Wednesday, April 5, 2017

SB 10 Major Improvements Merit Support--Contact Legislators TODAY

On Tuesday afternoon, April 4th, Sen. Bradley filed a strike-all amendment improving the Proposed Committee Substitute for Florida Senate Bill 10 that had caused Sierra Club Florida a great deal of concern.  The new amendment addresses most of the issues we had, which we appreciate.  The new amendment:
> no longer eliminates the ability to bond for the Florida Forever program
> strikes the call for a shift away from the acquisition of land for conservation purposes in favor of water supply
> strikes the inappropriate use of “Amendment 1” Land & Water Conservation funds for septic upgrades and conversion to sewer
> strikes the “coast-to-coast” water supply provisions that would have funded water supply, stormwater retention ponds, and flood control structures with Amendment 1 dollars.
We are supporting Sen. Bradley’s amendment, though the bill still has some issues that we will continue to work on regarding the use of Amendment 1 funds.  The bill revision provides a way to achieve our goals associated with a proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee (rehydrating the Everglades, recharging the aquifer, bringing fresh water to Florida Bay, and reducing the discharges to tide, east and west) and also gets the very problematic earlier-proposed committee substitute out of the picture.  An explanation of what is in the new amendment is below.
Please contact Wednesday morning the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and ask them to adopt Sen. Bradley's strike all amendment (barcode 920390).  The bill will be heard at 2 pm today, April 5th:

Sen. Jack Latvala, Chair
(850) 487-5016

Sen. Anitere Flores. V. Ch.
(850) 487-5039

Sen. Aaron Bean
(850) 487-5004

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto
(850) 487-5027

Sen. Lauren Book
(850) 487-5032

Sen. Randolph Bracy
(850) 487-5011

Sen. Rob Bradley
(850) 487-5005

Sen. Jeff Brandes
(850) 487-5024

Sen. Oscar Braynon
(850) 487-5035

Sen. George Gainer
(850) 487-5002

Sen. Bill Galvano
(850) 487-5021

Sen. Audrey Gibson
(850) 487-5006

Sen. Denise Grimsley
(850) 487-5026

Sen. Bill Montford
(850) 487-5003

Sen. Bobby Powell
(850) 487-5030

Sen. David Simmons
(850) 487-5009

Sen. Wilton Simpson
(850) 487-5010

Sen. Kelli Stargel
(850) 487-5022 

These emails addresses provided in block form, for copy & paste:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

In more detail, here is what Sen. Bradley’s new amendment does:

> Provides for a reservoir south of the Lake between 240,000 and 360,000 acre-feet.  The bill calls for the use of the A-2 parcel and provides for the renegotiation of leases (including terminating them), land purchases, and land swaps to have enough land for the reservoir.
> The total amount of acreage will be determined by calculating how much is needed to provide sufficient water cleaning capacity to achieve state and federal water quality standards. The ‘tool’ for making this determination is the SFWMD’s Dynamic Model for Stormwater Treatment Areas.
> Eliminates the Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc. (PRIDE) that currently uses prison labor to harvest sugar cane.  This frees up the land for exchange or use for the reservoir.  It also eliminates prisoners competing for jobs in a community with a very high unemployment rate.
> Since this bill is coming out after an agreement with the federal government has already been set, there are provisions for moving forward on the reservoir while the state and the federal government reconfigure the current agreement in what is called a ‘post authorization change report.’  The district is to ask the ACOE to jointly develop the report by July 1, 2017 and to begin creating it by August 1.   The district is to begin the planning and construction, subject to funding, while awaiting congressional approval of the report.
> Ongoing Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects will continue to receive funding.
> Directs the Board of the Internal Improvements Trust Fund (the Governor and Cabinet) to provide the district (by sale or by other agreement) “any land” it has title to that the district identifies as needed for the reservoir. This section, 373.4598 (4)(c) [lines 212-215], should be clarified to ensure that lands acquired by the District from the Trustees are those identified in 4(b) from land swaps, purchases or lease terminations, and not other conservation lands.
> The bill also authorizes the district to begin planning and discussion with the owners of the C-51 Reservoir project to determine if the state should acquire or enter into a public private partnership for this water storage facility that will add approximately 60,000 acre-feet of storage south of the Lake.  This water supply project would be paid for with LATF dollars.  Sierra will be working to change this provision. Neither the C-51 reservoir project (§373.4598(9)) nor the operation of the EAA reservoir (§373.4598(10)(b)) are permissible expenditures of funds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund under Article X, section 28 of the Florida Constitution.
> Establishes a training program for residents in the Glades
> Establishes the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Training Program in DEO for the purpose of stimulating and supporting training and employment programs, to match state and local training programs with identified job skills associated with non-agricultural employment opportunities in areas of high agricultural unemployment.  The bill expresses the Legislature’s intent to promote the implementation of the Airglades Airport in Hendry County and an inland port in Palm Beach County to create job opportunities in areas of high agricultural unemployment.
> As part of the training portion of the bill it provides that programs established in the Everglades Agricultural Area must include opportunities to obtain the qualifications and skills necessary for jobs related to federal and state restoration projects, Airglades Airport in Hendry County, or an inland port in Palm Beach County.
> Establishes a revolving loan fund to provide funding assistance to local governments and water supply entities for the development and construction of water storage facilities.  The Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund is to be used to provide the funds for the loans.  However, the source of funds for the Trust Fund is unclear.  The statutory purpose of the Trust Fund is to provide funding for the Water Protection and Sustainability Program which, in turn is amended in the new amendment to provide for alternative water supply and funding the Water Storage Facility Revolving Loan fund.  The amendments to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program eliminate the purposes of researching water quality issues such as best management practices (BMPs) and achieving Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)
> Starting in 2018-19 the new amendment allocates the Everglades an additional recurring $100 million in the ‘Legacy Act’ for the reservoir
> In 2017-18 only, the new amendment provides for $64 million in non-recurring funds from the LATF as follows:
-  $30 million in non-recurring funds from the LATF for acquiring land or negotiating leases for the EAA reservoir or for any cost related to the planning or construction of the reservoir
-  $3 million in non-recurring funds from the LATF for developing the post authorization change report
-  $1 million in non-recurring funds from the LATF for negotiating Phase II of the C-51 reservoir project
-  $30 million in non-recurring funds from the LATF for Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project
> The new amendment authorizes bonding doc stamp revenues for the EAA reservoir and provides that up to $1.2 billion in Florida Forever bonds are to be used for it and the proceeds of the bonds are to be deposited in the Everglades Trust Fund.  The debt service would be paid out of the LATF as with all Florida Forever bonds.

-- Contributed by David Cullen, Lobbyist, Sierra Club Florida