During Florida’s annual 60-day legislative session, lawmakers will consider proposals that could advance — or undermine — protection of the Everglades and its connected waterways and green spaces. Friends of the Everglades is committed to keeping you informed by monitoring legislation that impacts water quality, wetlands protections, growth management and environmental justice.
Protect wetlands: Reject any attempt to preempt local authority on wetlands, while safeguarding existing state-level protections.
Get serious about toxic algae: With toxic algae now a perennial and worsening problem, Florida cannot wait any longer to take decisive action.<
Fix our failing BMAPs: Update BMPs and toughen enforcement to meet pollution-reduction goals.
Don’t ban fertilizer bans: County/municipal fertilizer ordinances are key to improved water quality. Any attempt to weaken existing ordinances or preempt local governments’ ability to enact such ordinances must be rejected.
Smarter, controlled development: Re-strengthen the state’s role in growth management.
Stop sugarcane burning: The outdated practice of pre-harvest burning must be phased out and growers required to transition to safer “green” harvesting.
Send more clean water south: Acquire more land for Stormwater Treatment Areas to store water, clean it and move it south to rehydrate the southern Everglades.
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 [...]
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 [...]
On May 2 the Florida House of Representatives voted 87-30 to pass Senate Bill 540, the worst bill this session.
The measure, passed by the Senate April 19, stipulates that citizens or public interest groups that challenge a local comprehensive plan amendment and lose may be on the hook for legal fees incurred by the “prevailing party.” This includes “intervenors” like developers, meaning local citizens concerned about runaway growth – and amendments made to their local comp plan to accommodate it – could be liable for thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The measure now heads to Gov. DeSantis’s desk, while conservation group – including VoteWater – are asking the Governor to veto the bill.
So who voted to intimidate and disempower citizens by casting a “yes” vote for this bill? The full list is below.
Senate Bill 540, one of the most controversial bills advancing during this “Session of Sprawl,” passed the Florida Senate last week by a vote of 29-10.
The bill, which may soon land on Gov. DeSantis’ desk, mandates that anyone who challenges a local comprehensive plan amendment and loses is liable for the other side’s legal fees. This includes “intervenors” like developers, meaning local citizens concerned about runaway growth – and amendments made to their local comp plan to accommodate it – could be on the hook for thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
If signed into law by Gov. DeSantis, this could spell the end of citizen challenges to bad development proposals in Florida.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Nick DiCeglie, R-18. A failed last-second amendment would have prevented “intervenors” from collecting legal fees from losing citizens.
The House companion bill, HB 439, has been on the House Second Reading Calendar since late March but hasn’t yet been scheduled for a vote. With passage by the Senate, the House may now take up SB 540.
Senators who voted YEA/for SB 540:
Sen. Ben Albritton – R-27
Sen. Brian Avila – R-39
Sen. Dennis Baxley – R-13
Sen. Jim Boyd – R-20
Sen. Jennifer Bradley – R-6
Sen. Jeff Brodeur – R-10
Sen. Doug Broxton – R-1
Sen. Danny Burgess – R-23
Sen. Colleen Burton – R-12
Sen. Alexis Calatayud – R-38
Sen. Jay Collins – R-14
Sen. Nick DiCeglie – R-18
Sen. Gayle Harrell – R-31
Sen. Ed Hooper – R-21
Sen. Travis Hutson – R-7
Sen. Blaise Ingoglia – R-11
Sen. Shevrin “Shev” Jones – D-34
Sen. Jonathan Martin – R-33
Sen. Debbie Mayfield – R-19
Sen. Keith Perry – R-9
Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez – R-40
Sen. Linda Stewart – D-17
Sen. Jay Trumbulll – R-2
Sen. Tom A. Wright – R-8
Sen. Clay Yarborough – R-4
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo – R-28
Sen. Corey Simon – R-3
Senators who voted NO/against SB 540:
Sen. Lois Berman – D-26
Sen. Sen. Lauren Book – D-35
Sen. Rosalind Osgood – D-32
Sen. Jason Pizzo – D-37
Sen. Tina Polsky – D-30
Sen. Bobby Powell – D-24
Sen. Darryl Rouson – D-16
Sen. Geraldine Thompson – D-15
Sen. Victor Torres – D-25
Key Players –
The following elected officials have an outsized influence on environmental decisions made by Florida’s Legislature during the 2023 legislative session.
Gov. Ron DeSantis: With Executive Order 23-06, has pledged to make environmental made water issues a priority a key issue in his second term. The key to this order’s success or failure lies in the specific tactics of implementation.
Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture: Originally an egg farmer from Trilby, has been a forceful advocate for agricultural interests and was a driving force behind the controversial SB 2508 during the 2022 legislative session.
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28), Senate President: An outspoken proponent of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, she’s from Southwest Florida but has not prioritized meaningful legislation to advance clean water or Everglades restoration, tending to focus more on water supply.
Rep. Paul Renner (R-19), House Speaker: Restructured House panels which led to the creation of the House Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee; has promised “a long-term approach to address Florida’s water resources, transportation, land conservation and resilience needs.”
Sen. Ben Albritton (R-27), Senate Majority Leader and 2024 Senate President: A powerful advocate for agricultural interests, he sponsored the controversial SB 2508 as well as SB 1000, arguably the most damaging environmental bill passed in 2022, allowing citrus farmers to increase the use of fertilizer via “rate tailoring.”
Sens. Jason Brodeur (R-10), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government.
Sen. Alexis Calatayud (R-38), chair of the Senate Community Affairs Committee.
Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-40), chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources.
Reps. Cyndi Stevenson (R-18), chair of the House Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee.
Rep. James Buchanan (R-74), chair of the House Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee.
Rep. Thad Altman (R-32), chair of the House Agricultural & Natural Resources Appropriations Committee.