Florida conservation measure becomes Amendment 1 on November ballot

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An amendment to the Florida Constitution to give voters an opportunity to divert as much as $10 billion over the next 20 years towards conservation efforts will officially be on the ballot in November.  

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner officially designated the proposal sponsored by Water and Land Legacy Thursday as Amendment 1, reports John Kennedy in the Palm Beach Post.

“We are pleased to be slated as Amendment 1 on the ballot because water and land conservation deserves to be a top priority for our state,” said Trust for Public Land chair Will Abberger.

“Florida is home to one-of-a-kind natural waters and lands and voters now have an opportunity to make a commitment to conservation that will last for generations of Floridians to come,” Abberger added.

The campaign surpassed the 683,149 valid petitions necessary for inclusion on the November ballot. A second initiative — to legalize medical marijuana — is also close to reaching that goal, with 654,330 valid signatures as of Thursday.

Several thousand more signatures are waiting for authentication by the Feb. 1 deadline, Kennedy writes.

Unlike the marijuana measure, the Water and Land Trust does not await final language clearance from the Florida Supreme Court, so there still is the possibility the marijuana amendment may not make the ballot.

Helping to launch the Water and Land campaign was former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who was Florida governor between 1979 and 1987. A number of environmental groups, including the Trust for Public Land, Audubon Florida, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, also support the measure.

If passed by voters, one-third of the Florida’s documentary stamp-tax dollars, paid during real-estate transactions, will be earmarked for conservation, management and restoration the state’s water and land for 20 years, starting July 2015.

Few have opposed the measure directly, but the Florida Chamber of Commerce warns it may tie “hands of our elected representatives.”

Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also criticized the proposed amendment for its constitutional approach. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.