Tag Archives: CRC

CRC Proposal #91, No Oil and Gas Drilling, Yes or No?

OILED SCARLET IBIS – “Notes on a Disaster.” Lindsay Carr created this painting in response to the BP Gulf Oil Spill and auctioned off in support of the clean up operation. In the style of John James Audubon.

CRC Proposal #91, No Oil and Gas Drilling, Yes or No?

This coming Thursday, December 14th, I will be presenting CRC proposal #91 to the General Provisions committee, the committee I chair. For the presentation and vote, I will be turning this part of the meeting over to Vice-Chair, Emery Gainey as is proper form. Just as with any other proposal, #91 needs your support! Please write the members of the committee here to make your support and concerns known or attend the meeting and speak briefly during public comment: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/GP/

With every passing day, I feel more strongly about this proposal. As we are witnessing right now, long-standing, pristine lands across our country are being tapped for oil and gas. Florida’s tourist, beach, and water-economy, and its abundant coastal wildlife, demand there is no oil and gas drilling in the territorial waters of the state.

Please see my blog post on this topic, and thank you for your support: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2017/11/16/time-for-floridas-constitution-to-say-no-to-coastal-oil-and-gas-drilling/

  CRC - 2017                                                  P 91
       
       
        
       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       
       thurlowlj-00106-17                                      201791__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction
    4         in specified coastal waters.
    5          
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8  
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II                            
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS                        
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) To protect the people of Florida and their environment,
   27  oil drilling for exploration or extraction is prohibited in and
   28  beneath all state waters between the mean high tide line and the
   29  outermost boundaries of the state’s territorial seas. This
   30  prohibition does not apply to the transportation of oil and gas
   31  products produced outside of such waters. This section is self
   32  executing.
Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico. Images of disaster, AP 2010.

CRC Proposal #46, Land Acquisition Trust Fund, ~Clarifying Language in the Constitution for Ignored Citizen Initiative, Amendment 1, of 2014

Adams Ranch, wild turkey in the shade of oak trees, photo courtesy of the late Bud Adams, St Lucie County.

CRC Proposal #46, Land Acquisition Trust Fund, ~Clarifying Language in the Constitution for Citizen Initiative, Amendment 1, of 2014


I will present proposal #46 to the CRC Legislative Committee this Wednesday. You can support this proposal, or express your thoughts on the issue by writing the members of the Legislative Committee: https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/, or by attending the meeting and speaking briefly during public comment. The Chair is Jose Felix Diaz.

Please see the link for my blog post on this proposal: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2017/11/14/2014s-amendment-1-ignored-clarifying-intent-for-the-legislature-in-floridas-constitution/

In summary, it is to clarify language so that funds do not include agency salaries, risk management costs, the purchase of vehicles, etc…and clearly states that “no less than one-third of doc-stamp revenue must be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund.”

   CRC - 2017                                                  P 46
       
       
        
       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       
       thurlowlj-00052-17                                      201746__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Section 28 of Article X of the State Constitution to
    3         revise the manner of the distribution of funds that
    4         are deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund
    5         from a portion of the net revenues derived from the
    6         excise tax on documents.
    7          
    8  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    9  Florida:
   10  
   11         Section 28 of Article X of the State Constitution is
   12  amended to read:
   13                              ARTICLE X                            
   14                            MISCELLANEOUS                          
   15         SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund.—
   16         (a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of
   17  this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after
   18  that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall
   19  receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the
   20  existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in
   21  effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any
   22  successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue
   23  first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the
   24  collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
   25         (b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be
   26  expended only for the following purposes:
   27         (1) No less than one-third of the revenue must be deposited
   28  into the Florida Forever Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes
   29  in effect on January 1, 2017.
   30         (2) The remainder must be expended as provided by law, to
   31  finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land,
   32  water areas, and related property interests, including
   33  conservation easements, and natural resources for conservation
   34  lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife
   35  habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water
   36  resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting
   37  the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams,
   38  springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and
   39  aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and
   40  the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II,
   41  Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands,
   42  including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space;
   43  rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or
   44  geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural
   45  systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational
   46  enjoyment of conservation lands.
   47         (3)(2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to
   48  Article VII, Section 11(e) as may be required.
   49         (c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust
   50  Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012,
   51  shall not be or become commingled with the general revenue fund
   52  of the state.

 

CRC Proposal #23, A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment; “Any Citizen… but not a Corporation”

A mullet jumps at sunset, St Lucie River, photo taken by my brother Todd Thurlow

CRC Proposal #23, A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment; “Any Citizen of the State of Florida, but not a Corporation”

Next week,  the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will once again be in committee. Today, I will provide an update of proposal #23, “A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment” and new thoughts:

#23 will be heard, December 12, 2017, between 1-5pm in the Judicial Committee. You can write committee members to support this proposal here or speak during public comment: (http://flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/)

This proposal was already “presented” to the Judicial Committee on November 28th, 2017, just over a week ago. As mentioned, on December 12, it will go before the committee once again, but this time is will be voted upon.

