Tag Archives: state legislature

Implementing Amendment 9: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces 

~2018 Constitutional Amendments, Florida Division of Elections: https://floridaelectionwatch.gov/Amendments
~2018 Amendments, Florida Division of Elections, Amd. 9 Results by County: https://floridaelectionwatch.gov/ContestResultsByCounty/900009
~Ballotpedia Amendment 9 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Amendment_9,_Ban_Offshore_Oil_and_Gas_Drilling_and_Ban_Vaping_in_Enclosed_Indoor_Workplaces_Amendment_(2018)

For me, the best thing about Election Day 2018 was the passage of Constitutional  Amendment 9. But that will not be the end of it. Now it is the job of the state legislature to implement the amendment and for us to keep watch that they do.

Hmmm?

Implement?

What does that mean?

Basically, this means that the language that makes up the ballot amendment must be put into the Florida Constitution and “implemented,” or fulfilled.  To be “implemented” the ballot language that composes the amendment must be inserted and followed.

Amendment 9 was made up of two parts. During the Constitution Revision Commission process,  I had sponsored Proposal #91 Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling, and Commissioner Lisa Carlton had sponsored Proposal #65 Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces. These two proposals made it through the arduous CRC committee process and then were “bundled” by the CRC Style and Drafting Committee relating as “Clean Air and Clean Water.” Thus on the ballot, married, what were P#91 and P#65 composed a new whole: Amendment 9 ~ Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces.

As everyone who followed the election knows, the #RoadToTheBallot wasn’t easy, and Amendment 9 was criticized unmercifully by the press, and even went before the Florida Supreme Court. In the end, the court supported the bundling  and the people of Florida did too. The voters read, studied, and decided for themselves, Clean Air and Clean Water in Florida is very, very important. The required 60% passage was exceeded;  the amendment passed by 68.92%!

See how your county voted here: https://floridaelectionwatch.gov/CompareStateToCounty/900009

The people  have spoken and now the state Legislature must do its work and implement the amendment by placing  the ballot language into the Florida Constitution.  See the language that comes off the Florida Division of Elections website below.

Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling will go into Article II and Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces will go into Article X. See a copy of the full Florida Constitution and all its articles here: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

There have been times in the past,  as with Amendment 1 2014,  Florida’s Water and Land Conservation Initiative, where the state legislature did not follow the intent of the language once it was in the constitution. They interpreted it rather to benefit the state power structure. Some say this is partially because the  language  was vague and a court case was brought to try to clear up the amendment’s interpretation by the state legislature.

https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29

Thankfully, the language of  both P#91 Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and  #65 Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces are legally solid, specific,  and should not leave any cracks open to be perverted by the state legislature. Nonetheless, we must keep a very watchful eye, as when it comes to Florida’s Legislature there is always the chance for corruption…

Read this article below to see why….

What do they say? “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely….” And who is the most powerful of all? The State Legislature!

New push for offshore drilling as Florida awaits recount results

FLORIDA POLITICS, STAFF REPORTS
November 15, 2018, 4:02 pm
http://floridapolitics.com/archives/281341-offshore-drilling-recount

CRC Commissioner List: http://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners.html
CRC Web-site: http://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners.html

River Kidz Grow Up; the River the Same. St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River Kidz founders Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader, 2011.
River Kidz founders Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader, 2011.
River Kidz 2015.
River Kidz 2015.(Photo Nic Mader.)

“Time flies”… “Time waits for no one”… “Time is of the essence”….

There are hundreds of sayings about time, and none of them can truly encompass its passage and what it feels like to know it is slipping away….

Having no children of my own, I am dependent on the children of others to really see time “fly.” As time seems to fly fastest when it comes to children turning into adults–right before our eyes, while  we of course feel “exactly the same…”

I deeply believe that all kids are River Kidz!

The two closest to me are my niece Evie Flaugh, and Naia Mader, two Town of Sewall’s Point girls that founded River Kidz in 2011 when I was mayor. Sometimes they come and visit me. These are some of my favorite days. When they visit, I am struck by how they are changing. They are growing up. They are becoming women.

“10ish” years old when their endeavor started, I think they are now both “15.” Three months apart. Evie is a bit older but they are in different grades. I can’t keep up actually. But I do know they were both once well below my shoulder and they now stand almost a full foot taller than me. I noticed recently, when I sat on the bench with them for a picture, that my feet hardly reached the ground. Their knees were bent…

I look at them in awe.

