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Stephanie Kunkel

Senate committee passes bill restructuring public land acquisition and management

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A bill revamping the state’s process of public land acquisition and management passed its first Senate committee Tuesday. LobbyTools reports that SB 1290, filed by Trilby Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson is nearly identical to House equivalent, HB 1075, filed by Lehigh Acres Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell. Orlando Democratic Sen. Darren Soto submitted an amendment to strip language that would allow “an expansion of use of land acquisition dollars, Amendment 1 dollars, on water projects.” Although opposing a similar bill last year, Eric Draper of Audubon…

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Long-awaited water policy bill passes House committee

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A House budget panel on agriculture and the environment passed an expansive water policy bill by Rep. Matt Caldwell Wednesday afternoon. The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Committee approved HB 7005 by a vote of 11 to 1, with Democratic Rep. José Javier Rodríguez opposing. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has signaled its approval for the bill, as did a number of business-backed groups such as Associated Industries of Florida and Florida Chamber of Commerce, while some environmentalists stay on the fence. Stephanie Kunkel, a lobbyist with the…

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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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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An amendment that was filed Monday — and later withdrawn — by the chairman of a Senate committee would have placed a ban on state permits for oil and gas fracking until a study of the practice can be completed in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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