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Wildlife Federation seeks special session to finance conservation land purchases

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The Florida Wildlife Federation wants the Legislature to meet in special session to pump money into the state’s environmental land-buying program.

The organization issued a written statement Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Senate President Joe Negron, arguing the Legislature is under a “clear obligation” to finance Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative approved by 75 percent of the voters in 2014.

“They clearly directed our elected leaders to set aside some of our public tax dollars to buy conservation land so we have some of natural Florida left for future generations,” federation President Manley Fuller said.

“What does the 2017 Legislature do?  Allocates zero money for land conservation. Zero. Lawmakers need to go back and fix this in a special session.”

Corcoran has already signaled support for a special session to implement last year’s Amendment 2, authorizing sale of marijuana for medical uses. Negron is canvassing the Senate on the matter, and Scott said Tuesday that he was reviewing his options.

The House and Senate could not agree on an implementing law during this year’s Legislative Session.

Although the Legislature stiffed the Amendment 1 conservation land-buying program, it approved $800 million in bonding toward Negron’s $1.5 billion plan to restore Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

“The Water and Land Conservation Initiative drew more voter support than any candidate,” Fuller said. “People don’t want this state paved from Pensacola to Key West. It’s ridiculous that the Legislature is ignoring the voters on this.”

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