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Kissimmee River

Lake Okeechobee rise spurs more water releases

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Water started to be released Tuesday morning southwest from Lake Okeechobee, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeks to stem a post-hurricane rise in the lake’s water level. The Army Corps had resumed flows Friday from the lake east toward the St. Lucie Estuary but held off on western releases because of flooding from Hurricane Irma that has slowed storm recovery in Southwest Florida.

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Senate boost for land-buying praised while House Democrats question spending

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Environmental groups praised a Senate move on Wednesday to add $35 million in the state budget toward land acquisition but said the amount still falls short of what voters wanted. Amendment 1, approved by 75 percent of voters in November, now is estimated to provide nearly $742 million for water and land conservation programs. Environmental groups sought $170 million for the Florida Forever land-buying program and said the proposed House and Senate budgets ignored voter intent. The Senate version of…

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With Senate budget amendments teed up, calls flood senators

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Amendment 1 supporters on Tuesday were flooding senators with calls urging them to support funding for land-buying in advance of Senate floor action on the state budget on Wednesday. In November, 75 percent of voters statewide supported the water and land conservation funding initiative that provides an estimated $741 million in the 2015-16 state budget. The proposed Senate budget provides $2 million for the Florida Forever land-buying program and another $20 million for land acquisition for Kissimmee River restoration. On…

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Bruce Ritchie: Is House giving Florida Forever $205 million? Nope

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Words matter, or they should – at least for journalists. Not necessarily for politicians. Case in point: the Florida House leadership saying that it has $205 million in the proposed 2015-16 state budget for Florida Forever, the state’s land-buying program. Nope, not true. In fact, the House budget proposal doesn’t include a single dollar for Florida Forever, in my opinion, although it seems to have some for land acquisition. How much? We can’t be sure. Florida Forever actually is a…

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Environmental groups criticize ‘hostility’ in Senate Amendment 1 spending proposal

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Environmental groups supporting Amendment 1 on Thursday criticized a Senate chairman’s spending proposal that provides $22 million for land acquisition. Amendment 1, approved by 75 percent of voters in November, provides an estimated $741.8 million in fiscal 2015-16 for water and land conservation programs. Sen. Alan Hays, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, on Thursday released a spending proposal that provides $20 million for Kissimmee River restoration land buying and $2 million for the Florida Forever land acquisition…

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Amendment 1 budget proposal prompts objections, heated exchange

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A Senate appropriations subcommittee chairman on Thursday presented a budget proposal that provides $22 million for land acquisition, prompting another Republican subcommittee member to charge that the proposal violated Amendment 1. Amendment 1 is a conservation spending initiative approved by 75 percent of voters in November. In 2015-16, the measure will provide $741.8 million, or 33 percent of documentary stamp revenue, for water and land conservation programs. State Sen. Alan Hays, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, recommended…

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