell for responsible growth-management in Florida — putting citizens at huge financial risk if they challenge changes to local comprehensive plans, which are the blueprints for growth in cities and counties. Much is at stake. Florida is the fastest-growing state in the country; it's ground zero for the climate crisis; and it’s undertaking the largest ecosystem restoration effort on [...]

Protect local fertilizer bans to protect Florida’s water

A clandestine attempt by Florida Legislators to ban rainy season restrictions on fertilizer use threatens to eliminate a key tool for local governments trying to curtail nutrient pollution. Tucked inside an “implementing bill” — which contains directions to implement the state budget — is a measure that would eliminate local governments’ ability to adopt strict fertilizer control ordinances for the next year. While this ban on fertilizer bans would expire after that, it may be followed by legislation designed to make it permanent — a move that would only benefit big fertilizer companies. Nitrogen and phosphorus-rich runoff can have serious impacts for surrounding water quality, and communities throughout Florida have relied upon rainy-season fertilizer restrictions to reduce excess runoff [...]

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