On Monday, I had Ed drive me to the lake. I needed to see it face-to-face, and be reminded of why I am driven to protect Florida’s environment.
It was a beautiful, chilly, day and as I lay on the warm earth, soaking it all in, Ed snapped a photo. I laughed when I saw it, thinking it summarized my experience at the Constitution Revision Commission last week in Tallahassee.
A triple knock out.
But I am back up, and today will fill you in on last week, and note what remains possible for the future.On Thursday, January 11th, I presented two proposals to the Executive Committee; a committee upon which I serve. Both proposals were voted down.
They were: P 24, “Creating a Commissioner of Environmental Protection,” and P48, “FWC/Wildlife Corridors.”
I presented right after highly respected, former Senate President, Don Gaetz, who spoke in favor of a making the Secretary of State, once again, a cabinet position.
We were both voted down. The committee had no tolerance for expanding the executive branch in any form.
On Friday, I awoke to torrential rains and cold temperatures, rushing to make it in the darkness by 8:00 am to stand before the Judicial Committee, finally, for a vote on controversial, Gunster-attorney-fought, and widely reported P23, “A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment.” It was voted down by every member of the committee as it would have created a new “cause of action,” and given citizens standing, regarding environmental claims, in a court of law. In the committee’s opinion, P23 would have caused a Florida litigation nightmare.
For me, the lack of prioritization for the environment, the over-protection of permit holders, and the “buddy-agency-system,” holding it all in place, is already causing a “nightmare;” thus, I was all for a change and in favor of this student-inspired proposal that spoke for what the CRC is supposed to be speaking for—-its citizens.
In any case, it was quite a lesson for me, bleeding my heart out, and getting denied. I was not embarrassed, just kind of numb. I must say, it was very kind, and I appreciated that many of my comrades complimented my efforts and encouraged me to continue my fight, right before the knock-out punch. 🙂
P48, “Clarifying Language Amd. 1, 2014, Land Acquisition Trust Fund” and
P91, “No Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Waters”
No dates have been set to hear these proposals, but in the meanwhile, I am back up on my feet and getting ready for the next round. I know it will come. I have been studying one of my favorite boxers, Sugar Ray Leonard, who was a favorite of my students in Pensacola, for some moves. I’m going to be ready!
Thanks for you support and for your love of Florida’s environment.
The following are my notes, images, and basic outline for my presentation to the CRC Executive Committee for P24, Creating a Commissioner of Environmental Protection. I will present on January 11th at 11am. JTL
Notes: P24, Creating a Commissioner of Environmental Protection or “CEP.” SAVE THE FLORIDA GOOSE
~”Florida has this magical thing— that one person can make a difference…” CRC Chair Carlos Beruff, 4-12-17, interview, Florida Channel
~2 members of the public verbally presented the idea of Commissioner of Environmental Protection thus a Cabinet position for the environment during the CRC Public Hearings that took place across the state in 2017.
~Public Proposal 700012 was submitted in written form by Mr Gamez below:
PUB 700012: To Make a Broader Approach to Protecting the Environment by Carlos Gamez
ARTICLE IV: EXECUTIVE, New Section. Catchline: Department of Environmental Protection The Legislature may create a department of Environmental Protection and prescribe its duties. The provisions governing the administration of the department must comply with Section 6 of Article VI of the State Constitution.
This led to P24, sponsored by JTL .The people were the inspiration for this proposal.
CRC - 2017P 24
By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
1 A proposal to amend
2 Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV and create a new
3 section in Article XII of the State Constitution to
4 establish the office of Commissioner of Environmental
5 Protection as a statewide elected officer, to provide
6 duties of the commissioner, and to include the
7 commissioner as a member of the Cabinet.
9 Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
12 Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV of the State Constitution
13 are amended to read:
14 ARTICLE IV
16 SECTION 3. Succession to office of governor; acting
18 (a) Upon vacancy in the office of governor, the lieutenant
19 governor shall become governor. Further succession to the office
20 of governor shall be prescribed by law. A successor shall serve
21 for the remainder of the term.
22 (b) Upon impeachment of the governor and until completion
23 of trial thereof, or during the governor’s physical or mental
24 incapacity, the lieutenant governor shall act as governor.
25 Further succession as acting governor shall be prescribed by
26 law. Incapacity to serve as governor may be determined by the
27 supreme court upon due notice after docketing of a written
28 suggestion thereof by fourthree cabinet members, and in such
29 case restoration of capacity shall be similarly determined after
30 docketing of written suggestion thereof by the governor, the
31 legislature or fourthree cabinet members. Incapacity to serve
32 as governor may also be established by certificate filed with
33 the custodian of state records by the governor declaring
34 incapacity for physical reasons to serve as governor, and in
35 such case restoration of capacity shall be similarly
37 SECTION 4. Cabinet.—
38 (a) There shall be a cabinet composed of an attorney
39 general, a chief financial officer, a commissioner of
40 environmental protection, and a commissioner of agriculture. In
41 addition to the powers and duties specified herein, they shall
42 exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be
43 prescribed by law. In the event of a tie vote of the governor
44 and cabinet, the side on which the governor voted shall be
45 deemed to prevail.