If the proposal passes through the Judicial Committee, the next stop will be the General Provisions committee. If it passes the General Provisions Committee, the proposal will go before the entire CRC for a vote to determine if it will go on the 2018 ballot.

In spite of tremendous opposition from Affiliated Industries of Florida who hired four, high-powered, Gunster attorneys to speak in opposition to the proposal, along with the Florida Chamber and others, I thought the November 28th presentation went great. As I had hoped, students were a part of the presentation for the proposal with Kai Su, a law student from Stetson University, who helped research the proposal, and the founders of the River Kidz sharing their public policy paper written on the subject for a duel enrollment class at Indian River State College.

I presented briefly myself, but had to leave the meeting early to run my own. Later, when I watched the Florida Channel’s video and saw the idealistic young people juxtaposed to the hard-edged lawyers, and self-focused business interests, I knew the proposal had been successful in spite of whatever its final outcome…

—#23, a proposal that would give more standing in a court of law to citizens of Florida over the all-powerful state agencies and those hand-picked by them to benefit from holding and executing “environmental” permits. Many members of the Judicial Committee asked hard and insightful questions to the attorneys, and I am deeply appreciative of their serious involvement and interest in the subject.

*You can read about the original submission of  #23 here: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/adequate-provision-is-not-enough/)

*You can see the Judicial Committee meeting at the Florida Channel here:
https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/112817-constitution-revision-commission-judicial-committee/

*Stetson newsletter: http://www.stetson.edu/law/news/index.php/2017/11/29/student-presents-environmental-rights-supporting-clean-healthy-environment-amendment-florida-constitution-tallahassee/So…this coming Tuesday, I will again go before the Judicial Committee, but this time for a vote. From the beginning of sponsoring this proposal, I knew that the language and the idea would be controversial; but I had no idea to the degree. What was most important me was to find a proposal I supported from the public (#700450) and to sponsor it.

I was taken with this particular proposal because it was a collaboration of students and their professors from Barry and Stetson University. As a former eighth and ninth grade teacher, I liked the idea of youth being involved. The decisions made through the CRC process are indeed meant to be forward thinking for the next twenty years. Youth should be part of this conversation.

One thing is certain, this proposal has struck a chord. I am proud of that. I am proud for the young people for the conversation this proposal is inspiring. I also believe we must ask ourselves why were four Gunster attorneys hired, costing hundreds of dollars per hour, to speak against this CRC proposal? Is it because it would shift power from the legislative and executive branches of government to the judicial branch ~causing a more balanced “scale of justice?” It is because if #23 “A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment” were to go on the ballot, it would likely pass?

Of course if would. The people of Florida do want a right to a clean and healthful environment; feel like environmental interests have been kicked to the curb; and should as taxpaying citizens of the state of Florida have fair standing in a court of law. Is this really asking too much?

Student Kai Su pointed out that the language is “subject to the reasonable limitations as provided by law.” This would not be a litigation free for all, but rather the judicial branch would decide certain issues considering the present laws on the books. Right now this is not really a possibility. People have to sue together under groups like the Sierra Club. Use the Federal Clean Water Act. It’s so hard, individually, people don’t even try.

Why shouldn’t citizens have standing on their own? As mentioned, the present scale is tipped so that state agencies, talking direction from the executive and  legislative branches, have full authority to give protection to polluters under Florida Statues 403.412 (e), and the Florida Constitutions is so vague –offering only “adequate provision” it is really useless. Today, the Department of Environmental Protection joyfully gives out permits to corporations and business entities while the concerns of the people of Florida’s are mostly ignored.

*(Florida Statutes 403.401 https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2013/403.412 provides  citizens rights  and then nullifies all in section e. )

I recognize that Great Dragon and its armies are against this proposal, but I see the light.  I see the faces of the young people and their desire for the their children and grandchildren  to be able to jump into a clean river or spring; catch a fish they can eat; hold the miracle of a seahorse in the palm of their hand; to feel the speed of boating without contaminated toxic algae spray against their face.

Kids in Florida springs, photo courtesy of John Moran.

Before Tuesday’s meeting I felt it was important to try to compromise, so I did reach out.  I asked a representative from the opposition if there was any common ground we could work on together for future generations. I waited a few days for an answer. The answer was there was no interest in any part of this proposal going into the Florida constitution…

Hmmm…

I think will go forward the best I can with proposal #23 . Head up…My job is to herald this through for future for future generations. And although rejected in compromise, we will ameliorate the language to strike the words: scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the that most concerned the opposition and rewrite “any person” to read:

“Any citizen of the state of Florida, but not a corporation, may enforce this right against any party, public or private, subject to reasonable limitations as provided by law.”

