Sierra Club Report on Important Environmental Bills in House and Senate

Florida Bills in Senate and House

To: [email protected]
Sent: Sat, 21 Mar 2009 1:47 am
Subject: Sierra Club Florida Report 3-20-09

 Sierra Club Florida Report 3-20-09

Greetings from Tallahassee,
This coming week will be the fourth week of session and Speaker Cretul has decided it will be the last for House Policy Committees to hold regular meetings.  House Councils will meet during the fifth week and after that only fiscal Councils.  The Senate is still scheduling committees through the 50th day of session (April 21st).
This is important because bills must pass all of their committees before they can come to the floor.  Therefore, shortening the time frame for committee meetings further limits the opportunities for passage.  There are always ways for leadership to move bills forward regardless of the committee schedule such as withdrawing a bill from committee or amending it into another bill that has already passed its committees, but this schedule puts new pressure on legislators to get their bills heard next week. 
The bills that are on the agenda, therefore, give an indication of where leadership in the House is headed. Some of the bills coming up this week include:
(This is the action packet for the Ag and Natural Resources Committee this past Thursday.  It is a 9.78 MB file so it may take a while to open.  The bill starts on the 202nd page of the Action Packet.)
Remember, our Legislative Platform for 2009 can be seen at: http://florida.sierraclub.org/Legislative.asp  .   Also, you can track bills you are interested in at www.flsenate.gov and www.myfloridahouse.gov  .   To track a bill just enter the bill’s number in the ‘Jump to bill’ box on the left side of the webpage and click enter.  Both sites have information on legislators, their districts, and the calendars for the House and Senate. 
Top Major Priorities:
Mining
There has been no action on S 1556 or HB 1361. 
No bills have been filed that deal with aggregate or phosphate mining by name, and S 1556 by Sen. Baker, Property Rights, has not been agendaed in its first committee of reference.  This bill includes a provision that a moratorium of a year on development as defined in 380.04 is not necessarily temporary under the Bert Harris Act.  Since 380.04 includes any kind of mining operation and the Bert Harris Act gives a legal advantage to property owners who want to overturn a denial of permission for certain uses of their property (such as mining) we will stay on top of this bill.
The companion bill in the House is HB 1361 by Rep. Eisnaugle,  It has been referred to Military & Local Affairs Policy (EDCA); Civil Justice & Courts Policy (CCJP); Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council; Finance & Tax Council  If this bill is  not heard during the coming week, it will not have any more regularly scheduled Policy Committee meetings to be agendaed in.  As of this writing, the House schedule is only available through Tuesday.  The Senate is available through Wednesday.
Wetlands
Rep. Schenck’s HB 73– the “Mike McHugh Act”,  Expedited Permitting Process for Economic Development Projects, passed the General Government Policy Council 17-0.  It will be heard on Monday, 03/23/09 in the House Policy Council at 1:00 pm.
The bill requires DEP and water management districts to adopt programs to expedite the processing of permits for economic development projects identified as target industry businesses; requires municipalities and counties to identify certain businesses by commission resolution; and provides a 45 day time frame for permit application approval or denial.
The Senate companion S 0852 by Sen. Fasano was temporarily passed (TP’d) in its first committee, Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation, last Tuesday because all of the committee members had questions about the impact of the bill on the environment and Sen. Fasano’s aide was presenting the bill.  The bill is scheduled for the same committee this coming Tuesday.
Environmental Permitting, HB 1123 by Rep. T. Williams passed the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources last week 18-0.  It is not yet agendaed for next week.  S 2016 by Sen. Bennett has still not been agendaed in its first committee.
These identical bills revise provisions requiring the DEP to develop and use a mechanism consolidating federal and state wetland permitting programs. They authorize implementation of a state programmatic general permit or regional general permits by the DEP and water management districts for certain dredge and fill activities and delay the effective date of a rule adding slash pine and gallberry to the list of facultative plants.
HB 1133 Agriculture by Rep. Poppel passed the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and now goes to Military and Local Affairs Policy Council.  The companion bill, S 1974 by Sen. Bennett, passed the Agriculture Committee 4-0 and now goes to Community Affairs.
