WATCH NOW: Looking back on Florida’s 2024 session

https://www.youtube.com/live/lOzWgHOarIw?si=QHHvgT8jXCUR0iXs It's safe to say that we may all feel a bit of the 2024 legislative session PTSD that Gil Smart described today,  but today's livestream discussion also outlined some bright spots to be proud of, as well as plenty of reasons to keep fighting. Thanks to many Friends of the Everglades and other allies who contacted lawmakers, we celebrated the defeat of the worst proposals, like HB 789, through effective grassroots advocacy and collaboration with allies. But much work remains, as polluting industries continue to lobby for favors from Tallahassee lawmakers. Thanks to everyone that tuned in with us today. You can review our big takeaways from session by viewing our Post-Session Report, available now at our Legislative Accountability [...]

Friends of the Everglades 2024 Florida Legislature: Post-session report

At the beginning of Florida’s 2024 Legislative session, things looked grim. One pair of bills (House Bill 527/Senate Bill 664) took direct aim at protections for Florida’s vital wetlands. Another pair (HB 789/SB 738) sought to disenfranchise citizens who lost a challenge to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection or water management district decision. Pro-sprawl bills proliferated like, well, sprawl. And looming over it all was the prospect of a last-minute sneak attack on “strong” urban fertilizer ordinances, further extending a ban on new fertilizer limits at the local level. But the wetlands bills never got any hearings and died. The “sneak attack” on fertilizer ordinances never came. Senate Bill 738 passed but House Bill 789, sponsored by Rep. [...]

Tell lawmakers to kill HB 789/SB 738

We need you to speak up! All session long, we’ve been cautiously watching House Bill 789/Senate Bill 738, sponsored by Rep. Toby Overdorf and Sen. Danny Burgess.  We sounded the alarm — and you responded — in order to successfully kill two dangerous proposals in the original versions of the bills. It was a small, noteworthy victory. The bill is less bad now, but it’s still bad news. Friends of the Everglades remains very concerned about a remaining provision in the bill that would prohibit citizens from suing polluters for personal injury or economic damages, if the event that caused the injuries was duly permitted or authorized by a government agency.  Sounds to us like a backdoor way [...]

Friends of the Everglades 2024 Florida Legislature: Mid-session report

We feared the worst, but it hasn’t (yet?) come to pass. And some of the credit goes to you. Several of the worst bills we identified in our pre-session report haven’t moved; others have seen their momentum begin to wane. And one of the worst proposals out of Tallahassee this session was effectively neutered after Friends of the Everglades and other conservation groups helped generate thousands of phone calls and emails to legislators. Senate Bill 738 and its House twin, HB 789, initially stipulated that anyone challenging a permit or other “authorization” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district would have to pay the legal fees of the agencies and any other “intervenors” (like [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]