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HB 7135

Bruce Ritchie: Environmentalists think lack of legislation could be a good thing

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As I was sitting in the press gallery looking down into the darkened Senate chambers on the last day of the 2015 Legislative session, I was reminded of how the environment usually seems to lose amid debate and controversy. The O.J. Simpson trial. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Michael Jackson’s death. A police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. When these incidents happen, discussion and debate about environmental issues gets pushed off the evening news and forced into the back pages of…

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‘Year of water’ failed along with environmental bills, but some did pass

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Another legislative session dubbed the “year of water” failed to deliver in 2015 as the House went home early over a healthcare spending dispute with the Senate. HB 7003, a water bill that was a legislative priority of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, passed the House by a 106-9 vote on the second day of session. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and industry groups supported the bill, which would have set milestones and timetables for cleaning up springs and other waterways. The Senate…

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Amended state lands bill passes committee, heads to House floor

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A bill that would allow the Cabinet to give away state land passed its only committee stop on Tuesday with changes requested by environmental groups. HB 7135 would establish “low impact agriculture” as a management goal for state lands. The bill also would allow the Cabinet to give away state parks and other state lands to adjacent landowners under an agreement to conserve both properties. State Rep. Matt Caldwell, a Republican from Fort Myers, said the bill would allow the…

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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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