Alabama, Florida and Georgia Join Forces to Fight Government Overreach
Chambers Support Attorneys General Water Rule Lawsuit against Environmental Protection Agency
ATLANTA, FL. (July 14 , 2015) – – Managing water resources in southeastern states has, for too many years, been a contentious and divisive issue. Rarely have there been opportunities for state chambers of commerce from Alabama, Florida and Georgia to unite in support of a water resource management issue that will impact all states equally.
With their recently completed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rulemaking, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have, unfortunately, provided an urgent need for our three chambers to come together to support action to counter the federal agencies regulatory overreach.
Attorneys General from eight (8) states, led by Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens, have filed a lawsuit claiming that EPA has usurped the States’ primary responsibility for the management, protection, and care of intrastate waters and lands.
“A clean, reliable and affordable water supply is essential for Georgia communities, businesses and industries to continue to thrive,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark. “However, the Waters of the United States rule will expand EPA’s rulemaking authority, resulting in increased costs and regulatory burdens for water users, and the potential to encroach on the property rights of individual water users. The business community supports efficient and effective oversight. It’s my hope that EPA will work with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to ensure appropriate policies continue to protect Georgia’s water supply.”
We wholeheartedly support this Attorneys General initiative to put a stop to EPA’s rulemaking before it becomes entrenched policy. We also pledge to make our members’ voices heard loud and clear on this issue.
“Florida, Georgia and Alabama have not always seen eye to eye on inter-state water issues, but when a tsunami of federal regulations threatens the economic security of our region, we join forces and fight for free-enterprise,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The economic impact of the Federal EPA’s recent Waters of the US rule will harm Florida’s economy, Florida families and our state’s small businesses- the EPA’s attempts to regulate have gone too far. We appreciate the leadership of Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi to join with other attorney generals to stop this latest federal government overreach.”
As the Attorneys General made clear in their lawsuit, not only does EPA’s rule violate the plain terms of the Clean Water Act, the United States Supreme Court’s decisions interpreting that Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution, the final rule asserts that the agencies have virtually limitless power over non-navigable, intrastate waters.
“The EPA’s latest effort to assume control over water – from puddles to navigable waters – is yet another unjustified power grab by unelected bureaucrats who are drowning businesses, states and local governments in regulations,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary. “This out of control government agency should be providing life jackets not anchors to the private and public sectors.”
If this rule is allowed to stand, there will tremendous cost to our states, our economies, and our families. Under this federal power grab, land and water decision-making will be transferred to Washington. Individual property rights are under threat, permitting and compliance costs will significantly rise. Business investments will be impacted and states will lose control over the management of resources that have been conferred to them by the Constitution.
Our business, industry and community members take seriously their collective responsibilities to wisely use and manage water within their jurisdictions and together we oppose this federal regulatory overreach.
Keisha N. Hines
Vice President, Communications
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
404-223-2275 – office
404-409-8950 – cell
Vice President of Public Affairs
Florida Chamber of Commerce
850-521-1231 – office
850-251-6261 – cell
Nancy Wall Hewston
Vice President, Communications
Strategic Information and Federal Affairs
Business Council of Alabama
334-240-8725 – office
703-585-8796 – cell
Rick Scott Signs Bill to Cut School Testing
By Drew Wilson
Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 7069 Tuesday, reducing the number of tests Florida public school students take as well as making changes to teacher evaluations and school year start dates.
“This legislation reduces the number of tests our students take, including the 11th grade English Language Arts test that we eliminated this year through an Executive Order in February,” Scott said in a news release.
“I agree with many teachers and parents who say we have too many tests, and while this legislation is a great step forward, we will keep working to make sure Florida students are not over tested.“
The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Marlene O’Toole of The Villages, legislates the elimination of the 11th grade English Language Arts test as well as the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test, which Florida high school students are required to take.
It also limits testing to a maximum of 5 percent of a student’s yearly school hours – about nine whole school days a year. Lutz Republican Sen. John Legg sponsored the bill in the Senate.
In addition to cutting tests, the bill alters teacher evaluations by reducing the weight of student performance and instructional practice evaluations. It would also allow districts to set a start date for the school year as early as Aug. 10.
The bill aligns with Scott’s “Let’s Keep Florida Learning” plan, which he released in August 2014. Among other things, the plan calls for a “comprehensive evaluation” of every test Florida students are required to take, a financial reward system for high-performing teachers, and increased investment in technical education centers.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauded the signing in a news release, saying “fewer and better tests” will help ensure the state’s assessment and accountability system’s continued success. Brittney Burch, the chamber’s education policy director, praised Sens. Legg and Don Gaetz, as well as Reps. Manny Diaz, Erik Fresen and O’Toole.
“Florida wins when we invest in policies that help make our students more competitive and today, we saw the fruits of that effort,” Burch said.