Because every citizen does have the right to a clean and healthful environment.

Kids jumping near Sandbar, Martin County, Fl. photo shared Barbara Osbourne
____________________________________

Original proposal:

  CRC - 2017                                                  P 23



       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch

       thurlowlj-00038-17                                      201723__
    1                         A proposal to amend
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         establish that every person has a right to a clean and
    4         healthful environment.
    5
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) The natural resources of the state are the legacy of
   27  present and future generations. Every person has a right to a
   28  clean and healthful environment, including clean air and water;
   29  control of pollution; and the conservation and restoration of
   30  the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the
   31  environment as provided by law. Any person may enforce this
   32  right against any party, public or private, subject to
   33  reasonable limitations, as provided by law.

CRC original proposal #23: https://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0023/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

AIF Press Release regarding CRC proposal #23, expression concerns: http://www.aif.com/information/2017/pr171127.html

*Thank you for the many emails I have received from every-day people in  support on Proposal #23! Here are a couple:

St  Lucie River at sunset, photo by Todd Thurlow.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner; *this proposal will go before the Judicial Committee 12-12-17. You can support or voice concerns about this proposal by writing the Judicial Committee here: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/

Follow #23 here: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0023

Find all committees go here:http://flcrc.gov/Committees

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here: http://www.flcrc.gov

Time for Florida’s Constitution to Say “No” to Coastal Oil and Gas Drilling

A bird covered in oil after the Deep Water Horizon explosion, 2010. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.
Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, courtesy of Associated Press,  2010.

When I moved to Pensacola Beach, Florida to teach high school in the early 1990s, I was surprised to see that the local community was marching in the streets protesting oil drilling. “Lucky we don’t have to do that in South Florida,” I thought. Here it is over 25 years later, and I am writing about why the Florida Constitution should say “no” to oil and gas drilling off all Florida beaches.

The final Constitution Revision Commission (CRC: http://flcrc.gov) proposal I am sponsoring is #91: “A proposal to amend Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction in specified coastal waters.”

This proposal came to my attention through Mr Manley Fuller, the president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, and well-known Tallahassee attorneys Patsy Palmer and Sandy D’Alemberte. This once “citizen initiative” was filed with the Secretary of State and supporters had begun to collect signatures.

As you may know, in Florida, one way the public has a right to propose amendments to Florida’s Constitution is through a citizen initiative petition process. The process is very expensive and incredibly arduous. Some, over time, are successful.

What I have learned in my time, this year, serving as a Constitution Revision Commissioner is that the five different ways an idea can get into the constitution are all connected. (The 5 ways: http://www.floridataxwatch.org/resources/pdf/ConstAmends.pdf)

For instance, an idea may start in the legislature and fail; so someone turns it into a citizens initiative years later, and that may not get all the signatures it needs; so the CRC rolls around and someone like me picks it again! And so on…Getting changes into Florida’s constitution is a “process.” If the idea has importance for voters, it’s about keeping the ball  in the air!

With the possibility of the federal government getting closer and closer to opening oil drilling off all Florida, and every newspaper writing about this in the state, we must be aware that some members of our State Legislature have forgotten or were not here for the Deep Water Horizon disaster. They see oil and gas drilling as a positive.  The time is now for Florida voters to make a constitutional statement that it is not.

http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/06/06/should-the-government-allow-seismic-testing-for-oil-deposits-off-floridas-atlantic-coast/

Before I close, Let’s ask ourselves: how do drilling rights work anyway?

Oil drilling leases are complicated and they involve all levels of government. The Federal Government’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act  govern federal jurisdiction over submerged lands on the Outer Shelf.  However, the Submerged Lands Act of 1953 grants individual States rights to the natural resources of submerged lands from the coastline to no more thane 3 nautical miles. Florida, though, due to foresight those before us, is an exception.  Our boarders are defined in our state constitution in Article 11 Section 1, to include the eastern edge of the ever-moving Gulf Stream, or three miles off, what ever is further, and 3 marine leagues into the Gulf of Mexico (almost 10 miles). This is much more than most states get! Voters could make this language even stronger.

As always it will be a balance, a fight, between powers, but having a strong Florida Constitution will help tremendously in holding our own. As a peninsula at sea surrounded by beaches that bring in billions of dollars, and define the mystique of the state, oil and gas drilling is not a benefit here. The risk it too high; it’s simply is not worth it.

