Lawmakers Pass Legislation to Invest in Water Quality to Protect Florida’s Environment

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 11, 2020) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for passing a bill that will help protect Florida’s environment by making long-term investments in water quality.

With 4.5 million more Floridians expected to call Florida home between now and 2030, there is an increasing need for protecting Florida’s natural resources.

Under SB 712 by Senator Debbie Mayfield, Florida is Investing in Water Quality by:

– Collecting improved water data,
– Eliminating the fringe legal philosophy known as the “rights of nature” movement that could undercut past and ongoing environmental restoration and protection efforts, and
– Increasing inspections and investing in septic to sewer conversions.

“The Florida Chamber has a long history of advocating for science-based, sustainable water policies in order to ensure Florida’s environmental and economic future. Investments in septic to sewer conversions represent an important step forward to protect Florida’s natural beauty which Floridians and our visitors treasure,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

SB 712 also prevents the so-called “rights of nature” movement that would have given legal rights to some water bodies and give standing for nearly any person to sue an individual, organization, business or government for otherwise lawful activities.

Representative Bobby Payne, sponsor of the House companion bill (HB 1343), recently championed the importance of this legislation on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

“I would say it’s a comprehensive package that really looks at how we’re going to address nutrient loading coming from our water bodies,” Representative Payne said. “Those loadings are coming from on-site sewage treatment systems, sanitary sewer overflows, domestic wastewater overflows, some agricultural BMPs that we need to tighten up and get some better records on. Let’s face it, we know we’re at a point, and the Governor pointed it out, if we don’t do some things now, we’ll continue to have problems in the future.”

The Florida Chamber thanks both Senator Mayfield, Representative Payne and Representative Blaise Ingoglia for their leadership in sponsoring this legislation.

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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 Urges Senate Transportation Committee to Oppose SB 572: High-Speed Passenger Rail

 

Download Letter   Transportation Investments

 

To: Senate Transportation Committee

The Florida Chamber of Commerce urges you to oppose SB 572, related to High-speed Passenger Rail. This bill, sponsored by Senator Debbie Mayfield will be heard on Tuesday, November 14th, in the Senate Transportation Committee.

The Florida Chamber recognizes that Florida will be home to 5.5 million more residents by 2030. Each of those new residents, as well as over a hundred million annual visitors, will need a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system. The private investments being made in our rail system have the ability to move goods and individuals faster and safer than on the road. Now is not the time to add unneeded regulations on these already heavily regulated private companies. This legislation is opposed by Florida’s business community because this bill:

– Creates an unnecessary set of state and local regulations in a system that is adequately regulated and preempted by federal law;

– Frustrates existing agreements between local governments and private companies; and

– Discourages private investment that seeks to solve a public transportation issue.

The Florida Chamber urges you to oppose SB 572, and will consider votes on this legislation, and any substantive amendments to it in committee or on the floor, in our annual How They Voted report card. The grade that you earn will be based on your voting record on the issues. We will make every effort to notify you prior to a vote that may be included in our annual legislative report card. If you have any questions about this or other, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards,

Frank C. Walker, III
Vice President of Government Affairs

Florida Chamber of Commerce Unveils 5th Educational Video On Science-Based Water Research Solutions

To Secure Florida’s Water Future, Follow the Science

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (November 8, 2017) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its fifth in a series of water education videos which further demonstrates why following science-based research is important to securing Florida’s water future. The latest educational research video provides additional proof that septic tank problems are detrimentally impacting Florida’s water systems.

The educational video highlights research produced by Florida Atlantic University–Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian Lapointe, and sheds light on the algae blooms on the St. Lucie Estuary that followed unusually heavy rainfall in the winter and spring of 2016.

“In the research I have conducted on behalf of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, the science points directly to human pollution as the number one cause of what’s imperiling our state’s local water sources,” said Dr. Lapointe. “The leading cause of this pollution are aging septic tanks, which are leaking into the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary.”

The educational research video addresses the role of Lake Okeechobee and local basin discharges, and the science-based solutions that policy makers are considering to mitigate this problem in the future. Specifically, the educational research video points to local basin discharges and septic tank pollution as detrimentally impacting the quality of water in the St. Lucie Estuary.

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water. With six million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based solutions are the only way to ensure Florida’s water future is sustainable, and provides the quality of life Floridians and our visitors deserve,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

 

The educational research video, Securing Florida’s Water Future: St. Lucie Estuary features the following water and environmental leaders:

  • Deborah Drum, Ecosystem Restoration and Management, Engineering Department, Martin County
  • Ernie Barnett, Florida Land Council
  • Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary of Water, Department of Environmental Protection
  • Scott Martin, Professional Angler
  • Doug Smith, Martin County Commissioner

On the research video, Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary of Water for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection says:

“The reason we know that septic systems are an issue for the St. Lucie Estuary is because we’ve monitored tracers, so we’ve looked for sucralose, this artificial sweetener, and we measured it and we know there’s a human source. And we’ve done the North Fork and the South Fork of the St. Lucie Estuary and we’ve seen sucralose throughout there, so we know that human waste water, septic tanks being very probable, is a source for all of these excess pollutants.”

Representative Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) has introduced HB 339 that calls for septic to sewage conversions, and Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) is also advancing policy to support this effort in the Florida Senate.

“The Indian River Lagoon is the most bio-diverse estuary in our country and is one of our most treasured natural resources.  It has been ravaged by harmful algae blooms, run-off and water pollution. Legacy Florida 2.0 will provide a dedicated and reliable funding source to address this problem. Septic to sewer conversion is a key component and will help preserve the IRL’s beauty for future generations,” said Representative Harrell.

 

“The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most valued economic and environmental assets in Florida. It provides over $7 billion dollars in revenue and inhabits approximately 4,000 different species. I am proud to work alongside Representative Harrell in passing this good bill to help save our lagoon,” said Senator Mayfield.

 

“Science based data is the key to meeting the challenges Florida faces, and the Florida Chamber is pleased to support the policy behind these proposals,” Wilson said.

 

The complete series of videos on securing Florida’s water future are available at www.FloridaChamber.com/WaterVideos.

 

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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.