Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 2015 Legislative Update

From the F.N.P.S. Policy Team...

Dear Native Plant Advocates and Environmental Stewards:
Thank you for speaking up for more land acquisition funding through Amendment 1. You made a difference and an impression on legislators. They told our lobbyist that callers who identified themselves as FNPS members were both polite and well-informed. There is more work ahead for us on Amendment 1 funding - that Alert remains active on our website - but there are other issues of importance to conserving native plants and native plant communities. Please consider acting on one or more of the issues discussed below and be prepared to act in the near future on an Alert that will demand meaningful funding for land conservation. To find contact information for your legislator, go to www.flsenate.gov and www.myfloridahouse.gov

Growth Management

Without good growth management, it’s hard to conserve habitat for native plants and wildlife. The Senate is getting ready to discuss SB 1216, which is a companion bill to HB 933. The House passed HB 933 on April 9. SB 1216 is a much better bill. Please ask your Senator to MAINTAIN the following provisions that we support:
  • The pilot “connected city corridors” program for Pasco County that supports innovative mixed use, high-tech employment and multi-modal developments via linear transportation and development connections (a new “sector plan” approach)
  • Sector plan language on data and analysis, conservation easements, and authority for long-term water consumptive use permits for DRI master development orders.
  • Keeping counties in regional planning councils
What we want to keep OUT of SB 1216 includes:
  • Confusing concurrency language
  • The “constrained agricultural parcels” language
  • Making private property rights a required element of local comp plans

Water

We continue to support SB 918, sponsored by Senator Dean, because it includes a number of provisions that would benefit Florida springs and should be maintained in any final water legislation, including:
  • Designation of all 1st magnitude springs and five 2nd magnitude springs as Outstanding Florida Springs and requiring priority focus areas for protection of these springs.
  • Adding protective criteria for establishing minimum flows and levels for Outstanding Florida Springs and creating “interim minimum flows and levels” for any OFS that does not already have an adopted minimum flow and level.
  • Creating the Florida Water Resources Advisory Council to recommend projects for funding to the Legislature
  • Establishing guidelines for recovery strategies for springs that do not meet an adopted minimum flow and level.
  • Establishing guidelines for Basin Management Action Plans that restore water quality in Outstanding Florida Springs.
  • Requiring local governments in priority focus areas to implement urban fertilizer ordinances.
  • Requiring local governments in priority focus areas where septic tank systems are identified as a source of nitrogen pollution to create remediation plans.
  • Prohibiting certain future activities such as new wastewater treatment facilities, new facilities for hazardous waste disposal, spreading of biosolids and new agricultural operations that do not implement BMPs or conduct water quality monitoring.

Unfortunately, SB 918 was amended two weeks ago to include some of the troubling provisions of its House counterpart, HB 7003. The language now in SB 918 that we OPPOSE includes:
  • Weakened water quality regulations for Lake Okeechobee
  • A reduction in water management district authority for allocating water
  • Use of public funding for private water projects without requiring mandatory conservation measures

Land Application of Septage

We OPPOSE bills that will continue to allow raw sewage to be dispersed on Florida’s landscape. HB 687 by Rep. Drake, is moving forward on the House Floor. The bill would repeal the ban on spreading of effluent pumped out of septic tanks, which is set to finally go into effect on January 1, 2016. Further delays in banning this practice will allow the devastating impacts on Florida’s rivers, lakes and springs to continue that much longer. Representative Drake filed an amendment last week that would delay the ban on the land application of septage from going into effect until 2018, but would not repeal it.

 Senator Evers’ version, CS/SB 648, would outright eliminate the ban on this third-world practice. It was passed by the Senate Environmental Preservation committee and will be heard next in the Senate Health Policy Committee. Tell your Senator and Representative that you want the 2016 ban to remain in effect.
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posted by Laurie Sheldon

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