This week in the Legislature, the Governor signed into law SB 444, the ocean outfall bill, after three years of advocacy from the affected South Florida counties.  Additionally, HB 999, the environmental permitting bill by Rep. Patronis, was amended on the House floor to include language creating the “Florida Fertilizer Regulatory Review Commission” and placing a moratorium on new fertilizer ordinances until 2015.  The bill passed the full House on April 25; the Senate companion, SB 1684, is on Second Reading and does not include the fertilizer language at this time.  Additionally, FAC would like thank Sen. Hays for removing the onerous “underused property maximization program” from SB 1074, which passed the full Senate on April 25.  

Read more about environmental 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.
    • Sponsors believe government owns too much land.  Sponsors reference the purchase of whole parcels when only portions needed for conservation, and the need to reduce management costs and increase tax rolls.  
    • The Senate bill was temporarily postponed in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee after concerns were raised by several members.  

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 House bill passed in State Affairs and will now move to the House floor.   The bill was placed on the calendar for Second Reading and temporarily postponed on 4/11/13. 
    • The Senate bill was passed unanimously by the Appropriations Committee on 4/3/13 and passed the full Senate unanimously on 4/11/13.  The bill is now in Messages.
    • The bill passed unanimously on the House floor and was signed into law by the Governor on 4/22/13 - Chapter No. 2013-031.

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 adopted and the House bill passed with a Committee Substitute in Local and Federal Affairs Committee. The bill passed the Finance and Tax Committee on 3/28/13 and now moves to State Affairs. 
    • On 4/3/13, the bill was passed unanimously by the State Affairs Committee, and was placed on the House Calendar for Second Reading.  
    • The Senate bill is now in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax, its third of four committees of reference. 
    • The Senate bill was passed by the F&T Committee and is now in Appropriations, its final committee.
    • An amendment was adopted on the House floor that requires farm buildings, farm fences, or farm signs to be “located on lands used for bona fide agricultural purposes” in order to be exempt from building code and local ordinances and fees.  The bill was passed as amended and the enrolled text filed. The Senate bill passed unanimously with matching amendment in Appropriations.
    • The House bill is in Messages. The Senate bill is on Special Order for April 29, 2013.

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.
    • Met with both sponsors, and the staff director and Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.  All understand our concerns and are willing to amend the language to narrow the scope of the preempted activities.  Met with Senate Community Affairs staff director last week and the Committee Chairman this week.
    • 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.” 
    • The House bill was passed this week by the Civil Justice Subcommittee; 10 Yeas, 2 Nays.
    • FAC continued to meet with representatives of the Farm Bureau, DACS and the bill sponsors to discuss amendatory language that would limit the scope of the preemption and clarify that the construction of new structures and facilities is not subject to the preemption. 
    • An amendment was adopted in the House State Affairs Committee, which removes the “including but limited to…” phrase limiting the preemption to those uses specified in current law.  The amendment also excludes the construction of new structures and facilities intended to house, shelter, transport, or otherwise accommodate members of the general public.
    • The bill, as amended, was passed unanimously in State Affairs and now moves on to the House floor. 
    • An identical amendment was adopted in the Senate Rules Committee, and the bill, as amended, was passed unanimously with a Committee Substitute.  The bill now moves to the Senate Floor. 
    • The bill passed the full Senate unanimously on 4/11/13 and is now in Senate Messages.  The House bill is on Second Reading.  

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. 
    • Met with Rep. Mayfield and Senator Garcia’s staff this week.  Addressed inquiries from member counties supporting the bill, and discussed amendments that, if filed, could garner FAC support. 
    • Four committees of reference with no hearing as yet.