“Was I that young once?

I was, and boy did want to be older…. This I remember.

Things are going to start changing even more quickly.

They will be driving soon….Gulp….

And where have “we” all driven the river since 2011? The St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is in really in the about same predicament it was in 2011. In some areas worse.  A lot has happened, and good has been achieved, however, the biggest killer, discharges from canals C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44 and Lake Okeechobee will continue to slowly kill the river with no end in sight, because our state in is denial of the depth and timing of our pollution and water crisis. They think we have 30 years…Oh let’s make that 50 years….no  100….

However awareness is high. As Amendment 1 and our local River Movement has shown, the public is pushing for change;  and not giving up. WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS even though it seems sometimes it may take forever, or that we will return to our maker not having achieved the goal.

I am certain that one day there will be substantive positive change for the Indian River and all of Florida’s precious waters. There must be in order for the state to survive. To feed this change and the human will for survival which requires clean water, we must continue to put “gas in the car,” or better yet, use solar energy—- we have to keep making “River Kidz out of kids.” We have to keep driving.

One day soon, these kids will take the wheel of life.  I am confident they will drive with more care than previous generations did;  they will do all they can to navigate the crash we will be leaving them.

The River Kidz, Naia and Evie, they  inspire me. But my heart aches for them. For them we must work harder to change the tide of legislative and agency complacency. We must make more people realize that we do not have 30 years. We have now.

RK artwork 2013
RK artwork 2013
2013....
2013….

River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)
River Kidz: (http://riverscoalition.org/riverkidz/)
Photos/mixed on-line: (http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=river+kidz&qpvt=river+kidz&qpvt=river+kidz&FORM=IGRE)

Blog Break, June Review 2015, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River, unlabeled. 2007.
River, unlabeled. 2007.

Sometimes  you just need to take a break! I will be “blog-breaking” to spend time with my husband; I will return 7-15-15.

In review, before I stop blogging, thus far 2015 has not been a particularly rewarding year for river advocates— mostly because of  the state legislature’s tumultuous session, their interpretation of Amendment 1, and their refusal to consider the purchase of the US Sugar’s option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

To top it off, the  ACOE began releasing from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River very early this year, starting January 16th and continuing  until just recently–the end of May. There may be more coming this rainy season….

The ACOE and the SFWMD decided to “dump” because the lake was “too high” to be safe for the Herbert Hoover’s Dike and its surrounding farms and communities.  This is “understandable,” but at great expense to our SLR/IRL economy and ecosystem.

Ironically, ample water supply is now a concern for “users,” such as agriculture, with Lake Okeechobee down to 12.20 feet and rapidly evaporating….((http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml))You may have heard that Miami is already in a drought…on top of this, the Caloosahatchee needs some lake water right now to keep its salinities from going too high but they are not getting it…

It always seems more likely that South Florida will  have a hurricane, and that Lake O could fill up quickly with 3-4 feet in one week, too much to dump fast,  so the agencies prefer the lake lower during summer’s rainy season… There is that chance though—that it won’t rain, and dry conditions will parch our state as occurred in 2006/2007.

DEP drought: (http://www.protectingourwater.org/transcripts/18/))

Wouldn’t that be something? After all that water being released?  South Florida going into a drought? The farm fields dying? The ecosystem and its animals in danger? And people not having enough water?

It  may seem an odd thought, but it is one that is not the “stuff of science fiction”— that one day,  in the future, after an extended drought or a climatic shift, people could be fighting over the billions of gallons of fresh water that is wasted to the Atlantic Ocean through the C-44 basin, the St Lucie River, and Caloosahatchee during storm events…

We need to prepare for this. We must not give up our advocacy. We must keep more of this precious water on the land and going south for the Everglades.

On a positive-personal note regarding the year thus far….

You may have noticed—-

I am enjoying collaborating with my family. To have my mother’s history and most recently my brother’s “flying time capsule maps” to share is very rewarding. I have linked some  of Todd time capsule flights below. They have been very popular!