“No” to Coastal Oil & Gas Drilling”  #91: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0091

       CRC - 2017                                                  P 91



       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch

       thurlowlj-00106-17                                      201791__
    1                         A proposal to amend
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction
    4         in specified coastal waters.
    5
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) To protect the people of Florida and their environment,
   27  oil drilling for exploration or extraction is prohibited in and
   28  beneath all state waters between the mean high tide line and the
   29  outermost boundaries of the state’s territorial seas. This
   30  prohibition does not apply to the transportation of oil and gas
   31  products produced outside of such waters. This section is self
   32  executing.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner. This proposal has not been referred to a committee yet, but you can support is by writing any of the commissioners, especially the Chair, here: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

In this file photo made June 3, 2010, a brown pelican covered in oil sits on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Florida’s Outer Continental Shelf: https://www.boem.gov/Outer-Continental-Shelf/

Florida Senate Legal Issue and State Authority Related to Territorial Waters: http://archive.flsenate.gov/data/Publications/2008/Senate/reports/interim_reports/pdf/2008-142ju.pdf

Pensacola News Journal 2017: http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2017/10/19/dont-open-eastern-gulf-mexico-offshore-drilling-guestview/780605001/

Panama City: http://www.newsherald.com/news/20170816/our-view-deadline-for-comment-on-drilling-is-now

Tampa Bay Times: http://web.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/trumps-executive-order-on-offshore-oil-drilling-sets-up-clash-with-florida/2322047

Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article147492219.html

* As of 11-20-17: This proposal has not yet been referred to a committee/s; it should be within a few weeks: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Adding “Wildlife Corridors” to the Florida Constitution, Giving FWC Broader Authority to Protect Wildlife Habitat

Photo courtesy of Sightseeing Miami

“We must prioritize fish and wildlife habitat connectivity in future.” Manley Fuller, President, Florida Wildlife Federation, http://www.fwfonline.org

The Florida Wildlife Commission could have more authority to protect wildlife should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #48 be introduced on the 2018 ballot. This proposal, submitted by Cape Coral environmental legend, former service member, teacher and school principal, Mr Carl Veaux, would amend Section 9 of Article IV of the Florida constitution “to provide that the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall exercise the regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to habitats, including wildlife corridors…”
Full text proposal # 48: http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0048/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

Before I continue, I would like to state that I have sponsored Mr Veaux’s public proposal, #801227, that is one of thousands of proposals, many addressing wildlife and conservation issues, that were submitted to the Constitution Revision Commission, (CRC) and brought to the attention of the commissioners during the public hearings.

Mr Veaux, though, stood out. He was very persistent in his communications with me. I came to learn through his multiple calls and emails something that I had not listened hard enough to hear. When he sensed my fatigue, Mr Veaux informed me, “…don’t you know, I speak for the animals.” I woke up.

I am also supporting this proposal because there is a need to define “wildlife corridors,” and work through the controversial details. We must step up and do this, as a CRC body, because protecting wildlife corridors in our constitution is the most logical and effective way to address and direct wildlife conservation for future generations.

~As the Florida Chamber reports, Florida is twenty million strong, and six million more people are coming by 2030. Florida’s time has arrived. Our land, waters, and natural habitats are “of the essence…” The next CRC will not come for another 20 years. We must now do something for wildlife and the environment. (http://www.flchamber.com/did-you-know-that-floridas-population-could-increase-to-nearly-26-million-by-2030/)

Visit Florida Wildlife Corridor: http://floridawildlifecorridor.org

So just in case you do not know, what is a “wildlife corridor” is anyway…To animals, lands that are not connected for travel, territory, food, shelter, raising young, and “socializing” are not as valuable as those lands that are CONNECTED.

You may have been exposed to this terminology through “The Florida Wildlife Corridor?” In my opinion, The Florida Wildlife Corridor is the most impressive conservation effort happening in Florida today. You can learn about its ambitious goal to connect lands throughout Florida by clicking on the link above.

Years ago, I heard through the grape vine that Attorney General Pam Bondi likes this program. Although I have never asked her about it, every time I walk by her office in Tallahassee I notice the most beautiful eagle painting hanging in her office. A clue!

For larger  image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Now for the Florida Wildlife Commission also known as FWC: http://myfwc.com;

(http://myfwc.com/about/overview/programs/mission-benefits/)

The Florida Wildlife Commission is part of the executive branch; they are an executive agency. Their board members are appointed by the governor; however they are very independent. Their mission is to “managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.”

So how would this work to affect the the constitution?

According to Florida Audubon, (http://fl.audubon.org) the “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission operates with Florida Constitutional authority to regulate direct impacts to fish and wildlife including protected species. For state Threatened species, they can require minimization or mitigation for impacts to the habitat of species that are designated as state Threatened, but there is no comprehensive way for them to engage on threats to the habitat of not-yet-listed species, or impacts to habitat that individually may not cause take to threatened species, but cumulatively will cause tremendous harm.”

The protection of wildlife cannot be accomplished without protecting their habitat; this amendment would give FWC the authority they need to achieve the work they’ve been tasked with. And that authority would extend to corridors needed by certain species.

