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Friends of the Everglades State Legislative Priorities: 2024

About Friends of the Everglades: Friends of the Everglades was founded in 1969 by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a driving force behind the creation of Everglades National Park and author of The Everglades: River of Grass. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to preserving the only Everglades in the world, we have identified the following priorities for the 2024 session of the Florida Legislature. 2024 State Legislative Priorities: 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 1. Protect Wetlands: Reject any attempt to preempt local authority on wetlands. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett vs. EPA imperils crucial wetlands throughout [...]

WATCH NOW: Dissecting the Florida budget numbers

https://youtu.be/w8T5nLzWR0I From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: The movement you empower at Friends of the Everglades hinges on a vision for the future of Florida:It’s about clean water, protected wetlands, thriving native species, and plenty of protected green spaces for us all to enjoy. In essence, it’s about a truly restored River of Grass that works with nature instead of against it. That vision is still achievable — but the window is narrowing. And Tallahassee lawmakers are making our work harder.There’s a disconnect between the decisions we’re seeing from the Florida Legislature and the environmental challenges facing Florida, as Executive Director Eve Samples told the Miami Herald last week. Even as [...]

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 [...]

VIDEO: Is the Florida Legislature really doing the people’s work in Tallahassee?

https://www.youtube.com/live/VkKWZJcSTqY?feature=share There was a lot to unpack from this legislative session that ended on May 5, and not a whole lot of it was good news for Florida’s fragile environment. Today’s Friends of the Everglades LIVE focused on what went down and the ways you can still help us kill some of the worst bills that came out of this “Session of Sprawl.” As our Executive Director Eve Samples put it, “Our future as a state is at stake. We are on the front lines of climate change, we’re implementing the most complex and expensive ecosystem restoration effort on the planet in Everglades restoration, and we are not doing ourselves any favors if we allow more reckless development to [...]

Friends of the Everglades 2023 Post-Session Report

As we feared, the 2023 Legislative Session turned out to be the “Session of Sprawl,” as Florida lawmakers advanced legislation that facilitates inappropriate, environmentally damaging development proposals. Lawmakers passed several bills disempowering citizens, handcuffing local governments, and making it easier for reckless development to sprawl across the landscape: In line with our 2023 Legislative Priorities, we offer the following update and analysis on key bills: The worst bill of the session, Senate Bill 540, will, if signed into law, require citizens who challenge a local comprehensive plan amendment and lose to pay legal fees incurred by the “prevailing parties,” which could include deep-pocketed developers. This could end citizen challenges in Florida, paving the way for more reckless development. Friends [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

VIDEO: Stop the Florida Legislature from disempowering citizens on growth

https://youtube.com/live/kNiMSwBqu9g?feature=share Florida's legislative session can mean playing a lot of defense against bad legislation, and this year has been no exception. As this "session of sprawl" continues to take shape, we are reminded of the imperative role that citizen action plays in combatting bad bills and how important it is that we maintain our ability to speak out without fear of retribution. We're grateful to our featured guests Jane West, Matt DePaolis and Gil Smart for sharing their extensive knowledge of the many bills moving through the legislature right now and the recurring acknowledgement expressed throughout that smart, intentional development is tied directly to water quality. Florida has a vested interest in getting this right. We remain cautiously optimistic [...]