Florida Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) this week announced the filing of legislation to create the Florida Keys Stewardship Act, her top legislative priority for the 2016 Legislative Session. The Senate companion bill will be introduced by Senator Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby). House Bill 447 seeks to invest $25 million per year for 10 years into the Florida Keys’ most significant environmental needs, including nearshore water quality, restoration and protection through wastewater, stormwater and canal water restoration; water supply protection; and land investment for critical habitat protection, public safety, property rights and military base protection.
“The Florida Keys truly has an unparalleled environment that can’t be found anywhere else, as it is home to the world’s largest barrier reef, a national marine sanctuary, national and state parks, wildlife refuges, state aquatic reserves, and unique marine life and ecosystem,” said Representative Raschein. “These one-of-a-kind surroundings have a high value not only for the local community, but for the entire State of Florida, especially since the Keys’ three most valuable industries – tourism, military, and commercial and recreational fishing – utilize and rely on this environment every day.”
“In fact, the Keys’ three most valuable industries generate more than $200 million in sales tax revenue annually for Florida,” continued Representative Raschein. “However, investments are needed to preserve this unique, high-value habitat of the Florida Keys, protect the investments the state has already made in the Keys and ensure a long-lasting legacy for future generations of Floridians.”
“This is why I have chosen to make the Florida Keys Stewardship Act my top legislative priority for this session. The Florida Keys Stewardship Act is an important state investment in the unparalleled, high-value environment of the Florida Keys, with a significant return on investment for the entire State of Florida,” concluded Representative Raschein.