So the proposed change would simply allow, but not require, the seven person appointed FWC to establish rules and permits limiting impacts to habitat in the same way they currently establish limits on impacts to individual animals.

Proposal #48 belongs in the constitution. There will be a things to work out, there always are but I think “we’re covered.”  When I asked Mr. Veaux, who is 79 years old, if he could come to Tallahassee to speak on the issue, he said not, “Tallahassee is a long way, but that should not be a problem the wild animals all over the state are spreading the word!”

http://www.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com/page/content.detail/id/611218/Cape-environmentalist-honored-by-Audubon.html?nav=5011

Proposal #48  is sponsored in honor of Mr Carl Veaux

Savannas State Preserve, St Lucie County, JTL
Wildflower, Savannas State Preserve, JTL
A wonderful photo of a Black Bear, public.
Wild turkeys are very important to Mr Veaux. He speaks of the Osceola Turkey and their importance to Florida’s economy as many tourist/hunters come to hunt or see the bird. Of course, land is necessary for the birds’ success. Photo public.
Wildflower Savannas State Preserve, Martin County, FL. JTL
The belle of the ball! A gorgeous snowy egret, a bird once close to eradication during the 1800/1900s bird-feathers/ladies-hat fashion-craze. The thoughtless destruction of birds and leaving the their young to die was the inspiration for Florida Audubon that was founded  in Maitland, Florida and remains one of the major influences in conservation today.
Silver Springs area, Ocala, Florida, JTL
Stillness of nature. Silver Springs area, JTL
Roseate spoonbills and many other water birds feeding! Photo courtesy of Everglades Trust website.
Eagle pair, Martin County, Florida, Dr Scott Kuhns.

FWC is part of Article IV, Executive, in Florida’s constitution : http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner, *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee November 28th. You can support this proposal by writing the Executive Committee here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

2014’s Amendment 1 Ignored! Clarifying Intent for the Legislature in Florida’s Constitution

Everyone has heard the story….Florida voted 75% in favor the 2014’s citizen’s initiative,  “Amendment 1,” and once it was in the constitution, the hard-earned constitutional amendment was “ignored” or “reinterpreted” by the state legislature…

In 2015 the Tampa Bay Times wrote: “Few betrayals of the public trust have played out so openly and brazenly as the Florida Legislature’s fraudulent effort to implement Amendment 1, the land-buying measure that three-fourths of voters overwhelmingly approved five months ago. This should be a banner year for protecting the state’s endangered lands. Instead, Amendment 1 is becoming a bait-and-switch that would take Florida back — not forward — in saving its natural resources.” (http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-legislators-ignore-voter-intent-on-amendment-1/2227235)

As a commissioner for the Constitution Revision Commission for 2017/18, (http://flcrc.gov) I have sponsored proposal #46 to help fix this issue. Brought to my attention by long time Martin County Native Plant Society member, Mrs Joan Baush, and crafted together with policy advisor, Sue Mullins, and environmental legend, Clay Henderson, this proposal follows at least seven others submitted to the CRC on the subject, not to mention the numerous requests of multiple speakers during the Constitutional Revision Commissions’ statewide public hearings.

The purpose of proposal #46 (originally public proposal #700705) is to “clarify that a percentage of doc-stamp tax revenues will be devoted to the purchase and care of scientifically selected and publicly supported land and water areas for the purposes of conservation.”  An explanation, and the proposal are below. To support, please write members of the Legislative Committee, where this will first be heard: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/

The CRC comes around only every 20 years, and is one of five ways Florida can amend its constitution; thus the time is now! Let’s get this clarified!

Land Acquisition Trust Fund Amendment

Section 28, Article X

Explanation

Purpose

This proposed Amendment to S. 28, ART. X is to clarify that a percentage of doc stamp tax revenues will be devoted to the purchase and care of scientifically selected and publicly supported land and water areas for the purposes of conservation.

Background

  1. On November 4, 2014, Florida voters approved the Florida Land and Water Conservation Amendment 1 by 75%.
  1. But the 2015 Legislature determined that the broadness of the measure already allowed them to spend the earmarked revenue of a wide array of programs through the Land Acquisition Trust Fund—some not at all environmental in substance—as well as supplant existing agency operations funding with the “new” Amendment 1 dollars.
  1. The measure was designed to dedicate 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, where it was assumed its namesake Land Acquisition Trust Fund would denote the purpose and intent of the amendment to acquire and manage environmentally sensitive land.
  1. Because the drafters of Amendment 1 used the Land Acquisition Trust Fund as the receiving account (thinking it would be obvious the intent for the use of funds), without specifying an amount strictly dedicated to land acquisition, they allowed for all expenditures provided in s.375.041, F.S. governing use of funds for the LATF, which at the time, allowed for virtually anything the Legislature wanted to fund.
  1. Once the measure passed by an overwhelming 75% of the Florida electorate, supporters assumed that at least $300 million annually would be devoted to the Florida Forever program. The amount, over 20 years, was thought to finish the job of securing the lands necessary to protect our natural resources, drinking water, habitat and industries such as agriculture and tourism.
  1. That did not happen (see below.).

