As many of us were transitioning back to our respective offices after a restful and rejuvenating holiday season, lawmakers (and Surfrider staff) descended upon the Capitol for the first official committee week of the new year. This was not the first meeting of the state’s newly elected officials, however, who convened in December for a special session focused on recovery and insurance following the devastating one-two punch of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

Much of the week was dominated by the pomp and circumstance of the inauguration as well as the first meetings of committees in both the House and Senate, including many, many introductions amongst members as they shared their interests, experiences, and intentions for every committee for the upcoming. Some may be asking, what are legislative committees and why does the Florida legislature host committee weeks before the regular session starts in March? My counter question to that is, can you imagine what would happen if our legislators contemplated and debated every single one of the thousands of bills that are filed every year? We would be lucky to have one piece of legislation cross the finish line.

Instead, the Senate President and Speaker of the House assign smaller groups of legislators to sit on a number of issue-specific committees and subcommittees, of which there are more than 50, to make policy recommendations and referrals to address key issues facing Floridians. With so many committees there is a lot to keep track of but Surfrider is here to keep you informed about legislation that matters to Florida’s ocean, beaches and waves in 2023. Here are a few committees to keep an eye on, take a look to see if any of your elected officials play a major role in crafting and considering legislation for our coasts:

House

Senate

A Resilient Focus

Given the wrath of the last year’s hurricane season, the future of Florida’s coasts is top-of-mind for the legislature. There are three committees dedicated in part, if not entirely, to resiliency. Given the significant investments made by legislature through the Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience (CS/HB7053) bill in 2022 and the very real impacts of the storms, all eyes will be on these committees and all of Florida’s elected officials, coastal and inland alike, to prepare and protect all Floridians from the impacts of sea level rise and a changing climate. While we are well-versed in the realities of the 2023 legislative session and legislature, we acknowledge and celebrate that there is bi-partisan recognition of climate change and support for resiliency, and we will keep our eyes peeled for legislation to support our coasts for generations to come.

Week 1 Legislation Worth Watching