The one that would kill environmental lawsuits in Florida
What it says
SB 738 introduced by Senator Danny Burgess:
HB 789 introduced by Representative Toby Overdorf:
"Providing that the prevailing party in certain actions against the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district is entitled to reasonable costs and attorney fees."
The basis of our success in protecting springs over the past five years is our ability to fund, manage, and win legal challenges to enforce the state's environmental laws when agencies fail to do so.
Our effectiveness in the courthouse not only impacts the cases we have fought, but the many times the credible threat of litigation has convinced state agencies to change their actions.
Senate Bill 738 is an existential threat to the Florida Springs Council and to environmental advocacy.
Tracking Senate Bill 738 and House Bill 789
Update as of 2/15: Both bills have been amended to remove Section 1 (fee-shifting) and Section 4 (Coastal Permitting Process). SB 738 and HB 789 have both passed all three committee stops.
12/15: Referred to Environment and Natural Resources; Judiciary; Fiscal Policy
1/5: On Committee agenda-- Environment and Natural Resources, 01/10/24, 10:30 a.m.
1/9: Senator Polsky filed an amendment to SB 738 that would strike section 1 of the bill. If members of the committee vote yes on the amendment, it would eliminate the language requiring the losing party in environmental challenges to pay the court costs and attorney fees of the other parties. The Florida Springs Council supports this amendment
1/10: PASSED (5-2) in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee; the amendment filed by Polsky did NOT pass
1/26: 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.
1/29: AMENDED - The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the amendment, removing the fee-shifting provision.
2/15: AMENDED - Senator Berman filed an amendment that removed Section 4, the changes to coastal permitting processes. The amendment was voted favorably, and the bill passed in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.
12/27: Referred to Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Infrastructure Strategies Committee
1/22: 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.
1/24: AMENDED - The amendment was voted favorably, and the bill passed in the Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee.
2/15: The bill passed in the Infrastructure Strategies Committee