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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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

WATCH NOW — A Postcard from Tallahassee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6N94KZSWL8 Greetings from Tallahassee, where the Legislature is heading into the final weeks of a high-stakes session — with troublesome environmental legislation still in play. We’re here at the Capitol this week, advocating against two especially concerning bills that threaten to erode what’s left of sound growth-management policies in Florida.  Our mission at Friends of the Everglades is to preserve, protect and restore the only Everglades in the world — including its connected waterways. That can only happen if we plan wisely for development, taking reasonable precautions to protect wetlands and wildlife. Unfortunately, the bills we’re tracking most closely would grease the skids for developers who propose sprawl that encroaches on Florida’s last remaining green spaces. The short video [...]

Friends of the Everglades 2023 Legislative Preview

Florida’s annual 60-day legislative session begins March 7. In line with our 2023 Legislative Priorities, we offer the following analysis of bills that have been filed. JUMP TO: Demand cleaner water, now Restore more wetlands, send more clean water south oil Smarter, controlled development Stop sugarcane burning Other Priorities Priority: Demand cleaner water, now Poor water quality is the root cause of blue-green algal blooms and red tide, seagrass loss, manatee die-offs and other harmful outcomes. Improved water quality will safeguard marine life, human health and Florida’s economic vitality. To achieve this goal, we recommend the following positions on bills pending before the Legislature: Implementation of the Recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force — SUPPORT HB 423 (Cross) [...]

Friends of the Everglades Legislative Priorities: 2023

About Friends of the Everglades: Friends of the Everglades was founded in 1969 by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of the seminal book The Everglades: River of Grass. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving America’s Everglades and its interconnected ecosystems. We are proud to advocate on behalf of supporters across the Greater Everglades region. 2023 State Legislative Priorities: JUMP TO: Demand cleaner water, now Restore more wetlands, send more clean water south Smarter, controlled development Stop sugarcane burning 1. Demand cleaner water, now: Poor water quality is the root cause of blue-green algal blooms and red tide, seagrass loss and manatee die-offs and other harmful outcomes. Improved water quality will safeguard marine life, human health and [...]

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.

Bad Bill Alert: HB 359 would punish citizens who challenge comprehensive plan amendments

Residents against the Rural Lifestyle amendment protest ahead of the Martin County Commission meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Stuart. As the paving of Florida continues and often haphazard growth leapfrogs across the landscape, a proposed new law would supercharge sprawl by punishing citizens who dare question it. House Bill 359, titled “Local Government Comprehensive Plans,” was filed this week by Rep. Wyman Duggan, a Republican from Jacksonville. The bill stipulates that anyone who loses a legal challenge to a comprehensive plan — or comprehensive plan amendment — must pay the winner’s attorney fees and costs. Current law allows the winning party to recover court costs in cases filed by citizens who allege a development order violates [...]