Bills to address the discharge of domestic wastewater through ocean outfalls (SB 444, HB 707) passed in both chambers this week, and now move to their final committees of reference, Appropriations in the Senate and State Affairs in the House.

Following last week’s agreement between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to continue the protection of Florida’s waterways from excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, proposed committee bills on Numeric Nutrient Criteria were adopted in both chambers to define the path forward for the DEP to implement state rules in lieu of federal rules.

Senator Hays’ bill (SB 1106) preempting local regulation of agritourism unanimously passed its second committee stop with several members expressing concerns with the breadth of the preemptive language as articulated by FAC’s Stephen James in testimony.  Read more on environment bills…

 
Purchase of Land by a Government Entity
SB 584 (S. Hays) /HB 901 (R. Stone)

  • Summary:  County may purchase land for conservation purposes only if:
  • An accurate inventory of government-owned property, not more than 1 year old, is made public; 
  • Sufficient funds are approved in the county’s annual budget for the maintenance of existing properties; 
  • An analysis by the county describing the annual cost of maintenance of the proposed land purchase is completed; and
  • An equal amount of public property not being held in conservation is returned or sold at fair market value to the private sector.
    • Status:
    • The bills have yet to be heard in committee; there are four references in both the Senate and the House.

 

Ocean Outfalls
SB 444 (S. Diaz de la Portilla)/ HB 707 (R. Diaz)

  • Summary: In 2008, the Legislature prohibited the construction of new ocean outfalls and required that all six existing ocean outfalls meet advanced wastewater treatment (AWT) standards by 2018, and cease discharging wastewater by 2025.  In addition, those wastewater facilities were required to install a reuse system capable of providing a minimum of 60% of the actual flow. The bill amends current law:
  • Ocean outfalls must have a fully operational reuse system comprising 100 percent of the “baseline flow” (from “average daily flow”) annually by December 31, 2018. 
  • Utilities that share an ocean outfall are individually responsible for meeting reuse requirements but may share or transfer responsibility. 
  • Backup discharge may include peak flows from other wastewater management systems, but may not cumulatively exceed 5% of baseline, measured as a 5-year rolling average, and subject to secondary waste treatment and WQBELs. 
  • If in compliance, discharges are deemed to meet AWT
  • Detailed plan for DEP to include technical, environmental, and economic feasibility of reuse options, costs of treatment and comparison with other sources, availability of traditional water supplies, the need for AWS and offset from potable water supplies. 
  • DEP, SFWMD, and utilities must consider the detailed plan to adjust the reuse requirements as necessary. DEP shall submit a report to the Legislature by February 15, 2015.
    • Status:  
    • Senate bill referred to four committees; House bill referred to three committees.   
    • Senate bill passed unanimously in Environmental Preservation and Conservation on 3/7/13; passed unanimously in Community Affairs on 3/14/13, and this week, passed unanimously in the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government (3/19).  The bill now moves to its final Senate committee: Appropriations.
    • House bill passed unanimously in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee on 3/07/13; and this week, passed unanimously in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee with a Committee Substitute (3/18).  The bill now moves to the State Affairs Committee, its final committee of reference. 

 

Agricultural Lands
HB 203 (R. Beshears)/SB 1190 (Sen. Brandes)

  • Summary:
  • Prohibits a “governmental entity” (currently, a “county”) from adopting or enforcing any prohibition, restriction, regulation, or other limitation on activity of bona fide farm operation on land classified as agricultural land.
  • Prohibits governmental entity from charging an assessment or fee on a bona fide farm “activity” that is regulated through BMPs or other state or federal regulations.
    • Status:  
    • Four committees of reference in House; passed Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unanimously; now in Local and Federal Affairs.
    • Four committees of reference in Senate; amended bill language passed unanimously in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday, 3/11/13.
    • Working with bill sponsor to address concerns over broad interpretation and fiscal impact to counties, most notably with regard to MSBU’s and other service-related assessments. Sponsor has agreed to an amendment that would delete the term “assessment” and limit the proscription to duplicative fees on “specific activities. Senate bill was filed last week with amendment language.  Amendment yet to be filed in the House.


