Tag Archives: Land Acquisition Trust Fund

“Florida, the Land of Enchantment?” Then Re-fund Florida Forever. P46, CRC


Recently, I convinced my husband, Ed, to come up to Tallahassee with me for the “State of the State” reception at the Governor’s mansion.

It was very exciting; however, we had waited in line for almost an hour, to shake hands with the Governor and First Lady, when a secret service man told me we weren’t going to make the cut. The line was cut off one person in front of me!

“You’re kidding? That’s a bummer.” I thought. “Maybe they’ve had enough of my controversial Constitution Revision Commission environmental proposals? Perhaps I’ve been put on the Affiliated Industries of Florida’s blacklist? Just chance? Hmmm. I can handle it, but poor Ed!”

I tried to negotiate with the secret service man. He was not budging.

While I moped, Ed seemed unaffected, rolled his eyes, smiled, and headed for the bar.

I, on the other hand, could not let go. I was determined to have the Governor see me, or for me to see the Governor, so I moved as far to the front of the room as I could.

When I was right up with the crowd surrounding the Governor, I saw an empty chair. I didn’t see any secret service men staring at me, so I sat in the chair. I could see everything!

But, right at that moment the Governor, First Lady, and crew made a quick exit, and I was sitting there in my black dress, and fake fur, trying to look cool, gazing purposely at a book on the side table.

It was beautiful, very old, and entitled,”Florida Land of Enchantment.” Old-fashioned keys covered the historic book’s fading green face. I stared at it thinking about how the mystique of Florida is “what built Florida.” And how that historic mystique was, and remains, built on the enchantment of Florida’s lands.

Well, Ed and I didn’t get to shake hands with the Governor or First Lady, but I got to see this magnificent book and I’ll never forget it.

This Friday, at 11:00 am, my fourth CRC proposal, P46, or Land Acquisition Trust Fund, goes before the CRC Legislative Committee. The goal of P46 is to have a very needed conversation and to clarify language in Article X, Section 28 of Florida’s Constitution (Amendment 1, 2014) and direct the state legislature to deposit no less that one third of the revenue, not to exceed 300 million annually, into the Florida Forever Trust Fund. This money would go specifically to conservation land purchase as prioritized by the long standing and once “always funded” Florida Forever program.

I already know, there are many reasons, and many conspiracy theories, about why the state legislature has stopped funding Florida Forever. And no matter what occurs at the CRC meeting, the proposal will not be self-executing. We cannot force the legislature to spend money a certain way. That is their prerogative, a power that is derived for them alone from the state constitution.

But a strong message can be sent. A directive can be given. And shouldn’t they listen? They should.

How many years has that book been sitting by the table? Governors and legislatures will come and go, but if “Florida, the land of enchantment,” is to remain, we must continue to invest in Florida Forever.

Florida Forever: https://floridadep.gov/lands/environmental-services/content/florida-forever

Legislative Meeting, CRC: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/

The Best Constitutional Recipe is “Self-Executing,” SLR/IRL

Serving on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission the past year, I have learned quite a bit. Ingredients certainly have their place in the cookbook of Tallahassee, but the final recipe followed belongs to those in power.

Unless…you can come up with a recipe that is failsafe, a recipe that is “self executing.”

Let’s review a definition of self-executing: “A constitutional provision is selfexecuting when it can be given effect without the aid of legislation, and there is nothing to indicate that legislation is intended to make it operative.”

Remember P23, “A Right to Clean and Healthful Environment?” My proposal that was met with tremendous statewide opposition, the one Affiliated Industries of Florida hired four Gunster attorney’s to fight? The proposal that was voted down on January 12 by the Judicial Committee?

I believe that proposal was “so threatening” because many believed, or wanted to believe, that the proposal was “self executing.” Meaning if it got into the Florida constitution, like a light switch everything would just change as it would go into effect without direction from the legislature.

Let’s look at the language of P23

   (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.

On the other hand, if you look at the language for Amendment 1, 2014 that passed by 74.9% by Citizen Initiative, the language is definitely not-self executing.” The legislature has to “make it operative” —as it has to do with money, appropriations….

Florida Constitution, Article X

SECTION 28.Land Acquisition Trust Fund.

(a)Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
(b)Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes:(1)As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.
(2)To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e).
(c)The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the general revenue fund of the state.

So now Amendment 1 2014, has sat in the Florida constitution since 2015 and funds have been spent have been spent for agency salaries, risk management, vehicles, but not conservation land purchase.