These bills deal primarily with agriculture but a subsection of both bills provides that while county powers to enforce its applicable wetland protection ordinances, regulations, or rules adopted before 1/1/09 are not limited, it preempts the adoption or enforcement of any such ordinances after that date. 
Offshore Drilling
Rep. McKeel’s HM 21 passed the House Energy & Utilities Policy 15-6 and goes next to the General Government Policy Council.  The companion bill,S 0504, by Sen. Oelrich has not been agendaed.
These bills urge the US Congress to support the expiration and removal of moratoria prohibiting exploration and production of oil and natural gas in federal waters surrounding Florida and to include Florida in revenue sharing resulting from such exploration and production. 
HB 1219Environmental Control by Rep. Van Zant, is on the agenda for the Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy  on Tuesday morning at 8:00 am. The bill directs the DEP to develop a plan for the implementation of an expedited permitting process for nuclear power plants. It also directs the DEP to develop a plan for the implementation of an offshore drilling program.
 The companion bill, S 2294 by Sen.Wise, has not been agendaed in its first committee.
HB 1219’s references are to Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy (GGPC); Energy & Utilities Policy (GGPC); General Government Policy Council; and Natural Resources Appropriations on 3-9-09
S 2294 has been referred to Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities; and General Government Appropriations
Energy: Clean Cars
S 1994 Motor Vehicle Emission Standards by Sen. Constantine is on the agenda in  Environmental Preservation and Conservation this coming Tuesday at 1:45 pm.  After that it will have four more committee stops: Commerce; Transportation; Governmental Oversight and Accountability; and Policy & Steering Committee on Ways and Means. 
This bill embodies the Governor’s stated goal of ad opting the California tailpipe standards.  The auto industry is lobbying heavily against the bill.
The companion bill, HB 1309 by Rep. Rader, has been referred to Referred to Governmental Affairs Policy (EDCA); Energy & Utilities Policy (GGPC); Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy (GGPC); Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council; Natural Resources Appropriations (CGHC); and Full Appropriations Council on General Government & Health Care.  This is a full SIX (last week’s Report said ‘seven’ – we regret the error) committee stops which is a clear sign that leadership does not want this bill to pass.
Electric Car Bill
Rep. Hasner’s electric car bill, HB 879Financial Incentives for Electric Vehicles, has not been agendaed in its second committee yet.
The bill provides significant tax breaks for the purchase of electric vehicles, providing charging locations available to the public, and for parts needed to convert traditional cars to electric power.   Its next committees of reference are: General Government Policy Council; Finance & Tax Council; and the Full Appropriations Council on General Government & Health Care 
Sen. Altman’s companion bill, S 1610, has still not been agendaed in its first committee.
Springs
Sen. Constantine’s Springs bill, S 0274 – the Florida Springs Protection Act passed the  Environmental Protection and Conservation Committee 6-0. The bill rolls portions of S 118, S 982, and S 1490 into one package dealing with water quality in the 34 counties that have a first or second order magnitude spring within their borders (all of north Florida down to the I-4 corridor with the exception of Gadsden, Liberty, and Franklin counties).  The bill requires septic tank inspections and upgrades, advanced water treatment for new facilities, inclusion of spring protections in comprehensive plans, and includes fertilizer provisions that would allow the use of slow release fertilizers and would also include the provisions of Sen. Pruitt’s No-P bill. Sierra Club’s Legislative Committee made a number of contributions that have been inserted into the bill which  can be seen in its current form here:Web Page
Next, the  bill goes to Community Affairs; Health Regulation; and General Government Appropriations. 
Sen. Constantine’s S 0118 Wekiva Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal is included in the strike all amendment to S 274.
Sen. Dean has filed S 2120 Florida Springs Stewardship Task Force  which is essentially the same bill as last year’s Springs Task Force. The bill saw no action last week and is not agendaed for this week.
Fertilizer
There are now three fertilizer bills:
SEE S 274 ABOVE
Rep. Murzin’s HB 1515 Turf and Landscape Maintenance passed the Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy Committee 15-1.