 

What this Amendment Does

  1. The intent of this new Land Acquisition Trust Fund Amendment to S. 28, ART. X is to clarify that a percentage of doc stamp tax revenues will be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund to purchase and care for scientifically selected and publicly supported land and water areas for the purposes of conservation.
  1. The proposal simply amends language passed in 2014 as the Land and Water Legacy Amendment 1 by depositing the earmarked funds in an appropriate Trust Fund and clarifying the purposes for use of those funds.
  1. A specified amount, no less than one third of the revenue deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, is earmarked for deposit into the Florida Forever Trust Fund as it existed in law on January 1, 2017.
  1. This language recognizes that the LATF and other doc stamp-funded accounts should continue to have a suitable amount of revenue to support existing programs such as Springs and Everglades protection, beaches, and local government water projects.
  1. More specificity has been provided in the new amendment by striking the phrase “and improvement” to ensure that Florida Forever funds are spent per the science-based regimen contained within statute (s. 259.105, F.S.), and by adding the phrase “natural” to the type of resources authorized for expenditure.
  1. This Florida Forever Amendment will fix the issue to provide funding to accomplish a majority of Florida’s conservation work through dedicating a set amount each year (depending on revenue, from $175 to $300 million) to be spent according to current statute governing the proven, science-based, willing-seller Florida Forever program.

Implementation of Original Amendment 1

  1. In 2014, a broad coalition of environmental, business and civic leaders proposed the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, which became Amendment 1 to the Florida Constitution. The intent was to recapture the annual amount of funds devoted to land conservation by earmarking a third of the revenue from the doc stamp tax and depositing it into the Land Acquisition TF for the purposes of buying, managing and restoring environmental lands. The measure passed by 75% of voters.
  1. But the Legislature interpreted and appropriated Amendment 1 spending to include agency salaries, IT, risk management insurance, agency vehicles and other non-conservation uses.
  1. The statute has also since been amended to accommodate implementation, per legislative judgement of Amendment 1, to include dedicated funds for Everglades restoration, Springs protection and spending on a broad array of programs and agency expenses.

Historical Context

  1. Florida had a long and distinguished history of scientifically targeting and purchasing the right lands for conservation and recreation purposes since the 1970s, throughout both Republican (Martinez, Bush, Crist) and Democratic (Graham, Chiles) administrations.
  1. Those lands today provide most of the natural resources to support our drinking water supplies, food crops, economic activities and attractive recreational destinations.
  1. The annual funds devoted to Florida Forever had been $300 million, usually issued in bonds paid back by revenue from the documentary stamp tax. Creators of the land programs specifically used the doc stamp tax for its revenue source in order to tie land acquisition to sales in real estate, since all land sales in Florida were assessed a documentary stamp tax.
  1. In 2008, the Legislature discontinued funding for the state’s land conservation program, Florida Forever, citing a poor economy.
  1. Once the economic recovery took hold in Florida, where the state economy in 2013 led the nation in job growth and overall recovery (per University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith in his first quarter economic forecast on March 25, 2014), it was assumed that the state conservation program funds would be replenished.
  1. Since 2010, the Legislature has declined to fund the non-regulatory approach to environmental protection through land acquisition. Funding for the Florida Forever program has not been reinstated.
  1. The Florida Forever program is hugely successful and is the most often-copied land conservation program in the country. It is based on a scientific analysis of which lands in Florida hold the most natural resource value—those that help cleanse water or purify air, create habitat for fish and wildlife, create corridors for the movement of native plants and animals across the landscape and support the water and wildlife necessary to keep our agricultural, tourism and quality of life intact.
  1. Under its conservation programs, the state has protected almost 5 million of its 37.5 million acres. Together with federal conservation lands, almost 9 million acres is in some form of public management, although thousands of those acres belong to the state corrections and management services agencies, military bases and universities, and are not managed for conservation.
  1. The state has identified an additional 2.2 million acres that should be conserved in some form from conversion to more intensive uses. That doesn’t always necessitate outright full-fee purchase of the property, but could be accomplished using a combination of purchase and conservation easements across large corridors of working lands such as ranches to provide habitat and water resource protection.

