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Interim Legislative Update from February 26, 2015

Environment & Agricultural

HB 7003 – relating to Water Resources
On Thursday, February 19th, HB 7003, relating to Water Resources by Representative Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres) and the House State Affairs Committee passed the House Appropriations Committee by a 22-3 vote. AIF Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of the bill during the committee. The bill now heads to the House floor for consideration.

AIF released the following press release Thursday, February 19, 2015 regarding support of HB 7003.

Members of AIF’s H2O Coalition: House Water Bill a Science-Based, Sustainable Solution for Florida’s Water Challenges

Tallahassee, Fla. – The leaders of the Associated Industries of Florida’s H2O Coalition today expressed strong support for improvements made to HB 7003, a bill relating to Water Resources, which was approved by the House Appropriations Committee.

“Florida’s water users are looking for comprehensive solutions that will grow our water supply, not merely grow the supply of state-owned lands,” said Brewster Bevis, Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs for the Associated Industries of Florida.  “The House proposal relies on science-tested tools to promote sustainability and ensure the conservation of our natural resources.”

“We appreciate Chairman Corcoran and his committee’s support and will continue to provide input from the business community to the Legislature,” continued Bevis.  “Failing to address long term water quality and quantity issues could put our state’s economy at risk.  The last thing Floridians want to see are protracted and costly legal battles over water.”

The Session, the Florida H2O Coalition is advocating for a science-based, comprehensive water reform to address concerns about future water shortages. According to estimates from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida has a need for an additional 1.3 billion gallons of water per day by 2030 to accommodate a population of almost 24 million. 

The Florida H2O Coalition is comprised of stakeholders interested in water quantity and quality issues in Florida with the goal of making recommendations on state and federal water laws and rules impacting Florida.   For more information about the Florida H2O Coalition, please visit us online.

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The Department of Environmental Protection projects a water shortage of 1.3 billion gallons of water per day by 2030. This bill comprehensively addresses this shortage and other water issues in our state. Some key components of the bill include the Springs Protection Program, the Central Florida Water Initiative, the Central and Southern Florida Project, and the Northern Everglades project. One major goal of this bill is to create an interagency agreement to develop and implement a uniform water management system, regarding water supply planning, consumptive water use permitting, and resource protection programs.

AIF SUPPORTS the Florida House of Representatives effort to address Florida’s major water challenges by developing legislation that address a series of critical issues.

SB 398 – relating to Agricultural Tax Exemptions
On Monday, February 16th, SB 398, relating to Agricultural Tax Exemptions by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture. The bill now heads to its second of three stops in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax. AIF stood in support of this bill.

The bill expands the sales tax exemption for certain equipment used exclusively for agricultural purposes. It includes repairs of power farm equipment and irrigation equipment and also redefines “agricultural production” to include storage of raw products on a farm. The effect of this inclusion is the creation of a new sales tax exemption on the sale, rental, lease, use, storage, or repair of power farm equipment, including replacement parts and accessories, used exclusively on a farm or in a forest to store raw products on a farm.

AIF SUPPORTS the Agriculture Sales Tax Exemption Bill. Florida’s farmers are at a competitive disadvantage to farmers in neighboring states who do not pay sales tax on equipment used for the harvesting and production of crops. We support legislation that would provide a sales tax exemption on power farm equipment, replacement and repair parts related to the production of agricultural crops.