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Impact Zone: Surfrider in Tallahassee - 2023 Session Begins

Welcome back to the Impact Zone, Surfrider’s series dedicated to all things legislative session for Florida’s ocean, beaches and waves. March 7 marked the first day of 60 to kick off the Florida legislative session. Surfrider's network and staff in Florida have been working to generate support for key campaigns and issues for our ocean, beaches and waves.

Select Committee on Resiliency

We are anxious to see what, if any, policy directives come from this body during this and next session. This committee was established in response to the powerful Atlantic hurricane season that gave Florida Hurricanes Ian and Nicole in the fall and has heard from agencies, organizations, and utilities charged with storm response and recovery, in addition to some environmental and resiliency issues. While the committee did not take any specific policy actions, there was an ask from the town of Daytona Beach to waive permitting fees for seawalls and extend the deadline for the Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Program. We are closely watching the implementation of this program and attempts to rubber stamp coastal construction projects that may irrevocably harm our coasts.

Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee

Surfrider was thrilled to see nature-based solutions and waste reduction on the agenda with two bills up for consideration on the agenda that are of interest to our resiliency and plastic pollution work. SB100 Mangrove Replanting and Restoration was reported favorably by the committee. Surfrider is supporting this bill because it will help establish rules for mangroves as a viable flood mitigation tool and nature-based solution for resiliency in Florida, and will continue to track the bill as it moves forward.

Also on the agenda during this meeting was SB506 Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan. While Surfrider does support efforts to prevent plastic pollution, we typically do not support legislation that focuses on recycling. This bill is interesting, however, in that it subtly nods toward 'advanced recycling' and incineration by referencing the Florida 2020 75% Recycling Report. It is known at waste-to-energy is a false solution that is a threat to public and environmental health. While the intent of this bill is good, in practice, we would love to instead see a bill that focuses on preventing easily littered items and protecting frontline communities. Florida is fast becoming the incineration capital nationwide, and we want to ensure that any legislation focused on waste reduction is truly comprehensive with viable solutions.

On Our Radar: HB713

If you attended our 2023 Florida Legislative Preview you know that we have been closely monitoring HB713. Specifically, we have concerns that the bill will make it easier to construct seawalls and hard armoring in coastal habitats after storm events and upend the permitting process for coastal construction statewide. The bill moved favorably through its first committee stop, however, we expect additional amendments to the bill as it moves forward and will continue to track its progression.

One week down and seven to go - keep your eyes on Tallahassee as we move through the legislative process here at the Impact Zone.