Thank you to those of you who responded to the Alert that went out last week on this bill. We will send another alert as soon as it is agendaed in the Civil Justice and Courts Policy Committee.

The bill preempts localities from adopting ordinances stricter than the model using the following language:
A local government may adopt additional and more stringent provisions if the local government can verify impaired waters and the achievement of total maximum daily loads allowable under state or federal law or if the local government can provide scientific evidence that harm to human health or the environment exists or that the prevention of such harm warrants such fertilizer application requirements.

This would impose extra expense and difficulties for local governments that want to prevent water problems before they occur.  HB 1515’s remaining committees are Civil Justice & Courts Policy (CCJP); General Government Policy Council; and Natural Resources Appropriations (CGHC).  The bill does not have a Senate companion.

No action on SB 982 last week.
S 0982 Protection of Urban and Residential Environments and Water Act.” (the PURE Water Act) by Sen. Constantine – this bill has been very much improved and rolled into the strike all amendment to S 274 (please see above in ‘Springs’)
No action on SB 1490 last.
S 1490 by Sen. Pruitt – Fertilizer Application/Phosphorus: Provides definitions. Limits the amount of fertilizer containing phosphorus that may be applied to urban turf on or after a certain date.  This is a good statewide No-Phosphorous bill.  The language of this bill has been inserted in S 274 (please see above in ‘Springs’)
Transportation
The House transportation bill dealing with the purchase of CSX rail is HB 7009 by Economic Development and Community Affairs Policy Council.  The bill was originally EDCA 1.  It still has not been referred to a committee or council.
The Senate companion, Sen. Constantine’s S 1212  Public Transit, saw no action last week and has two committees to go: Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations; and Policy & Steering Committee on Ways and Means
Sen. Gardiner’s S 0424 Transportation passed Senate Transportation 10-1 and will be heard in Community Affairs, Tuesday, at 1:45 pm.   The bill deals mostly with non-controversial issues and does not affect public transportation issues. 
Seagrass and Mangrove Protection
Sen. Constantine’s S 2536 Boating, which includes fines for damaging seagrasses with boat propellers will be heard in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee on Tuesday at 1:45 pm.  After that it goes to Criminal Justice; Judiciary; and General Government Appropriations.  The bill does not have a House companion.
03/12/09 SENATE Referred to
SB 0148 Mangrove protection by Sen. Aronberg passed Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation 6
-0 on the opening day of session and will next go to Community Affairs.  S 148 saw no action last week. 
 The companion bill, HB 625 by Rep. Kriseman has not yet been agendaed in its second committee,  Military & Local affairs. 
Florida Forever
Florida Forever Day at the Capitol will be April 6 from 11 am to 3 pm.  Find out more at http://www.supportfloridaforever.org/index.shtml
Also, see the Nature Conservancy report detailing the significant economic benefits derived from Florida Forever here:http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/florida/press/press3916.html
Any budget request will be tough to come by this year… but it’s always hard.  Preserving Florida’s lands is essential to accomplishing the goal of a sustainable Florida.  The budget impact of full funding for this year would be $12.39 million.
  • When the lands are lost to development, they are lost for good.
  • Prices will never be this lo w again.
  • We can use conservation easements to protect land without buying it outright.  This preserves environmentally important property while keeping it on the tax rolls.
Preserve this preservation program!
Everglades – US Sugar land acquisition
