Septic to Sewer Conversions in Florida Keys Have Improved Water Quality, and Stand as an Example for Improving Water North of Lake Okeechobee

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 4, 2020) — Scientists, fishermen, and environmental leaders agree that the success of septic to sewer conversions in the Florida Keys is a shining example of how the same process could be used to improve water quality in the Everglades Basin extending north to Orlando.

As part of its ongoing environmental stewardship efforts to help secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released the latest in a series of educational videos featuring the research of Dr. Brian Lapointe, research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Lawmakers are considering water quality bills this legislative session, including Senator Debbie Mayfield’s SB 712 that calls for converting from septic tanks to sewage treatment centers. The bill is expected to be heard Wednesday, in Senate Appropriations.

“With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, and 50 million more visitors expected each year – on top of the 127 million that visited last year – ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve is vital,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Lapointe’s research of Looe Key Reef extend back 35 years, and shows the amounts of algae in the water have doubled since 1984.Point sources for increasing nitrogen in the water are traced to sewage and non-point sources coming from the Everglades Basin that extends north, all the way up to Orlando.

“What you clearly see from the data is that every time you dump more water into Florida Bay from the north, you get larger algae blooms,” Larry Brand, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Marine Biology and Economy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science said.

But as local commercial fisherman Mike Laudicina explains, “Down in Key Haven off of Key West, which has had sewers from day one, the canals in there are like I remember (from early in his career), you could see the bottom, you could see the fish.”

“So regionally, the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Plan needs to be funded and implemented which calls for increased storage and treatment of water north of Lake Okeechobee, that will help protect Lake Okeechobee and the downstream waters in Florida Bay,” Lapointe explained.

The Florida Chamber has long advocated for long-term sustainable water and environmental policies, and since March 2016, has championed an educational partnership with Dr. Lapointe. Dr. Lapointe has extensive experience in water quality research in South Florida and the Caribbean region. His research has led to greater nutrient removal from sewage effluents in Monroe County, his long-term water quality monitoring at Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys represents the longest low-level nutrient record for a coral reef anywhere in the world.

Experts also featured in this educational video include:
Charles Patterson, Executive Director, Monroe County Land Authority
Captain Keith L. Douglass, Director of Facilities, Boy Scouts of America, High Adventure Sea Base
Bill Louda, Ph.D., Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University
James W. Miller, Florida Institute of Oceanography, Retired
Tommy Strowd, P.E., Director of Operations & Maintenance, Lake Worth Drainage District
Don Demaria, Commercial Fisherman

Securing Florida’s Water Future is a series of educational videos solely focused on ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve. Educational videos have focused on Indian River Lagoon, the Florida Keys, Southwest Florida, Florida’s Springs, the St. Lucie Estuary, the Kissimmee River, Caloosahatchee, and North of Lake Okeechobee.

For more information, please visit Securing Florida’s Water Future online.

# # #

Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Representative Tom Leek Puts Consumers Ahead of Billboard Trial Lawyers with Bill Stopping Scare Tactics Aimed at Seniors

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 3, 2020) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce continues turning up the pressure on Florida’s bottom five legal climate, joining Governor Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders to take on billboard trial lawyers. Lawsuit abuse impacts all Floridians, costing the average family $4,442 each year in lawsuit abuse ‘taxes.’

On the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Representative Tom Leek explains why it’s important to put consumers ahead of billboard lawyers – particularly those that are deploying scare tactics aimed at seniors. Rep. Leek’s legal advertising bill, CJS2, will be heard Tuesday in the Civil Justice Subcommittee.

Rep. Leek also discusses accuracy in damages and asbestos trust claims.

