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Jack Latvala files legislation to save Florida’s beaches

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Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican and candidate for governor, said in a press release he’s “introduced legislation to help repair Florida’s outdated ranking criteria to restore Florida’s beaches.”

“Beaches play a unique role in Florida’s economy as its number one tourism attraction and as a vital position in the environment,” the release said.

The bill (SB 174) dedicates a “minimum of $50 million annually to beach nourishment and inlet management restoration projects in Florida,” the release said. “It also revisits the beach project ranking system to ensure funding is used for projects in greatest need to address the state’s most severe erosion problems.”

“Florida’s beaches define our state’s unique brand and drive our tourism economy,” said Latvala, the Senate Appropriations chair, in a statement. “Over half of Florida’s sandy beaches are eroding, and only half of these miles of eroded beaches are part of a beach project.

“Last year, this legislation unanimously passed the Florida Senate but was not considered by the Florida House of Representatives. However, we were able to secure $50 million in funding to help restore Florida’s beaches.”

In 2016, the amount of state funding totaled just a third of the requested funds by local governments, leaving a growing backlog of eroded beaches needing repair, the release added.

“Additionally, Senate Bill 174 adds transparency and accountability to the use of state funds, refocuses attention on effective sand management at our inlets, and directs the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a new three-year work plan for beach repair as part of their existing comprehensive planning responsibilities.”

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