LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2024
Florida Springs Council's
Analyses, Positions, and Tools for Advocates
The 2024 Legislative Session runs from
January 9 through March 8, 2024.
We can’t promise you that we will win every time you take an action.
But we can promise that we will lose if you don’t.
We make it easy to contact lawmakers with pre-written emails. Provide your name and email address, modify the message if you wish, and hit send. Our system gets the right message to the right legislators.
If you're ready to take action, use the button below to go directly to all active Alerts.
Or learn more about each bill and sign up to get alerts by email:
Bills that will affect Florida's springs
Senate Bill 738/House Bill 789
The one that would kill all environmental legal challenges
"Environmental Management" by Senator Danny Burgess & Representative Toby Overdorf
These bills would have prevented Florida Springs Council and other groups or individuals from going to court to enforce state laws and agency rules that impact Florida’s waters and wetlands.
Because they would require the losing party in legal challenges against the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district to pay the prevailing parties' court costs and attorney fees, they would make the financial risk too great to risk seeking recourse in the courts. State law already requires sanctions and attorney fees for frivolous lawsuits filed for an improper purpose.
The intent is not to stop frivolous lawsuits, but to shut local non-profits and concerned citizens out of the court system entirely. The only possible outcomes are more harmful development, water use permits, and pollution in Florida, and less that we can do to prevent it.
On Jan. 10, SB 738 passed in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee (5-2) with Senator Tina Polsky and Senator Linda Stewart providing the "no" votes.
HB 789 AMENDED: On Jan. 22, the House Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee filed an amendment to HB 789 that removed Section 1, the provision on mandatory attorney fees, and Section 4, the changes to coastal permitting processes. This amendment was voted favorably and the bill passed in the Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee on January 24.
SB 738 AMENDED: On Friday, January 26, Senator Burgess filed an amendment to SB 738 that removed section one, the section that would prevent organizations like FSC from going to court to enforce Florida's environmental laws. Unfortunately the amendment did not strike Section 4 of the bill, which is still a concern for our coastal allies. On Monday, January 29, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the amendment, removing the fee-shifting provision.
On Thursday, February 15, Senator Berman filed an amendment, striking the coastal permitting process section from the bill. The amendment passed and the bill was voted favorably on February 15. Now, both the House and Senate versions of the bill no longer include the fee-shifting provision or the section with the changes to coastal permitting processes, moving forward without the environmentally damaging provisions.
Killing the fee-shifting provision was the Florida Springs Council's highest legislative priority this Session.
Senate Bill 1126/House Bill 1641
The one that would pre-empt all regulations on single use containers
"Regulation of Auxiliary Containers" by Senator Jonathan Martin & Representative Troy "Brad" Yeager
If passed, this bill would take away local government’s home rule and ability to regulate any single-use or reusable cup, bottle, bag, or other packaging designed for transporting, consuming, or protecting merchandise, food, or beverages from a retail or food establishment.
It would not only prevent local governments from adopting regulations, it would prevent any state agency (like state parks) from regulating food packaging. The protections currently in place prohibiting single-use containers on the Rainbow River, Ichetucknee River and Weeki Wachee River would be repealed.
On January 16, SB 1126 was voted favorably (4-0) in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
On January 24, HB 1641 was voted favorably (11-7) in the House Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee, even though several lawmakers on the committee were joined by FSC, Surfrider, Sierra Club, and Oceana in speaking out against the bill.
On February 6, SB 1126 was temporarily postponed and pulled from the Community Affairs Committee agenda. This was the last time the committee was scheduled to meet this session, so we are hopeful the bill will not be heard again this Legislative Session and single-use container bans in our state parks and local communities will remain in place.
HB 1641 was placed on the House State Affairs Committee agenda for February 14. However, the bill was temporarily postponed and pulled from the agenda at the beginning of the meeting at the request of the bill sponsor.
Your calls and emails worked, and while anything can happen until the legislative session is actually over, this bill seems unlikely to move forward.
Senate Bill 664/House Bill 527
The one that keeps local communities from protecting wetlands
"Land and Water Management" by Senator Danny Burgess & Representative Randy Maggard
Section 1 is effectively a state preemption on local environmental buffers to protect waters, wetlands, and natural areas.
Section 2 preempts the regulation of all dredge and fill activities to the Department of Environmental Protection and water management districts, shutting down any local review of wetlands permitting.
These bills are a direct assault on local governments attempting to protect their communities and natural resources.
When this bill is assigned its first committee hearing we will ask you to use the button below to send a pre-written but customizable email to the legislators who will hear this bill to urge them to vote no. Our system makes it quick and easy.
Read more about each bill, and track its progress through the legislature.
A Deeper Dive
Sign up for springs news & action alerts by email
For those of you who would like to go beyond mailing or calling your representatives: this gives you the chance to travel to Tallahassee and speak in front of lawmakers in person. Sign up to be notified of any opportunities to join our executive director Ryan Smart, the only lobbyist in Tallahassee working solely on springs issues, for a day in the Capital Building.
We'll bring you up to speed on the issues and together present a united voice for springs.
UPDATE: As legislative session winds down it becomes less likely that there will be further trips to the Capitol. But once you sign up you'll be notified of in-person advocacy opportunities during next year's session or for unexpected advocacy needs throughout the year.