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Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

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With a tip of the hat to Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round. Off: Pepper Uchino is no longer staff director of the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. On: Ellen Rogers is now staff director for the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. On: Gail Vail joined the Senate Minority Office staff as a legislative analyst. Off: Keaton Alexander left her role as legislative assistant to Trilby Republican state Sen. Wilton Simpson.…

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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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Fracking bills pass Senate committee with DEP support

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Bills dealing with oil and gas hydraulic fracturing in Florida passed their first Senate committee stop on Tuesday after a state environmental official said they would provide needed regulation for the industry. SB 1468 by state Sen. Garrett Richter, a Republican from Bradenton, requires the state to develop rules for permitting “high-pressure well-stimulation,” which includes hydraulic fracturing — also called fracking. SB 1582 provides for a public records exemption for fracking “trade secrets.” Paula Cobb, the Florida Department of Environmental…

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Senate committee chair seeks to ban fracking during study

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An amendment that was filed Monday — and later withdrawn — by the chairman of a Senate committee would have placed a ban on state permits for oil and gas fracking until a study of the practice can be completed in 2016. SB 1468 by Sen. Garrett Richter, a Republican from Bradenton, requires the state to develop rules for permitting “high-pressure well-stimulation,” which includes hydraulic fracturing — also called fracking. The bill is scheduled to be considered Tuesday by the Senate Committee…

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Senate water bill clears committee with environmentalists and industry groups concerned

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Counties, agriculture, industry groups and environmentalists all were raising concerns Tuesday as a Senate committee passed its first version of a water bill. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner have said passing water legislation is a top priority in the 2015 legislative session. The House bill, opposed by environmentalists, passed the chamber 106-9 on March 5. The Senate bill, SB 918, was amended Tuesday to include portions of the House bill, HB 7003, recognizing in state law…

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Senators press agencies for waterway cleanup plans in legislation

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Senators on a panel that pored over a House water bill on Wednesday said they’re going to want a detailed plan for cleaning up waterways in whatever legislation passes the Senate. HB 7003 recognizes the Central Florida Water Initiative in state law while eliminating a South Florida Water Management District farm permitting program for Lake Okeechobee in favor of agricultural “best management practices.” It requires the setting of minimum flows for springs simultaneously with setting recovery goals, which environmentalists say…

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House water bill faces questions, teed up for floor vote

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Democrats questioned a House water policy bill on the floor Wednesday while environmentalists said they are turning their hopes to the Senate for a stronger bill. Supporters say HB 7003 provides a statewide approach to dealing with water issues while modernizing the water regulatory system. But environmentalists say it weakens Lake Okeechobee protections while failing to set deadlines for cleaning up springs and restoring flows. Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres and chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, was questioned…

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