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.      
    • The first of what may be several stakeholder meetings was held. A number of concerns were raised by many groups including FAC and several county representatives who travelled to Tallahassee to participate.  FAC took input from membership on specific amendatory language to address these concerns. 
    • A strike-all amendment was filed in week four, which included provisions related to mooring fields, special event lease fees, allocation restrictions for users construction desalinization plants, and commercial recovered materials.  Other provisions were removed including references to the OHWM and certified landscape architects in § 403.0877. 
    • A second stakeholder meeting took place prior to the bill being heard in committee on Wednesday, March 27.  FAC and representatives from several counties expressed a number of concerns with the bill, which Rep. Patronis agreed to consider.     
    • FAC also participated in meetings with the Solid Waste Association regarding the amendment restricting the counties’ ability to provide for competition with private companies regarding commercial recovered materials.  
      • The House bill was passed with a CS by the Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee on 3/27/13; with a CS by the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee on 4/8/13; and with a CS by State Affairs on 4/16/13. The bill, as amended, was passed and will now move to the Floor.
      • A third strike-all amendment was filed in the House in week seven.  The amended version specifically exempts building permits from the three-RAI requirement; adds language to the water allocation section regarding desalinization plants exempting those receiving funding from the district and allowing districts to modify permits in accordance with §373; removes the section on “mean annual flood lines;” and clarifies that amendments regarding payment of stormwater fees by beneficiaries applies prospectively.
      • Two amendments to the strike-all were also adopted by the State Affairs committee; one technical and one ratifying and finding in the public interest those Everglades leases approved by the Cabinet earlier this year.  T
      • The fertilizer “Review Commission” amendment was filed and withdrawn. The fertilizer language is expected to be amended on the House Floor.  Two new members may be added to the review commission: a water science member appointed by the DEP Secretary and a retail industry representative appointed by the Commissioner.  The grandfather provision will also be amended to clarify that new ordinances must be consistent with the Model Ordinance to be enforced prior to completion of the Commission’s work.
        • The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee adopted a strike-all amendment (and two other amendments to that amendment) on 4/2/13 and passed unanimously with a committee substitute. The bill as amended, addressed many of FAC’s concerns including: 
          • The section dealing with RAIs now applies only to applications by certified professionals.  Further, the requirement of tiered requests from supervisor-director-administrator was removed, and replaced with a simple meeting between the government and applicant prior to the third request.  
          • The section of the bill regarding mean annual flood line (and its use in OHWM delineations) was removed in its entirety. 
          • The long and complex section dealing with commercial recovered materials was stricken in its entirety and replaced with two sentences - one requiring action on an application within 90 days, and one prohibiting unfair competition during the pendency of its review.
          • The subsection creating a wetlands and water quality exemption for §298 water control districts was removed.    
          • Delegated programs for water wells were authorized, where the original bill provided for a full preemption of local programs and sole responsibility with the water management districts.  
  • The Senate bill (SB 1684) passed the Agriculture Committee on 4/8/13; In week seven, the Senate bill was amended per HB 999 and passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. It will now move to Appropriations.
  • The bill was passed by the full House on April 25. The amendment to remove the section dealing with Chapter 298 district exemptions was defeated.  HB 999 is now in Messages.
  • SB 1684 was approved with a CS in Senate Appropriations although Senators from the St. Johns River Caucus expressed concerns with the Chapter 298 district exemptions. The bill is on Second Reading.
  • The Chapter 298 issue remains to be resolved.

Numeric Nutrient Criteria
SB 1808 /Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee
HB 7115 /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 (with one technical amendment) and the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee and submitted as committee bills.   
    • The Senate Committee Bill was filed as SB 1808, the House bill as HB 7115.
    • SB 1808 was passed on 3rd reading on April 24.  HB 7115 is on the calendar for 2nd reading.

Fertilizer

Summary:

  • This week, Speaker Designate Crisafulli unveiled his plan for a “Florida Fertilizer Regulatory Review Commission.”  The proposed bill provides a legislative intent to address the patchwork of regulations with a science-based approach to identify practices that would provide a positive impact on water quality.  
  • The stated purposes of the Commission include:
    • A review of existing peer-reviewed scientific data, current statutes, administrative rules, local ordinances, and the Florida-Friendly Model Ordinance.  
    • Taking public comment
    • Providing recommendations for uniform regulation.
    • Developing proposed legislation, and amendments to Model Ordinance
    • Commission would be comprised of 13 members appointed as follows:
      • FAC (1)
      • FLC (1)
      • Florida Stormwater Association (1)
      • DACS / IFAS  (1)/(2)
      • Pest Control Association (1)
      • Golf course Superintendents (1)
      • Fertilizer Industry (1)
      • Landscape and lawn care (1)
      • DEP (1)
      • WMD (1)
      • Environmental Community (1)
      • There would be a moratorium on local government ordinances unless Model Ordinance is adopted in order to receive credits or otherwise comply with TMDLs or BMAPs. 
      • Proposed revisions were drafted and submitted to Chairman Crisafulli for consideration.  Revisions include: FAC appointment by DACS Commissioner, IFAS limited to one appointee and UF Water Institute being added.  The duration extended one year to 2016 (to allow for inclusion of the ongoing Tampa Bay study), and clarification that the moratorium only applies to new ordinances, and that any local government may adopt the Model Ordinance at any time. 
        • Another stakeholder meeting was held and discussions were held regarding the proposed bill.  Written comments were provided and we would expect the revised language to be filed as an amendment, possibly to HB 999/SB 1684. 
        • Fertilizer language expected to be amended on the House Floor with two new members to be added: a water science member appointed by the DEP Secretary and a retail industry representative appointed by the Commissioner.  The grandfather provision to also be amended to clarify that new ordinances must be consistent with the Model Ordinance to be enforced prior to completion of the Commission’s work.
        • The fertilizer language was amended onto HB 999 (see above) on April 24.  The bill, as amended, was passed on Third Reading on April 25 and is now in Senate Messages.  The fertilizer language has not been amended onto the Senate companion, SB 1684.