The 2021 Legislative Session adjourned Friday, April 30, after approving a record $101.5 billion budget.
For the environment, the budget includes $522 million for Everglades Restoration projects and $400 million for the Florida Forever Land Acquisition Program ($300 million of which is non-recurring funding from federal stimulus dollars).
Funding for the newly created Resiliency Grant Trust Fund Program will receive $500 million to address flooding and sea level rise, and the Water Protection and Sustainability Program will receive $500 million to distribute grants to local communities for septic-to-sewer and wastewater infrastructure projects. An additional $100 million in funding was approved to address the environmental disaster at Piney Point.
Below are some of the bills that SCCF was tracking during the 2021 legislative session. For an expanded list of legislative bill summaries, please check our 2021 SCCF Legislative Tracker.
Passed: SCCF opposed SB 268/HB 735 Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing as this will limit local government’s ability to require training for professional fertilizer applicators or other licensing measures to protect water quality.
Passed: Local project funding of $750,000 for Sanibel Sewer Phase IV Expansion Project.
Failed: SB 1522/HB 1225 – Implement Recommendations of the Blue/Green Algae Task Force. This bill was watered down through the amendment process but would have required septic tank inspections every five years and would require a focus on Basin Management Action Plans (BMAP’s) to prioritize projects “in areas likely to yield maximum pollutant reductions.”
Growth Management and Land Use
Passed: SB 100 Highway Projects (MCORES Partial Repeal). SCCF had strongly opposed the MCORES toll roads since its passage in 2019 due to the environmental destruction they would have wrought, the lack of demonstrated need, and exorbitant cost. This bill eliminates the Southwest connector alignment, which would have had a devastating impact to the natural resources in our area, but it does retain funding to expand existing roads and may impact environmentally critical lands in the northern and central regions of Florida.
Passed: HB 1101/HB 421/SB 1876 – Relief from Burdens of Real Property Rights. This bill expands the scope of private property rights laws that could result in costly litigation to local governments resulting in a chilling effect that will prevent communities from enforcing comprehensive planning measures.
Passed: SB 776/HB 783 Racketeering of Aquatic and Wild Animal Life. This bill revises the term “racketeering activity” to include language that gives more options to Florida wildlife agencies to prosecute wildlife trafficking crimes that have caused increasing problems across Florida, and specifically on Sanibel.
for more details regarding these bills.
SCCF’s Legislative Tracker has been updated to reflect the outcome of the session and includes a link to the Governor’s 2021 Bill Actions webpage with the latest action on the bills presented to him. SCCF will send out a complete 2021 legislative analysis this summer before the start of the new state fiscal year starting on July 1.