Agritourism
SB 1106 (S. Hays)/HB 927 (R. Raschein)

  • Summary:
  • Provides legislative intent to “eliminate duplication of regulatory authority over “agritourism.”
  • Revises definition of “agritourism activity” currently in statute as follows: “any activity consistent with a bona fide farm or ranch or in a working forest that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy agricultural-related rural activities, including, but not limited to, farming, ranching, historical, cultural, or harvest-your-own, or nature-based activities and attractions.”
  • A local government may not adopt an ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy that prohibits, restricts, regulates, or otherwise limits an agritourism activity on land classified as agricultural land.  
  • Defines “inherent risks of agritourism activity” (including land conditions, animal behavior, structures and equipment), and provides that owners, professionals and employees are not liable for injuries if a “notice of risk” is posted. 
    • Status: 
    • House bill filed on 2/20/13. Referred to Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee; Civil Justice Subcommittee and State Affairs Committee.  Passed unanimously in Agriculture and Natural Resources on Tuesday 3/12/13.
    • Senate bill filed on 2/21/13.   Referred to Agriculture; Community Affairs and Rules.  Passed unanimously in Agriculture Committee on Monday 3/11/13. The Senate bill passed unanimously in the Community Affairs Committee on 3/20/13, although Senators Thompson, Bradley, and Smith indicated that the language needed to be “tightened up.” 

 
Government-Owned Utilities
HB 733 (R. Mayfield)

  • Summary:
  • Consent is not required of counties providing utility services where they are already being provided by others if those services are being provided pursuant to a franchise agreement that has expired.  Counties must first conduct a referendum, the results of which indicate a preference for County service.
  • Adds a county consent requirement for municipalities wishing to extend corporate powers into unincorporated areas.
  • Defines the term “public entity” to include a municipality supplying electricity or gas outside of incorporated boundaries.
  • Subjects any municipality that sells water or wastewater utility services outside of its incorporated boundaries to regulation by the Public Service Commission.
    • Status:  
    • Four committees of reference; Energy & Utilities; Local & Federal Affairs; Government Operations Appropriations; and Regulatory Affairs.   Bill has yet to be heard.   
    • Last week, Senator Garcia filed a bill (SB 1620) with only the county consent requirement for municipalities wishing to extend corporate powers into unincorporated areas.  Referred to Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities; Community Affairs; Judiciary; and Rules.  Yet to be heard. 

 

Environmental Permitting
HB 999 (R. Patronis)

  • Summary:  Among other things, the bill provides: 
  • Limits on requests for additional information (RAIs) on development applications
  • Exemptions from sovereign submerged lands regulations and fees, and requires general permits for special events like boat shows.
  • A preemption on water supply well permitting.
  • A new definition to consider in OHWM delineations.
  • Additional exemptions for stormwater permitting for manmade ponds and certain wetlands.
  • Requirements for regulation of water quality standards and deviations.
  • The addition of DACS to those entities involved in regional water supply planning.
  • Revisions to the air source permitting fee structure.
    • Status:  
    • Referred to three committees: Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; and State Affairs Committee. 
    • We expect amendments to be filed early next week, with the House bill likely to be heard in its first committee.  A second stakeholder meeting has been scheduled for next Wednesday, March 27, at 11:00 am in Conference Room 2103.

Numeric Nutrient Criteria
SB 7034 /Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee
HB SAC13-2 /House State Affairs Committee

  • Summary:  On March 15, the DEP and EPA announced an agreement to allow Florida to implement its own numeric nutrient criteria in lieu of federal standards, which were promulgated in response to litigation.  This week, legislation was proffered in both chambers to effectuate DEP’s “path forward.”  In summary, the bills provide:
  • Authorization to implement criteria in flowing waters, with standards applicable to downstream waters
  • Authorization to implement standards in streams, springs, lakes and estuaries in accordance with the document entitled “Implementation of Florida’s Numeric Nutrient Standards”
  • Upon withdrawal of EPA’s rules and cessation of further rulemaking, the non-severability and effective date provisions (Rule 62-302.531(9)) expire and are removed from the Florida Administrative Code.
  • New estuary rules are exempt from legislative ratification.
    • Status:  
    • The proposed committee bills were approved by the House State Affairs Committee and the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee and submitted as committee bills this week.