By Paul Owens, President
1000 Friends of Florida
September 23, 2019

While the 2020 Legislative Session does not actually start until January 14, the next few weeks are critical.  Legislators are holding committee meetings in Tallahassee to shape legislation, and they are conducting local Legislative Delegation Meetings in communities across Florida to gather input on YOUR priorities for the upcoming session.

We encourage you to attend your local Legislative Delegation Meeting (with a number of them being held this week) and contact your legislators to let them know how urgent it is that they take action to address the many pressing problems facing our state.

We have outlined 1000 Friends’ 2020 Legislative Priorities priorities below and hope you will join us in advocating for meaningful change in 2020.

There is a lot that 1000 Friends of Florida would like to see accomplished in the 2020 legislative session. There is much that can be done through both state policy and funding to advance our vital mission of protecting Florida’s environment, economy and quality of life amid our state’s surging growth. This is the yardstick by which we will measure legislation as we monitor bills during the upcoming session and decide which ones to support and oppose.

But because legislators normally have the time and attention to consider only a fraction of the bills that are introduced, it’s important for us to set priorities. We have three for 2020:

1.  Reverse the mortal blow legislators struck to growth management in the 2019 session.

The amendment they approved to House Bill 7103 excludes citizens from the planning process by threatening them with financial ruin simply for exercising their right to file legal challenges to development orders that are inconsistent with comprehensive plans. The timing couldn’t be worse, with Florida adding more than 900 new residents a day, and our environment and quality of life showing the strains of poorly managed growth in our water quality crisis and congested highways. We will be strongly supporting bills to repeal that amendment and restore citizens’ rights to participate in planning for the future in their communities. It’s time for legislators to work together to build up growth management, not tear it down.

2.  Pass meaningful, comprehensive legislation to crack down on water pollution from all sources. 

These sources include septic tanks, biosolids, sewage spills, lawn fertilizer, urban and agricultural runoff. Legislators don’t have to start from scratch. Senate Bill 1758, a promising bill from the 2019 session known as the Clean Waterways Act, would be a good place for them to begin in 2020. It addressed the full range of water pollution culprits. The bill could be strengthened and improved if it would identify a funding mechanism to cover a share of the cost of reducing water pollution, whether it’s upgrading or replacing septic tanks, modernizing sewage treatment plants, or supporting farmers in adopting better management practices.

3.  Protect environmentally sensitive land with the funding that the public has been waiting for since voters overwhelmingly passed the land and water conservation amendment in 2014. 

A bill introduced in 2019 would have set a $100 million minimum for annual funding for Florida Forever, the state’s premier land acquisition program. Reviving that bill would be a good place to start in 2020. But we would like to see Florida Forever funding return to its $300 million historic funding level. And we would like to see generous funding for other land acquisition efforts, including the Rural and Family Lands Program. The approval in the 2019 session of the bill to authorize three new expressways through rural Florida makes protecting environmentally sensitive land in those areas more important than ever. Ideally, the Legislature would transfer funding it allocated for construction of the new roads to acquisition of environmentally sensitive land, a much higher priority. Florida’s ongoing water-quality crisis adds to the urgency to protect land from development. So does Florida’s ongoing water-quality crisis. Protecting land is one of the most effective ways to protect our waterways and water supply.

For more information about this organization and its work, click here.

Share this story!

Notify of
This site uses User Verification plugin to reduce spam. See how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x