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SB 738 Would Eliminate Last Chance to Challenge Bad Development

January 9, 2024
Oppose Senate Bill 738

Over the strong objection of many Floridians, the legislature has systematically made the public’s ability to challenge questionable development decisions insurmountably dangerous by requiring the losing party of a legal challenge to pay for the winner’s legal fees. 

Now, during the very first week of Legislative Session, our legislators want to completely close off the last remaining opportunity to challenge bad development with Senate Bill 738, which will require the payment of $50,000 of prevailing parties attorney’s fees for failing to succeed in any challenge to Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Water Management District actions. 


  • In 2019, legislators took away your ability to legally challenge development orders and zoning permits by passing prevailing party’s attorney’s fees legislation. 
  • Last year, legislators ended your ability to challenge local comprehensive plans by requiring intervening party’s attorney’s fees to be paid in addition to the prevailing party’s legal costs. 

Should SB 738 pass, your tax dollars would go toward paying expensive law firms to fight against its own citizens trying to exercise their free speech rights by bringing legitimate claims to question development in wetlands or environmentally sensitive areas. This bill will harm our environment, our economy that relies on it, and the people fighting to protect the future of Florida.


On Jan. 10, the Senate Natural Resources Committee voted 5-2 along party lines to pass the bill. It will be heard next in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 738 slams the door on citizen participation to protect Florida’s environment. Please join us in opposing this bill!

“Protections against frivolous lawsuits already exist in current statute. These bills are meant to punish citizens and advocacy groups that file credible legal challenges,” said SCCF Policy Associate Holly Schwartz. “Individuals, neighborhood groups, and nonprofits simply don’t have the resources to take on the well-funded development industry.”

Note: There is an amendment filed by Senator Tina Polsky that would remove some of the harmful language in this bill, but our call to action is to remain opposed to the bill because of concerning provisions throughout.


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