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Weekly Legislative Update from February 14, 2020


HB 715 – Relating to Reclaimed Water

On Tuesday, February 11, HB 715 by Representative Randy Maggard (R-Zephyrhills) was heard by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and was reported favorable with 7 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

The bill, which is based off the recommendations of the Potable Reuse Commission, recognizes reclaimed water as a potential source of drinking water, recognizes potable reuse water as an alternative active water supply, establishes specific water quality criteria for potable reuse, and prohibits certain utilities from discharging reuse, effluent, or reclaimed water via surface water discharges.

HB 715 will now move to the House State Affairs Committee.

AIF supports legislation which increases Florida’s water supply by encouraging greater utilization of reclaimed water, direct and indirect potable technology, and other alternative water supplies that are both technologically and economically feasible. States with an adequate water supply will have a head start on future economic development and job creation.


HB 1343 – Relating to Water Quality Improvements

On Tuesday, February 11, HB 1343, co-sponsored by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) and Representative Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) was heard by the House Appropriations Committee and was reported favorable with 28 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

States are required by the Clean Water Act to maintain the quality of their waters. In Florida, water quality is addressed through water quality standards, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), basin management action plans (BMAPs), and permits.

The bill addresses water quality impacts. Specifically, the bill addresses water quality issues resulting from onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDSs) by:

  • Transferring the Onsite Sewage Program from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP);
  • Requiring the departments to submit recommendations to the Governor and Legislature regarding the transfer of the Onsite Sewage Program;
  • Creating an OSTDS technical advisory; and
  • Requiring OSTDS remediation plans.

The bill addresses the water quality issues resulting from stormwater by:

  • Requiring DEP staff training to include field inspections of stormwater structural controls;
  • Requiring DEP and the water management districts to update the stormwater regulations using the most up to date science; and
  • Requiring the model stormwater management program to contain model ordinances targeting nutrient reduction.

The bill addresses water quality issues resulting from domestic wastewater facilities by requiring:

  • Local governments to create wastewater treatment plans;
  • Sanitary sewage facilities to take steps to prevent sanitary sewer overflows;
  • DEP to establish real-time water quality monitoring; and
  • Advanced wastewater treatment for domestic wastewater discharges to the Indian River Lagoon.

The bill also creates a wastewater grant program that requires DEP to provide grants for projects that will reduce excess nutrient pollution. Additionally, the bill requires the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to conduct inspections of producers enrolled in best management practices.

HB 1343 will now move to the House State Affairs Committee.

AIF supports legislation that addresses the existing water quality issues as Florida’s businesses and citizens alike rely on access to clean, uncontaminated water.


HB 1199 – Relating to Environmental Protection Act

On Wednesday, February 12, HB 1199 by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) was heard by the House Judiciary Committee and was reported favorable with 13 yeas and 2 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

Florida authorizes a citizen to assert standing to stop activity that will affect his or her use or enjoyment of air, water, or natural resources. However, court rulings and legislation in the U.S. and worldwide have suggested specific legal rights of nature may exist authorizing a person to assert standing on behalf of natural resources.

While the U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly limits standing for environmental claims to only an action causing injury to a human, dissenting opinions suggesting otherwise have recently caught the attention of environmental activists attempting to assert standing on behalf of the environment, often resulting in lengthy yet unsuccessful litigation.

The bill amends the Florida Environmental Protection Act to prohibit a local government regulation, ordinance, code, rule, comprehensive plan, charter, or any other provision of law:

  • From recognizing or granting any legal right to a plant, animal, body of water, or any other part of the natural environment that is not a person or political subdivision; or
  • Granting a person or political subdivision any specific rights relating to the natural environment.

The bill provides that the prohibition on granting rights to nonpersons may not limit the:

  • Ability of an aggrieved or adversely affected party to appeal and challenge the consistency of a development order with a comprehensive plan, or to file an action for injunctive relief to enforce the terms of a development agreement or to challenge compliance of the agreement with the Florida Local Government Development Agreement Act; or
  • Standing to maintain an action for injunctive relief as otherwise provided by the EPA for:
    • Department of Legal Affairs;
    • Any political subdivision of the state; or
    • A resident of the state.

The bill may prevent costly litigation related to granting rights to natural resources, when current legal precedent suggests such rights may not be granted at the state or local level.

HB 1199 will now move to the House floor for consideration.

AIF supports legislation that protects Florida businesses from lawsuits by defining that people cannot sue on behalf of inanimate objects, i.e. rivers, lakes, streams etc.