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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 [...]

Gov. DeSantis, don’t disempower citizens. VETO Senate Bill 540

We need you to speak up! Senate Bill 540 , which the Legislature passed May 2, would be a death knell for citizen engagement in development decisions. It would make it almost impossible for average residents to bring challenges to legally flawed amendments to local comprehensive plans, which serve as the blueprint for growth in local communities. SB 540 undercuts the fundamental right to seek remedy from the courts if the political process fails. That’s bad for the future of Florida, bad for the Everglades, and bad for water and wildlife. It also flies in the face of Gov. DeSantis Executive Order 23-06, which called for protecting the long-term planning process that safeguards sustainable growth in Florida. To [...]

Friends of the Everglades joins call to veto HB 1191

Photo credit: Sierra Club On May 1, Friends of the Everglades joined Sierra Club and more than 30 other organizations in sending a letter to Governor DeSantis requesting that he veto HB 1191 - Use of Phosphogypsum. Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate into phosphoric acid for fertilizer. This bill would permit the use of phosphogypsum in Florida road construction. As the letter states, "While HB 1191 would require the Florida Department of Transportation to complete a study on the feasibility of phosphogypsum for road construction, the unreasonably short study period ending on April 1, 2024, cannot even begin to thoroughly review the health and safety consequences. To even begin the study would be a tremendous [...]

Tell Sen. Mayfield to STOP SB 540

We need you to speak up! Senate Bill 540 (DiCeglie) would disempower citizens by requiring the losing party in challenges to local government comprehensive plans or plan amendments to pay the prevailing party’s attorney fees and court costs. This could be a significant burden for the average citizen, and runs the risk of scaring off well-meaning challenges, thereby leading to more development and sprawl. The bill was made even worse through an amendment that effectively greenlights a controversial Miami-Dade County proposal which Friends of the Everglades was involved in fighting last year — to bring dense industrial development to hundreds of flood-prone acres of farmland in Homestead, well outside the Urban Development Boundary. We’ve made it easy [...]

Bad Bill Alert: HB 1197/SB 1240

Speak out to stop ‘Dirty Water’ bills that would undercut local rules Today marks the start of Florida's annual 60-day Legislative session — a time when lawmakers convene in Tallahassee to consider bills that will impact Floridians and the natural environment. Communities across Florida have a huge stake in clean water. But if two bills filed in the state Legislature last week become law, they will abolish local governments’ ability to fight pollution — and inevitably lead to dirtier water. House Bill 1197 (Maggard) and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 1240 (Burgess) would strip municipal and county governments of their authority to regulate water quality, water quantity, pollution control, pollution discharge prevention or removal, and wetlands, including delineation of [...]

Bad Bill Alert: HB 41 would limit citizens’ ability to challenge development rules

House Bill 41, filed by Rep. Alina Garcia, emerged as one of the earliest Bad Bills of 2023.  Identified first by our friends at VoteWater, “the proposal looks to be yet another sop to developers, prohibiting local initiatives or referendums on land development regulations. State law already prohibits such initiatives or referendums on comprehensive plan or map amendments, except those specifically authorized in a local charter provision enacted before June 2011. HB 41 would essentially expand this to any local push to change land development rules, and make it retroactive.” You can read the full analysis by VoteWater by clicking here.