Wednesday, April 15, 2020




TALLAHASSEE, FL. (April 15, 2020) – Sierra Club Florida has released its Florida Legislator Scorecard for 2020. Designed to give a snapshot of legislators’ votes on the environmental bills for which Sierra Club Florida dedicated considerable time and resources, it also includes “thumbs up and thumbs down” award winners noting those legislators who either championed or actively worked against the environment.

Republicans almost unanimously voted against Sierra Club’s environmental priorities by:

·        preempting local regulation of over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics to the state; specifically aimed at ending Key West’s ban on the sale of sunscreens containing octinoxate or oxybenzone as they are harmful to coral reefs. (SB 172)

·        continuing the assault on growth management by requiring that each local comprehensive plan include a new private property rights element which adds no additional property rights protection for individuals and could cost as much as $100,000 depending on the size of the community. It subjects more municipalities to development orders superseding comprehensive plans and further limits the authority of county governments to manage growth within their borders and could clear the way for high-density development in designated rural areas. (SB 410)

·        making it harder for citizens to put initiatives to amend the State Constitution on the ballot. Includes (1) increasing the required number of signatures before the Supreme Court looks at the language of the petition, (2) requiring that signatures would have to come from 1/2, instead of 1/4, of the state’s congressional districts, (3) invalidating an elector’s signature if a petition gatherer’s paperwork is not in order, (4) reducing the “shelf life” of signed petitions to a single year, (5) charging the petition sponsor for all printing and signature verifying costs, and (6) allowing any citizen to challenge a petition gatherer’s credentials. (SB 1794)

·        requiring DOT to create a master plan for EV charging stations along state highways. But the bill also makes it easier for utilities to use conservation easements on agricultural property for linear facilities, including oil and gas pipelines. (SB 7018)

“Thumbs Up” awards were given to Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani, who voted with the Sierra Club 100% of the time, and 14 of her Democratic colleagues, who supported 85% of Sierra Club’s positions.

“Florida House Democrats were the champions for Florida’s environment this session,” said Sierra Club Florida’s Chapter Director, Frank Jackalone. “But only Rep. Eskamani withstood the political pressure and opposed the weak “Clean Waterways Act.” (SB 712)

“Thumbs Down” awards were given to Rep. James Grant for his continued assault on citizen initiatives and growth management and Rep. Spencer Roach and Sen. Rob Bradley for arguing that Key West’s ban on sale of sunscreens harmful to the coral reef was an assault on skin cancer prevention.

Deborah Foote, Director of Government Affairs for Sierra Club commented, “The Florida legislature continues to thwart the will of its citizens by taking away local control and handing it over to developers and other moneyed interests. The upcoming election is the only way to reverse this abysmal trend. We need to elect pro-environment legislators if we want clean water, open spaces, and a healthier way of life.”

Sierra Club Florida hopes the Scorecard will raise awareness on how legislators vote on the environment. “Despite full knowledge of our degraded waters and rampant development, the legislature capitulated to industry and did very little to make things better,” said Jackalone.

The full Scorecard may be viewed by clicking here.

A chapter of the national Sierra Club, Sierra Club Florida is made up of volunteer leaders and civic activists representing over 240,000 members and supporters from all over the state.