Expected Support

  1. Dozens of speakers addressing the Constitution Revision Commission during its public hearings voiced their frustration and disappointment with the Legislature’s use of Amendment 1 funds, and appealed for a fix to the issue to accommodate their intent to fund the land acquisition program.
  1. This new Land Acquisition Trust Fund Amendment is likely to pass by at least 75% of the electorate, even with paid opposition. Previous polls taken by the Florida Chamber have shown 78% support statewide, despite opposition from various anti-conservation groups.
  1. Virtually all news outlets endorsed 2014 Amendment 1 and are already writing of their support for a fix that will finally codify the will of Florida voters.
  1. Some counties, including Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie, voted more than 80% in support of Amendment 1. Even inland rural counties supported the measure by a vote of at least 40% in support (see map at beginning of this post.)

Florida Constitution: To read the present language go to Article X, “Miscellaneous,” Section 28, “Land Acquisition Trust Fund:” http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

CRC Proposal #46 is linked and below: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0046/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

  CRC - 2017                                                  P 46



       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch

       thurlowlj-00052-17                                      201746__
    1                         A proposal to amend
    2         Section 28 of Article X of the State Constitution to
    3         revise the manner of the distribution of funds that
    4         are deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund
    5         from a portion of the net revenues derived from the
    6         excise tax on documents.
    7
    8  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    9  Florida:
   10
   11         Section 28 of Article X of the State Constitution is
   12  amended to read:
   13                              ARTICLE X
   14                            MISCELLANEOUS
   15         SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund.—
   16         (a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of
   17  this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after
   18  that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall
   19  receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the
   20  existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in
   21  effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any
   22  successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue
   23  first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the
   24  collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
   25         (b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be
   26  expended only for the following purposes:
   27         (1) No less than one-third of the revenue must be deposited
   28  into the Florida Forever Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes
   29  in effect on January 1, 2017.
   30         (2) The remainder must be expended as provided by law, to
   31  finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land,
   32  water areas, and related property interests, including
   33  conservation easements, and natural resources for conservation
   34  lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife
   35  habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water
   36  resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting
   37  the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams,
   38  springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and
   39  aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and
   40  the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II,
   41  Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands,
   42  including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space;
   43  rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or
   44  geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural
   45  systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational
   46  enjoyment of conservation lands.
   47         (3)(2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to
   48  Article VII, Section 11(e) as may be required.
   49         (c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust
   50  Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012,
   51  shall not be or become commingled with the general revenue fund
   52  of the state.
Sunrise over Florida’s “Waters of the State,” SLR/IRL region.

Jacqui thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner of the Constitution Revision Commission; contact her at link or via this blog post: http://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

*This proposal was schedule to go before the Legislative Committee on 11-29-17 but has been postponed. Chances are it will go through in December. It must clear Legislative and General Provisions. You can write members of these committees to support or express concerns at any time: http://flcrc.gov/Committees

A Commissioner of Environmental Protection; A New Day, Voting Florida’s Environment a Seat at the Table

Sunrise St. Lucie River 1-29-16, John Whiticar.

A new day could dawn for Florida, should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #24 go on the 2018 ballot. This ballot initiative would allow the electorate to vote for  a “Commissioner of Environmental Protection.”

I sponsored this idea, an idea brought to the CRC’s attention by two speakers during the public hearing process, as well as by public proposal #700012, submitted by Mr. Gamez.

Formally expressed Proposal #24 reads:

“A proposal to amend Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV and create a new section in Article XII of the State Constitution to establish the office of Commissioner of Environmental Protection as a statewide elected officer, to provide duties of the commissioner, and to include the commissioner as a member of the Cabinet.”

Full Proposal #24: (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

Why do I support this idea? Because it is my job as a commissioner to get some of the thousands of public ideas before the CRC, and because I believe the “time is now” for the Environment to have a seat at the table with other cabinet positions.

Yes, environmental protection of natural resources must rise to the top of state priorities just as the state’s oldest and number two economic driver, agriculture, has.  Our Natural Resources must be represented in the Florida Cabinet. This year, the Florida Chamber reports that Florida’s population, now at 20,000,000 will reach 26,000,000 by 2030, in just twelve years! It is tourism that is Florida’s number one economic driver. Much of this success  is  based on the beauty and quality of our beaches, rivers, and springs, and natural lands. We all know, growing incidences of algae blooms in lakes, springs, and rivers, some in areas of natural lands,  is not good for tourism.

For best image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Let’s look at Florida government’s present hierarchy having to do with natural resources and discuss why it should be changed. The state’s present organizational chart shows a Commissioner of Agriculture as a cabinet position just under and to the right the Governor; a Fish and Wildlife Commission, and a  Department of Environmental Protection, as executive agencies under the executive branch of the Governor;  and the Water Management Districts in the lowest tier as  local government. Interestingly, the Water Management Districts are attached by a dotted line to the Department of Environmental Protection noting at “unique relationship.” This is qualified by the following sentence: “Water management districts have individual governing boards but the Department of Environmental Protection may exercise general supervisory authority over water management districts (s. 373.026(7), Florida Statutes).”

