ICYMI: Orange County Overwhelmingly Approves “Rights of Nature” Charter Amendment

By: Florida Chamber of Commerce

 LitigationandRegulatoryReformCenter
November 4, 2020

 ICYMI: Orange County Overwhelmingly Approves “Rights of Nature” Charter Amendment

While the Presidential Race continues to dominate the news on the heels of an evening that saw 97% of Florida Chamber-backed candidates  emerge victorious in state races, the Florida Chamber is closely monitoring a lesser-noticed local referendum that has worrying implications for our state’s continued economic growth.   

Last night, 89% of voters in Orange County voted to adopt charter Amendment 1, which establishes legal rights for water bodies and other natural systems. This amendment is part of the larger “rights-of-nature” movement, a fringe legal philosophy with dramatic implications for property rights, regulatory certainty, local government permitting power, and smart growth. Under this approved amendment, any citizen can file a lawsuit on behalf of an environmental feature, such as a river, forest or ecosystem. Although adoptions of this legal philosophy would result in a complete reconstruction of environmental law and judicial standing, not to mention an avalanche of litigation, proposals like this sound superficially attractive to voters, only highlighting the need to nip this fringe movement in the bud.  

Fortunately, the Florida legislature passed Florida Chamber-backed legislation in the 2020 Legislative Session that preempted and outlawed this rights-of-nature movement in Florida. SB 712 passed with significant bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor DeSantis. Previously, the Florida Chamber helped turn back a similar special interest effort to insert this fringe legal theory into our State Constitution during the Constitution Revision Commission. Now that this Orange County charter amendment has passed in conflict with state law, the Florida Chamber expects to fight this measure in the courts and we need your help.  

Please forward this email to your legal or permitting managers and encourage them to contact Policy Director Christopher Emmanuel at cemmanuel@flchamber.com with questions about this harmful measure or to join our efforts to fight it in the courts. We will be sending further emails as this develops over the coming weeks.


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