OSFR has published an article supporting Amendment 1 in today’s Gainesville Sun.
We are grateful to Nathan Crabbe and the Sun for publishing our op-ed and also for their continued support for Florida’s environment. The original article in the newspaper can be seen here, or continue reading on this page.
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Jim Tatum: A chance to save the remnants of pristine Florida
Florida residents have a great opportunity to do something really good for themselves and for their children and their grandchildren. They can take a giant step forward toward guaranteeing that we, as well as future generations, will have a chance to enjoy the remnants of pristine Florida, its springs and rivers.
We can do this by voting yes on constitutional Amendment 1, which would allocate 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents to the currently unfunded Land Acquisition Trust Fund. This allocation would be used to acquire, restore, improve and manage our water resources as well as other fragile lands in need of protection from development, and would endure for the next 20 years.
At the moment, the residents of Florida have little protection from the demands of special interests that put water resources at the bottom of their priority lists, second always to what can make money for them. Our politicians find ways to allow harm to our natural resources and make sure the monied interests get their way through the very agencies that are supposed to protect the public interest, namely the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the five water management districts (misnomers all).
The groups and individuals of some power and stature who oppose this amendment are grappling with the idea of making beneficial concessions for Florida’s natural resources: the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Council of 100, Florida Farm Bureau, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, among others.
What has this group done to conserve our water resources? What has this group done to use them up? What ties do they have to special interests whose focus does not include water resource protection?
Fortunately, in Florida it is possible for voters to change a bad situation by amending the constitution, which is exactly what has happened in this instance. Floridians who want to protect our environment worked hard and acquired more than 900,000 signatures so that we now have the opportunity to vote Amendment 1 into law. To succeed, Amendment 1 needs to get 60 percent of the vote on Nov. 4.
Among those opposing the proposed amendment, the president of the Florida Council of 100 says, “Amendment 1 would tie the hands of our elected leaders.”
Exactly right, because our legislators are looking at special interests’ needs, not the general citizens’ needs. A thoughtful look reveals that writing funding for water and land protection into the constitution is precisely what is necessary to ensure our environment and quality of life are preserved.
Amendment 1 provides an avenue to preserve our aquifer, springs and rivers for us and future generations without raising taxes. The amendment allocates less that 1 percent of Florida’s annual budget to protecting our precious waters and lands.
Polls show Amendment 1 appears to have tremendous support. Don’t let this opportunity slip away. Be sure to vote yes on Amendment 1 on Nov. 4.
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson is president and Jim Tatum is a historian and volunteer for Our Santa Fe River, a nonprofit working to protect the waters and lands supporting the aquifer, springs and rivers in the Santa Fe River watershed.