The Fish and Wildlife Commission much more independent, but the Water Management Districts are not. Because Water Management Districts levy taxes from citizens as a special district one must be cognizant  so that they not become “arm of the state.” But what would be even worse would be if the Water Management Districts were not answering to the people they tax…

Hmmmm?

It is time to have a “lead agency.” An agency that can answer to the people.

Let’s discuss leadership. Right now there is no clear environmental protection leader. For instance, in my opinion, for a citizen trying to get answers about why our environment is falling apart the Water Management Districts are pointing in one direction; the Department of Water Quality for the Commissioner of Agriculture’s Best Management Practices is pointing in another; and because the present Department of Environmental Protection is at the whim of politics of every new administration; they are weak, and afraid to lead. With every new governor the pendulum swings. The DEP is unable to fulfill its mission as the state’s lead agency of environmental protection.

And all the while our environment keeps falling apart…

On a personal note, for years, here in South Florida, I complained about the demise of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and surrounding environment and pushed for more action on behalf of the South Florida Water Management District.  After years of head nods, I was finally told by a Governing Board member that the District’s number one priority is not water quality, but flood control and that I should be speaking to DEP.

“Why didn’t you tell me that earlier,” I exclaimed.

When I contacted Department of Environmental Protection their response was lackadaisical noting that many entities of the state oversee water quality and environmental issues. For instance, Best Management Practices for Agriculture, and the complicated DEP Basin Management Action Plans/Total Maximal Daily Loads in coordination with the Water Management Districts, and all local governments including cities, counties, villages…

“But who is in charge?” I asked? “The St Lucie River has been labeled “impaired” by your agency since 2002. Why was it allowed to get that bad in the first place and why is it continuing to get worse?”

Again I asked, ” Who is in charge?”

There was silence…

I thought to myself,  “No wonder the Department of Environmental Protection is sometimes  referred to as the agency of “Don’t Expect Protection.” No wonder every year more of the state’s waters are reported as “impaired.” No wonder D.E.P., Agriculture, and the Water Districts collude to extend the Basin Management Action Plan deadlines instead of getting more serious about the detrimental ramifications of non-point pollution for the people.

Enough is enough. The time is now to give voters the opportunity to vote for a  Commissioner of Environmental  Protection and finally have a seat at the table.

This homemade chart shows a Commissioner of Environmental Protection being created from the present Dept. of En. Pro.

Proposal #24

The commissioner of environmental protection shall have
   63  supervision of matters pertaining to environmental protection
   64  that the Department of Environmental Protection or its successor
   65  agency and water management districts are required or authorized
   66  by law to implement and administer.

Full text:  (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

____________________________________________________

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner; *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee sometime in December or January. If it gets through that committee it will have to make it through both General Provisions and Ethics and Elections.  You can support or voice concerns about this proposal by first writing the Executive here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Follow here: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024 

Find all committees here:http://flcrc.gov/Committees

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

Links:

Commissioner of Agriculture/Dept of WQ: Best Management Practices: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Business-Services/Water/Agricultural-Best-Management-Practices

Department of Environmental Protection: https://floridadep.gov

Florida’s Water Management Districts: https://floridadep.gov/water-policy/water-policy/content/water-management-district

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission: http://myfwc.com

Florida Chamber Water: (http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/water-solutions/)

Florida Chamber Tourism: (Tourism:http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/tourism/)

_________________________________________________

Recent pictures of our Florida environment  that are NOT  good for tourist!

Alan Youngblood, Florida Springs, -when too much water is taken from the aquifer by permitted users it affects the health of Florida’s springs, 2013.
St Lucie River, toxic algae bloom brought into river from discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Best Management Practices and Basin Management Action Plans are not working fast enough. Tourism suffered in Martin County by millions of dollars in lost revenue and health issues for local citizens. 2016, JTL
Algae pouring in from Lake Okeechobee to St Lucie River at S-80—this water comes mostly  from polluted Central Florida waters; obviously DEP’s environmental protection is not working. 2016.

_________________________________________________________

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Learn about:

THE FLORIDA CABINET

http://cabinet.myflorida.com

In 1998 the Constitutional Revision Commission proposed a rewrite of Article IV, Section IV of the Florida Constitution that reduced the Florida Cabinet from six elected officials to three. Effective January 7, 2003, the Florida Cabinet consists of the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture. The Cabinet offices of Secretary of State and Commissioner of Education became appointed offices and their respective agencies became the responsibility of the Governor. The revised constitution also created a new State Board of Education with seven members appointed by the Governor to oversee the Department of Education. The Cabinet offices of Treasurer and Comptroller were merged into the new position of Chief Financial Officer who serves as agency head for the newly created Department of Financial Services.