Florida Legislative Session Review – Part III: Environment

Once area that is challenging in Florida is the balance between protecting natural resources while allowing for both the significant growth we are experiencing and the desire for people to enjoy those resources. This is one area where many bills are filed every year.

Growth Management
HB 7203 is a bill dealing with comprehensive planning. Many of the provisions are minor, such as clarifications of definitions. One provision extends dates for developments of regional impact under construction on July 1st by another 3 years due to the nature of the current real estate market. The bill also allows two or more local governments to create a tax incremental area for conservation. The bill permits local governments to create “transportation concurrency backlog authorities” to fund transportation improvements through property tax assessments within a backlog area. Finally, the bill allows Pinellas and Broward Counties, and the municipalities within these counties, and Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, and Hialeah, to follow an alternative state review process for comprehensive plan amendments. Passed 118-0 and 34-5.

Natural Resources
HB 7123 is a comprehensive energy bill that includes a number of new initatives:

  • the Energy Policy Governance Task Force,
  • the Biofuel Retail Sales Incentive Program,
  • the Florida Biofuel Production Incentive Program,
  • the Farm-to-Fuel Grants Program,
  • and the Florida Energy, Aerospace, and Technology (F.E.A.T.) Fund to construct and operate a research and demonstration cellulosic ethanol plant.

The bill also requires the Florida Energy Commission to conduct a study to recommend the establishment of an energy efficiency and solar energy initiative. The bill also makes changes to the power plant siting statutes. Passed 119-0 and 39-0.

SB 2766 requires the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish a list of reptiles of concern subject to regulation and prohibits the unlawful capturing, keeping, possessing, transporting, or exhibiting of venomous reptiles or reptiles of concern. Passed 38-0 and 111-4.

HB 7173 is a comprehensive wildlife bill clarifying and revising the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s authority over marine life. Passed 119-0 and 36-1.

HB 981 makes several revisions to the state parks: increasing fines for noncriminal penalties, reducing price for National Guard members, and allowing the continuation of tenant farming and hunting on the Babcock Ranch Preserve. Passed 118-0 and 38-0.

SB 1472 makes some revisions relating to beach and shore preservation. Passed 38-0 and 117-0.

SB 2052 is a comprehensive bill relating to the Department of Environmental Protection. Passed 37-0 and 117-0.

HB 197 provides for regulation of peat mines in certain wetlands and changes some minor permitting issues in water management districts. Passed 117-0 and 39-0.

SB 392 is a watershed protection bill aimed at continuing the efforts to clean up the Everglades. Passed 35-0 and 116-0.

SB 2346 requires the Myakka River Management Coordinating Council to prepare a report concerning the potential expansion of the Florida Wild and Scenic River designation to include the entire Myakka River. Passed 39-0 and 115-0.

HB 549 revises definitions related to certain power plants to include integrated gasification combined cycle power plants. Passed 115-2 and 39-0.

HB 1039 increases number of governing board members of the South Florida Water Management District. Passed 109-0 and 40-0.

Agriculture

HB 1427 authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to assist specified entities in agritourism promotion & marketing initiatives, specifies impact of the agritourism participation on certain land classifications, and requires local governments and agricultural representatives to meet to discuss agritourism. Passed 114-0 and 40-0.

SB 1372 is a comprehensive agricultural bill with a number of small provisions, including: clarifying the regulation of pesticides, updates the federal reference for bottled water plants, includes tomato packing houses as food establishments, expands the definition of a dairy plant, creates the Consumer Fireworks Task Force to study the issues concerning the proper use of consumer fireworks and the regulation of sales and temporary sale facilities for consumer fireworks. Passed 37-0 and 100-18.

Other Environmental Issues

SB 668 provides for the transfer of Division of Forestry property to the Pasco County Fair Association. Passed 38-0 and 110-0.


Schedule of Review Posts:

Mon May 21: Public Records/Public Meetings
Thu May 24: Education
Tue May 29: Environment, Growth Management, & Natural Resources
Mon Jun 4: Legal System & Public Safety
Mon Jun 18: Veterans/Military Affairs
Tue Jun 19: Elections
Wed Jun 20: Transportation & Economic Development
Fri Jun 22: Health Care
Mon Jun 25: Insurance (excluding property)
Wed Jun 27: Human & Social Services
Fri Jun 29: Gambling & General Government
Mon Jul 2: Property Insurance & Property Taxes (including the special session legislation)
Tue Jul 3: Miscellaneous Bills not included in previous reviews

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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