46 (b) The attorney general shall be the chief state legal
47 officer. There is created in the office of the attorney general
48 the position of statewide prosecutor. The statewide prosecutor
49 shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the state attorneys to
50 prosecute violations of criminal laws occurring or having
51 occurred, in two or more judicial circuits as part of a related
52 transaction, or when any such offense is affecting or has
53 affected two or more judicial circuits as provided by general
54 law. The statewide prosecutor shall be appointed by the attorney
55 general from not less than three persons nominated by the
56 judicial nominating commission for the supreme court, or as
57 otherwise provided by general law.
58 (c) The chief financial officer shall serve as the chief
59 fiscal officer of the state, and shall settle and approve
60 accounts against the state, and shall keep all state funds and
62 (d) 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.
67 (e) The commissioner of agriculture shall have supervision
68 of matters pertaining to agriculture except as otherwise
69 provided by law.
70 (f)(e) The governor as chair, the chief financial officer,
71 and the attorney general shall constitute the state board of
72 administration, which shall succeed to all the power, control,
73 and authority of the state board of administration established
74 pursuant to Article IX, Section 16 of the Constitution of 1885,
75 and which shall continue as a body at least for the life of
76 Article XII, Section 9(c).
77 (g)(f) The governor as chair, the chief financial officer,
78 the attorney general, the commissioner of environmental
79 protection, and the commissioner of agriculture shall constitute
80 the trustees of the internal improvement trust fund and the land
81 acquisition trust fund as provided by law.
82 (h)(g) The governor as chair, the chief financial officer,
83 the attorney general, the commissioner of environmental
84 protection, and the commissioner of agriculture shall constitute
85 the agency head of the Department of Law Enforcement.
87 A new section is added to Article XII of the State
88 Constitution to read:
89 ARTICLE XII
91 Recomposition of the cabinet; commissioner of environmental
92 protection.—The amendment to Section 4 of Article IV relating to
93 the election of the commissioner of environmental protection and
94 the inclusion of the commissioner as a member of the cabinet
95 shall take effect January 3, 2023, but shall govern with respect
96 to the qualifying for and the holding of the primary and general
97 elections for the office of commissioner of environmental
98 protection in 2022.
THE TIME IS NOW for the Environment to get a Seat at the Table.
Florida Chamber’s population growth projections: 6,000,000 more people for a population of 26,000,000 people by 2030…
1000 Friends of Florida “A Population Distribution Scenario for the State of Florida” 2060. This shows the areas projected to become the most populated highly impacting natural lands and water resources.
FEGN- Florida Ecological Green Network Priorities, 2016. This map shows the importance of creating a priorities for Wildlife Corridor creation in the growing state of Florida. Done correctly we can have both growth and connected lands for wildlife and water. But we must plan now for the next 20 years and beyond. We will never have this chance again.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection map below shows Impaired Waters of the State: 53% Rivers; 82% Lakes; 32% Estuaries. This doesn’t even mention our very impacted and magnitude lessened springs.
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). I think “may” in this sentence needs to be reinterpreted. It is too weak for today’s pressures.
Creating a Comr. of Environmental Protection would elevate today’s “Department of Environmental Protection” giving it more autonomy and less impact from the often destructive and brutal pendulum swings of politics.
Agriculture already has a Cabinet seat and has a Dept of Water Quality that oversees Best Management Practices. Why shouldn’t the environment be on equal footing with Agriculture? The environment and Florida’s tourism industry are the number one income generator of the state, agriculture claims the number two spot.
We must note that since the last CRC in 1998, our waters have become even more impaired and our lands purchases are not always well represented to the Legislature or mindful of the importance of “connectedness.” Having a Commissioner of Environmental Protection would give us leadership for a higher standard, better communication, and better success for all the public to see.
Would the people of Florida support a Commissioner of Environmental Protection? Absolutely. The people of Florida have spoke loudly in 2014. Amendment 1, 2014 now in the Florida Constitution as Art X, Sec. 28 continues to be controversial as the legislature resented what they saw as forced direction of appropriations/money. Nonetheless, it was the will of the people. A Commissioner of Environmental Protection could help ameliorate this situation with the State Legislature and and the public.
*October 2016 Poll: “Top Concerns of Floridians are economy and environment.”~ Miami Herald. (Water related problems top concern 34%; 20% Loss of Natural Lands for Wildlife second.) “The focus on the environment as top concern behind the economy should not surprise anyone who has lived in Florida…Florida’s economy has long been closely linked to its environmental assets.”
As Chair Beruff stated: “Florida has this magical thing...”
We must think about this….
If we lose the magic, if will don’t protect our environment and the people’s love of it, we lose “Florida,” killing our Goose that lays our Golden Egg…
“A cottager and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every day. They supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed her. Having done so, they found to their surprise that the Hen differed in no respect from their other hens. The foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived themselves of the gain of which they were assured day by day…” Aesop’s Fables
The need for Leadership; Give the Environment a Seat at the Table with a Florida Cabinet member; CRC can put P24 on the 2018 ballot and allow the electorate to vote for a Commissioner of Environmental Protection in 2022. Save the Florida Goose.
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!
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…”
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.
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.