| Senate President Priorities Move Forward
|Two priorities of Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), SB 64 Reclaimed Water by Sen. Albritton (R-Bartow) and SB 88 Farming Operations by Sen. Brodeur (R-Lake Mary), raced through their Senate committees of reference and floor hearings this week.
SB 64, which passed in the Senate with a vote of 39-0, requires domestic wastewater utilities to submit a plan for eliminating non-beneficial surface water discharge (within five years) to the Department of Environmental Protection. The House companion, HB 263 (Maggard, R-Dade City), is in its second committee of reference. Using reclaimed water will ease pressure on Florida resources at a time when the state’s population grows by 1,000 people a day.
SB 88 also passed in the Senate with a vote of 37-1 with Sen. Farmer (D- Lighthouse Point) as the only dissenting vote. This bill aims to protect farming operations from nuisance lawsuits, and restricts the types of civil lawsuits based on farming activities, requires plaintiffs to prove noncompliance with state or federal requirements, and limits who may file nuisance lawsuits against farmers.
Its companion bill, HB 1601 Farming Operations by Rep. Williamson (R-Pace), is facing an uphill battle. The bill passed its first committee of reference on Wednesday, with a vote of 14 yeas and 4 nays, drawn from three Democrats and one Republican. Audubon is concerned about the possible over-reach of these bills that could limit legal recourse against landowners whose activities cause harm to water or other natural resources.