Why because the language is not self-executing. And because the state legislature is not minding the will of the people.

As a CRC member, I took on P46, now know as Article X, Section 28, Land Acquisition Trust Fund because the public repeatedly asked the CRC to address this issue during the public hearings and on-line.

I am now realizing even with new language, or an amendment,  Land Acquisition Trust Fund will remain non-self executing.

I can fight for the intent of Amendment 1, 2014, and that I will, but I cannot make Article x, Section 28 Land Acquisition Trust Fund self-executing. For that we need new cooks in the kitchen.

 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.

P46 will go before the CRC Legislative Committee on Friday, January 26. You can write committee members here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the 2018 CRC: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Summary, CRC Committee Week 12-11-17, “Cease-Fire-2; Win-1”

Tallahassee is a beautiful place. Having spent more time there recently, I have grown to appreciate it. Sometimes, in the early morning, as the sun is rising over the hills,  I envision Apalachee warriors and families approaching “Anhaica,” their capital. There is a lot of sacred ground here…

Today, I will summarize week 12-11-17. For me, there were battles won, and cease-fires. And the war for Florida’s environment will continue. Thank you to all who wrote members of committees in support in the previous weeks!

Sunset Stuart
St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Photo Jenny Flaugh.

P23 http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0023 (cease-fire)

On Tuesday, December 12th, I presented proposal P23, ” A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment,” to the Judicial Committee (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/). I am proud to say P23 has caused a stir, is making people think, and generating tremendous resistance from the “entrenched-status-quo-power” of the government and business communities as it would give every-day Floridians more standing in court for a clean environment. Power would shift to the judicial, rather than the executive and legislative branches of government, and some agencies would be no longer be “puppets.”

The presentation went well, however, based on comments from many members of the committee, and feedback, I felt the vote would not pass. I was offered a “TP” or “temporary postponement” in order to work on the language as I had not been successful at this —with the opposition —-who refused to do so the previous two weeks. They want “no part of P23 in the constitution.”

Unlike local government, where a commission or council  can adjust the language of an ordinance during the meeting, this cannot occur during a CRC committee meeting, so the only way to achieve such is to “postpone” and “work on” prior to the next meeting— and try again. (Very inefficient)…

So, I look forward to working on the language, but I am concerned that ameliorating the language to an acceptable point for the opposition will be so far away from the spirit of the original proposal it may not be recognizable or effective. This would not be good.

In the end, it will be the students of Stetson and Barry Universities and their professors who created P23, a totally public proposal, who will give me final direction.

P23 will go before the Judicial Committee again when called. Chances are this will be in January 2018. It could pass; it could die; it could be withdrawn. Should it pass, it will have to go also to the General Provisions committee, and then to the full CRC for a final vote to go to ballot.

The greatest aspect of P23 is working with young people who are our future generation of leaders because as the proposal states: “the natural resources of the state are the legacy of present and future generations…”

Florida Channel video of Judicial Committee meeting and P23 presentation, 1st in line: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/12-12-17-constitution-revision-commission-judicial-committee/

Jim Turner reporting P23, Daily Business Review: https://www.law.com/dailybusinessreview/sites/dailybusinessreview/2017/12/13/environmental-proposal-delayed-amid-business-outcry/?slreturn=20171119081526

Amd ! 2014 Water and Land Legacy victorybycounty-75bluegreen

P46 https://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0046 (cease-fire)

On Wednesday, 12-13-17, I presented P46, to the Legislative Committee (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/) to “Clarity Language in Article X, Section 28, of the Florida Constitution, Land Acquisition Trust Fund.” Ms. Sue Mullins, who came to my attention through Stuart’s Joan Bausch and the Native Plant Society, was very helpful and knowledgeable and assisted during the presentation. Again, the proposal was “TP-ed” as Chair Pepe Diaz and others such as former Senate President, Tom Lee said they could not support P46 as written and recommended working together on the language. I am confident they meant this, and we shall try between now and when the committee meets again in January. Their concerns are funding requirements, appropriations, of the state legislature; and our concern is the Legislature ignoring a 2014 citizen initiative that passed by 75% for land conservation. P46 too must  go to General Provisions should it pass, and then to the whole CRC for a vote to possibly go on ballot.

Florida Channel of Legislative Committee meeting, 2nd in line: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/12-13-17-constitution-revision-commission-legislative-committee/

screenshot
OILED SCARLET IBIS – Lindsay Carr Created 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.