Accuracy in Damages: This legislation allows a jury to see the usual and customary amount of a medical service, ensuring the cost of medical care is not inflated specifically for personal injury cases, and effectively curtailing the gamesmanship being used with letters of protection. (HB 9)

Asbestos Trust Claims: This legislation brings transparency to the trust claim process and ensures that claims move legitimately through the judicial process. (HB 741)

Asbestos Trust Claims: This legislation brings transparency to the trust claim process and ensures that claims move legitimately through the judicial process. (HB 741)

Predatory Practices by Lawsuit Lenders: This legislation provides greater transparency to help ensure that consumers understand the terms of the loan and that all parties of the case are aware that others could benefit from the outcome of the case. (HB 7041)

###

Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Unveils 2015 Legislative Report Card

Missed Opportunities and Philosophical Differences Lead to Fewer Votes
Cast On Issues That Could Have Made Florida More Competitive

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (July 7 , 2015) – Following the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing actual grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card. The grades reflect fewer scored votes cast than previous years on issues that would have made Florida more competitive – especially in the areas of healthcare, water policy, lawsuit abuse reform and taxpayer funded pension reform. Although this year will be remembered as the year the legislative process missed major opportunities, the Florida Chamber thanks Senate President Andy Gardiner and Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli for not allowing new lawsuits, new taxes or more regulations.

After tabulating more than 3,384 votes cast during the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, nearly 54 percent of state lawmakers earned an “A” (90-100) on the priority pro-jobs issues outlined in the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Business Agenda. 3,384 actual scored votes is approximately only half of the scored votes as in previous years.

The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is an annual opportunity to honor and recognize members of the Florida Legislature who placed making Florida more competitive through private-sector job creation above special interests attempts to protect the status quo.

“Despite philosophical differences, lawmakers passed 20 Florida Chamber-backed measures during the two recent legislative sessions,” said Steve Knopik, Chair of the Florida Chamber and CEO of Beall’s, Inc. “Unfortunately, there were a number of missed opportunities, resulting in fewer votes taken on issues that could help make Florida more competitive.”

The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card is an online tool that illuminates grades legislators earned based on their support of pro-jobs, pro-business issues during the annual legislative session.

Poll after poll shows that Floridians are concerned about the job the Congress and the Florida Legislature are doing. The latest Florida Chamber voter poll shows 41 percent of voters disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing, while 40 percent approve, compared to 70 percent of Florida voters who disapprove of the job Congress is doing.

“The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card lets Florida’s families and small businesses know if legislators voted in favor of job creation and a stronger economy, and provides them with valuable information as they begin to consider the 2016 election cycle,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber.

Building on the Florida Chamber’s multi-year competitiveness agenda, this year the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott approved more than $400 million in targeted tax relief, championed education reforms for a globally competitive workforce, invested in infrastructure and transportation, strengthened Florida’s economic development efforts, implemented Amendment 1 and made strides to address Florida’s forthcoming doctor shortage.

Analytics From the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card Reveal:

  • 20 Senators earned an “A” – remaining steady from 2013 and 2014,
  • 61 Representatives earned an “A” – down from 71 last year, and
  • Grade Point Average for Representatives was 83 percent and 89 percent for Senators – down from 87 percent and up from 88.7 percent respectively last year.

The Florida Chamber entered the 2015 Legislative Session by encouraging lawmakers to focus on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small businesses. The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, Where We Stand, served as an important roadmap to educate lawmakers on the business community’s priorities.

Lawmakers were also notified prior to each vote impacting the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs that their vote would be counted. The tabulated results of each of those votes result in the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.

While 1,795 bills were filed, and 232 of them passed both chambers, the Florida Chamber has a focused agenda and the actual votes used to calculate the report card are those votes that tie directly to the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs. In the past four years, Governor Scott has had a perfect batting average in signing all 104 Florida Chamber-backed bills into law.

“While I wish the regulations process would have allowed more courageous votes, I’m extremely proud of the great work of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors, local chambers and the more than 30 lobbyists that have worked aggressively in support of free enterprise and job creation,” Hart said.

Moving forward, the Florida Chamber is already developing its 2016 Business Agenda, and the Florida Chamber’s Political Operations team, under the direction of Senior Vice President of Political Operations Marian Johnson, is actively enlisting pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to run in the 2016 election cycle.

The Florida Chamber will soon release How They Voted 2015, a detailed annual report summarizing the priorities of the recent legislative sessions and incorporating the 2015 Legislative Report Card.

 

###

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.