Week Four of the Florida Legislative Session
Florida Partners United in Push for Funding Land Conservation
The Florida Forestry Association, Florida Conservation Group, and local governments across Florida are sending a message to state lawmakers: fund land conservation. Each group shares a common passion for saving Florida’s special places. As the 60-day legislative session continues, these groups alongside Audubon will press lawmakers to preserve what makes Florida special. Learn more about Audubon allies for land conservation.
We need you. Help us build momentum for conservation in the Legislature! Send a message to your legislators asking them to support Florida’s land conservation programs like Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Land program. In your message, tell your legislators why you love the special places in your area.
Important Everglades Bill Picking Up Speed in Tallahassee
Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) will be heard before the Senate Appropriations Committee next Wednesday. The Audubon-supported Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir remains at the heart of this legislation. There is still time to weigh in! Ask your senator and representative to support the EAA Reservoir. The reservoir will help reduce damaging freshwater discharges to our estuaries and send much-needed water south to the Southern Everglades and Florida Bay.
COME TO TALLAHASSEE TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: We need supporters to show up in-person at the Senate Appropriations Committee next week! Senators will meet on Wednesday, April 5 to vote on SB 10. Supporters are gathering at 12:30 p.m. near the dolphin fountain right outside of the Florida Capitol. Click here to let us know you can make it. Email us at email@example.com with questions.
Initial Budgets from Legislature Cut Land Conservation Funding
This week, the Florida House of Representatives and Senate unveiled their initial budgets, which included shockingly low proposals for land conservation funding. Both the House and Senate budgets include no funding for the Rural and Family Lands program. Last year, the program received $35 million. Disappointingly, the House budget included no funding for Florida Forever. The Senate budget included a mere $15.2 million from funds carried over from last year.
Despite these dismal proposals for land acquisition funding, the budgets included some positive highlights. The Senate took an important step toward fulfilling voters’ intent of the Water and Land Legacy Amendment (Amendment 1 in 2014). The Senate budget transfers $111 million in agency salaries and benefits from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to General Revenue. This frees up these funds up for conservation programs. The budget proposals also show some support for the Everglades and Florida springs.
Senate and House Budget Highlights
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will meet next week to vote on their respective budgets. If they pass, the budgets will then go to the floor of both chambers. Audubon will work to increase funding for the conservation programs that are so important to Floridians and wildlife. Here are the highlights from the proposed budgets:
• $166 million in the House budget
• $275 million in the Senate budget
• $40 million in the House budget
• $50 million in the Senate budget
Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust:
• $10 million in the House budget (including $0 for Florida Forever)
• $22.6 million in the Senate budget (including $15.2 for Florida Forever)
Rural and Family Lands Program:
• $0 in the House budget
• $0 in the Senate budget
Audubon’s 2017 Legislative Priorities
1. $150 million for Land Conservation including Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands.
2. Support Senate President Negron’s proposal to buy land for reservoirs to send Lake Okeechobee south.
3. Advance water conservation and new limits on water pollution sources.
We hope we can count on you to stay engaged. Audubon is Florida’s most influential conservation voice. We show up at the right time, do our homework, and are respected for advancing science-based solutions. We propose more than we oppose. When we oppose, we work hard to stop bad ideas from becoming law.
“Information is the most important technology that you have to be able to address water quality problems” - Audubon Florida’s Eric Draper.
Monday, Eric testified before the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee. Click here to hear Eric’s testimony (at 12:23).