P91 http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0091 (win)

On Thursday, 12-14-17, I presented P91 “No Oil or Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Waters.” This was an interesting experience as I was presenting to the committee I chair, General Provisions. (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/GP/)

As a presenter, I am just like anybody else.

Mr David R. Mica, Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council, AIF, and other business interests spoke against, but fortunately, Mr Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and citizens spoke “for,” and were quite convincing. There were even two young children in the audience rooting me on! I was very pleased when the committee voted 5 to 2 in favor of P91! P91 will now go to the Declaration of Rights Committee (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/DR/) in January, and then if passes, again, to the full commission to possibly go on 2018 ballot.

Florida Channel General Provisions, 1st in line:
https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/12-14-17-constitution-revision-commission-general-provisions-committee/

WFSU’s Lynn Hatter:http://news.wfsu.org/post/move-ban-offshore-oil-and-gas-drilling-gets-underway

It was an exciting week. There are many more battles to be fought; and I so appreciate your support and assistance.

.Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.24.26 PM

Sunrise in Tallahassee, JTL

jacqui _MG_1455a_small_Robert_Holland_original

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, CRC 2018: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

IMG_2448

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.

 

A Letter to CRC Commissioners, and Citizens of the Great State of Florida; 5 ~Environmental Proposals

 

CRC constitution+revision+commission

CRC: http://flcrc.gov

November 21, 2017

Dear Fellow Commissioners, and Citizens of the Great State of Florida:

As many of you know, I firmly believe our quality of life as citizens and our state’s economic vitality greatly relies on the protection and preservation of our environment.

As we begin our important work of examining proposals in committee, I wanted to share additional information about the following five proposals I have sponsored to protect Florida’s natural treasures for future generations.

Sunset Stuart
St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon (Photo Jenny Flaugh)

1) Proposal 23: At the basis of my environmental protection argument, I believe above all Floridians should have a constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. Read more about this proposal at the following link: https://t.co/JZiYwr0kMf. I also recently authored an OpEd on this topic in TCPalm at the following link: http://bit.ly/2zSqrl9.

screenshot 2
http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

2) Proposal 24: I propose an elected “Commissioner of Environmental Protection” who will have supervision regarding matters pertaining to environmental protection that the Department of Environmental Protection and the Water Management Districts are authorized to implement and administer. Read more about this proposal at the following link: https://t.co/D5lEgRFxNe.

Amd ! 2014 Water and Land Legacy victorybycounty-75bluegreen

3) Proposal 46: This proposal would help clarify how funds are deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Read more about this proposal at the following link: https://t.co/x37BxRu2sj.

florida_panther
Sightseeing Miami

4) Proposal 48: This proposal would give the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission authority to establish rules limiting impacts to habitat, and wildlife corridors, in the same way they currently establish limits on impacts to individual animals. Read more about this proposal at the following link: https://t.co/5Gh4BfPfIY.

PHOTObird1.source.prod_affiliate.91
A bird covered in oil after the Deep Water Horizon explosion, 2010. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

5) Proposal 91: This proposal would prohibit oil and gas drilling in Florida territorial waters. Read more about this proposal at the following link: https://t.co/IkCCIdd4Wj​.

The ongoing debate over the deterioration of our environment should not be about politics. Rather, it should be grounded in the welfare of our natural resources, our wildlife, and the citizens of our great state.

It is an honor to serve as a CRC commissioner. Please contact me if you would like more information or have questions and thank you.

Sincerely,

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.24.26 PM

Commissioner, & Chair, General Provisions

Constitution Revision Commission 2017/18

The Process:

These proposals will be, or have been referred to a committee, or multiple committees. If they “get through committee,” and are supported later in early 2018 during the  final public hearings, they will be voted on by the full CRC to go, or not to go, on the 2018 ballot. You can support or communicate concerns regarding these proposals by going to the CRC website above and writing the commissioners. If you are really determined you can go to the Committee tab and look at what each committee has before it and narrow it down when you write commissioners. You really have to check the website daily to follow. Anything you can do  is appreciated; we are a better state when we all make an effort to be part of the process.

CRC website: http://flcrc.gov/

Here you can see all the proposals and what committees they will be brought before: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

List of all commissioners and what proposals they have made: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

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

“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” Future Florida Forever Promises-Butter or Chiffon? SLR/IRL

My outdoor loving niece Julia Thurlow, Peace River trip, Martin County Bar Association.  Family photo 2009.

