Express Your Support for P-46: A Second Chance to Restore Funding for Land Conservation through Florida Forever
Every 20 years, Florida establishes a Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) for the purpose of examining the constitution and proposing changes for voter consideration. A CRC has been convened this year and one of the proposed amendments now under consideration would require that 33% of each year’s Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) proceeds must go to the Florida Forever land acquisition program.
Most of us thought funding for land conservation would be restored after we voted Amendment 1 into law in 2014. It passed easily with 75 percent of voters choosing “yes” on the ballot. And still, the Florida Legislature didn’t budget a single dollar for Florida Forever in 2017, despite the nearly $800 million that were deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund as the annual allotment for Amendment 1.
The language of Amendment 1 allowed for some latitude in deciding exactly how the funds could be expended in any given year, which was appropriate given the many environmental and conservation challenges facing our state. Land acquisition isn’t the answer to ALL our problems. But our legislators have apparently settled on an interpretation that allows money in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to be expended on nearly anything EXCEPT Florida Forever land purchases.
CRC Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch’s proposed amendment (P-46) would require that at least 1/3 of annual Amendment 1 revenues be directed to the Florida Forever land conservation program. But first P 46 must survive the CRC process. Without clear expressions of public support, it might not make its way onto the 2018 election ballot.
You may have heard that the Florida Senate is reviewing a bill (SB 370) that would dedicate at least $100 million of Amendment 1 revenues to Florida Forever each year. That is a substantial sum, and most conservation organizations have rightly expressed support for SB 370; however, it is far short of the $300 million Florida Forever received annually prior to the recession and there is no guarantee SB 370 will pass. P-46 would restore funding more comparable to historic levels, estimated to range from $200-$300 million/year based on the real estate documentary taxes collected that year. Keep in mind these are existing tax collections – NO NEW TAXES WOULD BE IMPOSED ON FLORIDIANS!
Florida has recovered from the recession, development and population growth have rebounded, and it’s time for us to restore some balance to the development versus land conservation equation. Please send a quick email message to some or all of the 7 members of the CRC’s Legislative Committee, which is first in line to formally review and approve P 46, using the contact information provided below. In a few short sentences, tell them you support P-46. Consider sharing a brief, personal statement explaining why Florida Forever and land conservation are important to you. You can get additional information about P-46 and the CRC from their website at www.flcrc.gov .
CRC Legislative Committee Membership
Representative Jose Felix Diaz, Chair: Jose.Diaz@flcrc.gov
Commissioner Belinda Keiser, Vice Chair: Belinda.Keiser@flcrc.gov
Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Armas: Jose.Armas@flcrc.gov
Commissioner Lisa Carlton: Lisa.Carlton@flcrc.gov
Senator Tom Lee: Tom.Lee@flcrc.gov
Commissioner Patricia Levesque: Patricia.Levesque@flcrc.gov
Senator Darryl Rouson: Darryl.Rouson@flcrc.gov
Raise an Issue
Types of Issues Addressed by FNPS
- General areas considered to be of statewide FNPS significance
- Any Florida legislative action that affects our state environmental land acquisition program known as Florida Forever, which includes Florida Communities Trust and/or any other state agency funded through Florida Forever (DEP). This includes, but is not limited to, any legislation affecting funding of the program. It also includes the urgent need to fund the Florida Forever program.
- All state and local land acquisition efforts for preservation and conservation.
- Any statewide policy changes that enhance improve or further natural resource system protection within recognized preserves and/or reserve or state park refuge.
- Development issues that are regional or have statewide significance in that they affect a change in Florida policy towards land acquisition, natural resource systems or waters of the state, but only if the issue clearly relates to the FNPS mission to preserve, conserve and restore native plants and native plant communities.
- Any state legislative, state agency or state university action that would affect the viability (or lack thereof) of native plants and native plant communities. This includes, but is not limited to, state policy on exotic invasive species, water conservation, listed plant species, and cataloging of native plant communities.
General areas considered not to be of statewide significance include
- Issues that are primarily related to managing the way a local jurisdiction grows or the methods it uses to plan growth. Unless it can be shown to meet criteria number four in the previous section.
- Issues that are primarily transportation related unless the issue is of at least regional significance and would impact an established preserve/reserve/state park refuge/or a functional ecologically sensitive ecosystem.
- Issues that involve local jurisdictional ordinances or land development codes.