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Apr 30, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: Florida, United States
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of the Federation 
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MyFlorida.com
The Official Portal of the State of Florida
 
Greetings!
Welcome to Capital Watch, Florida Wildlife Federation's weekly update on legislative activities concerning issues of conservation. 
 
 
Capital Watch 2007 
Week Eight - Ending April 27
Jay Liles, FWF Policy Consultant
We enter the last week of the 2007 Legislative Session with a number of important bills poised for debate by both chambers of the legislature. At this point we have completed all but the final hurdles but those are large and always full of surprises. It will require perseverance and not just a little luck to see these bills become law. If you have an interest in any of these bills, either to support or defeat them, now is the time to contact your state legislator at www.leg.state.fl.us to let them know how important the outcome is to you.
Among bills FWF supports that are currently on the Calendar of the House and Senate:
  • SB 1982 / HB 7173 - provides for a long overdue increase in fees for hunting and fishing licenses.  FWF is supporting this much needed increase in fees to meet the financial needs of the agency and improve wildlife management. We would like to see SB 1982 passed by both chambers as it includes language that ties future increases to the Consumer Price Index and increases certain permits to ten dollars.  Let your legislators know that SB 1982 meets the needs of Florida hunters and fishers and offers better protection for wildlife populations and habitat.
  • CS/SB 392/ HB 7157 - was approved by the full Senate several weeks ago yet has not been heard by the House. This bill provides for the issuance of Everglades restoration bonds to implement the Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan and expands the program to provide for a Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River Estuary Protection Program, including an Estuary Protection Plan. HB 7157 is titled the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Plan and is now on the House Calendar. Funding for each of these bills is contained in the Appropriations Act. FWF supports these measures and encourages the House to vote for final passage.
  • SB 2446/ HB 7185 - establishes the Climate Action Partnership, an appointed body that would be responsible for setting Florida's climate policy agenda and developing an action plan for our state. Both bills are on the calendar in each chamber. We anticipate further amendments to the bill which will address the Partnership makeup but not the intent or mission of the group. FWF encourages you to tell your legislators that passage of this bill is important to Florida's initial response to climate change. 
  • SB 996 /SB 2666 /HB 7123-considered the omnibus energy efficiency legislation for the 2007 session.  Late amendments have reduced the Senate bills to a mere two week tax holiday for purchase of energy efficient household equipment. The sponsors have indicated that it is their intent to work on subsequent language adding energy efficiency measures and renewable energy during the final week of the session. FWF supports HB 7123 which includes the sales tax holiday,  increases  sales tax exemptions for materials used in distribution of biodiesel & ethanol fuels, establishes Energy-Efficient Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Refund Program, directs DEP to develop greenhouse gas inventories and establishes the Farm-to-Fuel Grants Program. Encourage your representatives to support HB 7123. 
  • HB 57/ CS SB 444 - dubbed the "Clean Ocean Act" HB 57 would require gambling boats to pump out sewage at the docking marina and pay for pump-out service.  The Senate companion bill (SB 444) simply calls for a study of the already well documented problem. FWF supports the House version and asks that you contact your legislators requesting final passage of HB 57 as currently drafted.
There are other bills that FWF would like to see amended before final passage: 
  • CS/CS/HB985 and CS/CS/CS/SB2804 - changes the Florida Turnpike Enterprise's current "Financial Feasibility" test, which currently requires that proposed new turnpike segments produce 50% of their bond debt service in 12 years and 100% payment of bond debt by the 22nd year, to a far more lenient 30 year projection. We would like to see the financial feasibility test stay as it is currently. SB 2804 also authorizes $9 billion in Turnpike Enterprise bonds (currently capped at $4.5 billion) to build new roads. CS/CS/HB 985 would encourage real estate development as a means to finance or supplement revenue for toll road construction. FWF believes this bad legislation would effectively place the Dept. of Transportation in the role of directing growth management rather than the Dept. of Community Affairs. We are working with the bills sponsors (Senator Carey Baker and Rep. Richard Glorioso) to amend these bills to reflect $7.2 billion in bonding authority specifically tied to improvements in current roadways nearing gridlock in Central and South Florida.
  • HB 7033 and CS/CS/SB 1928 - encourage real estate development as a means to finance or supplement revenue for toll road construction. In addition to an estimate of rider-ship and toll forecasts, the bill provides "the amount of associated real estate development and supplemental revenue sources that will be used to supplement operations." Contrary to fundamental principles of growth management by serving a transportation need, this provision justifies new road construction based real estate speculation.  FWF believes this language should be deleted before final passage. FWF believes than any effort to advance new transportation initiatives must be integrated with robust land conservation initiatives that secure protection for natural areas as growth occurs.
  • CS/CS/HB985 Construction Aggregate Materials section - Some of our readers have asked about this particular feature of the transportation package. The bill sites a strategic and critical need for additional sources of construction aggregate such as limestone rock. Mining for these aggregates has caused extensive damage to surrounding properties and the environment. The current bill language requires local governments to factor in the impacts that land use changes will have on mining. It states that no moratorium on mining may extend for more than 12 months. Expedited permitting is required on any previously submitted mine applications. Finally a task force will examine the status of aggregate resources and availability and report to the Legislature next year.
These are the bills we have been watching this session that appear most likely to be acted on by both Chambers before the last day of the regular session, May 4. It is worth mentioning that the 60 day regular session may end without some very important legislation having been resolved. Most notable is property tax reform, an issue that House and Senate leaders have been at odds on all session. Governor Crist has suggested a compromise but no one is blinking in this high stakes game of political brinksmanship. This impacts other legislation that is being used as a bargaining chip. It also signals the real potential for a Special Session later in May.
Next week - the final results! And what will the Governor sign or veto?

You can learn more about the specifics of each bill in the "Bills to Watch" section.
Jay Liles
FWF Policy Consultant
We have created a list of the
priority issues the Florida Wildlife Federation is determined to have heard this year. Many of these issues are, or will be, addressed in one or more bills. Some have no bills filed as of yet but may appear in the form of spending bills (appropriations) or amendments.
UPDATED!
Under the heading
"Bills to Watch" we have included a list of bills already filed. It is this section that will undergo the most change as we proceed through the legislative session. Please click on this link each week to see the update list.
 

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Posted: Apr 30, 2007 6:49pm

 

 
 
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