HB 73 – Relating to Environmental Regulation
On Wednesday, February 26, HB 73 by Representative Toby Overdorf (R-Stuart) was read a third time on the Senate floor and passed with 40 yeas and 0 nays.
Current state law requires each county to implement a recyclable materials recycling program within its boundaries and encourages counties to work with municipalities for this purpose. Recyclable materials can become contaminated when residents place materials that are not recyclable into curbside recycling bins. While facilities are equipped to handle some non-recyclable materials, excessive contamination can undermine the recycling process and result in increased costs due to equipment downtime, repair, or replacement needs. In addition to the increased recycling processing costs, contamination also results in poorer quality recyclables, increased rejection, and landfilling of unusable materials. Counties and municipalities may contract with private companies to operate their recycling programs, but current law does not require the contracts to address the contamination of recyclable materials.
The bill requires counties and municipalities to address nonhazardous contamination of recyclable materials in contracts with residential recycling collectors and recovered materials processing facilities. Contracts executed or renewed after October 1, 2020, must:
- Define the term “contaminated recyclable material” in a manner that is appropriate for the local community;
- Include strategies and obligations to reduce the amount of contaminated recyclable materials being collected or processed;
- Create procedures for identifying, documenting, managing, and rejecting contaminated recyclable materials;
- Authorize remedies in handling contaminated containers; and
- Provide education and enforcement measures for collection contracts.
Additionally, state law allows water management districts and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to require an environmental resource permit (ERP) and impose reasonable conditions to ensure certain construction activities comply with the law and will not harm water resources. Some projects can be exempted from ERP permitting if they meet specific statutory restrictions, and local governments may require an applicant get verification from DEP that an activity qualifies for an ERP exception. For example, an ERP exception currently exists for the replacement or repair of a dock or pier if the replacement or repaired dock or pier is in the same location and under specific conditions. The exception allows minor deviations to upgrade the dock or pier to current structural and design standards.
The bill prohibits local governments from requiring further verification from DEP that a construction activity meets an ERP exception. In addition, the bill revises the ERP exception for docks and piers to allow for the repair or replacement if it is within five feet of the same location and no larger than the existing dock or pier and no additional aquatic resources are adversely and permanently impacted.
HB 73 will now go to the Governor for consideration.
AIF supports efforts to streamline recycling systems and scale back onerous permits thus creating a more efficient and productive business climate in Florida.
HB 1343 – Relating to Water Quality Improvements
On Thursday, February 27, HB 1343, co-sponsored by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) and Representative Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) was heard by the House State Affairs Committee and was reported favorable with 15 yeas and 7 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 by:
- Transferring the Onsite Sewage Program from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP);
- Repealing certain onsite sewage treatment and disposal system (OSTDS) advisory committees;
- Creating an OSTDS technical advisory committee to make recommendations that increase the availability of nutrient-reducing OSTDSs;
- Requiring OSTDS remediation plans;
- Requiring DEP staff training to include field inspections of stormwater structural controls;
- Requiring DEP and the water management districts (WMDs) to update the stormwater regulations using the most recent science;
- Requiring local governments to create wastewater treatment plans;
- Requiring sanitary sewage facilities to take steps to prevent sanitary sewer overflows;
- Requiring DEP to establish real-time water quality monitoring;
- Requiring advanced wastewater treatment for domestic wastewater discharges to the Indian River Lagoon;
- Prohibiting the land application of biosolids on certain sites;
- Requiring the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to conduct inspections of producers enrolled in best management practices (BMPs);
- Requiring the University of Florida to develop research plans for developing new BMPs; and
- Creating grant programs for the funding of water quality projects.
The also bill prohibits a local government regulation 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 from granting a person or political subdivision any specific rights relating to the natural environment.
HB 1343 will now move to the House floor.
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.