Welcome back to the Impact Zone, Surfrider’s series dedicated to all things legislative session for Florida’s ocean, waves and beaches. The last days of session are upon us, the last viable bills are hitting final floor votes and budget conferencing begins. Our network's efforts are shifting from supporting bills that are now dead in the water, to a final push for funding for the Florida Healthy Beaches Program and vetoing radioactive waste in Florida's roads (and waters).
Radioactive Roads in the Running
Unfortunately, the Florida legislature can't quit it's toxic relationship with phosphogypsum. HB1191 Use of Phosphogypsum was reported favorably out of its last committee stop, but not without significant debate and opposition. The bill is heading to the house floor this week with amendments filed by Representative Cross (D-St. Petersburg) and Representative Eskamani (D-Orlando). Organizations across the states are already mobilizing for a veto campaign, and Surfrider's Florida network has launched an opposition campaign to target the Governor's office when this bill heads to his desk. The supermajority all but ensures that this is bill will be headed in that direction as soon as the end of this week.
Nature-Based Solutions + Resiliency Advance
While many climate-forward initiatives and bills have stalled this session, there are two bills we have been tracking that continue to maneuver forward. The first, while not guaranteed to pass, is a step in the right direction for harnessing the power of nature-based solutions for flood mitigation and carbon sequestration. SB100 Mangrove Replanting and Restoration, a bill that would enact stronger rules for mangrove planting, passed through its second committee stop and has to pass through rules before a vote on the Senate floor.
While we don't want to jinx it, it does appear that HB111 Flooding and Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Studies will be headed to the Governor's desk before we know it. The bill melds smart sea level rise planning with funding for nature-based solutions permitting and feasibility, a winning combination for Florida. Given the recent extreme rainfall event that impacted South Florida, we need every legislative tool available to prepare and adapt to climate change.
Action for Healthy Beaches Funding
One of Surfrider's priorities for the 2023 session is the restoration of funding for the Florida Healthy Beaches Program. The program has only been funded by the state of Florida ONCE since 2011, leaving beachgoers vulnerable to getting sick from recreating in ocean waters in Florida. With our public health and clean water economies on the line, we need to use our voices to call on our elected officials to fund this critical program. You can take action today by sending a message to your elected officials and urging them to restore funding for the Florida Healthy Beaches Program!