My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson's dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)
My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson’s dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)

Todd is six years younger than me as you can see from the photo above. My sister, Jenny, is four years younger. Growing up, Todd and Jenny  were more together, and I was kind of “old.” I was out of Martin County High School where as they attended during the same time. Now, the years seems fewer in between…. 🙂

In closing, thank you very much for reading my blog; I wish you a good couple of weeks enjoying the Indian River Region, and I’ll see you soon!

River, unlabeled. 2007.
“Tranquility”…..Unlabeled photo, Thurlow Files, dated 2007.

Todd’s Videos:

1. The Inlets at Peck’s Lake and Jupiter Narrows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO650JyADwQ)

2. Hal-pa-ti-okee Swamp: Port St Lucie and Western Martin County. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2f-e0ul1mY)
3. Bog and Ponds of Martin County, 1940s. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvH5H0TiG5c)
4. The Spoil Islands of the Indian River Lagoon, Martin County (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sODqzQ8EW9o)
5. Capt. Henry Sewall’s Dock, Sewall’s Point, Where Was it Located? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkL9YgPSmI)

*6. Where did the South Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Lucie Canal Connect? EDD/ACOE 1915-1923 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

Above: Google Earth/Historic Maps Overlay Flights shared on my blog, created by my brother Todd Thurlow, (http://thurlowpa.com) These flights using Topo and other historic maps combined with today’s Google Earth images flashing between “yesterday and today” give tremendous insight into the water and land changes due to drainage for agriculture and development that have occurred in our region. JTL

 

Martin Health Systems/Martin Systems Auxiliary, “Speaking Up” for the Health of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Martin Health Systems, formerly known as Martin Memorial Hospital, sits on the St Lucie River. (Public photo.)
Martin Health Systems, formerly known as Martin Memorial Hospital, sits on the St Lucie River in Stuart, Florida. (Public photo.)
Martin Memorial Hospital, ca. 1940s. Photo courtesy of Sandra Thurlow's presentation at Stuart Heritage 2014.
Martin Memorial Hospital, ca. 1940s. Photo courtesy of Sandra Thurlow’s presentation at Stuart Heritage 2014.

Martin Health Systems has sat like a sentinel along the St Lucie River for 75 years….Doctors, nurses, administrators, employees, and patients have over the years watched the degradation of health of Martin County’s beautiful river along with its once remarkable fish and wildlife.

But today, the hospital’s voice is getting louder as they “speak up” for the river and its health. (http://www.martinhealth.org)

In 2014, Robert Lord, a long time attorney for the organization, was a featured speaker at the “Clean Water Rally” sharing his memories of growing up in Stuart and enjoying its waters. Rob made a public call to push for clean water  to our state legislature on behalf of Martin Health Systems. A huge step in our river movement!

Rob Lord, 2014, Photo JRL.
Rob Lord speaks at the Clean Water Rally, Phipps Park, St Lucie Lock and Dam, 2014, Photo JTL.

This year, since mid-March, the Martin Systems  Auxiliary will pass out a total of 450 “River Kidz Second Edition Workbooks,” featuring Marty the Manatee to children that come into the hospital for emergencies or alongside family. Yes, that’s 450 workbooks, and they plan on passing out more! (http://www.martinhealth.org/mhs-auxiliary)

Mr Bill Michaud, president,  has been a champion for children and for our river. I thank him and all members of the Auxiliary. At this time, I would like to include a portion of a letter written to me:

“Jacqui,

…Martin Health employs 3,600 local folks and the Auxiliary peaks in Season around 900 serving three hospitals, Emergency Center, and 59 other assorted medical related offices. I feel that our influence would be strongest with middle age children in educating them to the realities of current and future conditions thusly our placement of River Kidz in the areas where they would have greatest access…We share River Kidz’ goals and stand willing to help in any way that we can. With your group’s permission we would like to mention our participation in the River Kidz program in our April edition of Martin Health Systems Auxiliary Highlight’s magazine… “—–Mr Bill Michaud, President MHS Aux, 3-6-15.

(“River Kidz 2nd Ed. Workbook:” http://riverscoalition.org/riverkidz/riverkidz-workbooks/)

Just incredible!
 

MMH Auxiliary chair, Barbara Bush, and Bill Michaud, president. (Photo Martin Health Systems Auxiliary, 2015.)
MS Auxiliary chair, Barbara Bush with  Bill Michaud, president, displaying River Kidz workbooks. (Photo Martin Health Systems Auxiliary, 2015.)
CEO MMHS Mark Robitaille, 2015.
CEO MHS Mark Robitaille, 2015.

