The Gainesville Sun today, August 3 2015 has an article by Lloyd Dunkelberger relating the latest on the Amendment 1 issue. The Ocala Star Banner published a similar story on Sunday, Aug. 2 22015 and included the following list of facts leading up to this legal conflict:
•In November 2014, 75 percent of Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment that requires the Legislature to spend one-third of the real estate taxes collected each year on environmental programs.
•Under Amendment 1, the spending mandate amounted to some $740 million in the new $78 billion budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which began July 1.
•Shortly after the budget was passed in mid-June, Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group, filed a lawsuit alleging House and Senate members did not follow the amendment’s spending guidelines and misappropriated $300 million of the $740 million.
•The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three citizens groups, the Florida Wildlife Federation, St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida.
•Legislative leaders maintain the environmental spending in the new budget follows the amendment’s dictates and they will defend their position.
•The lawsuit heads to a Leon County circuit courtroom where ultimately a judge will render a decision on the validity of the environmentalists’ claim.
•Whatever the finding of the trial court, since this is the first legal challenge under the new amendment, the case is likely to be appealed with the ultimate decision coming from the Florida Supreme Court.