Our Audubon policy team pounded the pavement during the 2020 Legislative Session to promote bills that would support our environment while dissuading lawmakers from passing legislation that would be harmful to birds and wildlife. Audubon members made a direct and positive impact during this year’s policy-making session in the Florida capital.
SB 712, The Clean Waterways Act, became the most important issue this session for our Audubon Florida policy team. Florida’s water problems have no one smoking gun and no one silver bullet; getting comprehensive water improvement requires change on many different fronts. We strove for measurable improvements this year.
Excess nutrients in our waterways come from urban and agricultural run-off, wastewater, septic tanks, and biosolids sludge spread on our rural landscapes. The bill presents a grab bag of first-step solutions to address these varied sources of pollution.
SB 712 lays the foundation for further improvements in Florida’s water quality and quantity.
Our team diligently worked to remove provisions that were not protective while successfully adding protective measures to the bill. SB 712 was unanimously approved by all members of the legislature.
At the same time, the Environmental Accountability Act, HB 1091, increases fines on entities that violate environmental laws. The cost of violating environmental laws must be impactful to change bad practices.
Other 2020 Legislative Wins
New Aquatic Preserve
The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve puts into conservation an 800-hundred-square-mile area along the coastline of Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties, protecting 400,000 acres of seagrass beds in one of the fastest-growing regions in the state.
Sea Level Rise
SB 0178 recognizes that sea level rise increases wave action and flooding in coastal communities. This bill requires state-financed buildings along the coast to complete an impact study on sea level rise to limit impacts from flooding and wave action.
Approval of New Solar Program
The public service commission approved Florida Power & Light Company’s SolarTogether Program, which will double the amount of community solar in the state!
Thanks to your voices, Audubon was able to minimize the harmful effects of a fireworks bill, SB 0140, that allows the personal use of explosive fireworks on designated holidays. Though the bill ultimately passed, Memorial Day was removed from the list of holidays during which fireworks would be permitted and existing protective firework ordinances will remain.