FLORIDA KEYS ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP BILL
MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO PASSAGE IN STATE LEGISLATURE
The Florida Keys Environmental Stewardship Bill – designed to protect and preserve the island chain and ensure it continues to be an economic driver for the state – is one step closer to passage. The Florida House budget subcommittee this week included $25 million to fully fund the bill in its budget recommendations.
“The funding is not included on the Senate side, but this is an expected part of the rough-and-tumble, give-and-take of the typically challenging budget negotiation process between the two legislative chambers,” said Lisa Tennyson, Monroe County’s Director of Legislative Affairs.
Full appropriations committees should approve their budgets the week of February 3, with House and Senate preliminary budget recommendations on the floor Feb. 10 -11. Final budget decisions will be made in budget conference during the last week of session.
Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) introduced the Florida Keys Stewardship Act, Senate Bill 770 and House Bill 447, respectively. They believe that making investments now is vital to ensuring that the Florida Keys continue to thrive for years to come, and that its environment is preserved for future generations of Floridians.
The Florida Keys Stewardship Act does the following:
- Aims to invest $25 million per year for 10 years in water quality and supply protection, and land acquisition;
- Encompasses the remaining $100 million for wastewater infrastructure in the standing authorization for the Florida Keys under the Mayfield Authorization;
- Expands beyond the Mayfield Authorization for wastewater to add in essential components to prevent the degradation of nearshore waters and the one-of-kind marine ecosystem of the Florida Keys, such as storm water management and the restoration of impaired canal waters;
- Enhances water supply through alternative water sources, such as reverse osmosis, reclaimed water systems and direct and indirect potable reuse;
- Invests in land for critical habitat protection, public safety in case of an evacuation, property rights and military base protection;
- Creates an invaluable partnership between the Florida Keys and the State of Florida, allowing the state to protect the investments they have already made in the area; and
- Yields a significant return on investment for the entire State of Florida. The Florida Keys generate $4.5 billion in economic activity and $200 million in sales tax revenue annually for the State.