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 court system. And it also would require FDEP and water management districts to conduct a “holistic review” of the coastal permitting process with an eye on making it more “efficient” — which could reduce oversight at a time when rising seas and stronger hurricanes require more scrutiny, not less.
HB 789 is the companion bill to Senate Bill 738, which already passed its first committee stop Jan. 10. Overdorf’s bill could be heard on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee hearing, if the chair, Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, puts it on the agenda.
Here’s your chance to ask her not to.
We’ve made it easy to weigh in. By using the form on this page, you can send a pre-formatted letter to Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee Chair Cindy Stevenson urging her to oppose House Bill 789, which must be approved by her committee in order to advance this session.