Most recently, in an article by Darcy Flierl in “Luminaries,” about the “Dirty River Keeper Jam” this Saturday at Terra Fermata, Mark Robitaille, president and chief executive officer, stated: “We are concerned about the destruction of our estuaries and its diverse marine ecosystems. As a health care system, we are also deeply worried about the impact to the health of our community.”

Wow! Thank you Mr Robitaille!

Martin Health Systems and Jensen Beach Plumbing come together May 30th from noon to 11PM to host Martin County’s first “Dirty River Jam” to benefit Mr Marty Baum, our Indiana Riverkeeper. For information call 772-486-9109. Hope to see you there!

We all know It’s time for our state legislature, our federal government, and our all of local politicians, to be brave and put laws in place to stop the feeding of toxic algae blooms (Cyanobacteria) in Lake Okeechobee and thus our local waterways, as well as overcoming the difficulties of cleaning, storing, and sending water south to the Everglades, through the sugar-lands, to alleviate the burden of destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Martin Health Systems will help make this happen; they carry a lot of weight.

Dirty River Jam
Dirty River Jam!

______________________________________________

I must note my sister, Jenny Flaugh, has worked for MHS for over 16 years and her husband Mike is involved with the event! Thank you all who are involved.

Video of Robert Lord speaking at the Clean Water Rally, 2014, by Keri West: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImG8-gAI_9Q)

#IndianRiverLagoon

#StLucieRiver

Agriculture, the Governor, the Florida State Legislature, “Blood is Thicker than Water,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Historic photo, Ca. 1800s, courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Thurlow Archives.)
Historic photo, ca. 1850s, Martin County,  courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Thurlow Archives.)

I come from a historic agricultural background, on both sides of my family, so I feel like I can criticize it.

My Thurlow great-great grandparents grew thistles in New York, and my Henderson great-grandparents, from a long farming line, settled in Madison, Florida. My grandfather, Russell Henderson, was a well-respected soli-scientist and taught in the Agriculture Department at the University of Florida, even getting a mural painted including him by citrus legend, Ben Hill Griffen…

I ate boiled peanuts while learning about different crops and cows during my summer vacations as a kid while visiting Gainesville.  I understand the connection and importance of agriculture to the success of both my family and to our country.

Gov Broward for which Broward County is named, led in draining the Everglades. (Public photo.)
Florida’s Gov Broward for which Broward County is named, led in leadership to “drain the Everglades,” for agriculture and development. (Public photo.)

Nonetheless, as a product of the Florida Indian River Lagoon region since 1965, I have chosen to focus my energies on “natural preservation.” This is often at odds with agriculture and development’s values.

Again, I respect agriculture; it feeds us….

I just think some aspects of the industry have gone “too far,” and are too coddled by our state, especially regarding the pollution and water resources destruction caused by their now “agribusiness giant-ness.”

Although Agriculture is a “giant,” today the number one income for the state of Florida is tourism. (http://www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=95)

Nonetheless, agriculture has a stronghold on our state government beyond comprehension, beyond tourism, or “quality of life or quality for tourists.” Agriculture/sugar brags that agriculture “feeds the world,” not just the state. I guess this is good, but why should my state and local area be “raped and polluted” to feed the world?

Money…

Power…

Greed…

History…

No where is this more evident than the in Everglades Agricultural Area where the sugar industry “reigns king.” As of late, the sugar industry is not supporting the purchase of option lands that are FOR SALE. They have been able to convince the governor, and so far the state legislature, that is it unwise to purchase these option lands to start creating an EAA reservoir to store, clean and convey more water south to the Everglades to begin the journey of saving the Everglades as well as the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and also the Caloosahatchee River. These estuaries and the people and businesses that live along them sufferer from the 1920 redirection of Lake Okeechobee’s waters east and west for the creation of the Everglades Agricultural Area or EAA.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010.)

Honestly, I am not sure why sugar is so against this land purchase. Their land is for sale! Is because they are making money now and not going broke as they were in 2008 when the option lands deal was legally arranged? Or they do just want to hold out for more money on those lands in the future? In any case, they are doing everything they can NOT to allow the option land purchase to occur as part of the 2015 legislatures’ ability to use Amendment 1 monies while the “environmentalist” community begs….and lake O is getting higher every day.

