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Bag Bill Dies in Committee
This legislative session we were fortunate to have Senator Bullard sponsor a bag ban bill for the second year in a row. Last year, the bill didn’t get put on any committee schedules and therefore was never heard publicly. This year, Senator Dean, Chairman of the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee, made sure the bill was given a stop in his committee. After being postponed due to scheduling concerns, the bill was finally heard on April 10th. Click here for specifics on the bill.
The bill was subject to rigorous debate with Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club of Florida, Audubon of Florida and the City of Cutlter Bay providing comments in support of the bill. The Florida Retail Federation and Associated Industries of Florida opposed the bill.
Ultimately, although all the Senators that spoke for or against the bill agreed that it was an important issue worth discussing, the Committee could not reach consensus on the ten-cent surcharge on paper bags. In order to build consensus and craft an agreement on the paper bag surcharge, Senator Bullard agreed to temporarily pass (which is essentially postponing) his bill. Unfortunately, because the Legislative Session in coming to a close in a few weeks, this bill will not have time to be amended and make it through the committee process.
Although the bill is not going to pass this year, it has sparked an important debate and will definitely be back next year. For now, please take a moment to thank the sponsor Senator Bullard: (850) 487-5039 firstname.lastname@example.org for his leadership in sponsoring the bill and Senator Dean (850) 487-5005 email@example.com for placing the bill on the agenda.
Lastly, several legislators commented that their offices had been “inundated” with calls, Tweets, and emails asking for them to support SB830. Thank you to all of the Surfrider Foundation, Sea Turtle Conservancy, and Sierra Club members that took time to reach out to their legislators and encourage them to take action. With your support, we’ll be back next year to make sure this bill gets passed!
Bag Bill Action Alert!
The Senate Environmental & Preservation Committee is going to hear a good plastic bags bill this Thursday morning!
SB 0830 Carryout Bags by Sen. Bullard will allow local governments to adopt ordinances that prohibit stores from handing out free plastic bags, and will require a ten-cent charge for each recyclable paper bag. Customers are free to supply their own bags.
The bill sets uniform statewide standards for cities and counties that want to implement plastic bag rules. At least half of the 10 cent fee will go to education with the remainder to go to the store to cover expenses.
The bill provides that the bag ordinance can only apply to large stores meeting at least $2 million in gross annual sales, or that have at least 10,000 square feet of floor space.
- It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman, and child in the country.
- Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris, and up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
- An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.
- The bill will reduce litter and the problems caused by plastic bags in stormwater management systems (they clog them up).
- SB 830 gives authority back to local governments by allowing them to opt-in to these uniform standards.
- Support SB 830 and help Florida take the first step toward protecting our environment and wildlife from the harmful impacts of single use plastics.
Please CALL TODAY and urge Committee members to vote ‘YES’ on Carryout Bags.
YES ON 830 – CARRYOUT BAGS
Sen. Charles S. Dean, Chair
Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, Vice Chair
Sen. Thad Altman
Brevard, Orange, Seminole
Sen. Dwight Bullard
Collier,Hendry, Miami-Dade, Monroe
Sen. Jeff Clemens
Sen. Andy Gardiner
Sen. Denise Grimsley
Sen. Jack Latvala
Sen. Wilton Simpson
Sen. Darren Soto
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced their decision to proceed with plans to expand seismic testing along the Atlantic Coast. While this is a disappointment, the good news is that there is still a final 30-day comment period to express our concerns. The comment period beings on March 7th and ends April 7th. Here are some resources to help your efforts:
- Check out our Coastal Blog Post on seismic testing.
- Hands Across the Sand is after the deadline for comments, but is still a great opportunity to show opposition to dirty fossil fuels and expanded oil/gas exploration. Click here for details on how to plan your own event and don’t forget to contribute to their fundraising campaign!
- Your chapter can author an op-ed or letter to the editor opposing seismic testing. Thank you to all the chapters that have already submitted op-ed’s, and big kudos to First Coast and Cocoa Beach for getting their op-ed’s published last week! Here’s a great example from the Cocoa Beach Chapter.
- Oceana has also created a sign on letter for elected officials to express their opposition to seismic testing.
- Watch and share the Pennywise PSA created by the First Coast Chapter.
- Finally, you can visit our Campaign Page for the basics on seismic testing.
This is our last opportunity to weigh in on this destructive proposal, so please take action today!
Congratulations to our March Volunteer of the Month, Cat Uden! Cat hails from the Broward County Chapter where she currently serves as Volunteer Coordinator. In this role, Cat organizes and executes the chapter’s monthly beach and waterway cleanups. Recently Cat organized an urban waterway cleanup in downtown Ft. Lauderdale and managed to recruit 30 volunteers on SUP’s! In fact, even though Cat has only been Volunteer Coordinator since early this year, she has already lead over 100 volunteers in cleanup activities across the county!
Chair Chelsea Wilder writes, “Cat has been an amazing volunteer with our chapter and we’re very excited that we were fortunate enough to start this year with her joining the Board as Volunteer Coordinator. No one is more dedicated to keeping our beaches and waterways clean and making sure that all volunteers have a great time in the process! I can’t wait to see her grow with the chapter over the course of this year! She is a truly wonderful addition to our team and a savior for our waterways!” Thank you for all that you do for our oceans, waves and beaches, Cat!
