|Florida Forever Program Acquisition Changes|
SB 1476, State Acquisition of Lands, by Sen. Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee) will require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to disclose otherwise confidential appraisal reports to private landowners or their representatives during acquisition negotiations.
In addition, the bill requires that the contract state that the final purchase price must be the fair market value as determined by the highest appraisal. While the policy of the last administration to offer only 90% of appraised value for acquisitions was harmful to the state’s ability to broker deals, the current administration has ended that unfair practice. At the same time, it is important for the state to have the ability to negotiate a fair price for taxpayers. We will continue to work with sponsors to ensure landowners are treated fairly and the state has the ability to negotiate competitively.
The bill passed favorably through this committee and is referred to the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. The House companion, HB 1271, was filed by Rep. Canady (R-Lakeland).
Tackling Water Pollution
SB 1632, Environmental Protection, by Sen. Brodeur (R-Sanford) and HB 1379 by Rep. Steele (R-Dade City) are comprehensive bills that aim to improve requirements for several issues including wastewater, septic tanks, sanitary sewer services, basin management action plans, the wastewater grant program, Indian River Lagoon, and the acquisition of state land. The bill largely tackles wastewater as a major source of pollution, and takes aim at improving wastewater infrastructure to limit nutrient pollution.
These bills contain several provisions requested by DEP and implement provisions of the Governor’s Executive Order 23-06. SB 1632 was well received in committee and passed with unanimous approval.