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Florida Forever bill could affect Everglades reservoir plan

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A bill that looks to “un-muddy” the mission of Florida’s main environmental land acquisition program could potentially affect the plan for an Everglades reservoir. A House bill brought forth Monday by Rep. Matt Caldwell, a Republican with close ties to House leadership, was passed unanimously by a House panel. Caldwell wants to alter what projects are eligible for money under the Florida Forever Program and put more money into land conservation. But the measure would also remove funding allocations for…

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Senate issues draft $3.8B environmental budget, millions higher than House

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On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Environment and Natural Resources issued the first version of its 2017-18 budget, which comes in at $3.8 billion. The projected Senate budget includes few hundred million dollars more than the preliminary House plan. Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley, who chairs the committee, offered a thumbnail version at a public hearing Wednesday reports LobbyTools. Among the legislative asks from the Senate is $275 million for Everglades restoration – compared to $165.7 million from the…

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Amendment 1 supporters aren’t giving up the fight for funding just yet

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In recent weeks, supporters of Florida’s Amendment 1 have become increasingly fearful that the Legislature was going to betray the will of the voters who passed the land-buying measure last November. The constitutional amendment calls for the state to dedicate a portion of documentary tax stamp proceeds to land buys and other environmental programs, and was slated to generate more than $700 million over the next year alone. But instead, lawmakers in Tallahassee have been lowballing that amount, with the House agreeing…

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Activist group holds Medicaid gap ‘public execution’ in Florida Capitol courtyard

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At 10 a.m, and again at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, a group of activists performed a skit along the Florida Capitol courtyard — acting out a scene where eight condemned people line up next to an executioner. Their crime? Condemned to die for not having health insurance. The players were from Catalyist, a Miami-based community organization that brought its members to Tallahassee this week. They’re lobbying lawmakers to pass a Medicaid expansion plan favored by a majority of the Senate, but…

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Audubon’s Eric Draper says Legislature ‘out of sync’ with voters

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Eric Draper of Audubon Florida told a television audience during a weekend broadcast that legislators are showing they are “out of sync” with voters who supported Amendment 1. Seventy-five percent of voters in November approved the funding initiative, which provides an estimated $742 million for water and land conservation in the 2015-16 state budget. Environmental groups say the House and Senate have ignored the intent of voters in their spending plans. The House approved perhaps $10 million for land acquisition…

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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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