We all know that the sugar industry gives millions of dollars a years to government officials to secure their interests. This is important, but it is not most important.

What is important for all of us to realize is that the influence of the sugar industry and agriculture in general is much deeper than money. It is blood. And this why our fight for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon requires new blood. A revolution of sorts. Don’t get scared by these words. Nothing is more “American.”

Let’s study the history of sugar and the state of Florida’s pact:

In a 1911 Washington DC publication, of the 62nd Congress, document no. 89, entitled:

“Everglades of Florida.” —-Acts,  Reports, and other Papers, State and National, Relating to the Everglades of the State of Florida and Their Reclamation,”

—we see that even in is  the first documents of the publication produced in  1845, the year of Florida’s statehood, there was a  resolution “recommending the adoption of measures for reclaiming the Everglade land in that state.”  (By 1847 in a letter from Washington DC’s Honorable James D Westcott, Jr. to the Secretary of the Treasury and shared with the Florida legislature….)

It reads in response to the idea of draining the lands south of Lake Okeechobee…

“What would be the value of the now subaqueous lands, reclaimed by such work, I will not pretend to say….all of those (military men) who have resided in this vicinity, and who have repeatedly informed my that many of these lands would be the best sugar and richest lands in the United States.”

This publication reprinted as SOUTH FLORIDA IN PERIL, can be purchased at Florida Classic Library in Hobe Sound. (http://www.floridaclassicslibrary.com) It documents the early days of the 130 year tie between the federal, and state government as they all organized together with the agriculture industry to create the state of Florida, a sugar haven, that reached its true peak in the 1960 and 1970, with the exclusion of Cuba’s goods…

Here we are today, almost fifty years later and Cuba is perhaps reopening…and our state water issues in south Florida are out of control.

Agriculture's UF UFAS sites to help with research for agriculture improvement. ( Source, UF/IFAS.)
Today’s agriculture UF IFAS sites to help with research for agriculture improvement. Note sugarcane research center in EAA.(Source, UF/IFAS.)

Anyway, the book goes on for 203 pages documenting the state and federal governments’ support for agriculture in the Everglades and “how rich they would all become…”

That they were successful, I am happy; however; they OVER DID it, over-drained it, and refuse to see their own destruction, and their unfair advantage.

Blood is thicker than water….but “blood can’t be blood” without water…time for a change.

Stats of Sugar in Florida, 1991, Source Hazen and Sawyer, 1993)
Stats of Sugar in Florida, 1991, Source Hazen and Sawyer, 1993.)

__________________________________________

Governor Broward ca. 1911: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_B._Broward)

Florida Dept of Agriculture: (http://www.freshfromflorida.com)

Fresh From Florida/Agriculture is the cornerstone of Florida’s 500 Year History: (http://www.freshfromflorida.com/News-Events/Hot-Topics/Agriculture-is-the-Cornerstone-of-Florida-s-500-Year-History)

IFAS Everglades Sugar Research Center, Bell Glade: (http://erec.ifas.ufl.edu/about/mission_statement.shtml)

IFAS/UF: (http://ifas.ufl.edu/about-IFAS.shtml)

Department of the Interiors (DOIs) report on EAA and historical destruction of Everglades: (http://www.doi.gov/pmb/oepc/wetlands2/v2ch7.cfm)

Florida’s  Agricultural  Museum: (http://www.myagmuseum.com/floridaagriculture.html)

“Florida’s major field crop is sugarcane (mostly grown near Lake Okeechobee), which enjoyed a sizable production increase in the 1960s and 1970s, following the cutoff of imports from Cuba.” (http://www.city-data.com/states/Florida-Agriculture.html)

Understanding Our State Legislature, and How to Make it Work for the Indian River Lagoon

Understanding our state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.
Understanding our Florida state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.

As usual, I  will be talking today about something I certainly don’t totally understand, but have gotten glimpses into, and therefore want to share…

The state legislature and how it works is very confusing. It  is a much larger, shrouded, party-oriented, moodier animal– to say the least, and meetings are not as easy to attend as local county or city commission meetings here at home.

