Skip to content (press enter)


Impact Zone: 2023 Florida Legislative Session Week 4 +5

Welcome back to the Impact Zone, Surfrider’s series dedicated to all things legislative session for Florida’s ocean, waves and beaches. Weeks Four and Five came and went quickly with the holidays and condensed legislative schedules. This is the point in session where many bills are pronounced dead and a select few trudge toward the finish line. In the midst of all the excitement, Surfrider’s statewide network descended upon Tallahassee to advocate for funding for beach water quality monitoring, legislative measures to reduce plastic pollution, and enhance resiliency through nature from coast to coast.

House Agriculture, Conservation + Resiliency Subcommittee

Week Four started with a small, but important victory for our coasts. We have previously shared some of our concerns with HB713, a bill focused on legislative hygiene with a provision aimed at streamlining the efficiency of coastal permitting. Representative Lindsay Cross (D-St. Petersburg) offered a friendly amendment to ensure that our most vulnerable coastal areas would be protected in the bill, which was subsequently adopted unanimously by the committee. At a time when Florida's coasts are reeling from a devastating hurricane season, this amendment is a necessary safeguard.

Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee

The committee heard a number of bills over these two weeks of session, including legislation that can help protect coastal habitats and some that would harm our waterways. SB1686 would designate Brevard Barrier Island as an area of state critical concern, providing stronger growth management protections in an area that serves as a key nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles. The bill was reported favorably out of the committee. While this committee stop was a victory for our coasts, the committee also reported SB1258 favorably. This bill would allow the use of phosphogypsum, the radioactive byproduct of fertilizer, in roads as a part of studies across the state. Incentivizing the use of toxic waste in roadways near already impaired waterways is a recipe for disaster, and the bill is bad news for Florida.

Safe Waterways Act Breezes Through First Committee Stop

The Safe Waterways Act (HB177/SB172) had its first committee stop in the House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee on April 3rd. Thank you to all of our volunteers and activists who sent emails and called members of the committee to voice your support for this important clean water and public safety legislation. The bill was voted favorable by the committee unanimously. While there may be one more opportunity for this bill to be heard, the bill is certainly dead this session. However, the resounding yes votes are a nod of support from members and give us hope for more positive traction next year. We are relentless in our pursuit of rigorous beach water quality monitoring so we all know when it is safe to swim.

Florida Healthy Beaches Day

After several years on Zoom, Surfrider's volunteers travelled to Tallahassee to meet with their elected officials and tell them why healthy beaches and a clean ocean matter to them! Day 1 included a training focused on citizen advocacy and Day 2 concluded with 22 successful meetings with members of the Florida legislature. Our participants left the event armed with tools to continue to advocate for Florida's beaches and waves and forged strong relationships with their elected officials and representatives. Special thanks to our partners at Oceana and Healthy Gulf for helping to make this event such a great success!