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2018 Legislative Session, March 13. By Preston Robertson and Jay Liles. 

SB = Senate Bill, HB = House Bill, CS = Committee Substitute

It’s over. The Florida Legislature ended a few days late this year, but we now know what was passed and will go into law barring a veto by the Governor:

Florida Forever Funding

Thanks in large part to Senator Rob Bradley, the budget contains $77 million to be spent on land purchases from the Florida Forever Acquisition list. Another approximately $23 million will go towards the Rural and Family Lands program, the Florida Communities Trust and smaller programs, for a total of $100 million. Unfortunately, this money is non-recurring (so only for this fiscal year). SB 370 (Bradley), which would have provided $100 million to the Florida Forever Trust Fund every year, though it passed in the Senate, was not heard in the House. The House bill which dealt with Florida Forever, CS/HB 7063 (Caldwell), never got a vote in the full House either. That means we will have to fight again next Session for Florida Forever funding, or prevail in our court action on Amendment 1 (the Water and Land Legacy Amendment that was passed in 2014 by 75% of Florida voters).

Many thanks to all who contacted legislators to support Florida Forever funding!

Other bills of note:

  • CS/SB 204 (Bradley) – Funding for projects to restore the St. Johns River and the Keystone Lakes region and springs passed the Senate but died in the House.
  • HB 237 (Peters)/SB 462 (Young) – Prohibits fracking in Florida. Died.
  • SB 168 (Steube) – Pilot project to slow the spread of invasive animals by FWC. This good bill passed both the Senate and House and is on the way to the Governor. FWF supports this bill.
  • SB 804 (Passidomo)/CS/HB 631 (Edwards-Walpole) – Part of this otherwise innocuous bill would have hindered local government from adopting ordinances designed to protect the historic “customary use” of Florida beaches (our right to walk on the beach). CS/HB 631 passed both chambers after amendments resulted in the creation of an agreeable process for establishing customary use while protecting private property rights. FWF appreciates the sponsor’s willingness to make this bill less onerous. Governor Scott has yet to decide on whether or not he will sign the bill into law. 
  • SB 1402 (Simmons) – State assumption of federal Section 404 (Clean Water Act) Dredge and Fill permitting. This bill has passed both the Senate and House and is now on the way to the Governor.

FWF supports all efforts to increase funding for land and water protection, to prohibit oil drilling and exploration in Florida’s coastal waters, and to keep the public’s right to use our beaches.

Many thanks to all who took part in our democracy!