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Jean Robinson, president of Alachua County League of Women Voters, has an article in today’s Gainesville Sun supporting Amendment 1.
“Without clean and abundant water to drink, swimmable rivers, lakes springs and beaches, we are depriving future generations of the experience so many of us have been deeply fortunate to enjoy,” writes Robinson.
The original article can be seen here, or continue reading for a re-publishing below. As always, OSFR is grateful to the Sun for permission to post the article in its entirety.
Jean Robinson: Amendment would preserve resources before they’re lost
Published: Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.Last Modified: Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 6:20 p.m.
The League of Women Voters of Florida has a long and careful history of studying proposed constitutional amendments and making recommendations to the voters. On Nov. 4, voters will consider three amendments, two of which were researched thoroughly enough to take a position. The League recommends a “yes” vote on Amendment 1 and a “no” vote on Amendment 3.
Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation amendment, is intended to protect Florida’s vulnerable water and natural resources. Amendment 1 would not increase taxes. It would allocate one-third of the existing documentary stamp revenues (from real estate transactions) to be used for conservation purposes.
Documentary stamps have been used as a conservation funding source here in Florida for decades. The hugely successful Preservation 2000 conservation program was established during the tenure of Gov. Bob Martinez, and was reauthorized as Florida Forever under the leadership of Jeb Bush.
Since 2009, new funding for these and similar programs has been cut drastically. Florida Forever, for example, has been slashed by 96 percent. Given that Florida has a net migration of nearly 700 new residents each day, we must act to protect our aquifer, rivers, springs, beaches, streams and wetlands before they are harmed beyond repair.
Many League members and leaders felt so strongly about the fact that we are running out of time to protect and restore world-class resources such as the springs of North Florida or the Everglades of South Florida that they volunteered to gather citizens’ petitions to place this on the ballot. Over 900,000 Florida voters signed individual petitions to bring this matter to a vote. We simply must act or some of these resources will be irreparably damaged and lost forever.
The primary arguments against Amendment 1 have been whether this “ties the hands of the “Legislature” and whether such a provision belongs in the constitution. First, it is important to understand that one-third of the documentary stamp tax revenue equates to less than 1 percent of the state of Florida’s annual budget. While we would certainly praise some legislative prior action to protect our drinking water, surface water bodies, beaches and shores, such an effort has not been passed in a single one of the six previous legislative sessions.
Furthermore, the Florida Constitution already states: “Adequate provision shall be made by law — for the conservation and protection of natural resources.” Without a guarantee of adequate resources, this important goal within Florida’s constitution cannot be achieved. Amendment 1 is an appropriate means to achieve this fundamental goal.
At the end of the day we must ask ourselves what portion of the “original” Florida we saw fit to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Without clean and abundant water to drink, swimmable rivers, lakes, springs and beaches, we are depriving future generations of the experience so many of us have been deeply fortunate to enjoy. To play your part in protecting and restoring our water and natural lands, please vote “yes” on Amendment 1 on your November ballot.
Jean Robinson is president of the Alachua County League of Women Voters