By Daniel Tilson
Funny thing about the “will of the people” in Florida. Even when expressed via an overwhelming majority “Yes” vote on a constitutional amendment, the Legislature can and does subvert it.
That’s what’s happening with the environmental protections and preservations Floridians thought were a done deal after more than 75 percent of voters joined forces to pass Amendment 1 last November. But, um … no, not a done deal.
As explained by the Florida Water & Land Legacy coalition that led the campaign to pass the landmark amendment, it’s supposed to achieve these goals:
- Ensure that our cherished beaches, rivers, lakes, springs and coastal waters are protected for future generations.
- Direct one-third of existing fees collected by the state when real estate is sold to protect natural areas and wildlife habitat and preserve our water quality for the next two decades.
- Reinforce Florida’s longstanding leadership on water and land conservation.
Problem is, Republican legislators are acting as if that’s some sort of tree-hugger’s wish list, rather than the law of the land.
Even before the Florida Senate started “interpreting” the people’s mandate this week in crafting a new state budget, the House had already passed a bad water bill (HB7003). The bill does some of what it’s supposed to do about cleaning up our water supply and keeping it clean. But then it throws a roundhouse punch, proposing that the current farm permitting process used to prevent agricultural water pollution be replaced with a voluntary “best management practices” program.
In plain English, that means chronic polluters will be given a little help before being sent off and trusted to do the right thing moving forward. Think foxes and henhouse. Us hens don’t make out well in such scenarios.
Then late this week the Senate comes out with initial budget recommendations that outraged mainstream environmentalists and threatens to make a mockery of Amendment 1 goals — and of anyone who still believes this Legislature is sincere about implementing this amendment as intended when passed into law.
The bottom line there is that the full amount of money intended to be used for land acquisition needed to achieve the law’s goals is not being appropriated. There are all kinds of confusing details to sort through, and a ton of legislative legalese being spread around to explain the massive shortfall. But rather than salve on a wound, it feels like salt. It feels like a betrayal.
Why would the legislators do this? Forget their explanations and rationalizations. Most of them are simply caving in to Big Sugar and Big Agriculture, hungry eyes on campaign contributions to come, and already banked. Can you say, “Quid Quo Pro”?
The good news is, there are five weeks left to this legislative session, and therefore ample time to give your legislators an earful, both your state representatives and senators. Passing Amendment 1 was only Step 1 of securing Florida’s environmental future.
Next up, we have to force this Florida Legislature to stop trying to have it both ways –enacting someprotections while still sucking up to and gifting those wealthy business interests. Time for those hired hands of ours to start doing the hell what we tell them to, wouldn’t you agree?
Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses.
Jon Hardison says
You’ve gotta pay to play, apparently. o.O
Maybe we can take the state to court for wasting our time and resources on a vote they had no intention of implementing? Oh, that’s right. It’s only our money, and water, and environment…
Who was it that said, “The government that governs least governs best?”
That guy was an idiot.
Rick Gardner says
Another example of the insincerity and deceit from the Rs…. Keep voting for them Florida and this is what you get. Time to wake up
Representatives??? All our legislators represent are their own interests. These whores will do anything to get campaign donations to stay in office. Even if the amendment got 100% of the votes these “representatives” would be unmoved to do what the people want.
This is what you get with a one party system. Get used to it and quit the whining!
Keep re-electing Rep’s and that is what you get!
Ask the folks in north Bunnell what they think of their black looking drinking water. Dade and Broward have been fighting the same battles since the late 50s. Still not resolved.
Does anyone remember when they drained Orlando’s Lake Eola into the aquifer and polluted the waters in Brevard?
Well, what can you say? You keep voting for them.
“You gets what you paid for . . . ”
Suck it up!
California will run out of FRESH WATER by Jun of this year. Time is running out on our planet. A gallon of fresh water will be worth more then an ounce of Gold here in Florida by the year 2023. Stick a fork in us…we are COOK !
Jon Hardison says
Do you have sources for this info? I’d love to read up a bit. This is really alarming.
Sherry Epley says
Yet another travesty from our despicable Florida legislature. . . whose decisions are bought and paid for by the horrific, polluting billionaire 1%!
Hold your breath and don’t drink the water. . . but, don’t hold your breath hoping for this governor or legislature to listen to the voters and stop the incessant damage to our life giving environment! Follow the big campaign contributions!!!!
Jon Hardison says
I wonder, on closer examination, how many elected officials own stock in companies currently buying up water rights all over the world. I’d be willing to bet many of them stand to make a lot of money deliberately destroying our resources.
They own the stock. Perhaps it’s time to cash in?
Sherry Epley says
WATER THE NEW OIL!
Jon, take a moment to research the water T Boone Pickens is buying up in Texas. Also, check out the Bush family buying up land surrounding a huge aquifer in Paraguay. . . this from newsfocus.org:
The Bush family has purchased nearly 100,000 acres of land in Paraguay. What’s in Paraguay you say? A little town called Paso de Patria which is near the Triple Frontier (Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay), but is also very near Bolivian gas reserves and the Guarani indigenous water region, within the Triple Border.
The news so far isn’t sitting well with county residents because the land that George W. Bush purchased in 2008 just so happens to sit on one of, if not the largest underground aquifers in the world, the Guarani aquifer.
Mary Newsome says
We aren’t being represented, we are being ruled by the Dictators in Tallahassee. Petitions and Voter’s wishes are arrogantly shrugged off and ignored because after all is said and done they have Gerrymandered themselves in office permanently. They don’t answer to anyone but the 1% that keep replenishing that 30 pieces of neverending silver in their pocket.
Sherry Epley says
Right On Mary! Our legislators do NOT represent the voters and citizens of Florida. They patronize us and pat us on the heads while pander to Big Sugar and the 1%. . . to keep those “campaign contributions” AKA BRIBES coming in! It’s all about money and power. . . and manipulation of the voters!
Firing Rick Scott is the Answer!
The majority of voters expect that this fund will be used for continued new land acquisition. Opponents to new land acquisition say Florida has enough preserved land citing 27% of the state’s land is already in public hands but this does not guarantee protection in perpetuity as would land under conservation easements or fee simple purchase for open space preservation. We need a balance from the unbridled development that has occurred over the past half century. Protecting woodlands and meadows from development is as critical to water protection as protecting wetlands as these forested or grasslands act as filters and recharge zones for our aquifers. The percentage of land in public hands likely includes a large percent that could never be developed anyway (estuaries, swamps, etc) so the percentage is misleading. The true measure would be the percentage of develop-able land that is protected from development. Please do not sell out the voters of
Florida who voted for something entitled one thing and now is being reinterpreted by the special interests who are using their lobbyists to alter the will of the electorate. Land conservation is a key component of economic vitality and growth. Don’t pave it, preserve it! Keep Florida natural!