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Impact Zone: 2023 Florida Legislative Session Week 3

Welcome back to the Impact Zone, Surfrider’s series dedicated to all things legislative session for Florida’s ocean, beaches and waves. Week Three flew by as we run through the Florida legislative session. Surfrider’s network and staff in Florida have been closely watching resiliency and clean water legislation and working to generate support for key campaigns and issues for our ocean, beaches and waves.

Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee

The committee heard bills to springs, sewer inspections, establishing two areas of state critical concern and more this week. On Surfrider's radar is SB742 Administrative Procedures, the Senate companion to HB713. The bill passed favorably and we will continue to watch its progression. Unfortunately, a bill that would encourage the use of phosphogypsum, radioactive waste from the production of fertilizer, in roads passed through with flying colors. On a positive note, SB1686 Designation of Brevard Barrier Island as an Area of State Critical Concern which would preempt irresponsible growth concerns and protect this vital coastal resource and habitat was reported favorably by the committee, a small victory for coastal protection that we hope to see continue through committees.

Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee

The committee considered a handful of bills this week, including the House companion for the Brevard Barrier Island Bill CS/HB1489. At a time when overdevelopment, especially in the coastal high hazard zone, is rampant and squeezing coastal ecosystems and habitats, it is urgent that the state provide an additional layer of protections to this barrier island through a designation as an area of critical state concern. This is a great bill for coastal protection and ultimately protection of water quality for the Indian River Lagoon.

Finally, Representative Cross (D - St. Petersburg) filed an amendment late Friday to CS/HB713 Administrative Procedures and Permitting Review that would allay many of our concerns related to expediting coastal infrastructure permitting in the originally filed version and ensure that coastal ecosystems and human safety are protected when responding to natural disasters. Surfrider supports the amendment and hopes it is adopted favorably in the bill's committee stop next week on Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee.