Florida's Historic Capitol Building | Photo: Adobe Stock


ADVOCATE: Prop 95 Fails After Strong Opposition by Audubon, Land Conservation Funding Moves Through FL Senate & More

February 2, 2018

We did it! Bad proposal fails after 7,500+ Auduboners speak out.

Today, Audubon-opposed Proposal 95 was voted down in the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission’s Local Government Committee after more than 7,500 Audubon supporters spoke out against this bad idea. If passed, this harmful proposal would stand in the way of local environmental protections- putting habitats for birds and wildlife at risk. The sponsor of Prop 95 made it clear that he understands the concerns and doesn't support the proposal in its current form after strong pressure from Audubon and other organizations.

However, we expect the sponsor to continue working on the proposal, and an amended version may be brought to the full CRC for a vote. Audubon will remain diligent in watching Prop 95 and other proposals that impact Florida’s land and water resources. Help keep the petition going. Just in case Prop 95 comes back up, we want a strong showing of opposition to eliminating local governments’ ability to protect Florida’s special places. Sign today and share with your friends and family.

The CRC meets every 20 years to examine and propose changes to the Florida Constitution. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor, President of the Florida Senate, Speaker of the Florida House, and the Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice. The Attorney General also automatically serves on the CRC. The CRC is currently meeting to develop and recommend changes to the Florida Constitution. Any proposals that pass the CRC's final vote will be placed on the general election ballot (November 6, 2018) and must win at least 60 percent voter approval to become law.

Audubon Continues to Express Concerns on Move to Delegate Federal Program to State

Audubon continues to express strong concerns with Senate Bill 1402 (SB 1402) by Sen. Simmons. This bill, pushed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), would pave the way for the state to take responsibility for much of the federal permitting and enforcement activities under the Clean Water Act's dredge and fill (Section 404) program. While the agency commits to assuming and maintaining the Act's standards for wetland protection, they suggest additional staff will not be needed to take on this large responsibility.

DEP has considerable expertise and experience, but Audubon would like to see greater detail and provision in the bill for ongoing assessment of staff capacity. Sen. Simmons has a proven commitment to water resources, particularly springs, and DEP and the Senator continue working with Audubon to address our concerns.

Changes to environmental permitting may impact wetlands and other important bird habitats, and Audubon is working hard to ensure DEP is adequately resourced to handle the additional responsibilities.

Bill Modifying Tree Ordinances Moves Through House, Being Considered in Senate

Two bills impacting tree ordinances and protections by local governments are being closely monitored by Audubon this year. House Bill 521 (HB 521) by Representative Edwards passed its first committee this week with an amendment substantially improving the bill, in direct response to influence from Audubon. When originally filed, the bill stripped away tree protections put in place by local communities. After being amended, HB 521 is much more limited in scope. Audubon continues working with the sponsors to ensure that there are no unintended consequences and will seek clarifying language as necessary. The companion measure, Senate Bill 574 by Senator Steube, will be heard in its first committee next week and will likely be amended with the same narrowing language.

Auduboners know the importance of protecting our trees. Local tree protections do not just preserve the aesthetic character of our communities. They also provide protection for our urban forests, which provide essential habitat for migrant and resident birds, protect urban air quality, and reduce the heat island effect of paved urban areas.

Fracking Ban Being Considered in Senate Committee on Monday

A move to ban fracking is getting some traction in the Florida Senate on Monday. Senate Bill 462, which prohibits fracking, will be heard in its first of three committees next week. The House companion measure, House Bill 237, has not yet received a hearing in its three committee stops, and it is unlikely it will be considered by the House this year. Audubon Florida remains opposed to fracking, and this legislation is an important step in protecting the water and wildlife we all cherish. 

Land Conservation Funding Moves in Florida Senate

On Wednesday, Sen. Rob Bradley’s Senate Bill 370 (SB 370), which would pump a much-needed $100 million annually into Florida Forever, passed unanimously in the Florida Senate. The legislation included the Audubon-supported Parks, Not Paper Clips amendment. Its House companion has yet to receive a hearing in its assigned committees, but a few proposals in the House give us reason to be hopeful that funding for land conservation remains in play. 

Thank you to the many Audubon supporters who signed our petition and helped Audubon send a strong message of support for this important legislation and amendment. Funding to protect Florida's most critical land and water resources is one of Audubon's top priorities. For the latest update on conservation funding, check out Conservation Funding by the Numbers below.

Conservation Funding By the Numbers

Audubon Florida's Legislative Priorities

Land Conservation Funding

Audubon supports agency budget requests for Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program that recommend strong funding for land acquisition and conservation easements. Audubon is seeking $150 million for land conservation.

Everglades Funding 

With the successful passage of the Legacy Florida Act in 2016 and Senate Bill 10 in 2017, we must continue to follow through on commitments to restoring America’s Everglades. Audubon supports the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Legislative Budget Request that seeks $305.8 million in Everglades funding- the largest single request ever by the agency.

Springs Funding         

Funds appropriated by the Florida Legislature can be leveraged with other funding sources to advance springs projects and programs to improve water quality and increase freshwater flows. Audubon is seeking $50 million for Florida’s springs.

Other Issues

Audubon is seeking $5 million for Lake Apopka Restoration.

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