So, how can we begin to approach and understand the legislature and all of its moving parts, in order to get what we want for our ailing St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

Let’s start out with the very simple…

First, even though the formal legislative session does not start until March 3rd, the state legislature is holding committee meetings now. We must communicate with the legislature now, while they are in committee meetings, and not wait until “session.” Waiting until session is too late. The whole process is fast and furious and during session there is no time to “talk.”

The dates I  have from my Florida League of Cities information packet for the 2015 Florida Legislative Committee (and they are subject to change, ) are  as follows:

Legislative Interim Committees: January 5-9; 20-23.

Legislative Interim Committees: February 2-5; 9-13; and 16-20.

March 3rd Legislative Session Convenes (begins)

May 1st is the last day of Regular Session.

So politicians are in meetings this week, right now! In order to find out what committees are meeting and where, you have to visit their webistes….we will talk about this in a minute.

Second, who is on what committees, and who are “our” state legislators?

There are many committees and figuring out what bill will be in what committee during session or when they are meeting is not easy, but basically for the “Indian River Lagoon” I try to keep track of two committees: 1. the “Senate’s Natural Resources and Conservation Committee” and 2. the “House’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.” (Gulp, don’t ask me why natural resources is together with agriculture as it seems sometimes the two have competing interest.)

The website for the Senate is: (http://www.flsenate.gov)

And the website for the House of Representatives is: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov)

It is important to know that the president of the Senate this year is Andy Gardiner and the speaker of the house is Steve Crisafulli. Both of these gentlemen represent parts of Brevard County which is on the INDIAN RIVER LAGOON! Maybe you could write them a note….? 

Now, go to both sites and look up “committees,” finding the two I mentioned above. Next, go to “calendar” and determine the dates and what rooms in which the committees will be meeting.

From what I understand, you can fill out a form on-line to speak in one of these meetings; the problem is you could drive all the way to Tallahassee and then the committee chair may decide to cancel the meeting  or not allow you much time to talk. Committee chairs are very powerful positions and are determined at the beginning of each legislative session. Nonetheless, look up the chairs of the two Natural Resource Committees. Do you know them? Do you know somebody who knows them? 

OK, now, third, is a good time to talk about “our legislators” also called our “legislative delegation.” Let’s find out what committees our legislators are on this year. Then let’s write and congratulate them! This is a good way to start a relationship. To get anything at all, you have to build a relationship. This can be done! They want to hear from you!

Also, don’t just contact them when you want something. Stay in touch regularly. Tell them what you are doing, send them a summary of what you as an activist or your organization is doing. Start by looking up the assistant of the legislator and contacting this person. Over time, try to get an appointment with the legislator. Be diligent; be positive; be polite; keep going back….Don’t give up! Invite them places; invite them to your rallies!

From my recollection, our Martin/St Lucie/Indian River area legislators are:

Senators: Joe Negron and Denise Grimsley:  To learn about them go to (http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators) and search by last name  to see their committee appointments and if they are chairing a committee.

Representatives: Gayle Harrell; MaryLynn Magar; Larry Lee; and Debbie Mayfield. Look them up alphabetically and find out what committees they are on: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx)

This is a lot of work, but if you don’t know anything about your legislators how can you ask anything from them or make a good impression?

Interestingly, you will note many of them, do not serve on the Natural Resource or Agriculture and Natural Resource Committees. (I believe Larry Lee and Debbie Mayfield are the only ones I have seen over the past years….) Nonetheless, as bills move through committees our delegation can give input…if you communicate with them that is. If you don’t, don’t expect your voice to be heard.

The biggest thing that will be affecting the Indian River Lagoon this session besides Senator Negron following through on his Senate Select Committee on the IRL and Lake Okeechobee commitments will be how the legislature decides to deal with the passing of Amendment 1. for lands acquisition.

Just last night, Ted Guy, of the Rivers Coalition, sent out an email stating the Senate was now taking comments on their website from the public on how to utilize Amendment 1, the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, and that a new committee had been formed on its behalf.

Amd. 1. (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29Go here to make a comment: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc)

St Petersburg article on this website: (http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/173843)

So, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but go ahead, stick your feet in the cold, cold water; let’s warm things up, and be the voice of the Indian River Lagoon!

_________________________________

I must thank Mrs Kathy Till of the Florida League of Cities for her advocacy training and insights: (http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com)