If you are like me, sometimes you read the headlines and ask yourself, “what is going on here?” Florida Forever? Amendment 1? Senate Bill 10?  House Bill 761?  And today? Representative Matt Caldwell, probably running to replace Adam Putnam’s cabinet position in the Dept. of Agriculture, (certainly friendly with the wishes of US Sugar Corporation) proposing “more land funding” for Florida Forever? Hmmmmm? What does that mean? Is there a  trap here? What’s the right thing? What’s going on anyway? How does all this work?

In order to try to answer some these questions, one has to take some time and study history….

In 1963, through the will of the people, the Florida Legislature began the Land Acquisition Trust Fund; in 1972 the Florida Legislature passed the Land Conservation Act for Environmentally Endangered Lands; in 1979 there was a major scandal as the Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources was convicted of taking kickbacks from a land acquisition transaction and thus emerged the Conservation and Recreation Lands Program with “broader administration and oversight of land acquisition activity; ” “CARL” as it came to be known, expanded in 1981 with Governor Bob Graham’s “Save Our Rivers” and “Save Our Coasts” programs; all the while the citizens of Florida demanded such;  Governor Bob Martinez continued the tradition by appointing a “Commission on Florida’s Future” that spawned the 1990 “phenomenal success” of the Preservation 2000 Act; the successor to Preservation 2000, through Governors Lawton Chiles and Jeb Bush was a name we all know and recognize, “Florida Forever.” 

Florida was on a roll supporting the wishes of the citizens to preserve the state’s natural beauty before it was plowed down for more agriculture  and development. Florida’s population was increasing exponentially…

So…..things are going “well.” The economy was growing. Florida was growing and the monies for land acquisition programs had evolved over the years to “tax the development that was causing a loss of open space in Florida.”  Thus ironically the destruction of the state became the source of funds for conserving  it. (Doc-stamp tax on the deed for real estate transactions ….) So when real estate was selling there were funds, when not there were not…

Fast forward to 2008. Some call it the Financial Crisis, some call it the Great Recession. Any of us who worked and lived through it, called it scary. During this time real estate values fell drastically. My husband and I in Sewall’s Point, Martin County,  lost 40% of the market value of our home almost overnight. In St Lucie County it was as high as 65%.

So even though at this time in 2008 right before/during the giant crash, the state legislature “promised” funding to Florida Forever at former levels, but they did not give it as they couldn’t. So instead they raided trust funds like Florida Forever to “keep the State’s doors open….” and funding for Florida Forever stopped flowing with the drought of Doc Stamp monies.

After a long dry spell, as the economy slowly improved, and people realized things were bad, but that it would not be a repeat of the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 30s, some confidence returned and once again the people of Florida rose up and spoke out to their political leaders about what was important to them.

By 2014, Amendment 1 (Florida Land and Water Legacy) was put on the ballot and eventually the Florida Constitution by a citizens’ initiative with a whopping  75% plus approval calling for 33% of doc stamp money towards land and water conservation. Palm Beach County, the land of the Everglades Agricultural Area and more commissioners gone to jail for land fraud than all the rest, was one of the highest voting blocks. The message was clear. “We are back on our feet, we want to protect Florida, fund land acquisition as before!”

The state legislature did not do this, the numbers go up and down, but never near pre 2008, and never close to 33% of doc stamp money as the intention of the initiative, so now there is a law suit by the Florida Wildlife Federation and others to force implementation thereof.  Continually, the legislature cries “separation of powers” and their right to interpret as “they know best….”

It is understandable that the recession has made us all more mindful, but this doesn’t mean we should forget about the environment, especially the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon.

Matt Caldwell? Yes, give more money to Florida Forever. But what is really behind your bill?

Joe Negron? He’s the real deal.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite commercials was Chiffon margarine. The message was that Chiffon tasted so much like butter it could even fool Mother Nature. When she found out she was mad and called on her powers with the animals surrounding her saying: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature….”

I say the same.

Stop fooling around state legislature and give us the butter. #SupportJoeNegron #SenateBill10

Chiffon Commercial: It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLrTPrp-fW8

Peace River

 

For a complete history of Florida Land acquisition from DEP please read here:
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/AcqHistory.htm

To see how monies are divided presently under Florida Forever see this DEP link:http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/fl_forever.htm

TCPALM, Caldwell/Florida Forever funding altered but “increased…” : http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/politics/2017/04/24/matt-caldwell-land-conservation-dollars-under-florida-forever/100846576/