The 2014 Legislative Session kicked off on March 4th. As always, there are a number of bills the Surfrider Foundation will be monitoring- some are very positive, others extremely damaging. Here is a preliminary list of issues we will be working on:
- Eliminate statewide preemptions on the regulation of plastic bags. Allow local governments to ban, tax or otherwise limit plastic bags. Support S830 “Carryout Bags” sponsored by Senator Bullard.
- Stop preemptions that keep local governments from enacting more stringent septic tank maintenance requirements and strong fertilizer ordinances.
- Support funding for water quality initiatives benefiting Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee, and other Florida estuaries and waterways impacted by degraded water quality and harmful algal blooms. Support the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, but maintain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers control of Lake Okeechobee releases and flow levels.
- Support funding for springs restoration and protection.
- Oppose any attempt to limit or preemept the acquisition of conservation and recreation lands.
Be sure to check back often for updates on legislation and action alerts so you can get involved!
Congratulations to Brandy Mahler, Vice Chair of the Volusia-Flager Chapter and February’s Volunteer of the Month!
Brandy’s fellow volunteers speak to her enthusiasm, positive attitude, and tremendous work ethic. As Vice Chair, Brandy maintains all of the chapter’s online resources- from regular, concise and helpful emails and newsletters, to relevant, and timely Facebook posts. The chapter also attributes new local partnerships to Brandy’s efforts, including the Marine Discovery Center, various surf film festivals, the Eastern Surfing Association, and the new surf museum.
Ryan Mahler, Chapter Chair, describes Brandy’s many contributions, “Brandy became the vice chair of the Volusia-Flagler Chapter of Surfrider in mid 2013 and immediately took on her role, and many other roles for that matter, with a dedicated and persistent attitude. A year later, she has not lost a single bit of that energy and continues to ensure that we stay on a track towards growing membership and the chapter as a whole. Our exposure would not be where it is today without her work. She is also a dedicated steward of the environment. For example, nearly every time she goes down to the beach, she goes there to clean it, bringing along a bucket to hold the trash. Brandy has spent countless hours during 2013 furthering our mission and growing our chapter and I am certain her good work will continue through 2014 and beyond.”
Thank you for all your hard work, Brandy!
Congratulations to our December Volunteer of the Month, Alexis Clarkson of the Suncoast Chapter!
John Kurz, Suncoast Chapter Chair, writes, “Alexis joined the Suncoast Chapter two years ago and her energy and enthusiasm immediately became apparent. When she departed on a world tour last year with a one way ticket to everywhere we weren’t sure if we’d see her again.
Much to our delight and relief she returned and jumped back in with all of her previous enthusiasm intact. In the past two months she has multi-tasked as Volunteer Coordinator and Secretary and stepped up to help the Chapter with whatever was needed. She has repeatedly volunteered her time to organize, sponsor and table countless Suncoast Chapter events. We can’t believe its true, but its rumored she even has a job and sleeps at night. Thank you Alexis and congratulations on your well deserved nomination as Volunteer of the Month!”
Congratulations to Sallie Lopez, our November Volunteer of the Month!
Sallie serves as Secretary of the Cocoa Beach Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. As Secretary, she handles all chapter emails, social media, e-newsletters, meeting minutes, and volunteer requests. She’s also the unofficial photographer and caterer for lots of local SF events!
Sallie has organized tabling in Cocoa Beach once a month for the National Nights Out. She also organizes beach cleanups, solicits donations, recruits new members, and serves as a stakeholder in Cape Canaveral. “Sallie’s leadership and volunteerism are representative of why the Cocoa Beach Chapter is so strong. As Secretary of our Chapter, she is a tireless administrator that always strives to improve our activism, events, and volunteerism.”
Thank you, Sallie, for all that you do to support our healthy beaches!
Regular Joe Surf Contest Wrap-Up!
By: Eric Schwarze, Vice Chairman Sebastian Inlet Chapter.
The Sebastian Inlet Chapter of Surfrider Foundation debuted it’s entry into hosting a surf contest and by all accounts it appears to have been a rewarding experience. The location of the event was the north side of Sebastian Inlet and it’s famous First Peak. The two day event was held on September 20 & 21 and was greeted by a nice swell courtesy of Hurricane Humberto. The format of the competition allowed for plenty of uncrowded time in the water as contestants were judged on a total point basis with no eliminations. Another highlight was the Surfer Stomp party on Friday night that featured the band the Shrednecks who filled the dance floor. The party was hosted by Sebastian Inlet Surf & Sport whose owners are chapter members and went above and beyond in providing valuable assistance to ensure a successful event. The chapter was able to present the Melbourne High School Surf Team with a check for $300.00 to help with travel expenses to California to compete in NSSA Nationals. This year they placed third out of all high schools entered and hope to improve on that result this coming year. Also we raised funds for our chapter to foster the campaigns and initiatives we’re presently working on as well as spreading the Surfrider message to the general public in a fun based contest. Check out the contest website- regularjoesurffestival.com – for more coverage, and planning is already underway to make next years event bigger and better.