Florida Lawmakers Introduce Dream Bill for Polluters: HB 1197/SB 1240


TALLAHASSEE, FL - Senator Danny Burgess and Representative Randy Maggard introduced two identical bills that will ban local communities from holding polluters accountable. This comes after Florida was ranked the first in the nation for the total acres of lakes deemed too polluted for swimming and aquatic life.

If the two bills filed in the state Legislature become law, it will abolish the local government's ability to fight pollution leading to dirtier water.

A "preemption" (ban) is when the state takes away power from lower-level governments, such as county commissioners and city councils. The federal government can do the same by taking power from states. It's when a higher level of government eliminates the power of a lower government.

Home Rule gives each city the flexibility to create their own laws and was put in the Florida Constitution more than 50 years ago. Any city can adopt laws as long as it doesn't conflict with state or federal law, which is why lawmakers in Tallahassee continue to introduce bills with preemptions. These bans take away each city's power to adopt laws and force them to get permission from the legislature.

Some legislators think they know your community better than the local residents and elected officials. Preemption bills are a one size fits all approach, regardless of where you live. For instance, at least 34 Florida counties restrict fertilizer use during the wet season to limit nutrient runoff. Nothing in HB 1197/SB 1240 would “grandfather” this practice into any new law — meaning the fertilizer bans could themself be banned.

The protection agencies follow the laws that are written for them by state representatives. Those same legislators are heavily influenced by chemical company lobbyists who do not want restrictions. Corporate lawyers are continually trying to influence lawmakers to prevent industries from being held accountable.

House Bill 1197 (Maggard) and Senate Bill 1240 (Burgess), would strip municipal and county governments of their authority to regulate water quality, water quantity, pollution control, pollution discharge prevention or removal, and wetlands, including delineation of wetlands.

It’s the latest attempt by the Legislature to “preempt” local authority and instead delegate authority solely to the state.

The lack of enforcement by the state is why cities and counties feel compelled to adopt tougher local rules. If the state was stopping sources of pollution and protecting water quality, and fighting pollution we wouldn’t need local clean-water regulation.

According to financial records, Randy Maggard's contributions come from developers and land comapanies, energy industries, cruise companies, Tobacco Corporation, the agriculture industry, Cemex, and the Sugar Corporation.

Daniel (Danny) Burgess has taken money from Duke Energy, Chemical Dynamics (fertilizer industry), Lockheed Marin, the sugar industry, Chevron, Cemex, developers, and corporate attorneys. Burgess also happens to be in the Zephyrhills community, where bottled water companies have been up against communities who are fighting to preserve the aquifer in Pasco County.

WHAT YOU CAN DO! 

Oppose HB 1197 and SB 1240 by writing Maggard, Burgess, and your representative.

Sign the petition to amend the state's constitution so that Floridians have the right to clean water and can hold polluters accountable. You can find the petition at www.floridarightocleanwater.org  

HB 1197 sponsor:
(850) 717-5054 (Tallahassee office)
(813) 780-0067 (District office)

SB 1240 sponsor:
(850) 487-5023 (Tallahassee office)
(813) 779-7059 (District office)


Date

Dear Representative XXXXXX,

As a Florida resident who has watched waterways decline over the past few decades, I am writing to oppose HB 1197 and SB 1240 and request that you do not take away our local government's ability to regulate pollution. 

Sincerely,
Address
City, FL, Zip

Sources:

  • Burgess SB 1240 https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/1240
  • Maggard HB 1197: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/1197 
  • Florida ranked first for polluted lakes: https://environmentalintegrity.org/reports/the-clean-water-act-at-50/
  • Daniel (Danny) Burgess contributions: https://www.transparencyusa.org/fl/candidate/daniel-wright-burgess-jr-can/contributors?page=1 
  • Randy Maggard's contributions: https://www.transparencyusa.org/fl/committee/randy-maggard-79030-can/contributors

Stel Bailey

Stel Bailey is a community leader committed to environmental justice, protecting service members from toxic exposures, and shielding children from the detrimental effects of pollution. Stel is not only a survivor of cancer but also a mother of two, a prelaw student, a globally-published freelance journalist, a speaker, and an outdoor adventurer. stelbailey.com

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