SB 552- Relating to Environmental Resources
On Wednesday, January 13th, SB 552, relating to Environmental Resources, by Senator Charlie Dean (R-Inverness) was heard on the floor of the Senate and passed unanimously with 37 yeas and 0 nays.
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. SB 552 revises policies relation to Florida’s environmental resources including, but not limited to:
- Creating the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act to expedite protection and restoration of the water flow and water quality in the aquifer and Outstanding Florida Springs.
- Ensuring that the appropriate governmental entities continue to develop and implement uniform water supply planning, consumptive water use permitting, and resource protection programs for the area encompassed by the Central Florida Water Initiative.
- Updating and restructuring the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Act to reflect and build upon the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) completion of basin management action plans (BMAP) for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee Estuary, and the St. Lucie River and Estuary, DEP’s continuing development of a BMAP for the inland portion of the Caloosahatchee River watershed, and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ implementation of best management practices in the three basins.
- Modifying water supply and resource planning documents and processes in order to provide more robust representations of the state’s water needs and goals.
- Requiring the Office of Economic and Demographic Research to conduct an annual assessment of water resources and conservation lands.
- Requiring DEP to publish an online publicly accessible database of conservation lands on which public access is compatible with conservation and recreation purposes.
- Requiring DEP to conduct a feasibility study for creating and maintaining a web-based, interactive map of the state’s waterbodies as well as regulatory information about each waterbody.
SB 552 will now head to the House chamber for a vote.
AIF supports efforts to address Florida’s major water challenges by developing sound, comprehensive science-based water policy.
Below is a press release from our Florida H20 Coalition regarding the passage of SB 552:
Statement from AIF’s H2O Coalition Regarding the Bipartisan
Passage of Comprehensive Water Reform in the Florida Senate
Tallahassee, Fla. – Associated Industries of Florida’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs Brewster Bevis released the following statement regarding the Florida Senate’s bipartisan approval of a comprehensive water reform bill.
“The Florida Senate’s adoption of SB 552 has been many years in the making. Over the past year, this legislation has been improved to strengthen the protection of Florida’s springs and create stronger water quality standards. Today, a unanimous, bipartisan majority has agreed this comprehensive approach to water policy represents the best path forward for our people and our state.
We appreciate the leadership of President Gardiner and Senators Dean, Simmons, Hays, Simpson, and Montford. Their tireless work on this bill has put us one step closer to passing this historic reform.”
HB 59-Relating to Agritourism
On Wednesday, January 13th, HB 59, relating to Agritourism, Rep. Neil Combee (R-Auburndale) was heard in the House State Affairs Committee and unanimously passed with a vote of 18 yeas and 0 nays.
This bill prohibits local governments from enforcing any local ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy that prohibits, restricts, regulates, or otherwise limits an agritourism activity on land classified as agricultural land under Florida’s greenbelt law. An “agritourism activity” is any agricultural related activity consistent with a bona fide farm or ranch or in a working forest that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy activities, including farming, ranching, historical, cultural, or harvest-your-own activities and attractions. Agritourism is one of the many methods farmers use to diversify and increase their income.
HB 59 will now head to the House Floor for a vote.
AIF supports any legislation that allows Florida farmers to safely expand their businesses through the use of Agritourism.