The US Sugar land deal is dependent on SFWMD receiving permission to issue bonds to come up with the $1.34 billion needed to complete the purchase.  They have gone to the court to “validate” the bonding process.  The Palm Beach Circuit Court devoted Monday – Wednesday of last week to hearings on the issue and is expected to issue its findings in about six weeks.  However, the decision may be appealed and eventually go to the Florida Supreme Court. 
Opponents of the acquisition tried to make the case that spending the $1.34 billion on the 180,000 acres of US Sugar land would cause harm to the Everglades because other restoration projects would be stalled.  SFWMD has stated that they do not intend to allow the land to lie fallow, but to work in partnership with agricultural interests that will use best management practices to keep the land in good shape until the district is ready to construct the next phases of the project.
Sen. Bennett’s S 1436 which would require a referendum of the voters in a water management district to authorize bonding by the district a nd the companion bill, HB 987 by Rep. T. Williams, have still not been agendaed as of this writing.
Energy: Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)
The two bills filed to satisfy the requirement that the RPS proposal made by the Public Service Commission be ratified by the legislature, S 2490 by Sen. Constantine and HB 1319 by Rep. Mayfield, did not see any action last week.
Rep. Fitzgerald has filed HB 1317, the “Florida Renewable Energy Freedom Act” did  not see any action last week and is not agendaed for this coming week as yet.  This feed in tariff bill (FIT) provides a mechanism for individuals and businesses to produce electricity and sell it to utility companies. HB 1317 may be amended into a Proposed Committee Bill by the House Energy and Utilities Policy Committee if Leadership approves. 
The Senate companion to HB 1317 is Sen. Altman’s S 2392 which has been referred to to Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities; Finance and Tax; and General Government Appropriations.
Citizen Participation:
HJR 81 and HB 83, by Rep. Hays to abolish the public financing of statewide campaigns. 
HJR 81 (the proposed constitutional amendment) and HJR 83 (the conforming legislation that will be implemented if voters approve the constitutional amendment) will be heard in their last committee of reference: Full Appropriations Council on Education & Economic Development on Monday at 3 pm.
Sen. Haridopolos’ companion bills S 0566  passed the Senate Policy & Steering Committee on Ways and Means 11-4 but S 0564 ran out of time in the committee and was TP’d.  It will have to be on the agenda again in order to move forward.  S 566 has only Rules to go.
Citizen initiative process
Rep. Dorworth’s HB 497 Paid Petition Circulators passed Governmental Affairs Policy 9-3 and will be heard in Civil Justice & Courts Policy on Tuesday at 8 am.
Thank you to those who responded to the Alert that went out on this bill. 
The contact for the next committee is:
House Civil Justice and Courts Policy Committee 2009
Rep. Kevin C. Ambler,  Tampa  (850) 488-0275     [email protected]
Rep. Eric Eisnaugle , Orlando  (850) 488-9770   [email protected]
Rep. Adam Fetterman,  Port Saint Lucie   (850) 488-749 [email protected]
Rep. Audrey Gibson, Jacksonville  (850) 488-7417 [email protected]
Rep. Tom Grady, Naples    (850) 488-4487          [email protected]
Rep. Dorothy Hukill,  New Smyrna Beach (850) 488-653 [email protected]
Rep. Kelli Stargel ,  Lakeland  (850) 488-2270     [email protected]
Rep. Nick Thompson (Chair),  Fort Myers  (850) 488-1541  [email protected]
Rep. Michael B.  Weinstein (V. Ch.),  Orange Park  (850) 488-1304 [email protected]

The bill would require Supervisors of Elections to discard voters’ petitions if a paid petition gatherers’ paperwork were not in order.  The bill would raise the cost of petition gathering significantly and expose the sponsor(s) of an initiative at risk of fines up to $1,000 if an employee violated any provision of the bill.   The bill does not have a Senate companion but there are “shell bills” on the Senate side that could serve that purpose.  We are keeping a close eye on Senate Ethics and Elections for any bills that might come from that committee on this subject.

Trust funds
There were no raids on environmental trust funds last week. 
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